14 October 2014

The extraordinary lives of other people

You can know someone for ages and then suddenly find out something about them that puts them in an entirely different light. For instance, with one friend I discovered after a few years that she had been a lifeguard and indeed had spent much of her childhood in competitive swimming. As young mothers, we were too busy with the demands of the present to discuss the past, but is it possible that during our many conversations the topic of childhood's demands never arose? From my non-sporty background, her swimming prowess seemed incredibly glamourous ... and impossible to emulate.

Then there are people you meet briefly and learn about something they do that seems impossible in a different way. Adult-ed classes often start with "going around the room" and everyone saying something about themselves, why they're at the class. That's how I met Yvette, who introduced herself as an actor and breast cancer survivor, and now she's doing a show in north London in aid of breast cancer charities.

Acting, performing, dancing  are almost totally outside of my own world of possibilities, so I find it amazing when people I've known in another context do this "impossible" thing.  And for six nights, one after the other - phew, the stamina!

My point is - we're surrounded by people who've had, and have, a lot of interesting things going on in their lives. Of course we don't want to pry into things they'd rather not talk about, but what a privilege it is to hear their stories, to compare their experiences with our own. I find it endlessly fascinating.

As for Yvette, she says of her show:

The show is supporting Cancerkin, an excellent breast cancer charity based at the Royal Free Hospital in London, where I teach regular dance classes.
“Yvette’s relationship with Cancerkin is far more than just supporting us at her inspiring performances of Sequins on my Balcony; she also runs sessions combining dance and laughter yoga to other breast cancer patients at Cancerkin. These classes introduce the joy of dancing - from Bollywood and Belly Dance to the Charleston and Samba Reggae - and bring a smile to everyone’s face at what can be a very distressing time” - VICTORIA TODD, CEO Cancerkin
Copies of my book, BELLY DANCING AND BEATING THE ODDS, published by HarperCollins, will be on sale and £1 per copy will go to the Just Because Breast Cancer Charity. 

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