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In Good Company: Old Times, Old Places

...Years ago when we were fortunate to own a small part of history in Huddersfield, a few Christmas fairies and myself were discussing our future in an old dressing room at the Theatre Royal. We optimistically planned a meeting to take place ten years hence. With uncomfortable flying ballet harness protruding through the sequins and a mutual ‘cork tip’ wending its soggy way round the fairy ring, we cast our predictions for the future...

Enid Blackburn muses on the folk from her past that she would like to meet again.

A recent school reunion celebration set a few school pals and myself a daunting poser. Were we included in this invitation?

The day I finished my ‘sentence,’ there was no hint of a future reunion. Teachers seemed content enough just to tear up my books. Had we the necessary courage to face a united evening, to shake the hands that once shook us? Is it wise to revive the joys and agonies – look what happened to Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.

The subjects I loved best were the boy who sat behind me and my art master. But a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then; perhaps it would be kinder to keep our illusions intact.

On the other hand, it might have been pleasant to meet up with one or two of the teachers once more. Our history mistress for instance, the one who used to stand in front of the class and gaze into my eyes with a look that could freeze chewing gum, and proclaim ‘I don’t like you people.’

She used to entertain everyone with rhetorical stories concerning Henry VIII’s colourful past and my colourless future. I feel sure she would be relieved to know that although I never remembered Elizabeth I’s birthday, I did manage to survive.

I often wish it were possible to meet up with some acquaintances again. The lorry driver who asked me the way to Meltham last week - did he ever arrive? Does anyone unfortunate enough to pick on me as a guide ever reach their destination? The evacuees I played with during the war, especially the adventurous one who promised marriage. Our old art master who decreed that all artists go mad in the end – is he still with us I wonder? The biology teacher who confiscated a book ‘Impassionate Youth’ just when it was my turn to read it. If she has finished with it I’d like it back please, the unselfish biology student who cut her earthworm in three pieces when my friend and I forgot ours. Well, Eamonn, that should keep you busy for a while.

Years ago when we were fortunate to own a small part of history in Huddersfield, a few Christmas fairies and myself were discussing our future in an old dressing room at the Theatre Royal. We optimistically planned a meeting to take place ten years hence. With uncomfortable flying ballet harness protruding through the sequins and a mutual ‘cork tip’ wending its soggy way round the fairy ring, we cast our predictions for the future.

‘I can see myself in ten years’ time with a hungry tribe of toddlers clutching at my skirt,’ I said, causing a great deal of laughter among the tinsel at this prophesy. Most of our predictions concerned the opposite sex – we were going through a lean time. Boyfriends had been banned and because one naughty fairy, who shall be nameless, had been seen receiving a playful slap from a stagehand, any conversing in this direction was considered a breach of contract.

Time disintegrated our fairy band and I wonder if anyone did remember our pact? One threw away her tutu shortly after and joined a nude review, another kept in touch for a while until her family grew up and she ran off with a Greek.

I did see one of the Theatre Royal stagehands the other day though. We were both ‘strap-hanging’ – well I was hanging, he was leaning.

‘Remember me?’ I asked, wiping away the tears as a waft of 90 percent proof hit my nostrils. He became very excited when I mentioned the old theatre. Resting an elbow on a nearby straw hat he gave us all a hair-raising description of something nasty he had just had removed there.

When he started undoing his buttons I realised he was confusing his theatres! He pretended to remember me, but age and high spirits kept getting in the way. As I left the bus he was having difficulty in distinguishing a hat from his elbow. But nobody knows a fairy when she’s forty.

At least my prediction came true, although my hungry tribe are rapidly becoming hungry adults, they still clutch at my skirts occasionally. Well now I can look forward to the next decade; perhaps I shall enter into the realms of ‘Grannyhood’ with another hungry tribe of toddlers clutching at my skirts.

*
I am surprised to read that estate agents have only just discovered that half their clients just like to see the inside of other people’s homes. Have they ever tried to get a window seat on a bus at dusk, that revealing moment just before the curtains are drawn? One agent complains that some offenders live in the same terrace as a house offered for sale and only go round to see what the owners have done to improve it.

What a good idea! Let’s face it we all have a curious nosey parker streak. I find it great fun living near a bus stop, from my front window I view all sorts of comings and goings. On the other hand, our illuminated address must be entertaining for the bus queue on certain occasions, especially when a middle-aged sugar plum fairy takes the floor.

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