How to Traumatise your Children with High Culture: The Prequel

Stuck for what to do with a pair of bickering brats on a wet afternoon in the school holidays, My Mum chanced upon a local Am Dram Society production of Othello in the Ilford Playhouse, only minutes before it was about to start. Moments later we were seated right in the middle of the front row of the dim and dusty theatre, with a bag of sweets a piece.

As it was a matinee, there were no more than ten in the audience including the three of us. I was enchanted by the heavy velvet curtains and plush seating, and was completely spellbound by the sound of the language even then, and seeing the actors so close up – like the telly but actually real! I have seen the play several times since, but I didn’t have a clue what was going on at the time, although I do remember there was a very angry man.

I think my Mum was initially quite chuffed with herself, that quick-witted spontaneity, finding an entertaining and highly educational way for us to spend the afternoon. However, as the second half progressed, it became apparent that it was about to get very messy on stage, what with all the deaths, and all. After all, my brother and I were still very young – I couldn’t have been much more than six years old, and my brother, eight.

So, torn between observating proper theatre-going decorum on the one hand, and shielding her darling babes from the extreme horrors that unfettered jealousy can drive one to, my poor Mum stood up, mid scene, and all of us traipsed out from our front row seats, utterly mortified, the sound of our matching blue anoraks rustling in our wake.

Our untimely departure reduced the entire audience by over 30% in under 60 seconds. Still, I like to think that at least we gave the body cull on stage a run for it’s money.


(I am currently camping in a field in the rain. Unless I join the circus I’ll be back on the 9th August.)