For Christmas, in the 'Ringworm Year', the older girls decided to put on a play. It was to be Goldilocks, and the second smallest girl was chosen to play the heroine, mainly because she was able to fit into the Bear's 'beds' [three laundry baskets] but also because she had golden hair.
I watched all the rehearsals, and knew all the words by heart, except for the Goldilocks part. She had nothing to say. All she had to do was to come on stage, try the porridge on the table, then go to the baskets, try the big one, then the middle one and finally, fall asleep in the smallest. Then, when the three bears came noisily home, she had to sit up and stretch, see the bears and run screaming to the front of the stage where Mr. Diamond would lift her off and she would go running through the audience, out of the door, along the corridor, around the corner to the 'stage' door and back on the stage for the final bow.
All was going well until Goldilocks fell ill; three days to go till Friends of St. Edith's arrived for their annual feel-good night. Eventually someone suggested that, I might do. As soon as they all finished falling about laughing they realised that they had no choice; it was the squeaky voiced bald girl or no-one.
One of the nuns made me a bonnet out of stiffened card and crepe paper tied beneath my chin in a big bow, and yellow wool was stuck in curls next to my face and down the back. In my pink borrowed dress and the blue bonnet I thought I looked very pretty .
The evening of the concert arrived and the hall was filled with the great and the good and the show began.
The Grand Old Duke of York came on with four of his ten thousand soldiers and marched to the top of the hill [two benches] and marched right down again. Someone played the piano and carols were sung and then it was time for the Piece De resistance.
The three bears tramped on stage, did their bit with the porridge, decided to go for a walk and exited stage right.
My cue; I climbed on-stage and smiled at the audience to a chorus of oohs and aahs. Slowly I sampled the father bears porridge and made a huge grimace and much fanning of my mouth to indicate how hot it was...then mother bears...ugh! nasty and cold. Baby Bear's was just right and I scraped the bowl clean; [they were all empty of course, but a great bit of acting don't you think?]
Then over to the baskets..er...beds, jumping into each one and making a great deal of business over the whole thing, ignoring the 'hurry up' gestures of Sister Moira. Finally I lay down in the baby Bear's basket, yawned hugely and closed my eyes. Almost at once the three bears came home. 'Whose been eating my porridge' said father bear, and I nearly shouted 'Me!' Then Ma bear said the same thing and I stuffed my fist in my mouth so that when B.Bear accused someone of eating his all up, I simply kicked my legs in the air, to the delight of the audience who hadn't known they would be seeing farce.
By the time they reached the baskets, true fear was setting in...whoever had done the Bear's make-up was very talented; black fur was stuck to the girl's faces and hands and false sticky up ears all added to the illusion.
I managed to hold out till baby bear shouted '...and there she is' before jumping out of the basket, running to the edge of the stage into Mr. Diamonds waiting arms. Unfortunately, in my zeal to escape from the grizzlies and because Mr. Diamond could hardly see due to the tears in his eyes, we managed it badly, and my paper hat's ribbons tore
Aided by the wind of my flight the bonnet fell backwards exposing my very, very bald head.
But my trials were not yet over. I knew that with my leaving the stage, the bears had nothing much to do and the play was over. I had to get to the stage door and take my bow with the other girls.
At the end of the corridor was a door I had to pass. It was open and I could see, walking up and down inside, a tall fat man with a long white beard, wearing a bright red coat and trousers. He looked very fierce and I was terrified, turned to stone. I could not go back into the hall, nor could I pass that door.
It seemed like a very long time before someone came to look for me, and when I explained, for some reason fell about laughing all over again!