The humble rise of the Prom June 22 2014

It is the season of Proms, when school kids celebrate their last senior year, the girls get to dress in gorgeous flowy dresses and the boys get suited and booted. Over the weekend, I went to wave my niece Olivia and her friends off to their Prom in a vintage bus.

The bus was privately owned and its proud owner gave me a brief history and let me on board to see its original leather and fabric interior with bunting hung inside, it really was adorable. The bus was lovingly made in 1954 and was originally with the Aldershot & District Traction Co Ltd for the London link.

As we ate canapés, chocolate strawberries all washed down with Shloer, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters all got snap happy in taking photos of the excited group of friends.

But how did Proms get started? When I left school, they just had a Leaver's Disco, in fact, our year were so bad, the school opted not to have a Leavers Disco for us!! I also think it may have had something to do with fact that there was a teachers strike going on as well not just we were the naughtiest year in the school!!

Virtually unheard of 15 years ago in the UK, Proms are now the highlight of the school leaver's year, where pupils look forward and start planning their big day way in advance.

So where did it all start? Prom's started across the pond in the US, it was an event to bring together people from all financial standings and heritage. Ever see the film "Pretty in Pink"? If you have, you get the idea!

The word “Prom” comes from the French word, "Promenade", which means "walk" or "stroll". Early in the Twentieth century, it was considered inappropriate to dance with men that you were not married to so the girls would take short and heavily-chaperoned promenades around the block with their dates.

In the 1930s and 40s "Prom" stories of good and bad memories were published by school papers and were taken seriously. By the 1950s and 60s Proms had moved from school gyms to fancy ballrooms with heavy competition for the titles of Prom King and Queen becoming a popularity contest, usually going to the best looking and best dressed couple.

In 1963, President John F Kennedy had to cancel a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton because the hotel double-booked a school Prom. The Hilton tried to cancel the Prom but luckily for the Senior Highs, the President cancelled his event!

In 1975, President Gerald Ford’s daughter, Susan, got to have her prom at the White House. No stinky old school gym for her!

Today, parents from the US and UK alike complain that Prom's have become expensive and more of a competition of who has spent the most as much as it is a show for the kids. Yes, it can be expensive if you let it but you can buy a Prom outfit fairly cheaply if you shop, around and look no different to someone who has spent a small fortune. It's not necessarily how much you spend but how you wear it.

All in all, the Prom is a wonderful night, for boys and girls to dress up and celebrate the end of their exams and the end of their school years with friends who they have shared so many laughs, tears and experiences with. And as the girls and boys are teetering on the edge of adulthood, the Prom will hopefully, be a night remember.


On the Buses from Betsy Blue on Vimeo.


The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer April 06 2014

I had been kindly given a complimentary ticket to see a show of my choice at the West End Centre in Aldershot which is run by Hampshire County Council. Normally, I would have chosen to see a band of some sort but I decided to be a bit more cultural and chose to see a one-man animation/puppet show called, "The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer".

This charming tale tells of heartbreak and heroism where the world has suffered a biblical flood and the surviving souls have been forced to live on skyscrapers and mountain tops.

After the death of his beloved wife, Alvin Sputnik is alerted by Earth HQ that something must be done to save the world. Grief-stricken, Alvin Sputnik decides he has nothing to live for but to save the human race from extinction and so goes on a mission diving into the big blue searching for the world at the centre of earth that will save the mankind.

Everything the audience sees has been written, operated and performed by the talented Australian Tim Watts. With the clever use of torches, puppetry, animation, Tim Watts plays the Ukelele, singing sweetly and rather melancholy dressed in a wetsuit. It really is incredible that he performs this all by himself and manages to get the timing just right, although I did ask after the show how he managed timing to which Tim Watts replied that sometimes he didn't but it was enough for the audience not to notice!

The story is tender and Alvin Sputnik is adorable and had the whole audience captivated during the forty-five minute show. Although the show is suitable for children, I think it may be a little too dark and deep for really young children but nonetheless it's a heartfelt story for children and adults alike.

It's a bit of tear jerker but if you don't coming out of the theatre all bug-eyed and bloodshot and you fancy something different, go see this touching fairytastical show... It will truly bring a smile to your face, it did mine...