Dance, writing, movement - and all that flows from We dance around in a ring and suppose But the secret sits in the middle and knows. Robert Frost
As a child I was awkward and silent with adults, so I was taken to my first ballet class in the hope it might reform me. In those days pre-school ballet classes were held in the ballroom of Chester’s Grosvenor Hotel. The highly polished floor was an enormous square pool surrounded by the security of the red carpet. On a low stage an old woman played the grand piano, and led by Miss Faulkner in her black silk dress, we all hopped and frolicked around to Mulberry Bush and other nursery rhymes – at least the other children did. I stood on the edge, clinging to my mother and watching, until I found myself somehow at the end of a long line of children. As each child tripped across the ballroom to take Miss Faulkner’s hand and curtsey to the pianist, the line grew shorter until there I was alone with the expanse of floor stretching before me – a miserable creeping performance, watched by parents and children alike, my skirt twisted to a knot in my hands, and the humiliation of Miss Faulkner having to come to me in order to draw a close to the painful proceedings.
Strangely I must have known even then that I had to dance. Instead of refusing ever to return to the Grosvenor Hotel and the horrors of ballet, I insisted I went the next week, and then again and again.
Then alongside dance, came the wonderful discovery of words and fiction. Sometime during those days before school I was left at home with my father one afternoon. He was reading by the fire and was therefore unavailable. Sitting in a playpen with my books and toys, I found that the words I already knew flowed together into the most wonderful stories. This was what books were for! I can still remember my delight - a kind of illumination.