It Takes ‘Allsorts’

The Nutcracker, Royal Ballet (Johan Persson, ROH)

The Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker was on Sky Arts 2 last night and being the only member of the clan awake I chose to watch it. If Mr Carmichael had withstood the soporific effects of a bottle of Merlot in a more manly fashion I am sure I’d have been watching Match of the Day but he didn’t, so I wasn’t.

The Nutcracker always makes me a little weepy. It reminds me of Christmas past, when The Daughters were were small and believed that Santa had drunk the sherry (MrC and yours truly), the elves had devoured the mince pies (MrC) and the reindeer had chomped through the carrots (one of the dogs. The one that liked carrots).

Christmas because we used to take one, two, three then four girls on the eve of the present fest to see this child friendly two act ballet at the Royal Opera House, the Coliseum and latterly Matthew Bourne’s modern take on this perennial classic at Sadler’s Wells.

You may well be saying “ahhh” now but hold that kind thought because daughter No. 2 told us over a take away Thai green curry last night that she always hated going and hated the dresses I forced, yes forced, her into. What do I do with that unwanted and I think unwarranted intel? As the parent here I have decided to take it half full and assume past endurances have served to cultivate in her an adult appreciation of the Arts.

Anyway, I’m in a lull as regards Christmas right now awaiting, in the very not too imminent future, a grandchild or two to bring back the yule tide magic.

NB: If a daughter happens to stumble upon this by ‘not too imminent’ I mean at least ten years. Those intervening 120 months are pre allocated as ME time.

Daughter No. 2 gave up ballet before her tenth birthday preferring the cut and thrust of a lacrosse pitch. In comparison Daughter No. 3 danced for much longer and indeed still does at uni between socialising in the Student Union, socialising in night clubs, painting her body and/or sewing herself into cave woman outfits according to theme to socialise in night clubs and, I fervently hope, attending lectures.

She face-booked me the other day to recount her latest japes. Namely the fire brigade turning up last week to put out the burnt pork crackling and the highlights of their ‘hilair’ (FB language) quiz nights that the house of ten around the corner hold every Monday. Oh the fun they have and even better, her team won last Monday so have to prepare all the questions for the next session.

“And study?” I type-whisper. “Have you any essays due?”

I am cut off and pulled back to permissible topics of ‘convo’ – a new shirt she has bought and the fact that her life would be easier if she had a car at uni. NOT easier for me, Darling!

But back en pointe, please. This daughter went on to dance Clara in her ballet school’s performance of The Nutcracker. Warning… weepy interlude to follow. Starting with the first bar of the overture, building through the waltz of the snowflakes, the divertissement, reaching a crescendo in the pas-de-deux (oh yes, the pas-de-deux) and the lacrimi-inducing Apotheosis my proud mother memories are seared into my tear ducts.

One problem however was that Clara does not wear a tutu. Costume designers over the years have erred on the virginal longish whitish type dress and my daughter’s was no exception. The only spot of colour a burgundy sash. She envied the supporting acts’ tutus vociferously and with a passion. In particular those of the Licorice Allsorts. Use your imagination. Neon blue, green, pink, orange and yellow twirling and swirling across the stage at the opening of Act II.

ENB licorice allsorts – costume design, Sue Blane

So proud were we, I ordered one and justified this extravagance by assuring Mr Carmichael that both her memories and pride in dancing Clara would be augmented in far more important ways than pecuniary. He bought it. She chose pink. And to be fair it saw a great deal more service than Clara’s white shroud which still languishes in its dry-cleaning bag.

dry-cleaning bag removed (mrscarmichael)

That was until a school friend borrowed it and her mother washed the beautiful tutu in a WASHING MACHINE. Forgiveness has no purchase on this mother’s craggy hunch of fury.

My lucky child. She was offered the opportunity to train under some of the UK’s best contemporary dancers and choreographers but after agonising chose to study History and enjoy to the full the ‘student experience’ at a red brick uni.

Remember that her team of girls won last Monday night’s quiz? Their team name, The Clitoris Allsorts. Sorry, but I did tag a warning. Even as her mother I can see there is humour there and more than a little Karma too. Saccharine sweet or intensely anatomical it does take all sorts to make this family.

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