The week that was…hot

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I am supposed to be doing – haha – SO many things right now, but it’s been a good while since I checked in here. Sometimes my days and nights fill up so much I have to put blogging on the back burner. I miss it when it’s not there.

Some catch-up, then? Here are some inconsequential snippets from our week.

We just got back from a dinner date, where we wandered around looking into restaurant windows for a while before going to Five Guys like we always do. Tim managed three full cups of drink from the special flavours machine before our food even arrived. We decided to pretend we were on a first date, and talked about which character we were most like in Harry Potter (Oliver Wood and Hermione, obvs), and what our favourite films and music were. I confessed my undying love for Inception and Tim decided that whatever type of music Kings of Convenience make, he likes it (Google says they do Indie Folk, so now you know). Also, when you sit up on the high chairs by the balcony, you do actually feel like the Queen of Five Guys.

‘BRING ME MY MANIFOLD FLAVOURS OF DRINK, MAGIC MACHINE.’

‘I WISH FOR AS MANY FRIES AS THE SANDS OF THE SEA.’

‘PLEASE PUT ALL THE FOODS OF EARTH INTO THIS BURGER BUN.’

And they did.

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We are about to head into camp season – Tim is gone for the full week (!) with the teenage boys, though I’m only doing a ten-mile overnight hike with the girls, over a day and a bit. I have started to break it down, and ten miles + carrying a bed roll + sleeping on the floor in the woods without a tent + what the cheff is a bed roll have started to make intimidating sums in my head. It’s alright, guys. I’ve totally got this [am terrified].

this is not a bed.

this is not a bed.

Tim has genuinely got this, because he’s the sort of chap who looks casually hot in a canoe.

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(From last year.) What the.

Henry had a nursery induction this week, where the following exchange occurred:

H’s new teacher: ‘So Henry, what’s your favourite thing to do at home?’
Hen: (top of voice, hands in air) ‘SCREEN TIIIIME!’
Me: (*ALL THE SHAME*) ‘we do, ah, do other things.’

Apart from this, he had a lovely time, and we are crossing our everything that we can move before September so he can go. Between you and me, my dears, I have so much anxiety about our unmoving house move that it makes me want to curl up into a little foetal ball every time I think about it. If you’d like to throw any of your good vibes in our direction and/or politely hustle our solicitors with eyebrows and bribes, consider this my blessing to go ahead.

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This week’s morning adbentures included hot walks/bike rides, train journeys to Goring for weir-watching and ice cream by the river, many playgrounds, the library and a cousins’ trip to West Green House Gardens. The weather has been in the thirties, which sounds fabulous until I remind you that the British do not really understand or see the need for air-conditioning. On the other hand, this has also meant a continual excuse for ice cream, and we try always to take this and run with it.

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Teddy has fallen in deep and profound love with our pop-up version of ‘Dear Zoo’. He’s not allowed to look at it by himself, because he gets too excited and rips off the flaps. I put it in different hiding places,¬†he finds it and takes it off to secret corners to chuckle over; rinse, repeat.

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DIS MY FAVOURITE.

I got a small pile of books from the library that turned out to be all thrillers and Books of Tense and Obscure Emotion, so got out Sadie Jones’ The Unexpected Guests again on a whim. It’s as delightful as I remember. Everything about it is perfect and lovely, and I wish I’d written it so I could tell everyone it was mine.

Instead I wrote this post, and a thing about toddler tantrums and Sirius Black for TalkMum, which is here if you fancy it. It’s no Unexpected Guests, but it was fun.

Oh gosh, 1am. Over and out, you guys. Over and out.

Flying the flag for date night

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Real spouse talk: we find date nights hard these days.

Didn’t everyone say we would, and didn’t we think, all naively, that we’d find a way to work around it? I am in awe of couples who manage to get out once a week or even once a month. Whether you pay someone to come round (sometimes more expensive than we can afford, and difficult to do on weeknights) or just ask a friend (do they have kids already? What might the boys do to their house?), it’s bristling with awkwardness.

More real spouse talk: our relationship deteriorates, in measurable and significant ways, when we don’t have time alone.

And we do not want a relationship of pleasantries and routine. No, we signed up for hand-holding and intimate conversations and intimate everything else. I am here to make a stand and say that friendship, even best-friendship, is not good enough. Even with small children. Even with work and tiredness. I am here for heart-hurting love, and not a single thing less will do.

