It’s all cats and dogs here this morning. I can hear the rain splash against the window pane, the tyres spraying puddles, and the wind building up to a crescendo. As I’m refusing to open the curtains, I can’t see any of it.
Instead, I’m organising documents, and have come across some old articles that are not on the blog. I wrote this one, when a brother in law was about to do his army service. Thankfully, he did come home, but on manoeuvres across the border he witnessed two of his friends die right in front of him. He lived to tell the tale, but I’m sure it changed his perspective on life.
This article is around seven years old – The message however, is timeless.
One hazy summer in the 80′s, a baby boy is born in London. Raised by a single mother who works hard to compensate him in finance, with what he lacks in a father. He goes to school in uniform, but on his feet are the latest trainers and his school bag is emblazoned with the latest turtle, transformer or superhero of the day. On his birthday, he has an adventure or a party, lots of presents and the all important theme cake. Father Christmas brings him the latest game or electronic craze, a new football strip, and of course, more trainers. From the age of four this little boy goes abroad on holiday; he stares excitedly out of the plane window, while his hand dips into a big bag of sweets. He rides camels and horses, spins on funfair’s and dines out in restaurants, and at the end of each day, he comes home to his own room, with his own toys, a wardrobe full of clothes, and a feeling of security. He knows he is loved.
One hazy summer in the 80′s, a baby boy is born at home, in a small village in Turkey. Raised by a single mother who already has four children. He goes to school in a hand me down uniform, and any spare shoes that sort of fit. He has no school bag. Birthdays are not remembered, there is no celebration, and he is not even sure how old he is. Father Christmas has no meaning, but there is ‘Seker Bayram,’ and on this day he receives sweets from the adults he encounters. On school breaks, he kicks around the village with the rest of the boys, playing games with sticks, or climbing on old bits of machinery held together with rope. At the end of each day, he comes home to his family, and sleeps in the same room as his brothers on a home made mattress on the floor, no toys, but a feeling of security. He knows he is loved.
Our London boy has now left school and is at college. His clothes are more expensive still, and the cost of his trainers could feed our Turkish boys family for at least a month. He goes to the cinema, pubs & clubs, dates girls and always comes home to his own room, complete with TV, DVD, Games Consul and mini fridge.
Our Turkish boy has now left school and is working long hours in a restaurant. He brings home his wages and gives them to his mum. A sum that wouldn’t buy our London boy a designer T Shirt. His clothes are still handed down, and the only shoes he wears are the worn out pair from his older brother. He has never been to the cinema or set foot inside a pub, and his experience of ‘girls’ romantically, is gleaned from old Turkish movies. Each night, he comes home to the same room that he shares with his brothers, and sleeps on the thin mattress on the floor.
Our London boy is now 18. He has spent the last year or so partying in Turkey, London and Greece. He has been working in bars and has spent his wages on branded clothes and funny t-shirts, added to his collection of tattoos, got a few piercings, and notched up more scores on his bedpost. His bank balance is still subsidized by his over compensating mother, and he is busy planning his return to London where he will ‘knuckle under,’ and concentrate on his career from the comfort of a new flat that his mother is about to fund.
Our Turkish boy is now 18. He has spent the last five months in the army, learning to push his body to the ends of endurance, survive without water and handle heavy artillery. He is busy learning how to survive his next excursion. The one that will take him on his first trip out of the country. The one he doesn’t want his mother to know about.
At last, our Turkish boy has his very own shoes……. We pray they will not be his last.
Aljaz Skorjanec, Anton du Beke, Ballroom to Broadway, Betty May's, Burn The Floor, Canterbury Pilgrims, Crystal Hantig, Faye Huddleston, Jordan James, Julia Hantig, Lance Ellington, London Concert Orchestra, Luke Field Wright, Peggy O'Farrells, River Stour, Tiny Timm's
I’m awake at 7 am; hot tea made and laptop open at the ready. I’ve peeked through the curtains to see more grey drizzle and it’s not looking like the best of days, considering we were planning a mooch around Canterbury Town and a visit to the Cathedral.
