It was my friend Rudi's birthday on Friday. We all clubbed together to buy him a dishwasher (seems to be the new trend – I'm hoping for a first class round-the-world-airline ticket, with vouchers to all the Park Hyatt hotels. Just thought I would put that out there). And we all went to see the St Petersburg Male Ballet Company dance Swan Lake. Or so I thought. What we actually saw was a ballerino long past his primo, and his oddly shaped troupe (one of whom seemed to have a whole turkey breast down the front of his tights), interpreting arbitrarily-chosen bits of music.
The tiny dancer was well into his 50s, but he was no Baryshnikov. In fact, he rather reminded me of Liza Minnelli. I saw Liza in concert at the Royal Albert Hall, years ago, with Sammy David jnr and Frank Sinatra. As she highkicked her way merrily, and somewhat drunkenly, across the stage, a good few people averted their eyes. (One of them being Barbara Sinatra – to whom Frank would later sing: “where there is laughter there is Barbara, always Barbara warm and gay…”. So, she shouldn't have been smiling quite so broadly. And, frankly (ha!) Barbs didn't have much of a leg of her own to stand on – she was wearing a tiara, and she acknowledged her hubby's dedication by standing to wave at the audience with that peculiar inward wave the Queen Liz favours. Cue more eye aversion.)
At one point Friday's dancing queen tossed carnations into the audience. He'd been miming frantically to an Italian love song and was either approaching climax or had thrown his back out – hard to tell. It was all a bit too much for me. Like watching your mum have a few gins too many at a cocktail party and getting her groove on. Mortifying. I wanted desperately to go home.
There are signs up around Cape Town at the moment advertising “Deep Purple, supported by Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash” at the Grand West Arena. I mean what the **** – who on earth would want to see them? Fleetwood Mac are on the road without Christine McVie, Spandau Ballet are touring Europe and Bon Jovi are out there in their new hair pieces – re-living on a prayer.
Are we all taking this 'fifty is the new forty” thing too far? Should we be starting to retire gracefully? Frankie could hardly remember the words to 'New York New York', that night in London. From my seat I could see the teleprompters: “da da da dada da, da da da, start spreading the news”. Like Friday's ballet – all it did was make me sad.
Maurits sent me an article from The Times in which the journalist described how much happier we all are once we hit fifty. In fact – we are so happy, we are are apparently taking on “new hedonist ways”. I'm not entirely sure what this means, but suspect it has something to do with getting our old bits out, and putting them up there on public view. And if that's what Friday's ballet was all about – count me out. It's said that the art of going to a party is knowing when to leave, and I am a 10pm Cinderella.