So it’s a good job, all things considered, that Timothy is the type to book tickets to BBC recordings on a whim, and take us off to London for the evening. All of us, because my brother- and sister-in-law¬†were lovely enough to entertain the boys for the evening while we skipped off into the capital. They live just south of the river Thames, work in animation and theatrical makeup, and are the coolest and nicest people I know.

We were late, of course, so the first half of the date was characterised by sprinting: to the Tube station, onto the Tube, through a sandwich (awkward Tube eating is awkward), and then onto the theatre, where the lady told us they were already full. Great. So we took a long walk down through Bloomsbury to Covent Garden, and got a frozen custard from Shake Shack. Mine came with toffee sauce, chocolate pieces and a kind of malt powder that was like crushed Malteasers plus Horlicks plus crack. I ate it with blueberry lemonade at my elbow, and I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be the same.

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Pre-Raphelites woz 'ere. *shriek*

Pre-Raphaelites woz ‘ere. *shriek*

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Then – oh, my heart – we hired Boris bikes, and freewheeled over the river, Big Ben and the London Eye gleaming on the water, back to pick up the boys. I haven’t been on a bike since university, and went the whole way chanting ‘we’re not going to die we’re not going to die’. Three miles on a bike through London, while the sun sets? My date-o-meter just spontaneously combusted. We came back to chocolate fondue and some Peppa Pig talk, and it was all so perfect it hurt.

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On my flag of personal absolutes is painted ‘DATE NIGHT’. I believe in date night, however we wrangle it. If it’s on a Boris bike, so much the better.

Share with me your collected wisdom, o internet browsers: how do you make date night work? 

Party for one

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I have decided that first birthday parties are the best of all possible parties. Really, they are.

First, the whole thing is basically a happy celebration of the two of you looking after a baby for a year. He grew some inches, he crawls and he’s eating food: you win everything, parents!

Second, the celebratee has no idea what’s going on, so there’s no pressure: no need to go all out with elaborate themes, bouncy castles or housefuls of sugar-hyped children if you don’t fancy it. You can make it exactly what feels comfortable, however big or small that is.

I have years of badly-made costumes and bouncy castle hire ahead of me, I know. But for now¬†I can get by, oh, very happily indeed, on a nice cake, a small crowd and a bit of bunting. I always end up messing around with the bunting some time after midnight the night before — but then, commemorating a year of baby with a night of no sleep has a certain poetic resonance. I have kept many a midnight watch with you, little bear. Let’s do it once more for the memories, eh? And the bunting.

Speaking of, I got this exceedingly simple idea from the marvellous You Are My Fave. I am drawn like a moth to a flame towards things that can be made using only a pair of scissors. If you are the sort of dunce that is intimidated by buying fabric [raises hand], then here’s a tip: go to Hobbycraft, and look for fat quarters. My mother-in-law, who sews, tells me this is A Thing, and not a joke. It’s actually a little selection of small pieces of fabric. Cut them up into strips, tie them on, and hey presto! I kind of want to leave this up all year.

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So much for bunting. For the cake, I made Nigella’s Autumnal Birthday Cake, from her How to be a Domestic Goddess. The title is not terribly self-explanatory, so let me tell you that it is maple syrup cake, with a meringue frosting. WHAT THE. My baking muscles are very rusty, and I started the thing at 11pm with a headache, but it still turned out alright. Because meringue frosting is the business. It keeps its swirly shape exactly, and sets with this slight crackle on top.¬†I left out the nuts and threw in edible glitter. Teddy was a fan, and so was his face.

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(PS, is this where I throw in extra-casually, as per mummy bloggers, that this was Teddy’s first taste of cake and oh my gosh he loved it? Um, no. It’s not true. I have a feeling that will never be true of any of my children.)

Apart from that, I bought straws, nautical napkins and ice cream pots from the supermarket, strung up some photos, and that was it. The punch was a carton of cranberry juice mixed with a bottle of cloudy lemonade, with frozen raspberries floating on the top.

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We ate cold meat and salad brought by our family, then had birthday cake, chocolate fondue, and jelly and ice cream for dessert. ¬†Note to self: find out how jelly moulds are supposed to work. Because right now you don’t know.

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We ate, opened presents and then went to the park. It was a sunny, gentle afternoon, and Mr Birthday had a great time. I have two more days till I have to really think about him outgrowing his babyhood, but for now this was a lovely way to ease us into it. And costumes can wait for another year.

