Tuesday, 20 March 2018

In The Spotlight - Let Me Hide

I prefer to watch the drama unfold, rather than have a part in it. Some things are impossible to avoid but as far as possible I keep out of the spotlight. I’m not comfortable being the centre of attention, even at my own birthday parties.

I remember having a gathering of school friends for my eighth birthday. It was games and a tea party upstairs in whatever pub we lived in at the time. Everything was fine until the cake arrived and my friends sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. I burst into tears and clung on to my mother’s skirt. What a softie. Birthday parties were best avoided, that is, until the more senior adult years.

My fiftieth birthday was a milestone worth celebrating as I had pulled through serious illness the year before. It was good to gather the clan and all the friends who had been helping, supporting the family and generally gunning for me. It seems mean to confess that I couldn’t wait to go home to my knitting and clock watched all evening, yet at the same time it was lovely to be amongst the people I care for the most, all together in one place. I’m a strange one.

Even stranger when, ten years later, I’m the one who wanted the party to end all parties, bells, whistles, balloons, a live band and a posh buffet in a posh venue. I got my wish and it was great. I threw myself into it and enjoyed every expensive minute, even the bit where I’ve got the microphone and I’m singing with the band. I cringe at the thought of it now. One of my friends filmed it. Up to now, and its been years, I haven’t seen it, which is just as well as I think I’d die of embarrassment and never go anywhere ever again. No, I hadn’t been drinking, I was simply having fun.

When I was at primary school, I used to feel physically sick with nerves at the thought of maths lessons with Mr Jackson. He would call us individually to the blackboard. I shudder to hear him now, ‘Miss --- to the board!’ I was a skinny, geeky looking girl, and would stand red-faced and trembling at the blackboard feeling everyone’s eyes burning into me and hearing muffled unkind comments. With shaky, clammy hands I would hold the chalk tight and write the sum that Mr Jackson bellowed from the back of the classroom.  I would then have to work it out and explain what I was doing, loud enough for everyone to hear. It gave me nightmares. Everyone got a turn, no one was spared, but the whole thing turned me inside out. I was fine with maths and got my sums right, unlike some who were ridiculed for messing up. I got laughed at for needing glasses and my general appearance.  Mr Jackson was a great teacher of his generation and in every subject, he liked the class to be interactive and learn through ‘doing’. He always told us there would be plenty of written work to do when we got to senior school, so we didn’t need to do it now. Primary teaching is different these days and children are not thrust into the spotlight quite the same, thank goodness.

We recently lost a great comedian who adored being in the spotlight, Sir Ken Dodd. He was a national treasure and part of my childhood. He was always there when I was a girl, either on television or playing one of Blackpool’s theatres.

I first saw him on stage when I was nine. We hadn’t been living in Blackpool very long. It was our first summer season and my parents received complimentary tickets to various shows and the Tower Circus. My mother took me to see the show Ken Dodd was in and I remember just constantly laughing and being in awe of seeing the Diddy Men in real life. In later years, I was a guest at a summer Midnight Matinee concert where Doddy was topping the bill. I’m not exaggerating when I say daylight was breaking when we left the theatre. He loved to be in the spotlight and the spotlight loved him. Thank you for the memories, Sir Ken Dodd. You left me suitably tickled.

One of my poems today, 


Don’t put me in the spotlight,

I’m really quiet and shy

Away from all attention,

Any fuss might make me cry.

Don’t put me in the spotlight,

I never know what to say

And to be a nervous wreck

Would simply ruin my day.

Don’t put me in the spotlight

I’m not going near the stage

Nobody needs to see me

Read my poems from the page.

Don’t put me in the spotlight,

Just leave me alone to hide

My feelings, thought and talents

Wrapped safely, tightly, inside.

PMW 2018
Thanks for reading, Pam x


Steve Rowland said...

I feel for you, Pam. It can be a dilemma, writing stuff but not being comfortable performing it. Blogging gives you that layer of invisibility, I guess.

The aspect of Dead Good Poets open mic nights that I treasure is that it's a broad mix of 'stage' poets and 'page' poets in front of an understanding audience that appreciates both approaches.