Seven Days of Positive – Day 103

In Ballet, Friends on January 6, 2015 at 9:37 pm


I had a great day.

There was work and there was stuff – a plumber, dental appointments to change, the dreary bits – but in between that three wonderful things happened.

My dear old colleague and friend Jayne Gould came to see me and we had lunch. I’ve known Jayne since 1985 when I went to work on You magazine. She was the art director and we hit it off immediately.

A couple of years later we moved together with our wonderful editor the late, great John Leese, the finest editor I have ever worked for, when he went over to edit the Evening Standard.

What a time we had. Everything new and exciting happening in London in the 1980s, we were in the thick of it. Jayne and I share similar mad dog energy levels and we didn’t miss much.

The Standard is a uniquely great paper to work on because although it’s London only, so not a national paper like the Times, or the Guardian, its reach is extraordinary.

In those days it was a must-read for any mover and shaker in the capital, so whatever you were writing about, you knew that the top people in the country in that field, would read it.

They might read just one of the broadsheets, or even just the Daily Mail, but everyone read the Standard.

After that I moved on to edit ELLE and then made the move to Sydney. How delighted I was when Jayne turned up to work at the Sydney Morning Herald. We didn’t work so much together there, but it was great to have her around and we’ve stayed in touch through me moving back to the UK, while she moved to New York.

It was so great to have lunch with her in my local, the often mentioned Crown.

The next wonderful thing was that one of my great buddies from university, Andrew Nairne, got in touch to say he was coming to Hastings to see the Chapman Brothers exhibition at the Jerwood Gallery.

Andrew and I did art history together at St Andrews and he has stayed in that world, which he is deeply passionate about. He’s run several important galleries in the UK, including the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford and now Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, with time at the Arts Council.

I’m very proud to have him as a friend and it was really great to meet up with him at the gallery and hear his expert opinions on the show.  Then we had a drink not, for once, at the Crown, but at another characterful pub called The Jenny Lind.

The third joy was that I managed to secure tickets to take Peggy on the back stage tour at the Royal Opera House. It meant waiting on hold (thank god for speakerphone) for an hour, but it was worth it.

I asked the very nice lady on the box office phone, this all important question: ‘Will we see the pointes room?’

The answer is YES.

I’m also excited to see the area in the top photo, which I think must be the wig room. I love the kettle.

  1. Oh dear…can I come too!!!!!!! Sounds wonderful Maggie. I must remember to try to arrange this the next time I visit.

    Maggie….when are you going to start writing for the Sydney Morning Herald again? I buy it each Saturday….but we need your contribution there! It’s just not the same without you.



    • If only I could Robyn! I’ve never stopped missing writing my column for Good Weekend… I know a lot of people very kindly wrote in, but when a decision like that is taken a newspaper never goes back. Sigh…

  2. Old good friends are such a joy!

    Ballet is amazeballs….I wish your daughter all the best with it! I’ve danced all my life and still do. There’s a really good SBS doco/series called Ballerina. My pet peeve is companies emphasizing technique at the expense of expression and feeling. While technical pieces are awe inspiring, the history of ballet is so tied to storytelling and drama, it seems a pity to lose that aspect. If you compare the athleticism demanded of today’s dancers with their forebears, most of the early ballerinas wouldn’t even make it into companies. Some of these crazy athletic dancers need a crash course in drama (something the Russians recognise–their dancers can act like you wouldn’t believe). There is a hideous video that has done the rounds of “Swan Lake” produced by a Chinese ballet Co. (probably due to cultural misunderstandings) it involves such travesties and circus tricks as dancing on people’s heads, and upside down dressed as frogs (Frog Lake?).

    • I so agree with you about the tendency to turn ballet into acrobatics… I went to see the Carlos Acosta compilation performance at the Coliseum a couple of years, where he danced his favourite solos and pas de deux from different ballets, with some of his favourite partners, with some solos by them. A Russian ballerina (can’t remember her name) danced The Dying Swan and it was so affecting I had tears pouring down my face at the end. I adore the Russian style and wish my daughter could train at one of the schools in London know where they use the Russian technique. It’s much more emotional – every class is different depending on the MOOD of the teacher, whereas the Royal Ballet (marvellous as it is) works through extreme discipline, every class exactly the same. The emotional fire of the Russian method would suit my girl’s passionate 50% Slavic soul. A large part of the other 50% (me) is highlander Scot (my grandfather) so she’s full of it…

      • Russian style is brilliant! I was fortunate enough to be trained by Jennifer Attril who has Russian and Cecchetti training and worked with Valrene Tweedie, who danced in the Ballets Russes. The school is in rural NSW, and lessons are so cheap it can only be described as a not-for-profit organisation. They are true bohemians, with hearts of gold! Sometimes amazing teachers can be found in unlikely places.

      • Oh I so so so envy you. I think the Russian style of teaching would so suit Peggy’s passionate half-Slavic heart, but there’s no one where we live. I’m considering moving to find someone!

  3. Hello darling Maggie,

    It is so weird you mentioned Jayne Gould, I was only thinking of her the other day…..where is she based these days? Any news on Sally, how is she?

    Are you & yours well?


    Kind Regards,

    Elizabeth King Sent from my iPad

  4. Love the kettle, but also love seeing the photographer in the mirror on the left. What a wonderful treat for you and Peggy.

  5. Yessirree, we are still the raving mad dogs, with boundless energy but incredibly creative with it. The night we hijacked paparazzi Dave Hogan’s chauffeur-driven limo from a Knebworth field of mist at 5am one morning, after dancing the night away backstage with your leopardskin cowboy boots will not be forgotten quickly.

    • Backstage with Queen! I still have dem boots… still wear ’em. Just not with a vinyl mini skirt as I did that day. I also remember hardly watching any of the concert because we were too busy drinking champagne and shouting. Shame really, as it was their last ever concert. Ooops!

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