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Museums I have known and sprinted in, by Henry Jeffcoat

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I am a huge believer in kids and museums. Firstly, because I love museums, and if you can’t impose your likes and dislikes on your children while they’re too young to roll their eyes, well, when can you, eh? Secondly, because most of them are free, so I can buy us cake on the way out instead if we’ve got any spare change. And thirdly, because they’re only going to learn appropriate public behaviour if they get a chance to practice. I am as big a fan of soft play as the next rained-indoors mother, but let’s face it: all they learn there is survival of the fittest. It’s like a germy Lord of the Flies.

We do museums in London whenever we get chance – the ‘dinosaur you-seeum’ being our personal favourite, of course – but it’s not quite close enough to go often. But Reading has two jewels in its crown for pre-schoolers, and they’re only a short walk\drive away. The Museum of English Rural Life is a dream come true for transport-obsessed toddlers, and I’ve written about that one here. Today, we went to the other: Reading Museum, in the town hall, a gorgeous old redbrick building near the station.

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Every time we come here, I want to text everyone I know with children afterwards. It’s fantastic. The collection is quite small, and as random as anything: Reading historical artefacts on the ground floor, from the medieval abbey onwards; then a complete, full-sized replica of the Bayeux Tapestry on the first floor (more about this later); then art, stuffed animals and a Victorian schoolroom at the top. The best part, though, is the backpacks. Toddler-sized and colour-coded, you choose one you haven’t used before and take out the treasures inside one by one. Then there’s a question or quest attached to each item. Since Henry’s hobbies include backpack wearing and getting new toys, you can imagine how he feels about it.

Today we started with a brick, and found a wall of magnetic bricks to make patterns (like several redbrick buildings in Reading). We looked at tiny medieval people in glass cases, and listened to some plainsong from the monks.

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Then we had a toy horse – oh, the joy! – and looked over the BayFaux Tapestry to find horses in battle, and horses riding in boats. Can we just take a minute to talk about this? A determined Victorian embroiderer, Elizabeth Wardle, decided that Britain should have its own copy, and engaged her Leek Embroidery Society (yes!) to make an exact copy. It was completed by thirty-five women in just over a year, and they worked from Elizabeth’s memory and from colour photographs at the V&A. This is a brilliantly batty thing to do. Did you need any further proof that the Victorians were happily bonkers? It’s here.

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After that we had a squirrel to find in the stuffed animal room – which also comes with puzzles and colouring pencils – a set of jingle bells leading us to a thumb piano, and finally some binoculars to look at some art on high shelves.

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Henry was so engaged in finding things, rummaging in his bag for the next toy, and zipping up and down in the lift, that he didn’t have time to misbehave. Maybe excitement about Old Stuff will carry through into his adult life, and he’ll enjoy history as much as I do. Or maybe he won’t, and he’s just learning to look and ask questions and be excited about the world around him. I’ll take either option, to be honest, especially if it comes with a backpack.

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He always cries when we leave, and I think this is recommendation enough.

 

‘I do like your belly, but not right now': some things I said during Father’s Day photos

‘If you sit still and smile for daddy’s photographs, you can have some of daddy’s chocolate.

Do you need a shark for photographs? Ok, alright, hold your shark.

No, not in front of your face. I need to see your face, not your shark.’

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‘Teddy, can you sit back? Teddy. Teddy. Sit back, darling. Sit back sit back sit back. No, Henry, don’t you sit forward now. Both of you need to sit back.’

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‘Teds, not the curtains, please. Hen, it’s not funny. You want to sit over on that side? Oh, ok. No, don’t you play with the curtains either. Daddy doesn’t want to see you playing with curtains. I can’t take a photo of you playing with curtains.’

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‘LOOK AT MEEEEEE!’ *dances like an idiot. Henry, unresponsive, slowly puts shark on head*

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Teddy. Sit up. Come on, bear. Don’t sit on your brother, please.’

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‘Put your belly away! Yes, I do like your belly, but not right now. It’s a lovely belly. Put. It. Away. Thank you.’

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‘Teddeeeeee. Stop hitting your brother, please. TEDS. WATCH SOPHIE AND STOP HITTING YOUR BROTHER.’

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Winner winner chicken dinner. Sort of. Both boys are looking, and only one boy is slightly out of focus. Pee Ess, guys, this is why we’ve never had family portraits done.

