Sunday, 30 September 2007

The sad woman all alone in row F



Ah the joy of mother and son bonding. Going off to town for the day, tickets in hand for a performance of Potted Potter. A spot of lunch; idle chat about school and friends and football and rugby. Maybe a little shopping. Laughing on the way home, remembering the best bits of the show. Playing the new CD the Fairy Godmother had sent (Anthems – despite being a high-powered barrister she’s very fond of her rock bands) very loud and singing along to the words: ‘Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruuuuby..da da da da-da daaah…’ tunelessly but with great vim.

Except…… Hmm. Rewind to a few days ago when Adrian suddenly said, ‘Oh heck, it’s the football trip on Saturday.’
‘The football trip?’
‘Yup. Coach to Plymouth to watch Argyll versus Wolves. Training session at the club for the boys. Lunch. Watch the match. Gone all day.’
‘But, I’m taking him to Potted Potter. It’s on the calendar.’
We both looked at the calendar and there it was clear as day.
‘Oh.’
‘Oh.’
Double-booked. Poor James. He looked anxiously from one to other of us.
‘Mum, you’d like me to come to the theatre, wouldn’t you?’ Anguish etched all over his face.
Yes, of course I would but I know my son and I knew which would really hold the greatest allure so, with that doomed sense of sacrifice that runs through every mother’s veins, I gave him a hug.
‘I suspect you’d really like the football, wouldn’t you?’
Eyes brightened.
‘But you’d be on your own, Mum.’
James’ idea of hell.
‘Don’t remotely worry. Maybe I could take the Mistress of All Evil instead.’
James looked doubtful. Adrian looked askance. I shrugged. ‘Well, I only said ‘maybe’….’

But I didn’t of course. I wasn’t sure I could cope with a nine-year old goth with serious attitude and an overwhelming urge to rule the world, however much I like her parents and knew that a good person would have given them an afternoon’s break (I also have a sneaking admiration for the MoaE but in that sort of ‘wow, you’re something else girl, but thank Puck you’re not my child! way). Instead I found myself at the box office in Taunton asking if they had any tickets left for the show. The woman brightened visibly: ‘Oh yes, how many would you like…’
Er, wrong answer. I had hoped to sell them off.
‘No, sorry.’ Eyes glazed over.
So what do you do? I’m a Capricorn and we are known to be….shall we say ‘careful’ with our money. Two unused tickets hurt. No matter that it was fundamentally a children’s show. So I sidled in, the only person On Her Own in the whole theatre. The rational part of me said, ‘So what?’ The irrational totally barking mad part said, ‘Oh heck. They’ll think I’m a child-snatcher or a paedophile or, even worse (with Hermione Granger studied pause) a total saddo Harry Potter freak.

I put my bag on the other seat and looked around brightly, as if I were watching for my child who was coming along in a bit. The mechanics of how said mythical child would appear all on his own were, of course, pushed firmly aside. Maybe he had been dropped off by his mythical father (a divorced husband maybe that I can’t even face seeing momentarily in the lobby) or maybe he was a mythical teenager who had shuffled off huddle-shouldered while I was looking at shoes but would return any moment. Maybe mythical child was small and had been So Bad that I had put him on the naughty step and was waiting for him to ‘think about your behaviour’ before returning contrite to his seat (this one slightly worried me as what mother would leave her child alone in a theatre foyer, however heinous his crime?) Oh whatever.
I vaguely registered a bloke with a boy squeezing past to sit on my right. Hmm. Maybe I could attach myself to them. I smiled brightly in a sort of ‘ah, there you are’ way and then realised, to my horror, that he was possibly the ugliest man in the world. Nothing wrong with being ugly of course (she says quickly) and in fact there is something heroic and quite sexy about truly awfully ugly. But ugly with no style is grim. So, my ‘hello dear husband’ smile turned midstream into a ‘well, gosh here we are at an afternoon theatre show; ah well, never mind’ nod.

Never have ten minutes passed so slowly. Never have I been so relieved to see lights go down and a show begin. And actually it was very good. Very funny. I laughed out loud a few times and then had to curtail myself as a woman sitting on her own laughing is a bit tragic. Needless to say I didn’t jump up to try to hit the ball in audience participation Quidditch. And I didn’t volunteer my services as Seeker for Gryfyndor or Slitherin. I just sat very quietly and, at the end, gave a theatrical sigh as if to say to the world (as if the world cared) ‘Ah well, typical of the horrible divorced husband/morose teenager/naughty child – get OFF that step, you little creep). Seriously though, if you have children who are potty about Potter I’d heartily recommend it.

