Ballet High

It was November 1973 when I decided never to wear women’s clothing again. 

At the tender age of sixteen, I was asked to appear in a sketch my Balham amateur dramatics society were producing.  I’d been overlooked for many large parts, so this was my chance for glory. 

The sketch was entitled: ‘We’re the only girls left in the ballet’.  It was a three-handed sketch.   The other two were six inches taller than me, a generation older and had beards.  I didn’t start shaving until I was around 35, so could not compete in the facial growth stakes.

Aside from performing in the church hall, we would travel with our revues; these were invariably held in local mental homes (that’s showbiz!).  The downside to this was that the audience rarely laughed at what we thought were the right places.  We could have performed King Lear and they’d have probably complained that was too funny.

Meanwhile, with my first venture (that I’m admitting here) looming, I had to be helped into a tutu.  If Margot Fonteyn had ever visited SW17, she’d have had kittens. 

The dress cut into my crotch (almost acting as a vasectomy); I’ve still never taken to blocks of wood in the ends of my shoes and a mixture of muslin, gauze and nylon brings me out in a rash.

So, if ever you go to the ballet to watch Romeo and Juliet, if my stage career had taken off, I could have played the latter – although I’m not good with heights, so they’d have had to have cut the balcony scene.

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