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Superpowers, for dads

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The boys in my house wore matching ties today, all three of them. Halfway through the morning rush Henry got upset that his tie wouldn’t lie flat like Timothy’s. From the bathroom I watched Tim take him on his lap and convince him how fine his tie was, how smart, and most importantly, how incredibly flat: it falls down just like a waterfall, Henry. It’s perfect.

Later Henry was practising lunges while I put on my make up, and stopped to admire his tie. He was beaming all over his face, glowing with it. ‘This tie is so smart, Mummy. It like a waterfall’.

I have noticed that this is what happens between Daddy and these boys. He gives them a better way to see things, and they believe him. I’ve watched him convince Teddy that playing a made-up game is more fun than being hungry and cross. He can¬†make our old playground exciting, over and over again, while I faint with boredom on the bench. He’s made Henry terribly severe about road safety without saying anything at all, just by showing him how it’s done. Woe betide you if you cross without pressing the button for the green man. That’s not how Daddy does it. ¬†

If it’s sappy metaphors you’re after, try this: if I order their universe around them, then it’s Timothy who lights up their sky. Timothy, too, who straps on their wings and pushes them off the cliff. He tells them they can fly, and then they do.

It is something special to watch the person you married love the babies you made. One day I’ll look at my grown-up boys, and realise he’s helped them see a better way to be a man.¬†And they will believe him, I hope, because damn. He knows what he’s talking about.

I never want to not feel this. Happy Father’s Day, my love.

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The desert, and other stories

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You are in Arizona. There is something odd about Arizona. A huge, open valley ringed with mountains you never reach. Burning heat. It feels like the ends of your hair are crisping up, like every tiny part of your skin sits under a magnifying glass held by a curious, ant-killing giant.

The intense flatness of the vivid blue sky: no clouds, no sense of perspective. Beautiful, and pitiless.

The Aztec-style decorations on bridges and highways: spirals and lizards etched out in chalk.

The cacti loitering by the freeway and in people’s gardens, playing it cool, like it’s not¬†the weirdest thing ever. You text home. ‘THERE ARE CACTI ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, ALL CASUAL. Like we’re in the Wild West or something?’ ‘Um, you ARE in the Wild West’, they text back. Good point. Where else would it be but here?

The knowledge that every plant has been put there on purpose, because almost nothing grows spontaneously except those enormous lordly cacti. Then seeing how the city planners got carried away with the plant thing and started disguising non-plant items as plants, like mobile phone masts dressed up as palm trees. It feels like a sixties Bond film. Are there Russians dressed up as palm trees too? It’s brilliant.

Citrus fruit trees, with their trunks painted white to stop them shrivelling. The flash of acid yellow lemons between the leaves looking as foreign as anything you’ve ever seen.

The dust in the back of your throat. The point at which your winter-ready English feet get tired of sandals, so you take them off, and last about half a second before you have to leap for some shade, soles singeing.

Hunting for scorpions at night on the wall. Watching them glow blue under torchlight. Spending some time afterwards imagining scorpions leaving the wall for a jaunt into your bed. Sleeping with the duvet tucked in.

The m.e.x.i.c.a.n f.o.o.o.o.o.d. (Pause for sobbing.)

The family whose conversation you slide back into like you’ve seen them every day for the seven years they’ve been gone. A wedding full of lovely details. A ceremony you cry through, a reception where you eat burritos until your dress is straining, and then dance hard and hilariously, sweating into your hair, through the orangey evening and into the night.

Walking out into a city anchored onto desert, and never being able to forget the desert just a few feet underneath, hustling around the edges, whipping into your hair and mouth on the back of a hot wind.

The wind always hot. Even at night. When there’s any wind at all.

There is something odd about Arizona. You belong back with the tangled weedy hedgerows and narrow roads, the drizzle and the dry humour. As soon as you land you feel the rightness of it. But you miss the desert.

You are in Arizona, and then you are not, and you don’t think you will ever get it out of your head.

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What’s the magic (sibling) number?

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I’m back! And I’m catching up as quickly as possible, which is to say, not very quickly at all, despite my many multicoloured to-do lists.

