I had a week off from Wednesday Worries last week, because life all got a bit hectic, and while I’d love to say I was too busy to worry, that would be a lie – because I’m a professional, and a professional can always find time for worrying. But I was a bit too busy to write about worrying, which I suppose is something.
Anyway – today is apparently International Dance Day, which leads me neatly to the subject of…
Making a song and dance
The stupid thing is I actually like singing; I was in the choir at school and in my university’s gospel choir, which was really fun. But ask me to sing on my own in front of people and at best you’ll get a laugh, at worst I’ll burst into tears. And nobody needs to see that.
My favourite place to sing used to be in the shower, the fact that nobody else was in the room somehow convincing me the rest of my family couldn’t hear me belting out show tunes. These days, it’s probably my car, because there I know that – unless I’m stuck in traffic with the windows open – there is definitely no chance anyone will hear me. Although they might see me. But that’s okay, I think.
I don’t know why I’m so afraid of singing in front of people. I know my voice is okay; I mean, I’m not about to win any awards, but I’m probably not going to shatter any glasses either. And yet if there’s any chance I think someone’s going to hear me, it’s like my throat closes up and the best you’ll get out of me, even if I try, is a strange croaking sound. The one exception to this is, occasionally, after a few drinks – but even then I’ll be so quiet you probably won’t be able to hear me.
And it’s not just singing. I don’t dance in public either, unless forced as part of a non-optional social convention – and yet I have no problem having a boogie around my living room if the moment feels right.
My aversion to dancing in public is partly a horror of the awkward ‘stand in a circle and bob about’ so beloved at parties and weddings. I always feel very self-conscious in this situation, like everyone’s watching me and judging my particular style of bobbing, and will usually make my excuses and hurry off to check my phone at the first opportunity. And then not come back for several hours.
And then there’s what I call ‘real’ dancing – the kind you see on Strictly – which I’d love to be good at, but am terrified of actually having to learn, lest someone realise how horribly uncoordinated I am. And before you tell me anyone can dance, let me stop you with two words: Judy Murray. (I happen to love Judy Murray, by the way, but that doesn’t change the fact that the woman can’t dance.)
At the end of the day, any kind of performance leaves me a quivering wreck – even the thought of giving a presentation to a handful of colleagues, most of whom I’ve known and worked alongside quite happily for years, is petrifying. Invariably I’ll end up forgetting whatever I planned to say and panicking completely, no matter how prepared I was going in.
This is probably why I love the theatre so much: because I’m in total awe of anyone who can get up on stage and perform for other people. And why I’ll probably always be the nicest theatre reviewer around, full of respect for a cast giving it a go in the first place, whether the result ends up being any good or not.
And so I think it’s clear a life on the stage is not for me. But maybe I can start by trying to loosen up a bit on the dance floor. Like this guy, who clearly doesn’t care what people think and is just having fun. I could stand to have fun, I think – although I probably won’t put the results on YouTube. (Trust me, that’s a good thing.)