Dancing to the music of time is a dance class for the over 60's that takes place at Greenwich Dance Agency. I was able to attend one of their sessions, and speak to a few individuals about my project, and ask which items they held most dear to them. Below are a few of the responses.
So I have something called a Treasure tower, and its inside me. And I have a representation of it in my home, which enables me everyday to bring out my own innate treasure. So I do that to my hearts content. Its a treasure tower that’s covered with all sorts of gems - gold, banners and bells. It’s an allegory. So we have a representation of that…we, I have. So that’s my story really. It just brings out the treasure that’s within me. Everybody has this treasure, it’s just finding access to it, a way to access it, which is why it’s important. You have, we all have, treasures.
(The physical copy I have at home) is actually a scroll. The original one was done on a wood block with ink. So it’s a copy. I’m not the only person to have one, in fact there are thousands of people around the world who’ve got one. But this is my most treasured thing… apart from my grandson.
I keep it in a box, that can be opened. It needs airing every now and again, everyday (in fact), twice a day. Like candles and incense, I sit in front of it and chant.
So my names Margaret. I come from a family of five boys, and me. What used to give me joy was I wanted to be a dancer, and I wanted to be a ballet dancer. Anyway, my mum got these shoes from a jumble sale, and I thought they were ballet shoes. They had string on the bottom, and I used to us the banister on the stairs to practice being a ballerina. I used to go on my toes with these shoes. Years later I found out that they were just espadrilles.
Anyway years later I immigrated to Canada. I went to live in Montreal, and I studied with, took class with, Le Ballet Jazz in Montreal. And then because of work had to move down to Toronto, and I did classes with Toronto Dance Theatre. And then when I came back to England in 83 I did classes with London Contemporary. But because of work, I was a graphic artist, dance kind of had to go out the window.
I went to what was then a shop up on Charing Cross road, and it used to provide all the shoes for they ballerinas in London. And i went in to this shop. And there were real ballerinas trying on their shoes and flexing their feet and everything. And they had a downstairs that you could go to. So i went downstairs and there was this wonderful old lady there that obviously must’ve sold all the ballerinas their shoes. And I said to her I would love to try on a pair of ballet shoes. So she got me a pair of ballet shoes, put them on, and then she showed me they had a couple of mirrors and a tatty bit of lino. And i went up on point in first position… the classic pose. And she only had to just hold the very tip of my fingers, and I was up there. And she said I did very very well.
I didn’t actually buy them. When I came back to England I didn’t have a job, and really I just did it for that child, that child that always wanted to be a ballerina. The closest I got was going on point in a shop.
I don’t still have the espadrilles. They were like a 1940’s/1950’s idea of a beach shoe. They were canvas, and then they had strings that were like ballet shoes.
So my story is… I’m in the process of moving. We’ve lived in the house for 19 years, and it’s a big move. We’re moving up away from London, away from out family to a retirement place.. if that's the right word. It was something that we were really keen to do, and I found the whole process (of packing) really difficult. And a lot of that has been going through stuff, the tat of life. But it’s a bit of a journey in that some of the memories that have come out have been lovely, and endearing and beautiful.
One of the things that I found was an old suitcase in the loft full of all the baby clothes. I had two children in my life. My first child I had very young at 17 years old, and had to get married. But he’s now 47, and we’re very close. Unfortunately his father died. But his pair of shoes are really significant. When he was a baby we found out that he had some deformity of the feet, so he had to have his feet in plaster cast for a long time as a baby. And then all the year he had to wear these horrible heavy blue shoes, like boots; summer winter come what may. So it was horrible. They were a bit of a burden for us both I think. Because I hated putting them on him. But I kept them. And there they were in the loft, these blue pair of swede lace up type things - rockers. And next to them were my daughters. Pink Sandals. And they kind of fitted their personalities. She’s very gay and abandoned, doesn’t care about life very much, just gets on and does it. And there’s her pink sandals sat next to his blue rocker boots.
I have on my bookshelf in my bedroom a small little creature made of plastic. It is very threadbare. But basically it’s been with me everywhere in my life since I was about 5 or 6, and his names is Meike. And he is, he comes from Germany. My mother was German, and she came to England after the war. My father met her during the war as an English soldier. Anyway, every summer holiday, whenever we could afford it, we used to go to Germany. And my Grandfather Hans bought it for me as a little present. And I was very fond of my Grandfather; a real socialist, had a hard time during the Nazi regime. Anyway I used to take him (Meike) everywhere, and one year I bought his partner who was Muecke.
Meike used to wear little trousers and a waistcoat, and had his hedgehog hairs coming from here (points to back of her head). And Muecke wore a red dress with a little apron. I got her as a present another time, and I took them both to school, my primary school to show them, you know.. I’m half German! I took them to school, and I lost Muecke on the way home, and I was just so devastated. So actually Meike became much more, you know, much more precious because I’de lost his partner, and I wasn’t going to lose him. So it’s, it’s really nothing, but it’s a part of my Germaness, my childhood, and a bit of my grandfather, and my mother.
He had a little turned up nose, a waistcoat, and grey shorts. And was just like a soft plastic material. About 4 inches high I suppose. He is now in our bedroom on the bookshelf, looking out, and getting a bit dusty. I’ve had him for 57 years, so that’s a very long time. My children know about it, and my husband does, but I don’t really tell anyone else.