End of an era.

Sometimes while you’re attempting to get on with your little life, something happens that makes you stop, take stock and wonder at the apparently ordinary. Stuff that reinforces the whoosh of time passing with such force it’s almost panic-attack scary, events which hard stop a status-quo that felt comfortably never ending, a couple of hours which shunts perception of what you think might be important onto a branch line and – for that brief time at least – instead a simple and rather melancholy cypher of the world stands front and centre.

It’s an innocent enough premise; the end of year school play which we’ve done before, but today was a little different. There would apparently be little fun on offer when paying to share a hot and humid village hall with a 100 excited and noisy kids* and their only slightly less manic parents. Locked in for 90 minutes with absolutely no chance of the large medicinal you’ve fervently self-prescribed, and viewing the whole shebang with a world weary intellectual snobbishness side-ordered with chore and boredom.

And that’s pretty disrespectful when you consider the entire school has forgone any real education since half term to learn a whole heap of songs, dialogue and dances. Yet I’ve been watching Verbal trying to hide behind scenery for six years; three times per annum she’d sweat over her one line before delivering it in a dull monotone while staring anywhere but the audience. And then run away.

Random has some “Dad Genes” going on and so can be seen mugging for all she is worth, but this is not her last time in primary school, she is not stepping up to a place where the difficult transition between child and adult takes place, it’s not the nine year old who is teetering on the precipice of puberty and all the confusion that this bring. And it seems Verbal realised all this in her own way, and found a way to stare stagefright right in the snozzle and still come out swinging.

First she was half of the dark undertaking duo – Snuffle and Rot – tendering to the recently deceased in the very Wild West town of Splodge City. She had some decent lines and delivered them with a level of confidence and timing little seen until tonight. The audience laughed, the kids fed off it and you’d have to have a heart of frozen lead not to melt a little when the tiny tots get up there and try and remember which way is right. Or wrong. It hardly matters.

The bigger children were ‘busting some moves’** while the plot unfolded with a certain predictability, some truly terribly corny jokes and much singing. I found myself genuinely engrossed by the whole thing; clearly huge amounts of work had been put in and the results were there to see. But we’d yet to see Verbal’s second character triumph.

Some of the more sophisticated of you out there may have witnessed powerful operatic performances by the world’s finest companys, been rocked and shocked by the best bands at a million watts or blown away by famous actors who command the largest stages, but I would contest that until you have seen “Lightening the Wonder Horse”, you have seen nothing.

It may only be a heavy cloth fabrication of a the heroin’s noble steed, but let me tell you it is impossible not to fall about in more than a little mirth when this two part equine wonder begins to dance. Okay I accept it’s not much of a speaking part but, even with parent’s understandable patronage of their own offspring, it not only stole the show, it galloped off with the bloody thing. No honestly – I guess you had to be there 😉

So that’s that then. Last performance of Year Six and they definitely knew it. It’s also apparent many, if not all, of them can do stuff now beyond the likes of us. Not just the youthful veneer protecting them from the significant possibility of ritual humiliation, but also the trust, friendship and fun of being a group of confident and joyful humans clearly having a ball with absolutely no fear of failure. It’s wasted on the buggers, frankly.

And while I lament the passing of time, the realism of understanding no longer will Verbal only orbit your world, the shock of how-the-fuck-did-six-years-go-so-quickly?, I’m more than a bit delighted she went out on a high. The whole lot of them deserved the rich accolades and adulation they received as the curtain called, but I’m left with something a little more personal.

A week or so ago, I was going on a bit about how horrible London was, how hot I’d been in my suit while closeted with the tunnel rats, how there could be no place other than the surface of the sun which could be less pleasant when Verbal brought me to a premature halt with “Yeah Dad, but if you really want hot, try being the inside of a horse“.

Fair point. Well made.

* The little one behind us would howl every time a soloist performed their song. I couldn’t help thinking he has a bright future as a music critic.

** apparently. So I’ve been told. I’ve no idea what this means.

One thought on “End of an era.

  1. Ian

    Al, I’ll try and dig out for you a sketch by Mike Harding he did called Quasimodo Meets The Virgin Mary, it’s about his primary school nativity play and is utterly hilarious.. you’ll never view school plays in the same way again!

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