Angelina Ballerina has much to answer for. I have succumbed to the inevitable and kitted out smallest daughter in the classic girls’ dream/feminists’ nightmare of the pinkest of pink ballet outfits.
Attempting to contain an excitedly bouncing Harriet, who was wreathed in smiles, we set off for the Church Hall bristling with Kirby grips and hair nets, ribbons, elastic and generally all manner of controlling devices. Perforce we were reluctantly accompanied by two small, badly behaved boys who had been bribed and threatened within an inch of their lives to confine their attentions to their books for the duration.
On entering the inner sanctum of the Dance class I found I had gone back in time to the 1950’s – there, with her perfectly turned out feet and multitude of cardigans getting entangled in the glasses chain around her neck was a tiny parody of Joyce Grenfell: complete with cut glass accent and gimlet eyed smile.
Acknowledging each new arrival with a precise nod this paragon of deportment brightly herded her ‘chickadees’ into their fairy ring but there was one recalcitrant ‘chick’ that remained stuck-fast to my leg with no plans in the foreseeable future of being removed. Starting with soft encouragement; followed by gentle peeling; followed by energetic leg shaking accompanied with determinedly cheerful discussion of just how long she had been campaigning for this moment and how lovely it all was – which obviously gave way to threats and bribes carried out sotto voce with slight hissing: I tried everything in the mother’s armoury – All Failed.
Seeing me helplessly pinioned and rooted to the spot ‘Madam’ (it is, and has been, since the dawn of time – The Rule – that all ballet teachers must be addressed in French however distinct their home counties twang) came to my rescue in such a way that left me reeling with horror – ‘If Mummy wants to stay Harriet, we must let go of her leg – otherwise how will Mummy Dance?’
It worked – instantly! So now here I was – the Heffalump at the back of the ballet class AGAIN. Ignoring the unmistakable rumble-thump-bellow of a low-level punch up, with mild garrotting, which was taking place in the balcony above, I was swept along with the good toes and the naughty toes, the fairy skipping and the horses galloping. We were interrupted at odd intervals by a sudden cessation in the musical accompaniment which indicated that the pianist had abruptly fallen asleep.
This was the cue for dramatic and imperative squawking of ‘Miss B’ WE ARE SKIPPING!’ as ‘Madam’ brandishing her stick – kept presumably for the purpose – gave a hearty whack to the top of the instrument causing the unfortunate ‘Miss B’ to awake with a start and manically start thumping away in the manner of fairies or horses – whichever leapt first to mind.
The benefits of a somewhat deaf and narcoleptic accompanist are hard to describe but it certainly added an element of interest and surprise.
It will be Lucky Husband’s turn next week I think.