It is not often we get to live a childhood dream. Even rarer is the chance to live a childhood dream we never knew we had. Let me explain.
When I was growing up I had the only mother I knew who didn't sew. We had a sewing cupboard at home; anything that went in there was never worn again. I was the kid with the sticky-tape school uniform hem. **
The consequence of this was that I was banned from taking any dance class, particularly ballet which was sure to result in an end-of-term concert before which parents (read mothers) would be presented with material and a pattern and asked to produce a costume.
My mother was, of course, saving me from disaster. My lack of coordination was legendary.
I remember watching as the girl across the road drew shimmering, pink, pointe-shoes from a silk pink shoe bag and explained that she had graduated from demi-pointe to pointe. She also owned a tutu and leg warmers and one of those pink stretch wraps that ballerinas used to keep warm, a pink stretch headband and a picture of Dame Margot Fontaine. ***
So imagine my surprise when I had the chance to dress as a ballerina for a fancy dress party and my inner ballerina took over. For the first time in my life I entered a dance shop, bought shoes and a tutu and in a crazy fit of wanting, a pair of baby-pink ballerina tights. That night I put them on and spun around the kitchen, I never wanted to take them off. And at the party, well I spun and spun, I flew into a man's arms and he lifted me effortlessly above his head.
We never really grow up. Inside all of us is the childhood ballerina, just bursting to get out
** My mother is a small, fiercely-intelligent Scotswoman who raised three small children thousands of miles away from her family. There was very little she wouldn't do for us, but she knew her limit, and the sewing was it. Mum worked full time as soon as I (the youngest) went to school. Like any Scot she was economical and efficient, particularly with her time. Perhaps the most valuable lesson she taught me was how not to iron. Step one - don't buy anything that needs to be ironed. I remember her clearly eyeing a chambray shirt, rubbing the fabric between fingers that so much resembled my own, screwing up her nose and walking away with a swift, 'Needs ironing'.
*** I once hit this girl over the head with her own worn teddy bear until her nose bled. I don't remember why.