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I'm Jaq. 

Warning: Contains a little bit of potty-mouthed humour where necessary and an overuse of coconut oil. I also eye off other people's whisky, as depicted here. 

Performance Anxiety

Performance Anxiety

Photo by  Diana Feil  on  Unsplash

Photo by Diana Feil on Unsplash

Are you sporty parents, artsy fartsy parents or both? The dark, sinister pain of my childhood explains why I will choose to cut oranges any day of the week.

We are now well and truly into the second half of the year my peeps and while that would normally conjure up happy thoughts of footy finals, spring carnival tipples, a winery visit or several, the odd lunch, warmer days and open toed shoes, it also brings with it, a cavalcade of school productions, concerts, plays and recitals, often with a dry bar and no escape plan. 

I am not going to suggest for one moment that I don't love seeing my kids in their performy stuff; I really appreciate the 2.5 minutes I get to see them doing their thang, it's just the other two or three HOURS I am not a huge fan of. After 17 years of bumbling our way through parenthood, The Gent and I have come to the conclusion that we are sporty parents. The thought of sitting through hours of instrumentals, singing, interpretive dance, yodeling and the like, has me packing cyanide capsules under my tongue ready to bite down, once my attention span has progressed from 'bored stiff' to 'lost the will to live'. 

Sport on the other hand, is a different Tupperware container all together. Sport provides an opportunity to be outside away from devices,  jump up and down, shout, exert energy and to sledge the other team under the breath, to say nothing of what the kids get out of it!

I know it's harsh and I see you all scratching your heads confused. 'But aren't you a writer and into all that artsy fartsy lark?'

The answer is of course, yes, but when it is executed by a professional. I am happy to pay good money for a play, musical, string quartet or even Disney on Ice for crying out loud, so long as I don't have to be involved in making or buying costumes, putting on makeup and teezing hair. 

If I really want to get to the root of it for just a sec (oh blimey here she goes), I would have to say that being exposed to ballet schools in the formative years of my girls' lives is what did it. The dance school vortex has so much to answer for.

I will never forget when the QE2 participated in her first ballet recital when she was about five. I thought I was being sucked into an off the grid cult from which I would never escape. If the hairspray didn't kill me, then the 'Director of Dance and Eating Small Children' would. That crabby mole had some serious anger management problems. 

Crabby Mole in a big boosie voice: 'Any parent still applying makeup in 10 minutes will be physically removed and will henceforth be taking solids through a straw.'

Jesus really? 

The exodus from the dressing room was likened to a Tsunami evacuation, the only difference being we had to leave our children behind to be swallowed up. I remember looking straight into the QE2's panicked big green eyes. They pleaded, 'Please don't let them take my soul.'

I gave her one last hug and recommended she not make eye contact with the Crabby Mole and keep her nose clean. With that, I left and took my seat with the rest of the family in the theatre. For the next four hours I saw more piles and pirouettes than any human should be subjected to, without the presence of a float festooned in lights and a vodka lollipop. 

By the half-way point, The Gent and I were so nutcrackered with boredom that we started making ridiculous faces to make the other laugh. We ended up in such a chronic state of the giggles, that not only did a little bit of pee come out, but snot as well. Joan Rivers, as usual was less than impressed with our behaviour. 

Joan Rivers who was 10 at the time: 'Do you realise that everyone is looking at the both of you. You are embarrassing me.' 

Sorry Joan....again.

Yes it was perhaps somewhat immature, but this is what happens when you lock people up in a room with no sunlight, the stench of hydroflurocarbonoxide or whatever the crap it is in hairspray and polyester poisoning. 

If I was to dig a little deeper in to the dark recesses of my brain, which should be avoided at all costs unless it is necessary for me to present an alibi, there is probably another reason why children in the performing arts holds a stinging memory for moi. You know what's coming don't you?

They were holding auditions for 'Annie'.

I was ten and living in the thriving metropolis of Canberra. There wasn't a great deal going on in our nation's capital in 1980.  There were marathon Monopoly sessions with Joanne Smith from around the corner and roller skating in my Hang Ten bikini in summer, under the sprinkler dad would set up in the cul-de-sac. When my parents said go play out on the road, we took that shit seriously. 

Anyhoos, I was lying on the white shag pile carpet in 'The Good Room' (the lounge), reading The Canberra Times when I happened across an ad that I knew would propel me from my static state of existence.  They were holding auditions for the local production of 'Annie'. It was going to be showing at The Canberra Theatre where Shakin' Stevens had his concert, so I knew it was going to be a rather ritzy affair, all profesh like. They might even pay me! 

In my mind, I went straight from the ad to accepting a Tony award.......obviously. All I had to do was get Mother Mary to take me to the audition day. 

Me: 'Mum I am so excited.'

Mother Mary: 'What is it darling?'

Me: 'They are holding auditions for Annie at the Canberra Theatre. Can you take me?'

Mother Mary dropping her head as if she knew this day would come: 'I don't think that is a good idea sweetheart. '

Me: 'Why not? I am not scared.'

Mother Mary: 'Hmmm. How can I put this to you in words you will can't sing and you can't dance.' (Now you know where my sense of tact comes from).

Me: 'I don't see why that should be a problem?'

I shall cut this short by saying there was a fair bit of tooing and froing, stomping, slamming doors and crying that has resulted in a lifelong bitterness that has plagued my relationship with my mother, to the point where whenever we see live musical productions together, she has this uneasy feeling I am going to storm the stage to take my rightful place among the Australian performing arts community.

She needs to pay for her crimes. 

So of course I am resentful of those annoyingly perfect pint-sized Liza Minelli's who can play an instrument, carry a tune or put one foot in front of the other to the count of eight. I am just grateful that our girls have not shown any real ability in performing arts (with the exception of the QE2's one women show due to tour in 2023), those kids can't sing and can't dance. 

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