I was fourteen when my life took an unexpected twist, and I became a fully-fledged member of DADS. I had been coerced by my Mother to audition for the part of Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz. My Mother had already bagged the role of Glenda. Edna Fowler had coveted the part but managed to contain her disappointment after being cast as the Wicked Witch of the West. According to the Didsbrook Echo, the stars of the show were me and the children from Didsbrook Primary who played the parts of the Munchkins.
The director of DADS production of the Wizard of Oz was Jocelyn Robertshaw. Apart from waving at her from a distance when Tom and I went swimming at The Manor, I hadn’t seen her since the day she caught us by the trout lake. I was on stage, having just sung Somewhere Over The Rainbow and squinting into the spotlight. I couldn’t work out who was sitting with my mother in the stalls. A woman stood up, clapping enthusiastically and I recognised the outline of her jodhpurs.
‘Bravo, young lady!’ Then, turning to my Mother.
‘Joan Fothergill! You didn’t tell me your daughter sings like a nightingale and can act the socks off the entire DADS membership. Gosh, how time flies, young lady. The last time I saw you properly was by the lake wearing a pair of pink knickers.’ My cheeks turned crimson, and I heard my mother mumble the words, lake, knickers?
‘Lucy, dear, welcome to the fold, welcome to DADS! The part of Dorothy is indisputably yours!’
‘She’s a good writer too, Joc. She’s won some prestigious competitions.’ I think that was my first and shocking bout of teenage mortification. How could my mother tell a multi-published author that I’d won a few school writing competitions and make it sound like I’d won the Booker Prize?
‘If she writes as well as she sings and acts, Lucy will be a member of DAWG before she can say, Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. Thank you, Lucy. We’ll see you at rehearsals on Monday eve. Right! Time to crack on, who’s up for the part of the cowardly lion?’
It was at that moment that Jocelyn Robertshaw became one of my teenage idols, alongside One Direction and the Jonas Brothers. I also made becoming a member of the DAWG one of my fourteen-year-old self’s lifetime writing goals. I was in awe of Jocelyn, who was not only the founder of DADS but was also the founder and doyenne of DAWG, the revered body of homegrown writing talent.