So, a few weeks ago we brought you this piece about our Granny's fashion fabulous sketches which we uncovered in the loft at home. We received such a lovely reaction from you all that we thought we'd bring you a second instalment, this time focussed on our Mum's work.
I briefly covered in my previous post, that our mum had an unusually obscure and pretty damn spectacular part time job when she was younger. While most of us were wearing unflattering knee length skirts and button up sweat-inducing, nylon shirts, serving behind the counter at John Lewis or M&S (exactly what Mini, myself and Hong Kong Mouse did) my mum was swanning backstage at the Royal Opera House dressing some of the most talented principal ballerinas in the industry! Wendy Ellis Somes was the most famous dancer she had the pleasure of working with and they actually went on to become very good friends post their Royal Ballet days.
Our Mum would work each evening helping the dancers into their sequin-embellished tutus and be on pointe shoe door-cracking duty! Yep - anyone who's ever danced en pointe, will 1. understand the pain involved and 2. appreciate the weeks/months it takes to break a pointe shoe in. Professional ballerinas don't have the time to fuss over either and instead have an assistant (i.e. our Mum) on hand to slam the soles of their shoes in the door pre-performance. This breaks the shoe in the centre of the sole and creates the perfect arched pointe but sadly means the shoes only ever dance once. I can hear shoes crying all over the world right now! I remember my mum used to say that each dancer can get through several pairs in just one performance!
Aside from pointe shoe breaking, she had an awesome job and loved every second of it from the legendary dancers she met and dressed to the jaw-dropping beautiful beads, jewels and scraps of fabrics she was gifted from the steamstresses over the years. But the icing on the cake was having the pleasure of watching the performances from the wings when her work was done. I mentioned in my previous post that she was a keen artist, which sadly took a back seat later in life when she took up teaching and had us Mice. During her Royal Opera House days though, she took full advantage of the beauty, elegance and colour that made the stage spectacular day in day out - taking pen to paper and sketching and painting those moments. She went on to very successfully selling her pieces to Liberty with the support of my dad who would frame up all of her work. A real team. However, thankfully, we kept a decent collection of her work, and when I go home I enjoy them all over again, each time seeing something new that I haven't spotted the time before. I don't think I'll ever grow tired of that.