Tonight I went to the ballet. I went to the Curve theatre in Leicester with my lovely friend Shami to see Matthew Bourne’s company do Sleeping Beauty.
The last time I went out with Shami we had a wonderful time, but I was stricken by a migraine on the way home and she was forced to hurtle two hours down the M1 with me vomiting my guts up at every service station along the way. My particular favourite was Toddington, where I didn’t make it to the bathroom and crawled across the car park on my hands and knees to vomit over a drain.
Like a real lady.
You can see why Shami loves going out with me.
This evening though, it was not my turn to be the one traumatising people. It was my turn to be traumatised, by a drunk, gay, ballet enthusiast called Tom. I do not single out his gayness for particular comment I hasten to add. It’s just that I could not fail to notice he was gay because he spent a significant amount of time mentioning it, specifically alongside his drunkenness, as if the two things had partnered up together to lead him astray.
Until quarter past seven this evening I had never met Tom before in my life. After spending an hour in his presence it is fair to say I know quite a lot about him, apart from the fact of his drunken gayness. So do many other audience members, but not as much as me, because I was the very special person who got to sit next to Tom.
Tom struck up a conversation with me due to the fact that he loved my scarf. I have to confess that it is a fabulous scarf. My friend Sharon in Australia knitted it for me, and it always excites comment. It excited Tom a great deal. It excited him so much that he stole it from me and wore it until he got thrown out of the auditorium by a very fierce usherette who Tom seemed to think was the Trunchbull from Matilda, and acted accordingly.
He was, until the curtain rose on the ballet, trying to explain to me how he was knitting a paisley ‘thing’. He did lots of movements with his hands to indicate the thing he was knitting. He also did lots of counting:
‘I’m knitting…a thing…y’know…s’paisley…all them swirly things…s’right. You know about it. SHE doesn’t (points at poor Shami who has done nothing to deserve this). You know about the…thing (makes jabbing motions with fingers to indicate vigorous, drunken, gay knitting). You do because of your lovely scarf…s’lovely. I just wanna stroke it…sewing the paisley…thing. S’big. S’really big thing. SHE won’t understand because she hasn’t got the…thing. You do. S’lovely isn’t it? I’m all excited about it now. My one. My one is MASSIVE. S’probably (does counting motions in the air, tongue out for added concentration) about…four…Yes. It’s four feet square. PAISLEY….
SHHHH. I’m COUNTING. (Fingers fly about as he mutters) two, and two, and six, and two, and…SHHHH…I’m going down that bit now. S’about twelve. TWELVE FEET SQUARE. S’alovelything.’
This continued until the curtain went up whereupon Tom went into ecstasies. He is a very enthusiastic ballet enthusiast. He swayed, he rocked, he stood up, he did ballet, thankfully only with his arms.
Occasionally, even though he was only doing ballet with his arms he got a little bit tired and had a rest by putting his head on my elbow. Cushioned of course by my lovely scarf.
In between this he would whoop, and cheer, and clap. Sometimes he clapped when other people were clapping. Other times he just clapped at the bits he liked himself. Other times he just clapped along with the music.
Sometimes he would lean into my face and say: ‘It’s so exciting. EXCITING.’ I had to agree with him. Sitting next to Tom in the ballet was the most exciting theatrical experience I’ve ever had and I go to the theatre a lot.
Other time he would just tug on my arm when a good bit was coming up. Some of it made him cry. He was all about the entire gamut of the ballet experience. He was there, body and soul, heart and mind, scarf and whiskey.
What impressed me was that nobody, apart from the Trunchbull got cross with him. Including me. One lady behind him, who mostly got to watch Tom’s backside bobbing up and down as he leapt to his feet, did very politely ask him if he could be less mobile in his appreciation of the ballet.
He said: ‘Sorry. Shhh. Sorry. I am drunk and gay. So sorry.’
She said she didn’t mind and she was glad he was enjoying himself but could he just be less busy.
Sadly, he could not be less busy, and he was escorted out after 45 minutes.
It was very quiet in the second half. I quite missed him. I think Tom should commentate on ballet on BBC4 or something. His skills are many and various and he was quite delightful, if a little raucous for the more traditional ballet goers.
Tom or no Tom, the ballet was beautiful. The costumes were amazing and reminded me a lot of Alexander McQueen pieces. Visually it was absolutely stunning and the sets were as good as the frocks. The troupe/team/company were splendid and the whole evening was delightful.
I was particularly delighted that Tom refrained from vomiting all over my lovely scarf, and I refrained from vomiting all over Shami.