From being quite young I always enjoyed acting – except that the enjoyment was balanced by anxiety and nerves. I was fine practising with my friends, or in a rehearsal for a school play when I was older, but actually doing the performance, I was rigid with what amounted to terror.
My first rôle was as an angel in the school nativity play. There not being many girls parts I desperately wanted to be Mary but Elizabeth Smith got it. So I had to stand at the side of the manger scene with my arms held up to be wings; I can’t remember a costume so probably there wasn’t one. The next part I played was as a courtier, something which involved the lords and ladies of the court and I had to dance, along with all the other lords and ladies. I’m not great at dancing and my partner lord was similarly gifted with two left feet. We clumped around the school hall and apparently our mums were almost beside themselves with giggles.
There was a school play; it was about a sultan who held court and various of his subjects came to make complaint about things which troubled them. I was quite stout at the time and looking back it seems very cruel that I was given the part of Fatima, married to the tiniest boy in the school. We came before the sultan and he complained I was so fat he kept falling out of bed. An innocent age in some ways, but how mean to have the plump girl playing the part of a laughable fatty?
In secondary school I was great acting in things in the classroom, but when I had my chance to hit the stage in the school play, Twelfth Night. I had about three lines; I was ok in rehearsals but the actual performances terrified me so much, that I didn’t take part in any other play, except one where I was an anonymous part of a Greek chorus.
I did however have one moment of glory – for some completely unknown reason I was chosen out of all the girls in our year at junior school to play the part of the May Queen. Somehow I managed this amazingly well, remembered all my lines and was regal and queenly. I had to reprise the part the following year, the last year of junior school where I handed my crown to the next May Queen. I don’t know how I managed it! I did have some photos of the May Queen, but all I can find is a young cousin dancing round the May Pole
I still get carried away in social situations and act the idiot, but I have never been tempted to join a theatre group – I just know the nerves would take over!!