One day, many, many decades ago, when I was a child of six or seven I stole something.
Yup. A lipstick, scarlet in colour.
From where/whom? My mother? A shop?
No from a theater.
I had been made to learn ballet as a child, many middle class girls were, it was considered a way of bestowing grace and elegance. It was never going to work for me! but no-one knew I was dyspraxic back then. I had no co-ordination to speak of, no talent, no desire to be a flower or fairy. I did not like ballet lessons. I couldn't get the hang of it, was always bumping into the others, always in trouble.
But there was one thing I did enjoy about the process. Twice a year our little ballet school put on a show in a real theater in London. I suspect other schools came together for this event but I cannot remember. It wasn’t the dancing on stage in front of an audience, I loathed that, but I loved the smell of the makeup and we got to wear some.
I recall being a fairy, a doll and a lamb at various shows, I recall sewing stiff net ruffles on my knickers , little else, except the lipstick. The vivid colour, fabulous taste and delicious scent of the lipstick.
One night, as we dressed to go home, temptation beckoned and I went, I slipped the lipstick into my pocket as I left.
The first night I just held the lipstick in my hand, content with the feel of the smooth metal case and the sweet fragrance emanating. I dreamt of being a prima ballerina delighting audiences with my delicate beautiful graceful and. . . and. . . oh everything I wasn’t!
Trouble really came the following night when I decided to take off the lid, push up the lipstick and apply it to my lips - in the dark, under the cover of sheets and blankets. It really isn’t easy under covers, in the dark, with inexperienced hands!
I was certain I looked amazing and I would be able to conceal all in the morning. My dreams were heavenly, entranced as my sense were with the taste and scent. I achieved rapturous accolades that night from royalty; ah my dancing that night was superb.
Alas and alack!
Not only did the lipstick not wear off during the night,but because I had forgotten to replace the lid, the lipstick had melted(now this was 1950s stage makeup - greasepaint). Escaping it’s confinement the lipstick celebrated with exuberance. Dying the linen sheets,wool blankets, wyncette pyjamas and my tender skin with varying shades of scarlet and crimson.
At the time we did not possess an automatic washing machine only an old style model, filled and emptied by hand, with a mangle for squeezing excess water. Washing was dried on lines, or in the winter, which this was, on a clothes horse in front of a fire, all hot water had to be boiled.
I understand now, why Mum was so angry, iridescent with rage. But which was worse, that I had stolen the lipstick or I had caused three whole days of extra laundry? Lipstick was not easy to remove in such quantities.
I had only two hours to be restored to pristine cleanliness, eat a cooked breakfast and to walk a mile to school. I have never forgotten that morning - probably, neither has my skin, scrubbed to sparkling cleanliness with cold water and flannel. I made the school bell with seconds to spare and so saved myself another punishment.
Equally I haven't forgotten the two glorious nights when I wowed them all in my dreams.