Monday, May 21, 2007


We've had the greatest weekend.

In fact, I think I'd go as far to say its one of the best family weekends we've ever had.

Some months ago, when I got news that I was finally after eight years of trying going to be a published author, apart from thinking Waahahaaaaaay!!!! I also decided that rather then fritter all my well earned dosh away on boring things like school shoes and gas bills, we ought to go and celebrate as a family.

Now the kids are bigger, a trip to a London show doesn't present the scary prospect it once did (though my bank balance is somewhat dented), so I decided that's what we'd do. I really wanted to go to The Sound of Music, but being as tickets are like gold dust and you need to be far more organised then I am and book about a hundred years in advance, I couldn't get hold of any, so I went for Mary Poppins instead.

Mary Poppins for my generation = Julie Andrews, and though I've enjoyed revisiting the film with the children, I don't know... she seems a bit TOO prim and proper for me, and I've always struggled with Dick Van Dyke's atrocious accent.

So it was a nice surprise to find this Mary Poppins was somewhat more fun then the film version. In fact, I'd go as far to say that the stage version was heaps better. It brought depth, and poignancy to the story, in a way I wouldn't have imagined from the film. Plus the kids who played Jane and Michael were much much better.

I also really liked Bert, who was portrayed as a kind of guardian angel, and seemed to have as much magic at his fingertips as MP herself.

The kids were completely enthralled (despite no 4's initial reluctance to come as she was missing out on a party), so much so that no 3 turned to me in awe after the scene in which Mary arrived and picked things out of her carpet bag (including hatstands/lamps, sheets etc) to put up in the nursery - That's REAL, she said. Being nearly seven, I suspect the artifice/magic divide is beginning to slip a tad, but here we were, somewhere where she knew the magic was pretend, and yet... it might actually be true...

I know how she felt really. The whole production was so spellbinding, the dancing and singing so magical, the sets so imaginative, for a precious few hours I really could imagine a world in which a mysterious nanny comes blowing in when the wind changes to set right the domestic chaos of the Banks household.

Heaven knows, I could certainly do with her from time to time....

Another charming aspect of this production (and one I think probably missing from both the books and the film) was the portrayal of Mr Banks. To me he seemed the epitome of modern man in a way - desperate to keep some order while the chaos of an unfair world howls at the door. The scene where he finally showed his true colours at the bank, by denouncing a scheme he had failed to invest in as being shallow and false, and Mrs B comes rushing in to stand by her man, brought tears to my eyes. As did their realisation together that what they had as a family was more precious then the outward show of the house and the job, that others thought important.

Plus ca change...

At the end of the show, the whole family realise they don't need Mary Poppins anymore (a little bit like the family in Nanny McPhee) and she flies off with her umbrella, in what has to rate as one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen on a stage - they didn't just fly her off the stage, they took her up into the gods. The kids (and us grown ups too) were all sitting their with their mouths open.

It was absolutely wonderful - feel good theatre at its very best. And while it was punishing on the pocket, I hope we've given the kids an experience they will treasure forever.

Afterwards we wandered through Covent Garden and watched the mime artists, before heading on for TGI Fridays for something to eat. While we were waiting for our table the kids were sufficiently distracted by the big TV screen for us to have a quiet drink at the bar - although there was a collective Oh No! moment when they realised they were about to miss Dr Who.

We wandered back to Victoria through St James Park - a walk I took with the kids at half term. One of the joys of London I always think is its parks - vital green lungs in the heart of the city. And when we got to the Buckingham Palace end and looked back down the lake towards a fabulous old building (the which I cannot recall having seen before and I have no knowledge of what it is), I felt that happy ecstatic leap of joy that always comes to me on trips to London. It is just such a privilege to live close enough to visit, even if we don't do it often.

Yesterday we had to rouse the kids much earlier then anyone would have liked, as no 2 was in a gym competition, so we had to be at Guildford Spectrum at 9.40am, which was a bit grim for a Sunday morning.

However, after watching her compete (she tried her best but sadly forgot a part of her routine involving a bridge, and her cartwheel went in her words, totally pearshaped, so she didn't win anything. Still it's the taking part that counts...),we then spent an hour in the pool, which has several water slides and a wave machine. Just the place for a neurotic mum like me to spend a Sunday morning, especially as no 3 will insist on doing her own thing (like trying to go in the diving pool when she can barely swim 5 metres). However, the kids had a great time, and it reminded me of something I don't take notice of too often. Viz... when we're all together we do generally have a really great time.

It was too late for them to watch the repeat of Dr Who last night, so we videoed it for them and told them they could get up early to watch it this morning. Spouse even made popcorn.

So, when I came down this morning they were all fully dressed, and ready to go, having spent a happy half hour in front of the box.

And all the popcorn had gone....

I moan a lot about my life, but really.

Sometimes it is just great being a mum...


Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Lovely to read such a feelgood post. Glad you had such a good time, and thank you for writing about it in such an entertaining way.

Dumdad said...

When family life all comes together like that there's no better feeling in the world, n'est-ce pas?

liz fenwick said...

Yeah, we loved it too although I didn't take littlest at the time she would be fine now.....

Glad to see oyu had a great weekend:-)

Sue said...

It really was a great weekend. The way you've described the show has made me want to go now!

minoritymum said...

Me too. I'm booking for July!