step AWAY from the face paint



You know, sometimes I worry about the advice I dole out on Answer Me This! – though I was pretty sure about the particular nugget which Rupert has written to endorse:

Having only just caught up with Episode 268 (the holiday podcast backlog causing its usual chaos), I heard the bit about not blacking up children and was brutally dragged back to one of the most embarrassing incidents of my life…

I was an awkward child of 8 or so, up in Edinburgh for our annual Christmas stay with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. For some reason that year, the traditional panto included The Black & White Minstrels (this was about 45 years ago, o tempora, o mores, etc.).

The highlight of the show was the opportunity to get blacked up like a Black & White Minstrel (remember, 45 years ago). My hand shot up, and I was invited up on stage. What I had forgotten was that we had been dressed up in our finest clothes for this treat, which for me – for reasons I have never fully understood, since I was English and lived in Hampshire – meant wearing a kilt.

Having blacked up my face, like the others, they then had to black up my knees – to the great derision of the rest of the audience, who seemed to regard this as the most ridiculous thing they had ever seen. It probably was, but childhood wounds run deep. I have never worn a kilt again.

So I just wanted to endorse the wise advise you handed out: do not black up children.

Indeed. Do not. Not ever. Not even for kiddy productions of Othello.


One Response to “step AWAY from the face paint”

  1. Darcy Says:

    KNEES! I thought this story was going somewhere much worse.

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