There was something very wrong with the world, my daughter and I were agreed.
If, however, you are silently applauding us
for caring so greatly for the planet, you may want to reconsider when I explain the background to our apparently earnest and worthy discussion.
The Youngest of
the Darling Daughters and I had arrived outside the Peacock Theatre in Aldwych, London, without too many minutes to spare before “Curtain Up” at 1.30 p.m. It was always going to be a bit of a rush but we didn’t help ourselves by talking so
much that we started travelling the wrong way on the District Line, meaning we had to alight one stop along, swap trains and change direction. We also had to pick up an egg sandwich and a drink each from a passing coffee shop (as in, we were passing, it was
just sitting there star struck as ever as we trotted by) because we were both peckish. That is never a good thing for One Who Is Always Thinking About Her Stomach.
Because we were short for time, we decided to leave our Birthday Banner Mission (of which more later) but were nevertheless delighted to discover, at the side of the theatre, the ideal prop for our endeavours - a massive globe. What’s more the
country right before our eyes was Australia, where Granddaughter Hazel Bagel was celebrating her twentieth birthday that very day. Please remember this important information which will make sense when I (finally, did someone mutter?) get to the point. We may
have been in a hurry but there was no mistaking the fact that, as I told you right at the beginning, that there was something wrong with the world. It was, in fact, very much Upside Down.
The Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I were at the theatre to watch a London Children’s Ballet performance of Ballet Shoes, which was one of my favourite books as a child. You may not know this, but when Ballet Shoes was
published in 1936 (no, that was well before I was born, you cheeky things!) it created the same kind of stir as Harry Potter years later. I adored the story of the Fossil sisters, Pauline, Petrova and Posy who had to brave scary auditions in the hope of winning
parts in musical productions which would earn money to keep the proverbial wolf from the door.
The three sisters were played, in this production, by two
eleven year olds and thirteen year old. When they took their curtain call, centre stage, at the end of the show I came over all teary at the thought of the magnitude of the occasion for such young’uns, taking in the rapturous applause of an appreciative
audience in a West End theatre. The oldest player on stage was just sixteen years old, the youngest was 9. Over the 25 years since the London Ballet School was formed, 1,296 young dancers have received over 100 hours of free tuition and performed on
stage with LCB. There was at least one eleven year old on stage yesterday for whom I predict a star studded future with the Royal Ballet Company which has already snapped him up. Ruben Garcia - remember the name. You heard it here first.
After the performance, my daughter and I headed for the upside down globe and I unravelled (with some difficulty) a quarter sized birthday banner from my bag. Regular readers will
recall that I produce recycled birthday banners for all my grandchildren’s birthdays - but what to do, when the latest Birthday Person is thousands of miles away Down Under? The small, portable version was my answer, proving there is a solution for just
about every problem if you consider it long enough.
We enlisted the help of a charming American to take a photograph of us, holding up the mini banner in front
of an Upside Down Australia on the Topsy Turvey globe. “No need to explain!” our photographer assured us, stoutly, when we attempted to do so. She will doubtless now be able to regale her friends with yet another story about “crazy Brits”
when she returns home...
The Birthday Girl loved the photo we sent her. What had she done, she asked, to deserve the two of us. Maybe just by being born? I responded.
It was a pity she wasn’t with us to watch Ballet Shoes. She would have understood, better than either of us, what it is like to put everything into an audition, to
sing, to dance, to act your heart out in the hope of being one of the chosen ones.
As a little girl, reading the book for the first of many times, I laughed
and cried through the trials and tribulations of Pauline, Petrova and Posy.
Thank you to the London Children’s Ballet for taking me back into the past
when life was so much simpler and the world not quite so, well, topsy turvy...