Sunday, 1 December 2013

Tinsel, Tantrums and a Missing Fairy Wand

‘The secret is to be useless at school and then get lucky’ – that was the statement made recently by Simon Cowell on a US show.  It was a tongue in cheek remark which was however, taken up by the Education Secretary Michael Gove and disputed at length in the Press.  As a mum who has recently entered the arena of the theatrical arts with her 8 year old son, but has friends in both sectors, it was interesting to read about – whilst all the time shaking her head.  The fact of the matter is, that from a Parent’s perspective, both of them are Right, and Wrong. Mr Cowell is wrong in perpetuating the myth that Svenghali-like he will change the fortunes of those who cross his path, regardless of qualifications.  Gove is wrong because there are a lot of unemployed graduates out there (I know, I’ve read their CVs).  However, what was amusing about this tiff was that actually, bravado aside, they were both saying the same thing – hard work pays off.  But for the artist to have an education gives him or her that additional crutch, should they fall on hard times in their chosen career (or get rejected at the X Factor audition stage). 

And of course, school is about so much more than education.  It’s about sociability, it’s about activity, it’s about respect, discipline and mobility.  Rather like the arts.  So Mr Cowell and Mr Gove, stop the tantrums, agree to disagree, and get on with saving the world in your own unique ways…

It was with a drawn breath however, that I looked at the final rehearsal schedule for the pantomime.  As I write, we have exactly 16 days until Opening Night.  This is a big deal, and comes with a timetable which necessitates Little Man leaving school early most nights, which means my leaving work early most nights, which means that everything gets slightly more crammed into an already packed day, and somehow we then have to fit in homework, and the blessed concerts that come up as par for the course at this time of year.   On talking to other first time panto mums, we all had the same reaction – it was going to be very hard work indeed.  There was a lot of talk of getting the wine in, Dominos on speed dial, burnt sausage casseroles and so on.  The kids have been absolutely fine – possibly because they are used to the discipline at school, it was just the adults who were having the wobbles.

So far we have managed to cover 4 Christmas Light Switch ons, with one more to go.  As a little troupe we have smiled and sung our way through Fleet, Odiham, Farnham and Yateley, and will be appearing at Hartley Wintney shortly.  We’ve coped with freezing cold weather, dodgy sound systems, various quality of staging and the disappearance of Fairy Bow Bells wand (luckily she had a spare). The kids have handed out fliers, smiled for the Press calls,  shimmered in tinsel and remained entirely upbeat throughout perishing conditions in which the parents are huddled, muttering about mulled wine and hot mince pies and Bah Humbug… 

And this is only the beginning.   Mr Cowell, Mr Gove – you are both right.  With a lot of hard work, you can get lucky, you can achieve. 

And a big coat and a flask of tea also helps.