One of the first things that you notice about the 48 strong cast in Dick Whittington is that 90% them are under 25 years old. It is, as Jeremy Edwards (@jqedwards) tweeted ‘an insanely talented cast #feelingold’ . And indeed, at just 19, Layton Williams (@LaytonWilliams) has achieved so much already – the lead role in Billy Elliott, Thriller the Musical, School for Stars and Bad Education, Victoria Quincey (@victoriaquincey) has recently set up her own dance school and Greg Airey (@gregairey)not only has impeccable acting credentials, but is also a talented photographer. Add that to the kids and principal dancers, many of whom have been in a myriad of shows already, as a mum rapidly approaching middle age (@RuthyM007) one has to stand back and watch in admiration.
But of course the story of Dick Whittington is a young story. It is all about the ambition and the arrogance of youth. It is all about the desire to transcend the path of your forebears and strike out on your own. It’s about cash rich schemes, young irresponsible love, the foolish things one says or does in the heat of the moment and the need to face up to adversity. It is modern in its outlook – a single dad bringing up his kids to think for themselves and fend for themselves in an economic situation much like today, it’s about a young man leaving home to make money in the City and it draws on a great tradition of role reversals in all good love stories where a woman dresses as a man to impress a man -As You Like It, Zorro, Blackadder. (Ok, the last two may not be in the annals of history but you get my drift…)
However, what would Dick et al have done if he was in his thirties? Would he have approached life differently? Would he perhaps have left the cat at home, knowing that digs in London would probably refuse to home an ancient animal, and that he would have to pay extra? Would Alice have given into the urge of the biological clock by then and run off with the local baker? Would they all listen to advice, or still forge ahead in the hot headed manner of their twenties?
I’m not sure. But it got me to thinking. If I could give myself 10 tips in my twenties from the hindsight of my forties, what would I say? Here goes.
1) Speak your Opinions, Don’t let your Opinions Speak You are twenty years old, contrary to your opinion, you don’t know everything, and could learn from others rather than riding roughshod over them. You are very forceful, talented and charismatic, but you are not always right.
2) That Love of Your Life? He wasn’t… Enjoy life, keep safe.
3) Don’t ignore the Middle Aged Woman You know her, you think she’s mad, running after her kids all the time, letting herself go. She may turn out to be the best thing that happened to you. She may once have been as driven as you, but changed course somehow. She may be right. She may be you in years to come.
4) Toughen Up You’re going to need it in the years to come. Especially when you become a parent. You are going to have to face things you never knew you had the strength to cope with. And you will get through it.
5) Enjoy your Looks You know how you think you’re fat? You are soooo not. Everything sinks and yes, those knobbly knees will disappear. You may have to work on your hair colour – take it from me, the perms were not a good idea, and black hair drains you. And your skin? This is one instance when the price is right – invest in a good cream and you won’t look back.
6) Don’t get Caught Out You aren’t yet living in the age of social media, but if you were, you would take to it like a duck to water. But your digital self would not represent the kind of person you actually are. It’s not big to slag other people off, it’s not cool to be rude. You would look at your postings when in your forties and shudder with embarrassment.
7) Save Some Money Ok, I know it’s not going to happen. But I’ve given the advice. Life is for living after all, but there will be hard years ahead, and a nest egg is always handy in an emergency.
8) Your cat is gonna die After her, you will have 3 cats, 2 dogs, 3 goldfish and a very overweight hamster in your life. Lots of tears, and burials in the garden. Shit happens.
9) You will meet the Love of your Life He won’t be what you expected, and where you expected. It will be a rollercoaster adventure – but then you’ve been on the Corkscrew at Alton Towers 11 times in a row, so you will be fine.
10) You will have kids I know you think you’re not maternal, but you are. And your kids will bring you more happiness than you have ever experienced. All that energy spent running around in pursuit of happiness that you are doing now will simply be poured into your children. And they will repay you by flourishing and growing and achieving things that even you never dreamed of.
Looking back, would I have followed my own advice? Probably not. Would You, The Reader, add any more?
Til the next time, this young (nearly) middle aged mum is signing over and out.