I was quite grateful to my mother who started me in ballet aged five with Mrs Behrens in Berkhamsted. I danced through boarding school, although it progressed from arabesques to split runs and step-ball-change with Mrs Boyd, who had black liquid-lined eyes and a pixie haircut and imagined all of us as extras in a Bob Fosse movie. Thanks to this, I've always imagined myself a graceful person. Yesterday, while clambering on a fence at the children's horse show, I fell, leaving, rather elegantly one leg suspended to the top rail (about 4 feet up in the air) and lacerated by a nylon/plastic zip tie and the other ripping through an old wooden box I'd used to climb on the fence, only to have a rusty nail slowly push its way down the front of my shin. Standing there, left knee by my ear, other bleeding leg on the ground, like a Russian contortionist, wasn't the way that I really prefer the other horsey mothers to see me. It wasn't the pulled-together casual elegance I strive for, the West LA by way of England chic that I imagine myself exuding, effortlessly. The shorts didn't help either.
"Wow, Mamma, I didn't know you could lift your leg so high" said my daughter loudly. Other mothers looked over and tittered behind their organic paper cups of latte. With as much grace as I could muster, I unhooked my Converse-clad foot from the top rail, smiled the smug smile of "I meant to do that; See how limber I am" and pretended to be very, very interested in the dog's collar.