Angelina and Mini-Me defeat Pushy Mum - and live to tell the tale.
Being too indecisive of mind to select a show and book it in advance, but being of definite mind to take Mini-Me to a proper grown up West End theatre to watch anything vaguely suitable during the school holidays, and being of pocket insufficiently deep to pay full whack, I awoke one Wednesday morning with the cold intent of a woman on a mission. “Hurry UP! Brush your TEETH! We have to leave NOW!!!” Half an hour later we were entering Brent Cross, eyes scanning for the holy grail of the Half Price Ticket Booth, which at 10.30am had been open for half an hour already. We were halted in our tracks by a huge banner advertising open auditions for “Annie” the musical. Bewitching visions of grinning little Asian Mini-Me in a ginger afro began to dance in my head. “Wanna do this?” I asked her with a half-crazed and hungry twitch in my eye (– it really wasn’t a question.) Before she could emphatically declare “No way, mummy!” my fingers were grasping for my mobile, dialling the number on the poster. It was the last day of auditions. It was FATE. The kind of story X-Factor always focuses on. Adorable child living with hardworking and responsible single parent (baby signing teacher – pillar of the community – or something) happens upon audition by accident, wows judges by singing her little heart out, wins! Fade up “I believe I can fly” music. Everyone weeps happy tears. The end… of childhood as we know it. Thank goodness I awoke from this mad reverie, just as we reached the Ticket Booth (which is actually not a booth but in fact a large desk in the middle of the shopping centre, upstairs – just so you know). Of course it also helped that I also figured out that the audition was organised by The Make Believe Theatre School in Edgeware (www.makebelievegroup.co.uk). Presumably, if she got through, it would involve more shelling out by said hardworking and responsible single parent. In a huff, pushy mother flicked her make believe feather boa around her neck and retreated stroppily back into her make believe dressing room, leaving Mummy on the Edge free to buy same-day half-price tickets to one of the last performances of The Sound of Music. Of course, Mini-Me was too busy with her nose pressed on the gallery glass watching the brave little auditionees below to know what I was up to, so when I squatted in front of her and told her where we were going, I ended up on the floor as she flung her arms around me in gratitude. I didn’t mind.
In our continued quest to find all that is great, good and unsung for kids in North West London, a visit to Brent Museum was long overdue. It was the perfect day for it, grey, damp and miserable, so with friends, Mini-Me and I hopped on the Jubilee line a few short stops to Willesden Green to partake in Ancient Egyptian Animal Modelling. On display was the impressive-ish Gayer-Anderson Cat, on loan from the British Museum, as well as feedback cards filled in by kids with comments ranging from the earnest “Thank you for bringing this amazing artefact to Brent” to the sweet-but-entirely-missing-the-point, “I love cats. Cats rule”. Not to mention a sleepy and bored-looking security guard. But I don’t think he was part of the exhibition. We learned that animals were worshipped as gods and kept as pets in Ancient Egypt and every animal was significant in its own way. And then we chose an animal to model out of squishy, spongy stuff. The “Divine Cat” theme runs until 10 May if you want to catch it. The summer exhibition will focus on contemporary art from India and the museum runs drop in family events every Wednesday during Summer and Easter school holidays and every half term. The summer workshops will explore the Indian Art theme through creative craft such as puppet making. For more information contact Louise Lamming, Learning Officer on 020 8937 3602 or email email@example.com. Walking back to the station, our works of art precariously balanced in our fingertips, we found we were gasping for a cup of tea (there’s no café at the Museum) and our Minis were hungry, so the seven of us (including two jackals and a blue hippo who had insisted on chaperoning us home) trudged into “Orangeflex” café. I expected weak tea and cardboard cake. However, Mini-Me and her friend enjoyed tall strawberry milkshakes, made there and then by a smiley lady using frozen strawberries and she told me it was delicious. Us grown ups shared a large slab of the moistest, yummiest carrot cake I’ve had in a long time and a soothing cup of tea. The kids happily sat on the bouncy red sofa and gossiped while we sat at an adjacent table and did the same. Bliss.
Brent Museum – Willesden Green Library Centre 95 High Road Willesden Green NW10 2SF
“Orangeflex” café - 68 Walm Lane, around the corner from Willesden Green Tube
Angelina Melwani runs Sing and Sign baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey, Stanmore and Rickmansworth. More info at www.singandsign.com