Jazz hands and home-made costumes

Ah, the old school play. Yawn.

My mother must have spent countless hours numb-bummed and restless, sitting through the performances of every other parents’ children, waiting for my brief and lacklustre one-worded appearance on the school stage.

Family photos - me in the school play 1973

More often than not my appearance would be in the form of an instrument-toting orchestra member. Recorder, violin, piano, even trumpet, I tried them all. At least I was mercifully saved from the spotlight. Mostly.

The occasions I recall most vividly in my on-stage career were as follows:-

1. My performance as a poppy in our version of The Wizard of Oz. I wore green tights, a green top and a vast crepe paper red head-dress / bonnet creation. Not my finest hour.

2. Our production of Tom Sawyer. Not the leading role, but an actual speaking part that year. I had to play a drunken has-been. The writing was clearly already on the wall by the time I was 10.

3. Being dressed as Danny Zuko in Grease and gyrating on the hood of a life-size art class created Cadillac to the x-rated lyrics of “Greased Lightnin’.”

I remember the stomach-churning angst and the inability to smile as adrenalin invaded my cheek muscles. I yearned for a role in costume and make-up.

Perhaps there is a reason why none of the photos of these historic performances have survived. Perhaps my parents never actually filmed them. Understandable.

The only survivor is this (above) – our Primary School production of ‘Up the Cut.’ A tale of canal folk (‘The Cut’ being local dialect for ‘canal’ in Birmingham). I must have been cute that year, as I was only about 5 years old. That’s me front and centre with the blonde mop of hair. How much would I pay for that right now?…

I recall the productions in which my own son has starred over the years. The first, aged 4, an unbearably cute nativity story. Aged 5, ditto. Aged 6 & 7, more of the same – summer and winter terms. And so on. Less and less cute, more and more self-conscious, a child’s development over time recorded in song and dance. And yet, no matter what the subject, no matter how ordinary the singing, I have saved each precious moment with a lump in my throat and a camera in my hand.

Little Joseph, nativity play 2005

And here we are, in the last week of the last term of the last year before High School. No longer cute. Full of testosterone and equally full of nerves. We sat for two hours totally mesmerised by the fantastic performance of these 11-year-old kids in their home-made costumes……

School play aged 11

Their little jazz hands are no longer small, and though my bottom may still be numb, my heart is full as I watch my child growing in to a man before my eyes.

Don’t waste time. Preserve the memories of your child’s development now – it is the best gift you could ever give to your children. They just don’t know it yet.

It’s free to capture and share the memories of your whole life and the lives of your family at www.SaveEveryStep.com.

“Life’s a Journey, SaveEveryStep”

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