In some ways it’s been a rough landing. Toddler-plus-newborn felt pretty damn hair-raising, but toddler-plus-determined-climbing-biter is black belt martial arts. ‘I’d forgotten how much of my day is fending off chaos with karate-chopping¬†hands’, I meant to text to Tim, but didn’t, because I didn’t get a minute to sit down. (I said it to him while wrestling pyjamas onto Teddy during the three minutes he was home, instead.)

And yet, and yet. The way these two interact at the moment is a joyous thing. They communicate somewhere outside speech, in a dialect of face-patting, cheerio-stealing, laughing and crawling up and down stairs, shoulders bumping together. Every day they get more like brothers. ‘Two boyths in the bath!’ Henry crows in the mornings. ‘Two boyths doin’ crawling! Two boyths in the washing machine!’

I ran in quick for that one. No harm done.

I had a really good week away. Today I sorted out my photos from my brother’s wedding, and it was the photo at the top that made me realise why: sibling time is easy time. Your jokes are always funny, your dance moves are always appreciated; your oldest self comes back out to play and you remember why you liked her.

It was this photo too that convinced me I’m not yet done with babies. We would be lost without our boys, Sarah and I. They have spent a lifetime infuriating us, teasing us, accepting us – we’d be infinitely poorer without all that.¬†Four was a great number: we could divide into pairs if we wanted, but altogether we were like the kids putting our rings together to call up Captain Planet: varied and multi-faceted and unstoppable. No one gets you like your siblings, and the more you have, the sweeter it is.

And my own boys –¬†who knows who might be waiting to join their conspiratorial gang of two? I’m game to find out.*

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*not yet, though.

What’s your ideal number of siblings? What made you decide to stop or carry on? Has your experience with your own family made you want the same, or sent you screaming in the opposite direction? It’s different for everyone, so spill the beans below.

Even the rain loves Hay Festival

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If you are looking for a tweed jacket or trilby hat, go to Hay Festival. It’s not that there are very many tweed-and-trilby shops, but almost everyone there is wearing them. So you’ll get lots of ideas, and can go home and make a Pinterest board.

There are other reasons to love Hay Festival than trilbies, and I’ve written about them in enthusiastic detail here and here. Short version: books and talks and old stuff. This didn’t feel like our year for Hay: we are on absolute spending lockdown till all our house-moving bills are paid, I was full – nose-drippingly, smoker’s-coughingly full – of cold, and as I’m away in the States next week we’ve already used up all our babysitting favours for a lifetime. Still. It’s a tradition, and we love it with a passion: when a Jeffcoat is tired of Hay, s/he is tired of life, etc. We already had tickets for Steven Fry and Tony Fadell. We went.

(On the subject of colds, may we all, as a human race, take an unbroken vow of silence about the fact that I looked up to find Teddy eating one of my nose-soaked tissues today. Eating. I am shuddering as I type. HE MUST NEVER KNOW (until he’s old enough to read this blog. In which case, sorry Teds; and heck yes to your immune system).)

In sad contrast to last year’s enamelled blue sky, a raincloud descended somewhere around Bristol and didn’t lift all day. So no sunning ourselves in the quad over newspapers this time. But that left plenty of time for wandering round the little stands, taking photos and breaking our sugar fast with a hot chocolate so sweet we were buzzing for hours afterwards. I also ate an almond croissant, filled with almond-flavoured custard, that was seriously as large as my face. I might as well stop eating now, because nothing will ever be as good again. We sat in the food court making little whimpering sounds of joy, opposite two Germans making serious work of a ploughman’s lunch. They sat down with plates of salad and chutney, and I thought ‘this lunch seems a little slight’, and then they took out an enormous venison Scotch egg from a paper bag. Our eyes met across the table, and I hope I managed to communicate my respect for you is as the vastness of the universe, good madams¬†with a look. Because, a venison Scotch egg as big as an adult fist? That is the business.

We love Stephen Fry, although we did think that when you’re interviewing someone, they’re probably supposed to speak more than you. Tony Fadell invented the iPod, Stephen. Let him finish a sentence.

‘I had a question for him that was much better than any of those’, lamented Timothy, as we filed out at the end of the Q&A session. It was, too. Isn’t that always the way. Perhaps he can write a fan letter.

We didn’t have time to go into Hay itself this year, alas – though touring twenty book and antique shops with an empty purse would probably have been more painful than otherwise – but we got the Hay 2014 bag and utilised the photo booth, so left feeling like it was a job very well done. And our car reversed first time out of the soggy field we’d parked in.

Even a rained-out Hay day comes up trumps.

