Given that Nikki is a photographer and responsible for some stunning reportage images of the various Holland boys over the years, including Tom and his mundane life – you might think it unwise that my favourite photograph of Tom’s childhood is not one of Nikki’s photographs – and is in fact a snap, taken by someone on their phone.
Tom would have been 9 or so at the time – and at the start of the auditioning process for Billy Elliott which I had explained to him at the time would go nowhere but that it was nice to be asked.
What the hell does dad know?
This question would become a recurring joke (theme) throughout my subsequent book, Eclipsed – on how Tom would confound my every prediction and become a movie actor.
This photograph is Tom with his very first ballet teacher, Louise Jefferson – taken in the gym of his primary school.
Louise runs a thriving ballet school near to where we live and every two years, she puts on a show for her students and their parents. Nikki is the official photographer and so this weekend, we attended the show and watched the excited students take to the stage, in front of their even more excited parents and very often, grandparents too.
Some 200 girls and 3 boys – it’s a ratio that most boys dream of (and need) – and had I known these odds growing up, comedy’s loss might have been ballet’s great gain.
Anyway, the show was fab (darling)
And to see first-hand and close up the amount of hours and exhaustive effort that goes in to such a thing – and not just the choreography and the rehearsals. But the costumes, the hair and the make-up, not to mention the days and weeks of photo editing put in by yours truly. Parents were present en-masse – volunteering as ushers, stage hands and for whatever else needed doing and it struck me what a sense of community is fostered by Louise’s school.
These children will never forget the experience of being in a show – and although I suspect that none of them will go on to become professional dancers – this doesn’t matter one iota.
And having said this, what the hell do I know? On show-biz and on child rearing, I am frequently very wrong and very often.
Anyway, bravo Louise, ably supported by her husband, Paul. And to all the students and their parents also.
Over the weekend, I suggested to Paddy that he might think of taking up ballet.
“Seriously, Paddy” I said, “there are big upsides to ballet”.
He gives me a withering look. He might as well have added, – ‘Yeah, dad, what do you know?’
And fair enough I suppose.