If you want to get ahead, be a hedge, says Jean Webster

7th May 2004 at 01:00
Best book ever

King Solomon's Mines by Rider Haggard. Read by my junior school headteacher, AS Harrison, in Rugby in 1960. He read it every Friday afternoon; it lasted the whole year, which you could never do now. You could have heard a pin drop. I remember being scared but also thinking that, as the head was reading it, it must be all right.

Best show

Bombay Dreams. I saw it a year ago and I'm going to see it again in July.

Stunning choreography, fabulous sets, a captivating blend of Western and Asian music. I use the music for children's dancing. They sing along, "Chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya"; none of us knows what it means, but it's lovely.

Local attraction

Tomorrow is Flora Day in Helston (see Friday magazine, March 26). Last year I danced as a hedge in the Hal-an-Tow, an old Cornish dance. Everyone dances round the town, children and adults. The dances tell stories about St George and the Dragon and Spanish pirates and it all takes place in the middle of these human hedges. There must have been about 50 of us wearing green shifts and ivy. We start at Lloyds bank and end up at the town hall.

The lady who trains us takes it very seriously: we've been practising for two months for this year.

Favourite artist

John Dyer, artist-in-residence at the Eden Project. I have three of his paintings on my wall. His work is very colourful, quite naive, mostly on Cornish themes ("Calm Coombe", pictured). He came to talk to the children about a trip to the Brazilian rainforest, which was marvellous. You can see his work at www.johndyer.info.

Treats in store

Flora Day in Helston tomorrow. And the Falmouth festival of literature and arts, from September 10-12. Last year I went to hear Beryl Bainbridge and Michael Morpurgo speak in the fabulous setting of Pendennis Castle overlooking Falmouth harbour.

Jean Webster, 55, teaches part-time at Porthleven school, a three-to-11 primary in Cornwall. She was talking to Karen Gold. Bombay Dreams is at London's Apollo Victoria Theatre

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