ANTONIA ROLLS ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE NEWS. An account of an Artist and Mother in Bognor Regis. Worthwhile, but exhausting, so pour the tea and make yourself comfortable...(this painting is a family portrait, about 2'x 3', oil on wood. It is the Ross Family, each family member with items that describe them best. And at the front, on the grass on the right hand side, is a photo of Grandma, sadly missed.)
In a pub in Bognor. I danced a kind of one to one dance of jazz with a stranger who was a very good mover indeed, and found that dancing was a spectacular form of self expression. Let me set the scene.
I went to meet Dear Friend in a Bognor pub that is known for its jazz band. The band, I am delighted to say, were excellent and all wore extremely snazzy waistcoats, and must have all been between the ages of 65 and 75. At least. So at nealy 50 I was a spring chicken. I loved the music, it must have been dixieland type stuff, and was so catching that everyone got up to dance. "Look" said Dear Friend, "at that young man over there. He is a fabulous dancer and dances each time the band plays." I looked at the back of a curley haired youth in his 30s and wondered why a young fellow would be well known for jiggling around to elderly jazz. Well. As the band played on he leapt like Peter Pan onto the dance floor and did a bit of dancing to much applause from all of us, and boy. Could he move. It was not a structured dance with set steps, it was a wonderful example of a body that could move with exquisite grace just for the joy of it. In my heart I said "That is the man to dance with if you want a fabby dancing experience. That man," I said to myself with awe, "would be perfect because he is dancing for the sheer delight and fun of it. And me being such a fun loving kind of Artist and Mother, with no dance partners to speak of either in my past or future, I would benefit from a brief association on the dance floor with this Peter Pan of Dixieland Jazz Free Movement Jiggling Around Dancing."
Well. I was shy. I didn't want to join Dear Friend and her dear friend dancing. I just didn't know how to get up and join in because it was my first time in the pub, with the friends who were regulars, and the band, who were Very Popular. It didn't help that I had ordered a plate of cheesy chips and had forced myself to eat every last chip. They were probably not the best cheesy chips I had ever had. They were deeply stodgy, microwaved, too hot and tasteless. However I kept thinking the next bite would be better and even though I felt my arteries beginning to clog with fat and stodge, I kept going saying to my very sympathetic neighbour, "Waste not want not," and being a polite kind of fellow, he just smiled and nodded. "Fool." Is probably what he was really thinking.
As the evening wore on, my friends danced, the jazz band played with expertise, all was utterly as it should be, Peter Pan wowed us with he grace and fun, I received a call from 13 Year Old Son asking me to please come home. But I Am In The Pub! I should have said, I Will Come Home At Closing Time. Instead I said Right-oh. On My Way. I stood up to leave, to find Peter Pan of Jazz standing next to me, his arm crooked ready to escort me to the floor to dance. Yo! I cried in my soul, This Is It! To him, I just inclined my head and putting my arm in his, I went to the dance floor. "It's Now Or Never," I said in homage to Elvis.
Well. Wow! He was not only a good dancer to watch, he was a natural at making and maintaining eye contact to encourage nearly 50 year old stodge ridden artists to follow his moves and trust his dancing vibes. I found I could and did, dance with real delight and let him lead me and the dancing so that I looked, I believe, pretty damn good. It was because we danced as a team, and by the end of the number we were improvising witty little moves together. I do think it was only possible because he mainained eye contact at all times so I couldn't see if anyone was leaving early and taking all their friends with them. Or that the landlord was trying to shut the pub due to sudden trauma.
When the music stopped we got such a round of applause, and I think mine was because I had had the nerve to partner such a Jazz Dancing Treasure in the pub, his was because he was very good. The band gave me a special round of applause and I graciously gathered my keys from the Dear Friend, and left like Cinderella, into the night and back to 13 Year Old Son who was Hungry Again. Peter Pan probably went back to his Tinkerbell, a yummy blonde lady who looked far too beautiful to dance with him.
I am at Alans. Yes. At last, his gall bladder was removed yesterday, and I collected him from hospital and am watching him in case he spontaneously combusts. There is, we are told by the hospital, a 48 hour period when a patient who has just had surgery should not be left alone. Actually, he is in bed snoring behind me, and for someone who has just had something in his tummy removed, he looks remarkably well. Except that his tummy is swollen and full of Wounds. So far, on my watch, he has not died. His son takes over soon, and let us hope Alan will stay in bed snoring and not suddenly get rabies or leprosy or whatever, and his 48 hour period will pass with minimum panic.
Alan and I are reviewing our future. This seems like a good idea. I will let you all know what we decide. Knowing us, it will chop and change and we will never really know. When he is 92 and I am 80 we will sit down and say to each other, "Well, Dear One, what shall we do then?" And the reply will be "Lordy lordy, I just don't know. Let's give it more time." And we will potter off around the sheltered housing units and have another cream tea together to pass the time before dinner.
I am off now. Time to leave the Slumbering But Still Alive Though Gall Bladder Free And Probably Very Mellow Alan to fight his way back to health in his clean fluffy bed and lots of dedicated family and friends to watch over him.
I am hoping that the Jazz Band will write a new number for me called The Lady With Twinkle Toes Despite Having Eaten A Huge Plate Of Concrete Cheesy Chips. And every woman there will think it is about them.