Renee

Childhood stroke, duck in a bra and a night at the opera

Our evening at the opera was truly splendid!  I don’t usually say splendid, but considering the company and the amazingly glorious surroundings it seems appropriate.  Drapers Hall is a gorgeous baroque and marble treasure set amongst other architectural delights within the City’s square mile.  It’s like stepping back in time, with Old Master paintings adorning the walls, stained glass and Elizabethan antiquary.  It was created 600 years ago as, basically, a place for like-minded businessmen to meet and discuss business – in other words, to network!  Secret fraternities and mysteries aside, its aim was really no different to today’s get-togethers all over London and beyond.

 

We were greeted by Lady Emma Fellows (wife of Downton Abbey’s creator and producer); she was charming and very interested in my work promoting awareness of childhood stroke.  We sat with Princess Something of Somewhere and the eternally elegant Honor Blackman.  I was banned from asking her about Kinky Boots… (Gill, remember our answerphone from Kingswood Road – the message was us singing it very loudly?)  She seems to have moved on.  Champagne was flowing and a small and smiley waiter hovered behind my left hip, swiftly topping me up after each sip.  So it probably comes as no surprise that I was standing in a Jacobean oak panelled, crystal chandeliered room in a sparkly dress and wearing my grandmother’s pearls, when my stockings fell down!  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, as I bit into a duck canapé half the flaky pastry crumbled directly into my bra.  As was pointed out later that night on Facebook, I’m a classy bird!

The opera itself was fantastic, so dramatic and passionate.  I understood a little of the first half from the brochure synopsis, then someone explained the second half to me over dinner.  The actors performed with a kind of Italian hunger that kept the audience enraptured throughout.  The evening was a thank you to the Stroke Association’s key supporters and we felt privileged to be included on the guest list.  Childhood stroke affects five out of every 100,000 children, and it was lovely that our work to speed up diagnosis and campaign for targeted after-care was acknowledged in such an exceptional way. If you’d like to find out more, see the childhood stroke page on their website.

That was actually my second musical interlude of the week.  On Tuesday Ben played in a jazz bar in Shepherds Bush.  Caffé Concerto is actually a really nice restaurant, beautifully decorated and atmospheric for an array of musicians taking turns on Open Mic Night.  An amazing saxophonist stole the show, but Ben’s band was pretty groovy and his classical guitar skills are outstanding for someone who’s only been playing for a couple of years.  I’m happy to publically compliment him, just as he so nicely complimented me as I was dressing for the opera: “Well done, you are dressed appropriately for your age.”  Hmmm.  I preferred nine-year-old Aaron’s comment: “Renée would make a good mother…”  There is hope then…

Not really wanting to lower the tone after such a sophisticated week, but what else can I tell you… There are twenty million women wearing kinky boots, kinky boots.  And whether you’re in evening dress or bathing suits you wear boots, boots, kinky boots! 

Wear them, walk, follow me… @WeekendWitch

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