Tapping the blues away
I danced; I cleaned - almost anagrams but I was only destined to do one of them.
Come and meet those dancing feet Tapping the blues away Crashdance The dancing years
The thespian season is over. By and large, the theatres are at rest for the summer and I have decided to hang up my dancing shoes for good.
It is only in the last couple of years that I have played roles that require a great deal of dancing and I think I should have started sooner.
Aged six, I went to Co-op dancing classes but I wasn't chosen to be a Junior (the famous Co-op dance troupe). I don't think it was my short, straight hair, NHS glasses or slightly round tummy that thwarted my ambition to be a ballerina. It was lack of talent. Miffed that I didn't get to be one the four cygnets in Swan Lake or even one of the hippos in Fantasia I retired from dancing lessons aged six-and-a-half.
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But, more than 40 years on, I was suddenly called upon to learn dance routines and master the art of the step-ball-change.
Long-suffering choreographer Yolande was most encouraging, assuring me I could dance despite the evidence to the contrary. “You can, Lynne, you can.”
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But even she couldn't disguise the slight glazing-over when, for the umpteenth time I danced to the left and everyone else danced to the right.
Even with the advantage of being in the back row and thus able to copy the people in front, it did not stop me getting it wrong.
But if stage work teaches you anything, it teaches you to go wrong with aplomb. Keep smiling; don't mouth “knickers”; enjoy the moment because there is one thing you can be sure of; everyone will be watching you because you're the one doing something different.
The worst thing you can do - and this applies to life in general - is draw attention to your shortcomings.
Initially, acknowledgement can be quite engaging.
“Sorry I made a mess of that - I wasn't sure which of my left feet to lead with.”
“Never mind, Lynne.”
But after the first dozen times it becomes a bit tiresome and people get fed up with you. It is much better to exude happiness and flash a beaming smile. In fact, Yolande eventually built my mistakes into the routine so they looked deliberate which, I think, shows vision… or maybe resignation.
After the last night of tap-dancing hell, my diamante-studded shoes were consigned to the dustbin of history, ie chucked to the back of the cupboard under the stairs.
Now I can concentrate on the housework which, after two months devoted to musicals, has piled up.
I am looking forward to spending a good long time in the household cleaners section of the supermarket, finding new products that will restore my home to mint condition (as if).
Environmentally it is deeply unsound but I love bleach. When I watch dirtbusters Aggie and Kim attacking toilet bowls with handfuls of scrunched up newspaper, it just makes me yearn for Domestos.
There is clean and there is (ping) sparkling clean - that's the one you see in TV ads when the lavatory not only emits twinkling stars of cleanliness but smells like a summer herbaceous border, issuing forth flowers.
In the cynical world of journalism you might think I would never be taken in by the promises of television commercials.
But funnily enough, while I don't believe our elected politicians when they assure me they are the best thing since sliced bread, I am completely convinced by the Hovis ad - the one with the little boy and the music from Dvorak's New World Symphony.
That is probably because I have never been badly let down by a loaf of bread.
I am a sucker for a catchy commercial and, if I'm not careful, it could take over my life…
Enter Stepford Lynne. It is breakfast time**:
“Good morning, perfect husband. Good morning, perfect children. Three shredded wheat or would you rather have a bowl of Coco Pops?”
“You look nice, perfect mum…”
“Thank you… You'll be lovelier each day with fabulous pink Camay.”
“Can you wash my sports kit, mum?”
“Of course, darling. With the appliance of science anything is possible.”
“I'll be off to work, then.” (exit husband)
“Vorsprung durch technik, dear.”
“What's this muck in my sandwiches, mum?”
“Eight out of ten cats prefer it, sweetheart.”
“I don't like this drink either.”
“But I'm reliably informed they drink it in the Congo. Now off you go, I have to shake and vac to get the freshness back.”
Exit happy children as mum puts a towel to her cheek and murmurs: “Softness is a thing called Comfort.”
Why am I so easily seduced by a jingle?
Why is it that I can't bring myself to buy a supermarket's own-brand washing-up liquid?
Surely it can't be because I genuinely believe that hands that do dishes can be soft as my face with mild green Fairy Liquid.
I drank Cinzano because Joan Collins did but - wait a minute - I drank Campari because it matched my lipstick. So, you see, I'm not so shallow after all.
**Lynne Mortimer would like it to be known she has received no payment for any of the product placement in this piece… although she is open to offers. (No she's not, Ed)