We met up early evening at The Bridge (the fourth of Dulverton’s pubs) for supper and rolled back up the hill. It dawned on me that this was probably going to happen more and more. Either I was going to have to develop a taste for sport (having spent my entire life studiously trying to avoid it) or I was going to have quite a few solo shopping and theatre trips ahead of me. I suppose I could always adopt the Mistress of All Evil.
Hmm, going solo sounds just fine to me.



PS - picture is of the Light of Flickering Despond in the kitchen. And you thought this house was lovely?!



37 comments:

Mopsa said...

I have spent many hours in theatres on my own, often with a pad to write my notes on whatever it was I had wisely/not so wisely recommended for funding. Never minded being on my own and it never stopped me laughing raucously if it was deserved. Or leaving at the interval if not....

Casdok said...

I too go to the theatre and cinema on my own, it takes courage to start with, but you do get used to it!
And i love Harry Potter!!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Really enjoyed your blog, Jane, as always.

I've never been to a theatre on my own, I have to admit, but I would. I could see your point about wanting the lights to dim though!

Crystal xx

Exmoorjane said...

It's not that I mind going on my own (used to go a lot while doing my theatre critic stint - for every wonderful Barbican show there were about twenty monologues in far-flung pubs) but it's going alone, as an adult, to a children's show! Just too sad somehow.

Suffolkmum said...

Was giggling at you looking around brightly for your mythical child to appear, and attaching yourself hopefully to another family.. That's exactly what I would have done. My James would love that show, I think.

Hannah Velten said...

Excellent blog. I'm glad you went anyway...but I must admit I was sad with/for you - what is it with boys and sport? Oh well, at least he is active. My boyfriend's sister has three boys and her life revolves around golf, football and rugby - has noone to go shopping with, etc. I think you should adopt MoaE and cultivate her...she'll turn into a lovely girl, just you wait....and wait....and wait. Or you could always become interested in football. Hummmm - not an easy choice. Mootia x

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

Go it alone dear far more fun!!!hink of all that ME time!

Milla said...

excellent, my dear Jane, though I am surprised that your protestant work ethic didn't extend to taking child from hell, thought you'd plump for it as brownie points for the soul.

Milla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frances said...

Well done, Jane. Good that James got to scramble around on the playing field. And that you could help fill out the audience at the theatre. And even laugh.

Maybe you could sort of do sports watching on alternate weekends? Then as others have said, you could have some free time (maybe with less guilt) and also see your lads in action on the field. Opt for sports day when the weather forecast is best!

xo

Anonymous said...

oh go on - have another baby, you know you want to.

Inthemud said...

Oh poor you, it's been along time since I ventured to the theatre alone, it's a horrid feeling.

Shame about the double booking for James, hope he enjoyed the football!

Your light reminds me of Stan's workshop, we went to buy new strip light at Homebase yesterday, did they have one the right size? they did not! Most annoying!

Mongoose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Exmoorjane said...

No thank-you anonymous....no more babies here.
Muddie, Stan would be welcome to my strip light - any time!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Jane you are very funny. After my kids got too old to be blackmailed into going with me to things I wanted to see I found a like minded Mum and we went to see Harry Potter together and had Pizza afterwards. The latest HP film saw a small group of us going from the drama club . . there are others out there in a similar position to you so go find them . . . then again once you get used to it going on your own can be quite liberating.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I went to see Menopause the Musical in London on my own. Apart from being quite the youngest in the audience, I was seated on my own in the middle of the row. No hope of looking like I belonged to another group. And all the other women in audience looked at me like "Why are you here? You have no idea what it's like." Little did they know I know exactly what it's like and laughed very loudly during the show.

Faith said...

Jane that was so funny! Brill blog!

Listen I was in a hall with my real husband watching my daughter perfrm last Sat eve and he went to SLEEP! that's more embarrassing than having no child!

Pixie said...

Just love the idea of the naughty child out on the naughty step for the entire performance... very funny!
Theatre, yes on my own, cinema no way.Why?
pxx

lampworkbeader said...

