Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas ballet

The BBC saved the best of the holiday programmes for this afternoon: the delightful Frederick Ashton ballet, Tales of Beatrix Potter.

I have loved Beatrix Potter all my life. One of my earliest memories from nursery school is of being allowed to play with the little wooden figures of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck and the rest of the characters, which sat beside the books on Mrs Pendlebury's special shelf. One had to have been very good to win this privilege.

I loved and indeed, still love, to handle the books; what an inspiration to make them such a perfect size for little hands. The illustrations are wonderful and the stories are perfect for children and adults. I enjoyed having them read to me when I was small, then being able to read them for myself; I never tired of reading them to my own children and guess what my first purchase was when I knew the first grandchild was on the way!

The complete works are here, waiting to be read and perhaps I'll let a really good grandchild look at my Beswick figures of Pigling Bland, Pig-Wig, Aunt Pettitoes and Little Pig Robinson.

The ballet represents the characters perfectly and the costumes are amazing. Our video of the 1971 film has been worn out so I hope there is a DVD available to replace it, but there is nothing quite like the live ballet. I couldn't get to Covent Garden and I'm not sure they would have let me in without a child in tow, but sitting in my armchair with the remains of the Christmas chocolates was a satisfactory second best. Thank you BBC, my licence fee was well spent.
I always wondered if my own little ballerina might be Jemima Puddleduck one day, although Hunca Munca might have been more in character! I think this photo was taken at the last exam before she gave up classical ballet for modern dance. Oh well, a mother can dream.... perhaps the grandchild will .....


  1. A definite aaah factor, I'd say M. The 60goingon16 family members are all B Potter (and ballet) fans too.

    And I have been meaning to ask you how Tanith got her name. Well, you gave it to her but you know what I mean! Is she named after the Phoenician goddess of love, fertility, the moon and the stars? (A wonderfully celestial combination.)

  2. The story of the naming of Tanith!

    When my husband was a handsome young officer home on leave, he used to enjoy taking his little sister to school. You can imagine that he was very popular and especially so with a little girl called Tanith, who had beautiful curls and huge brown eyes. Well that's the story he told me when we got married and asked if we could call any daughter we might have Tanith.

    I couldn't find anything about the name at the time but we went ahead and used it. On the day I brought her home from the hospital there was an article in the paper about a tigress Tanith having given birth at Chessington zoo. I wrote to the zookeeper and he told me about the Phoenician goddess. I was horrified to find she had a predilection for human babies! We decided to keep this information from Tanith and told her it was a Celtic name - after all it is very like taneth, which means 'chieftain's daughter'.

    The twist in the tale is that Tanith hated having such a different name when she was little; people would ask her to repeat it, spell it or would call her Tamsin or Tabitha and we could never get those named badges and mugs that all the other children got on days out. Then, when she was about 9 or 10 she learned the truth about the name and she absolutely loved the idea and began to boast about her bloodthirsty namesake!

  3. Yes there is a DVD and it is residing on my shelf. I am seeing this at the opera house next week and am really looking forward to it. When we bought our very first VCR this was the programme that was taped as a matter of priority and we wore it out, the tape was played so often. I think my favourite is Jeremy Fisher

  4. Thanks, Elaine, I'll try to find a copy. My VHS tape was worn out, too. I'm torn between Jeremy Fisher and Jemima Puddleduck as favourites but I couldn't find any fault with any of them!


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