Notes done, I’m showered and just waiting for Julia to finish up. While she gets ready, would you like to know more about my amazing friend? – click here: Julia
And now, breakfast……..Gotta love a hotel breakfast! To stave off hunger pains, we have fruit and croissants while waiting for our cooked breakfasts, and chat about our plans for the day……definitely Cathedral – at least inside it, we will be dry.
Lance appears, greets us with a smile and cheery morning, and sits down next to us. The conversation flows, but of course it starts with last nights fiasco and we relive the comedy aspect of the scene with the troll.
Next to arrive in the breakfast room is Gilly: lead violinist for the London Concert Orchestra. She joins us and we recant our tale of last nights escapade. This is all taking place around 9am. Two hours later, we are all still sitting there. Our conversation has been all around the world and we’ve travelled through theatres, Disneyland, around Vegas and been backstage with great men and big stars – we know what each others children do and we know each others future plans. Numbers have been swapped and catch up dates have been discussed. It is only the hands of the clock that have stopped us from sitting there all day….hotel check out is at 11am.
The hotel is still surrounded in grey mist and we know we must venture into it to get to town. While that may make us damp, it does not dampen our spirits as over breakfast, Lance had asked if we were going to the matinée. We hadn’t planned on it, we said, but of course we would love to. He then offered to try to get us some tickets. Are we spoilt or what? I have to say at this point, what a thoroughly lovely man he is – On hearing that my son is a singer, he immediately offered to help and introduce him to some of his contacts – Everyone in it knows just how hard the business is.
Julia and I check out and find a short cut into town. It takes us down by the River Stour, along a path surrounded by characteristic buildings which are interlaced with the beauty of nature. Stunning, even in the drizzle. It’s such a scenic spot that we vow to return with the kids (Jordan, Sam, Crystal & Luke) for a picnic in summer.
Before heading to the Cathedral, we stop and buy some Birthday bits for Faye, who is with Crystal, having a little birthday do at Tiny Tim’s in town. For you dance fans, Faye partnered Strictly winner Aljaz Skorajanec in Burn the Floor, and she dances ballroom with Anton in the show (mesmerising quickstep by the way). After kisses, hugs and birthday wishes, we head off to the Cathedral but sadly, most off the building is shut off until 2pm due to a royal service of some kind. We are clearly not meant to do the Cathedral on this trip and so, add it to our future plans with the kids. Instead, we mooch around the quaint cobbled streets, stop at twee shops to admire lots of shabby chic and then head to The Canterbury Pilgrims Hospital.
“The Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr of Eastbridge was founded in the 12th century in Canterbury, England, to provide overnight accommodation for poor pilgrims to the shrine of St Thomas Beckett. It is now one of the ten almshouses still providing accommodation for elderly citizens of Canterbury.“
Excerpt above from Wikipedia: More info here
I can tell you, it’s a very atmospheric place!
While we are there, Crystal calls to tell us Lance has left us tickets on the door. Whooop we are off to see the show again
Again we have great seats and in these we settle down to immerse ourselves in Ballroom to Broadway. As with anything you watch more than once, you notice more in it. Second time around, the dancers are just as fabulous, Anton is just as funny, Lance still caresses our ears with silk and the Orchestra tie it all together beautifully. Really, if you get a chance, you must go see it!
If you’re wondering, why I get so excited about dance shows, well it goes back to when I was a kid. I went to dance school for years, learning tap, ballet and modern, courtesy of both Peggy O Farrel’s and Better May’s. Had there not been a tragic turning point in my life, things may have turned out a little differently, and who knows, maybe I would have pursued a career in it myself. It doesn’t matter now of course, but it gave me an appreciation of dance for life and I love to watch. Ever since I met Crystal, I have wanted to see her dance, and I’m so glad I got the chance this time, while I’m here in the UK, she is amazing
Sadly, there is no video of the show, but there is a clip of her below. This talented girl is beautiful inside and out.