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Perfect fifth

Teddy was born with his feet splayed outwards, and immediately proved me a liar.

I’m the¬†sort of¬†person who tells stories because they feel true, and then afterwards realises they’re not true at all. Here‚Äôs one of my accidentally invented stories: my feet point outwards because I spent my childhood in ballet class. Not true, since I got it from my dad, and have now passed it on to the chubby feet of the bear. Here‚Äôs another: I was given the choice of ballet lessons and horse riding lessons, and chose ballet because I didn’t want bandy legs. Then ballet gave me bandy legs anyway. Ho ho!

This one definitely isn’t true, because I started dance lessons when I was three. It’s one of my first memories, in fact: I have hazy flashes – real, I think – of a classroom at the top of a fire escape, and looking down at my own ballet-shoe-clad feet. I started ballet because my mother always wanted to and was never allowed, so she went along to her friend’s lessons and watched mournfully from the sidelines. Ask her and she’ll tell you about it. It’s a very sad story.

So I have Susan’s 1960s dance lessons to thank for mine, all thirteen years of them, and in every stripe and shade. Ballet, of course. Modern dance. Tap. Theatrecraft, which I remember as floating soulfully about in a long skirt (I have just learned that it’s supposed to be Broadway-style dancing, and now I feel cheated, because AMAZING). Pointe work, when we were old enough to have our feet hammered once a week. I was¬†determinedly average at all of it, but by heckers I had a perfect fifth position. My feet faced so far outwards anyway that I only had to try a little bit to make them fit horizontally like a subway sandwich. In ballet, I decided, weird feet are good. I milked it for all it was worth.

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It was all I had to milk, really, because while I loved the dancing, I was too self-conscious to stand out on stage. The girls who had private lessons, who were entered into competitions, flung their arms out and beamed into the faceless audience. You’re supposed to dance without inhibitions, and my inhibitions squatted under my skin, sitting on my voice box when I tried to make conversation with the other girls who all knew each other from the school I didn’t go to.

One year we wore outrageous ‘tropical’ outfits ‚Äď shiny orange-and-pink frills in crackly fabric – and danced in our Christmas show to the Test Match Cricket theme tune. I don’t know whether it was the bouncy moves or the music or the outfit, but suddenly I was possessed with the wild spirit of the Competition Girls. I leaped around and smiled and danced my little heart out, danced like a nine-year-old with nothing to lose, danced like someone who wasn’t a walking fire hazard in glittery polyester. It was exhilarating, and they noticed. Someone apparently asked ‘who is that girl?’, and my dance teacher spoke to my parents after the show about private lessons. The C-word was mentioned. I genuinely think it might have been one of the happiest evenings of my little life, floating home in a cloud of hairspray, dizzy with chosenness and possibility.

The competitions never came to anything much, but as I got into my middle teens I started to own my perfect fifth position. I still had to force myself through the door, but once inside there was a kind of fierce satisfaction that came with dancing free. Sometimes, when I caught the wind just right, the music would lift my arms and legs by itself and I would move exactly the way I wanted to. Our group was smaller now, and kinder, more used to each other. As the only one still being¬†stubbornly ignored by the puberty gods, I never had to worry about excessive jiggling in my unsupportive lycra, and I was always the one getting flung into the air to the accompaniment of REM. The year we did Britney Spears, my goodness. One girl’s gym skirt popped off mid-performance, the button sailing over the heads of the startled third row, but aside from that, we were¬†flawless.

It didn’t last. Once my exams started hotting up, my enthusiasm for spending long evenings at the Methodist hall twice a week cooled off. One day I just stopped going, without saying anything or saying goodbye. It was the least courageous thing I could’ve done, fading out as though thirteen years of demi-pli√© hadn’t done anything for me. It had, and I still feel guilty about it. I wish I’d told them that I’d be holding my wrists just right for the rest of my life, that I would keep my pointe shoes satiny and perfect in every house I lived, that I’d watch High School Musical with a catch in my throat, that just occasionally I’d dance out old dreams, my mother‚Äôs and mine, with the enthusiastic abandon of someone wearing neon polyester and a bun hairsprayed into a helmet.

If my children want to dance, I’d like them to try.¬†I will tell them that¬†if you want to ‚Äď and you have to want to – you can put on fearlessness like a second skin. I will tell them that a good place to start is their inherited, dorky, perfect fifth.

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