Jaqui's Daily Blog

Red Shoes, Eye Drops and Being a Jolly Girl

Hanging from the ceiling on the first floor of Sadlers Wells theatre, dozens of pairs of red ballet shoes.

Because, ironically enough, I was trying to make sure of my footing on the stairs up to the Second Circle, I completely missed this iconic sight. So when, at the end of the stunning performance of Matthew Bourne's new ballet The Red Shoes, all three of my Darling Daughters solicitously advised me to take the lift to the ground floor, I was determined not to miss it for a second time. Hazel Bagel, second oldest of the granddaughters and a Jolly Girl of one year's standing, who knows a thing or two about ballet, informed me that most ballerinas get through a pair of pointe shoes at each and every performance. Could the ballet shoes hanging from the ceiling be all the worn-out shoes? Well, we took a closer look and, no, they were fresh and new, every last glittering pair.

Yes, indeed, yesterday was the Annual Jolly Girls Outing and, in true style, as one who can't bear to miss out on anything, I was determined to be there, despite being officially still recovering from my eye surgery. Which is the reason, of course, that the Daily Blog has been conspicuous by its absence over the last few days. Now, however, the Blog is Back! I hope you have missed me, but not too much. I like to think that you all have far more interesting events going on in your own lives to miss my Random Ramblings over much.

Eleanor, the third eldest granddaughter, has turned sixteen and therefore been admitted into the Company of Jolly Girls with the official title of TYDOTEDOTMANOATJG and a certificate to prove it. Over lunch at Bill's in Islington we calculate that the addition of Elle to our Jolly Gang has brought the average age of the Jolly Girls down to 36 which is excellent news for me and my daughters, though not so much so for the three granddaughters. It will be a whole 14 years, we marvel, until the next two Jolly Girls in our family - that's the Twinkles, Tala and Lilia - are old enough to be Jolly Girls. We do a few more calculations which prove that, in 2031, even with the addition of two Sweet Sixteens, our average age will have risen to 44.


The Eldest of the Darling Daughters is appointed Head Nurse, with the responsibility of administering my eye drops at strategic intervals. What the other diners in Bill's make of us, I shudder to think. But, Jolly Girls One and all, we carry it off with eye-watering (n my case) aplomb. For once I don't order the same main meal as the Youngest Darling Daughter but make up for this aberration by ordering the same dish as her older sister. It was sea bass fillets on rosti potatoes, if you need to know. Which, of course, you do - this being the Daily Blog which excels at inconsequential details. Photographs are taken, including a number of hideously unattractive ones using an app which blows up our faces into hideous gargoyles. The granddaughters, beautiful girlies all three, are in hysterics over their strawberry lemonades.

We sober up for the ballet, you will be pleased to hear. The Red Shoes is an interpretation of the famous fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, who could be every bit as grim as the Grimms when he put his mind to it. It's a tale of a dancer, Victoria Page, torn between love and art whose red shoes, from being part of her dream, inexorably become part of her nightmare.

The three youngest Jolly Girls all have their hopes and dreams. I like to think that being a Jolly Girl is far, far more than an annual outing: it's a loving, encircling support network made up of a grandmother, mothers, daughters, aunts, cousins, granddaughters. There will, indeed, always be someone to slip drops with a minimum of fuss into a Healing Eye - but also someone to listen with loving empathy to the triumphs and disasters that are part of being a young - or a not so very young - person today; someone to cry with, to laugh with, to enjoy simply being with.

Poor Victoria Page, she of the Red Shoes, dancing her way to death and disaster.

She should have been a Jolly Girl.


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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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