I can’t help thinking, as I power along the road towards the station, that it might not have been entirely sensible to carry the large and heavy scrapbook with me on our Jolly Girls Outing. But, then again, when
was I ever sensible? And anyway when did I ever power my way anywhere, at least not since I was in my teens?
I may not be sensible but I am determined. Having
spent painstaking hours with old theatre programmes, photographs and reels of double-sided sticky tape, I need to share the results of my Happy Labours with the rest of the Jolly Girls.
After an uneventful train journey spent reading about poor Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen (there’s nothing like a trip back to Tudor times to make one reflect on how very much better it is to be a woman today, whatever anybody
says) I alight at Woking station to find that, as usual, I have made for the wrong exit. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters telephones me to tell me she is waiting for me across the railway line at the right exit. This happens to us all the time, we remind
each other; eventually I am directed to a subway and am reunited with my daughter. That’s two Jolly Girls together and five more to come.
restaurant, a smiley member of staff asks in whose name our table is booked. We rack our brains to try to remember which one of us did the honours before agreeing it was the Eldest of the Darling Daughters. I am a trifle disappointed that she didn’t
book it in the name of “Jolly Girls” but then none of the rest of our group have reached my Great Age, when caution can be thrown to the winds because most people think you must be a Mad Old Bat anyway. The Middle of the Darling Daughters and Hazel,
the Middle of the Darling Granddaughters, are already seated at our table. That’s four Jolly Girls together and just three more to come. I produce the scrapbook detailing The Story of the Jolly Girls with as much of a flourish as I can, given its size
and general bulkiness, and my granddaughter opens it with every bit as much reverence as I feel it deserves. It is, after all, partly her story.
Here comes the
Eldest of the Darling Daughters, with Katie and Eleanor, her own Darling Daughters - presumably they knew exactly in whose name our table was booked. Our party of Jolly Girls is complete.
Over lunch, we chat about anything and everything. The scrapbook is much admired. Poor Eleanor is suffering from concussion, having had an unfortunate encounter with the door of a bus; I tell her about my own Concussion Experience
when I walked into a road sign in a car park under the misapprehension that I was short enough to walk under it. We ask our waitress to take the obligatory photograph of us at the table (mindful that we will need plenty of material to fill the next two or
three pages of the scrapbook) and it is duly posted on Facebook. My Boy, who knows we like to talk in acronyms, is quick to send us a message TOJGOTWAUBTYJGOTW. It stumps us all so we have to ask for a translation: “The Oldest Jolly Girls On The Wine
As Usual But The Youngest Jolly Girls On The Water.” We are just so predictable.
So to the theatre and the matinée performance of Flashdance. It’s
about a bright, sassy, feisty girl who longs to follow her dreams of being a dancer, her three and a half minute audition piece being one of the show-stoppers late in the show. For Granddaughter Hazel, who is also bright, sassy and feisty (in addition, of
course, to being very much a Jolly Girl), this is spookily close to real life as she is currently undergoing the trials and tribulations of auditions. Here’s to the same success as our stage heroine.
A little further along the row where we are sitting is a party of Excitable Types. At one particularly dramatic moment, where the male lead loudly expresses his despair at the turn of events, one of the party calls out: “Calm
down!” This classic interruption all but changes the plot unfolding on stage as the actor in question struggles to stifle a laugh and regain his composure.
The day is over far too soon. It’s over in a flash(dance). My daughters agree it isn’t sensible for me to carry the scrapbook all the way home again, bulky as it is, so the Youngest of the Darling Daughters takes charge of it; she will return
it when she sees me next in a fortnight’s time, she promises. There will be plenty of time for me to pull together photographs and mementoes of this latest outing.
Ah, my Jolly Girls! Even my scrapbook, lovingly assembled as it is, can’t tell the whole story. The chat! The company! The love and the laughter!
for one and one for all! Let’s hear it for the Jolly Girls!