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Rats can be so cute

PUBLISHED: 14:13 09 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:13 09 July 2018

Buried treasure for the Primary pirates. Picture BOHDANOCHKA/GETTY IMAGES

Buried treasure for the Primary pirates. Picture BOHDANOCHKA/GETTY IMAGES

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Lynne watches her grandson star in the school play.

George was in his first all-school drama production and I, as a doting grandparents, was invited to one of the performances.

It was my first primary school show for about 25 years. But I have never forgotten “On the First Day of Christmas” in which Ruth was one of the seven swans a’swimming; “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” when she played Lucy, and Mark as Frederick in “The Pirates of Penzance”.

Five-year-old George was to be a rat in a piratical musical called, I believe Pirates of the Curry Bean which, I imagine is performed at schools around the country. One of the big advantages of the show is that you can have an almost limitless number of rodents.

It was a sort of cross between Treasure Island, Dick Whittington and just about any fictional island you can think of... with the complete and total exception of Love Island.

In the Sixties, my primary school did not do drama but we did do music and movement to the weekly BBC radio broadcast. The desks were moved against the walls of the classroom and the chairs were piled on top. We took our shoes off and donned our black plimsolls in order to cavort around the room although, with 30 of us in the class, the “Find a space” instruction was quite a challenge.

The radio was the main technology of the day although we did have a projector for a whole-school end-of-term movie... how we longed to see something more exciting than a documentary about an annual turtle migration or life in the mining towns of the north.

It wasn’t the sort of thing we saw at the Saturday Morning Pictures – Tom and Jerry cartoons, The Children’s Film Foundation features with its child actors (including Michael Crawford, David Hemmings, Dennis Waterman, Susan George), and The Lone Ranger and its Hi-ho, Silver! (not the same as “Hi-ho, silver lining”). But even a wildlife film was better than lessons.

I went with George’s daddy, Mark and four-month-old Herbie. It was hot. When we got to the school, I stood in the road to get Herbie’s backpack out of the car and, when I tried to move, found my shoes had stuck to the melted tarmac. I kept moving after that although a work colleague suggested I could have signed my footprint, as the film stars do outside at Graumann’s Chinese Theatre. Nice thought but the Los Angeles monument is handprints and small road in the north Essex countryside doesn’t have quite the tourist pull of Hollywood Boulevard.

The three of us settled down with battalions of mums, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and camera phones. Herbie had sensibly decided to go to sleep. His eyes, opening only in response to a whole-school yell. He then did his own, individual yell.

George and his class were rats. They each wore a small furry nose and were very much into their parts. George, of the method school, cleaned and twitched his whiskers and made a small, “tch-ing” ratty-like noise.

In all, his ensemble appeared twice for, maybe 30 seconds each time and that minute is impressed on my memory forever. I felt, naturally, that George stood out. He was a rat among rats; it was a committed, believable and mature performance. He also knew the words and actions to the songs and beamed throughout, although his arm movements may have been slightly impeded by restricted music and movement room – he was at the back.

At home time and changed back into his uniform – which showed evidence of the day’s school lunch (“Was it gravy, today, George?”) – my oldest grandson flew out of his classroom on wings of happiness. His daddy congratulated him. “I got goosebumps when I went on,” said George with a sigh of contentment.

It’s in the genes. His grandpa is an actor, his daddy is an actor and director, and his mummy is an actor and drama teacher. As for me? I’m a bit of a drama queen. Ask anyone.

Hot people have been getting in touch. Cherry, in Aylsham, writes: “(At night) My nightie wraps round my arm and nearly cuts off the blood supply...”

My friend, Dorinda, near Bury St Edmunds, may have the answer: “I would recommend one of Marks and Spencer’s little stretchy cotton nighties for sleeping, they are cool and comfortable and only reach the knees, so no danger of getting tangled around your legs. The ones with little sleeves are best as straps do tend to twist and dig in as you toss and turn. We are sleeping (if we can) with windows open front and back, which gives a cool breeze through the bedroom. Unfortunately, this means we get the dawn chorus in stereophonic.”

Meanwhile, after I wrote about being in love with Superman, Pat from Leiston says she would love to see Clark settle down with Lois Lane. “It was always Clark Kent I liked best, and I recently decided that it’s definitely men with short dark hair and glasses that appeal to me, (and beards).

Where did that beard come from, Pat? Is it someone else entirely? I think it is.


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