‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
It’s probably the question kids hate most and yet we can’t resist asking. If I asked my three-year-old granddaughter, she would surely say ‘a princess’. But back in my day, we were not invited to dream. First I was going to be a nurse, then I settled for a teacher. I didn’t stray far from that in real life either.
Whenever I asked my daughter that question, she didn’t have to think long, ‘I only want to sing and dance,’ she would say with a twirl. That was fine when she was three, but she was still saying that ten years later… and beyond. As good mothers should, I would say, ‘Yes, that’s all very well, but how are you going to earn your living?’ And she would twirl again, ‘I only want to sing and dance.’ And lo and behold, that’s what she did. She went to an all-singing-and-dancing college, and became a musical theatre performer. And so she got to live her dream.
Did I have a dream lurking behind my real-world ambitions? Of course I did, but I hardly let myself think it. I was not allowed to learn to dance (don’t ask!) but that didn’t stop me flinging myself about in my bedroom. A double wardrobe with mirrors just begs you to pose. As for singing, my brothers would complain about taking me anywhere as they couldn’t shut me up.
Well I’ve certainly grown up. In fact I’ll be 70 this year. And guess what! I’m getting my chance to sing and dance at last. I joined Three Towns Theatre Company (Medway) in September and I can’t wait to tread the boards for the very first time – this week – in Wind in the Willows. I may not be at the front of the dance troupe, but I’ll be singing and dancing along with the best of them. And I’ve even got a little bitty song to myself. Yah boo sucks, brothers!
Esther Cohen (McLellan)