Jaqui's Daily Blog

My Star Performer Celebrates A Birthday

The Youngest of the Darling Daughters has compiled a photographic record of her daughter Hazel’s life so far to mark her 21st birthday yesterday. Twenty-one - how did that happen!?


Mr B loves the compilation so much that he insists we play it over and over again, though occasionally when he accidentally presses the “How can I help you?” button on the side of the  IPad, things become a little fraught. “What’s happened?” he cries - or, more often: “What have you done?” Fortunately I am happy enough to watch Hazel’s This is Your Life as often as he is.


Watching our Hazel Bagel (don’t ask - none of us can remember how she came to be called after a Polish bread product) through the years, it is clear to see that she has always, but always, been a performer. Incidentally (because I always like the Daily Blog to come over all educational every once in a while) you may, or may not, be interested to know that the stirrup-shaped bagel was invented by Polish bakers to honour their victorious horse-riding king. Which doesn’t get us any further in the mystery of when and why we added Bagel to my granddaughter’s beautiful first name.


But let’s not digress, especially as the rest of my research into the bagel was incredibly boring, all about fermentation and retardation processes. You really don’t want to know - just eat and enjoy your bagels, that’s all I will say. Anyway, the point I was making before I veered off course was that our Hazel has been a performer almost since she was born. 


You can see it almost from the start, the toddler pulling faces to make us all laugh; striking poses in the sea (she always was our Water Baby, as befits the off-spring of Dunk’em Dave); sweetness personified in her pink ballet dress; in her Brownie uniform making her promise; in her Heather Rabbit nursery school sweatshirt.


As is only to be expected, the video celebration also reminds us of the many times she has trodden the boards in school productions or local amateur dramatic society shows. There are many starring roles: Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz in junior school and a heart-stoppingly beautiful Scheherazade. She has played Sandy in Grease, the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Cinderella in Into the Woods, and a sassy Sour Kangaroo in Seussical the Musical. I remember watching her in a Stagecoach production, many years ago, where she had a bit part sitting at the side of the stage tapping away at a pretend typewriter. Considering she would never have seen a real-life typewriter, let alone used one, that was quite something. I am  biassed, of course, but she entered so whole-heartedly into her part that she transfixed the audience. It’s not about the part, you see, it’s all about the performance. 


For some inexplicable reason there is no photo of her in her most challenging role - that of a burger bun in pantomime. But let me tell you, never was a burger bun played more expressively...


Now she is into her second year at Arts Ed, pursuing her dream of one day taking to a West End stage. While nurturing dreams of a starring role, she has always said she would be happy to play any part, however small - she just wants to be “on that stage.” Among her many 21st birthday presents yesterday was the news of a £1.5 billion boost for the Arts - Covid 19 has threatened her future along with that of many other young people on the threshold of a life in theatre. 


Describing someone as a “performer”, however, can easily give the wrong impression - is everything just an act? Not where our Hazel is concerned - she doesn’t just light up a stage, she also lights up any room she bounces into. The Boyfriend thinks so too, we are in total agreement about that. What's more, you can’t act the part of a loving granddaughter for twenty-one years without slipping up. Spending precious free time in Chiswick coffee shops writing me lovely newsy letters on brightly coloured notepaper. Laughing uproariously at her Grandad’s oft-repeated jokes as if it’s the first time she has heard them. Keeping me company on the worst mornings after my shoulder op last year, bringing me breakfast and coffee and snuggling up on the sofa to watch Disney films with me.  


Happy 21st birthday, my dear Hazel Bagel. You are, indeed, the Genuine Article...

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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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