Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Children's poet laureate Julia Donaldson (3)

The auditorium was packed with children of all ages, excitedly anticipating the spectacle ahead. And Esme. Who had told me she had not wanted to come only an hour before, and now kept asking me for another sweet to chew. Sweets so sticky they stuck to their wrapper. Sweets that surely must have been stashed in a cupboard by a radiator at the Hall, for potentially a decade of entertainment?

A hush fell over us all and then there she was. Julia Donaldson. On the stage and resplendent in blue. Wearing her children's poet laureate medal with pride. Looking, well, normal! 

Julia announced how happy she was to be back in Haslemere, and then, she announced how sad she was, that this was to be her final show as the children's poet laureate. And then she began.


A song. A story. A poem. And so on. 
It was delicious. No. It was scrum-diddly-umptious. Everyone sung, cheered, clapped, hoorah-ed, guffawed and giggled. After watching The Singing MermaidEsme turned to me and said, 'Mummy, I did my hardest ever clapping for that.' Along with, 'Can I have another chew?' In the end, because of the dimmed light, I think she ate as much paper, as sweetie.

More applause, another sticky sweet, a bottom shuffle, and finally, and fortunately, Esme was chosen to perform. Thank God because, at every given opportunity prior to that, when Julia had asked for children to help, Esme had put up her hand, extending her arm till it was almost out of its socket, lifting her backside into the air. I had kept placating her with overtones of, 'There'll be another opportunity for a turn later.' But this time was the was the last, and as if she had known it, Esme had actually stood atop the chair and practically teleported her way to the stage. Anyway, that and the Jedi-mind tricks my gregarious 4YO is so adept at, had her picked.

Serious all the way, Esme walked to the stairs to the stage, and on reaching Julia, announced, (the microphone picked up EVERYTHING), "My Mummy has my book with her for you to sign. She wants you to do that." Ever the professional, Julia replied, "You can be the hen." From that moment on Esme, enthralled, entranced, engaged, never spoke another word, but squawked, as and when required.

They began to act out the story of A squash and a squeeze, and I thought I may die laughing when Esme was instructed to lay an egg. Everyone roared. But I honestly don't think Esme was even aware, for she, confidently concentrating, took her part of hen most seriously. Continuing to chase about the table, long after her fellow animals, had tired. Only when the hen in the book quit flapping, did she rest.

And so ended with a delightful bow, (a little bit earlier than everyone else), my daughters acting debut; her role as chicken. The chicken that had us all eating out of the palm of her sticky hand.