Monday, April 28, 2008

Bali & the ballerinas - an alliterative anecdote

I've always had a weakness for the ballet, and for ballerinas. Is it the grace and artistry, or simply the way they flaunt the length of their legs? Darcey Bussell will probably make it into my 'Fantasy Girlfriends' series one day. And Sylvie Guillem. And.......

One of my university friends, a slightly spivvy, gab-gifted, Arthur Daley-ish character called Nigel, was for a while dating one of the junior dancers of the Royal Ballet. Knowing my weakness for the form and its exponents, he often promised to try to set me up with introductions to, or arrange some kind of group date with his girlfriend's colleagues in the corps. Alas, it never came to pass - it didn't help that I was not then based in London, but working in my first job at a small private school down in Taunton.

I was particularly envious when I heard that he had met the great actor, John Malkovich, who was appearing in the West End at the time and had apparently started seeing one of the other dancers. "Never mind the ballerinas. I want to meet Malkovich!" I told my friend.

But I never got to meet him either. As name-dropping anecdotes go, this isn't really a very good one, is it?

No. I only introduced it, really, for its denouement. By the end of my winter term of teaching, Malkovich had flown back to the States, but my friend was still going strong with the ballerina, and still promising introductions to her friends. I really thought we'd manage to fix something up over Christmas or New Year...... but the girls all decided to take an impromptu holiday on the far side of the world. As Nigel succinctly explained in his Christmas Card to me that year: "Sorry about the ballerinas. They buggered off to Bali."

My dear Mum (I was still having to live at home during the vacations from this boarding school) was quite perplexed by this strange message, and, I fear, suspected that it might be code for something far worse.

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