Posts tagged: nostalgia
Sous construction #ForumLesHalles #paris #myparis #tourism #photography #phonography #instagram #instagrammers #architecture #travaux #travel - Paris always evolving - wonder if I’ll see the end result. #nostalgie #nostalgia (at Forum des Halles)
We twins can’t have been more than two months old when my mum sat us on top of her ‘Tallboy’ writing cabinet to present us properly to the family for our naming ceremony. This was not our official christening but our induction. Remembering this may seem implausible to the naked brain but I clearly remember It as THE easiest gig of my life. As identical twins we didn’t have to do that much to draw attention to ourselves: plus I had just got over a nasty bout of whooping cough so each new day of mine was a celebration. Even though it wasn’t particularly cold, we were overly wrapped up so did ‘new winter baby’ to the best of our abilities; dressed identically, sitting side by side propped one against the other like the little woollen puddings we were, secured against falling by the reassuring hands of our smiling mother. All sixteen, searching family eyes were fixed upon us (I strangely can’t remember my father or brother being in that room) when my sister, Elicia – then aged 7 – piped up ‘We should call them Paula and Paulette. I think it’s cute’. No objections were raised, the new family parts were named and behaviour was set. Life passed fairly peacefully in our baby bubbles, we learned quickly how to walk and talk and think for ourselves and we also learned to sing. Yes. The twins were singing just and true by the time they were barely two.
As Northern Branch Secretary for Equity and a co-owner of a ground-breaking concept club in Manchester which was owned by and catered specifically for black people called ‘The Ebony Club’ my mum was well known in the entertainment industry and also heavily involved with many community based artistic activities. She was also instrumental in the organisation and activities of the local Community Centre so whenever stage shows or concerts were on the agenda, our family fleshed out the programme with our varying talents and skills.
At one memorable show Paula and I were slotted to perform ‘Daisy Daisy’ a dry but easily remembered turn of the century music hall ditty. We were the first act on the bill and had choreographed a simple routine for the occasion: holding hands, mirroring each other’s every movement and gesture, swinging our arms from side to side in time to the music and singing in harmony along to the piano accompaniment. Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ it wasn’t, but with its high, twins in sync ‘ooh ah’ factor brought the house down (as babies doing dance routines and singing always do). The crowd gave us a standing ovation. We liked it so much that we stayed on the stage and sang our song again as an encore. The crowd applauded again. We stayed on the stage. When the compère announced the next act we were standing next to him, lapping up the applause. From the wings, Mum hissed us to ‘get.off.the.stage.now’ We refused to budge. We loved the attention. Laughter filled the room, more applause. We loved it even more. This was better than eating breakfast and we weren’t going anywhere. This was our moment. This was our stage. When Mum came to drag us off we separated and played chasing. More applause. More laughter. More love. Once caught it was exit stage left and the short, sharp, shock of being spanked and told sharply to stay out of the way and out of trouble.
Not understanding quite why we were in the wrong, we did as we were told until the bows slipped out of our hair and our ankle socks sagged. The concert seemed to go on for what seemed like forever but was probably only ten minutes and our enthusiasm for staying out of trouble began to wane. Our closest sister in age, Elizabeth, was onstage singing ‘The Alphabet Song’ when it happened. Paula and I agreed telepathically (as twins do) that this was a good time to go on stage again. We were sure that Elizabeth wouldn’t mind, as she was our best sister-friend so we felt confident that she would let us join in and perform up there with her when we shouldn’t have been. We scootched up coyly beside her, then paused for effect - no reaction. Yet no sooner had we readied ourselves and crashed in with the first line ‘Daisy Daisy give me your hands-ah doooooo’ (because neither of us knew that the real lyric was ‘answer, do’) then we witnessed a now violet and ‘fuming with rage like an enemy-sister’ Elizabeth bum-rush us off that stage so fast that our third encore didn’t see daylight.
Stinging backside aside, from that day onwards I knew that I loved performing and that I was comfortable on stage in front of no matter how many people. I also learned that I attract attention easily and I can sometimes hog the stage against my better judgement. The hardest lesson I learned that day was that no matter how cute or small or big or beautiful or talented you think you are, even if it is your party, or if you know the someone on the stage better than you know yourself, or if the event is over festive and over drinking, that your time is your time. Unlike Kanye West, I learned that limelight is only supposed to shine on the person who is meant to be on the stage at any one time and is rarely meant to be shared, or if it is shared, humbly and respectfully and not for very long. At least I thought I learned this but sometimes it happens that I have to wonder if I was away for the last lesson. In fact, it has taken quite a few more years, hurt feelings, sackings from a couple of bands and a few outright social ostracisms for me to really get wise. Eventually I learned that doing auditions and rehearsals in a headscarf and outsized sports wear then turning up for the show proper in a body-con dress and heels never goes down that well with overweight or over shy, curtain-wearing lead singers / band leaders and that pulling focus or unintentional scene-stealing is wrong and shouldn’t be done on pain of instant humiliation, torture or death. Should you ever forget these truths, life deals in occasional and extreme refresher courses.
I’ve never been a fan of crap hotels, or poorly equipped self-catering studio apartments, dodgy supposed suites disguised as jewellery boxes or Tenby holiday homes either. Yet no matter how tight a contract or a booking can be, there is always the possibility that your flight or train will be delayed and that your hotel has fallen foul of the star system you would like to think you are a part of. You can smell it on the drive up, feel it in the lift ascent from the car park, hear it in the tone of voice of the reception staff, see it before you sign your documentation, feel it in the weight of your door key, smell it in your bathroom, taste it in your minibar and touch it in your bed and bath linen: I suppose disappointment is as good an umbrella term as any here. Everything is always smaller, uglier, rougher, wetter, weaker or simply less fragrant than you would like it to be. It’s also preceded by the smell of piss and death which eventually become an integral part of your own experience as you laugh hysterically at the wildly clashing patterns then die a little inside as you close the door and are alone. There’s only one thing more depressing than having the keys to this room and that’s knowing that you’re booked and confirmed for more than one night.
I couldn’t have been more than nine years old when my mum was booked to sing at The Gaiety Theatre in the Isle of Man for a summer season and me, my twin and my sister had an Enid Blyton adventure as the three wise monkeys, hear nothing, say nothing, see nothing stowaways with their own glamorous corner of a room meant for one. For the summer. I really don’t know how we managed it but my mum still gave us a holiday somehow, whilst rehearsing in the day and simultaneously hiding us either way up in the Gods at the Theatre or once back at the Guesthouse from anyone who could possibly tell her bosses that she was abusing the terms of the ‘board and lodgings for one’ deal. Maybe my hotel phobia stems from that. Who knows. All I remember is the kitchen of that guest house had ants that crawled over and slept in everything indiscriminately and that we ate so much polony, frankfurters and corned beef that I can barely stand the taste of them now.
…. to be continued
It’s raining. I am in cocooning / chill out mode and listening to #Black. I love effortless voices and Colin Vearncombe has a voice that could undo even the most complicated of underwear. I think I was supposed to think that not say it out loud, right? Yes? Well anyway … jury is split 50/50 on whether this was 80s cheese or 80s please - I am not afraid or ashamed to say that it pleases me massively. I can leave it on repeat play for hours. Don’t judge.