When Zelda Fitzgerald (wife of F. Scott) was 27 she took up ballet. Not in any casual way you understand, like someone of a certain age might take up golf, but obsessively. She became totally focused on a career as a ballerina, training for up to eight hours a day.
When I took the girls to ballet on Saturday and went into the little office at the dance school to discuss plans for the new school year when Leonardo will start, the school secretary suggested I should do a class too and then they’d have the whole family.
“Oh it’s too late for me,” I said, the unfortunate Zelda always being at the back of my mind (she died in an asylum).
“You’ve danced before haven’t you?” said Bea’s teacher who also happened to be in the room.
I nodded, unable to tell him that yes, I did once do a few evening classes in Kensal Rise, and have spent many happy hours jumping around pretending to be Margot Fonteyn, but that is about it.
“Well, it will all come back, you’ll see. Come Wednesday mornings when you bring the children.”
The matter was settled. I was unaccountably happy, I felt like I’d been given a huge diamond or been told that pink is indeed the new black, but I was also very nervous. How stupid will I look come September when I can’t even force my feet into fifth position. The image of Miss Piggy dancing with Rudolf Nureyev on the Muppet Show replaced poor Zelda.
Olivia suggested she give me a lesson to prepare me. We happen to have a ballet bar in the house (OK I may not actually have done much ballet but I can still obsess, can’t I?) and we spent an hour and a half prancing around. I thought I did OK. Olivia did not.
“Mummy, are you a robot?” she shouted at me on several occassions. “Mummy, I think you’ll be the worst in the class,” was her conclusion.
So it seems if I am to avoid humiliating myself and my children I will have to adopt a Zelda-style approach to this. Eight hours a day minimum. I’m not quite sure how I will do any work or the ironing or cook any meals. But maybe if I go as mad as Zelda did, I simply won’t care.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008