I’m afraid it’s proud mother time again folks. Last week was Molly’s school production of The
Tudor Rose, a wonderful school’s play about Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The classes involved had
spent weeks preparing and rehearsing the play and Molly had been cast as old King Henry. That
is Henry at the end of his life - you know - old, fat and bearded. Clearly Molly’s acting skills were
going to be put to a particularly hard test with this one, as she needed to transform from her usual
pink, girly self into a kind of grumpy Brian Blessed.
Now, no transformation of this stature would be complete without a wonderful costume. So I was
completely terrified when I was informed that we had to provide the costumes ourselves. For those
that have read my column regularly, you might recall that I’m not exactly the Mrs Beeton of Ealing.
I am to ‘home made’ what Stephen Fry is to stupidity. So my immediate thought was to search
online shops for Henry VIII costumes for 10 year old girls. You may not be surprised to hear that
there weren’t many results. So, what to do?
Thankfully, my good friend Ali stepped in. Now Ali has in the past taken a needle and thread and
done an awful lot more with it than re-attaching a button to an article of clothing (like me). She
confidently told me that creating a Henry outfit was not a difficult thing at all. So she and Molly
poured over the computer looking at images of Henry in his later years and then told me that all
we needed to do was to buy some material and she’d design and manage the process from there.
After a visit to a lovely material shop in Hanwell, every spare moment in the next few days was
spent cutting and stitching. And actually I remembered that although I wouldn’t have had a clue
how to design and cut out the outfit, I made a pretty good seamstress when told exactly which
bits to sew together. My back stitch was something to behold and I remained confident that my
seams were going to stay together, even if Molly played a particularly exuberant beheading scene.
And so, the costume was finished complete with fat-tummy-cushion, ermine trimmed Tudor hat
(actually it was the edging of a pair of furry slippers sewn onto a beret), and a luxurious oversized
And so the day of the performance arrived and Molly’s personal costume designer Ali joined me
and many others for the play. It was a triumph. The girls were fantastic, the acting and singing
superb and I was particularly proud of Molly’s costume which for once in my life I hadn’t just
bought, but had actually made. The only bought bit was the beard, and sadly in the end she
couldn’t actually wear it. Unfortunately during the dress rehearsal, sections of it started to become
unattached and if she’d kept it on, not only would her words have been somewhat muffled, she
would possibly have choked on her own beard prior to Henry’s appointed death. (I bet Brian
Blessed has never had that problem.) So I ended up drawing her a beard with eye-liner – not quite
so regal and luxurious but at least she was audible to the assembled throng.
The icing on the cake of the performance was a ‘Tudor Rap’ which the girls had written with their
teacher to finish the show. The wonderful Tudor costumes were embellished with baseball caps
and sunglasses and it was a very funny and creative finale. The show ended with whoops and
cheers for all, although I’m sure somewhere in the distance I heard the very faint sound of King
Henry VIII spinning in his grave.
NOTE TO SELF: If you can’t buy, make!