I was fourteen when my life took an unexpected twist, and I became a fully-fledged member of DADS (Didsbrook Amateur Dramatic Society). 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.
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 finished singing my audition piece, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, and was 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 (Didsbrook Authors and Writers Group) 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, along with One Direction and the Jonas Brothers. I was in awe of this larger than life local celebrity, who not only founded DADS, but DAWGS as well. The revered body of homegrown writing talent and becoming a member of the celebrated DAWGS became one of my fourteen-year-old self’s lifetime writing goals.