Couldn't you have whipped out a note pad and impressed Mr Ugly by pretending to be 'important person reviewing childrens' show'.
As a mother of sons, I can tell you it will get worse. The only theatre I managed to get my lot too once they were over 10 was something awful about football. I was virtually the only woman there.

CAMILLA said...

That was sooo thoughtful of James to ask if you did not mind if he chose to go to the Football Match.

I have never gone to the Theatre on my own, but have gone with grandchildren when they were younger to see Christmas Panto. I love them, especially the Dames ie., men dressed up as women, I usually find myself with hysterics of laughter, sometimes can be quite embarrasing, but live and let live, that's what I say. Brilliant blog Jane as ever.

Camilla.xxx

annakarenin said...

I could have bused my eldest down he would have loved it big Potter fan just bought a Slytherin cloak with his birthday money as I thankfully managed to talk him out of buying Bogies, phew, and I am sure he would be safer bet than Mo a evil. He is certainly not into sport or being evil.

Thought my mother was hard work especially when she lived next door, not anymore she comes across as low maintenance compared to yours,phew.

elizabethm said...

Just loved the thought of you looking around brightly. I'd have gone on my own too. My younger son was a total sports nut all through childhood and adolescence and wouldn't read fiction if you held a gun to his head, but now, while still a sports nut, has become an adventurous and intelligent book nut and theatre addict. Life can be strange!

Posie Rosie said...

What 'sad woman all alone in row F'? Good for you Jane, and I am sure all of the stars of the show would have appreciated your support too, can't believe 'annoymous' thinks you should have another baby...cripes, smelly nappies and baby sick on row F...and no time to blog...

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I have an award for you on my blog.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Jane, there's an award for you over at my place
Crystal xx

Pipany said...

Lovely blog Jane; very funny but oh how I relate to that sacrificing mother thing (obviously I don't actuaklly mean sacrificing one's mother, though the thoght does sort of appeal!!!!) xx

Preseli Mags said...

Hilarious blog! I've had to go to children's shows on my own to review them for the paper and have often felt enormously embarassed. Equally I went through a phase, as a student, of going to see ANYTHING. I once found myself watching the stage production of Winnie the Pooh. I was the only adult there without a child in tow. It was a good show though! xx PM

Pondside said...

Great blog, Jane. My best advice is to look on the 'alone' events as serious Jane-time. You'll still have your special outings with your boy - don't worry about that!

Queen Vixen said...

Awww - what a great post. I was there with you all the way! Good for you going alone and wasnt that infinately better than a grizzly football afternoon. I know, Mr Vix used to be football mad. Now seen the error of his way - thankfully. I have done my time on a touch line. Luckily my part time rock god of a son never took to sport either but you did the right thing by yours.

Queen Vixen said...

PS: I have awarded you a new cheese. Gorgonzola, now I know you a little more Cheshire is not strong enough in flavour and body. A cheshire could never had endured the ugly bloke and gone solo with Harry Potter xx

Cait O'Connor said...

Your blog made me laugh out loud, so funny. I could just picture you in the theatre.

LittleBrownDog said...

V entertaining, as ever, Jane. I would have been exactly the same in the theatre (except perhaps not unlucky enough to find myself sitting next to the Ugliest Man in the World's evil twin), but secretly love going to things like that on my own - no arguments over minstrels v popcorn, shall we/shan't we get a programme, etc.

As for light of flickering despond the one good thing about flourescent lights (perhaps the only good thing) is that they're extremely easy to get rid of and you can just swap them with an inoffensive replacement from Homebase for under about 30 quid. Also, as you'll probably have already noticed, they're very good for catching flies.

LBD x

@themill said...

IYou could've pretended to be a critic from the local rag. I actually go to quite a lot of theatre on my own - something to do with being married to a philistine!
I've heard it's very funny.
Oh god, the light. Source of all conflict with The Farmer....

Iota said...

I see what you mean about the light...

rivergirlie said...

there's a thrid way. you could lower your standards - sounds like you could have pulled in the theatre! x

DJ Kirkby said...

Hmmm this post made me cringe in sympathy. Or was it the flourescent light?

sally's chateau said...

Glad you told us what the pic was, been there, got the t-shirt, it WILL BE divine x