Withering Tights - By Louise Rennison


On the showbiz express

I’ve come to Yorkshire by mistake

Chugging towards Dother Hall

Wow. This is it. This is me growing up. On my own, going to Performing Arts College. This is goodbye Tallulah, you long, gangly thing and helloooooo Lullah, star of stage and…owwwwooo. Ow and ow.

The train lurched and I’ve nearly knocked myself out on the side of the door. I’m bound to get a massive lump. Oh good, I can start college with two heads…

In my brochure it has a picture of a big manor house and on the front it says:

Dother Hall, world-renowned for its excellence in the Arts. This magnificent centre of artistry is set amongst the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. With its friendly northern folk offering a warm welcome to visitors, think Wuthering Heights but with less moaning!

I’ve been looking over the top of my brochure at the bloke opposite. He is the grumpiest man in the universe probably.

He’s got no hair on his head, but he has loads of red hair shooting out of his ears. Like there are a couple of red squirrels nesting in there. Which would be quite good actually, as they are an endangered species.

His wife said to him, “Oooh look, Fred, the sun’s coming out.”

And he said, “It can please its bloody self.”

Is this what Yorkshire folk are like?

I wonder if anyone is missing me at home?

I wonder if they are saying, “Where is Tallulah?”

I think I know the answer to that question, and it is, “Who?”

Connor will just move into my bedroom and make it smelly and then leave.

It will be next week before my grandma notices that my egg-cup hasn’t been used. When I tried to explain to her that I was going to performing arts college in Yorkshire for the summer, she said, “Will you bring a trifle back?”

Maybe she thought I said I was going to Marks and Spencers for the summer.

Mum didn’t comment because as usual she wasn’t there. She’s gone to Norway to paint.

Not people’s houses. She’s doing her art.

When I stayed over with cousin Georgia, I asked her what sort of painting the Norwegians did and she said, “It’s mostly sledges.”

I thought she meant they painted sledges a lot, but she said, “No, my not-so-little cousy, they paint WITH sledges.”

She said the official term for that kind of work was ‘Sled-werk’, and that it was one of the reasons why Norwegians had such big arms and had therefore become Vikings (for the rowing). And that if I dropped ‘Sled-werk’ into a conversation at art college, people would be impressed and not notice my knees…

Georgia knows a lot of stuff. Not just about painting, but about life. And boys. She wears a bra. It’s a big one. She showed me her special disco inferno dancing and her lady bumps were jiggling quite a lot.

I wish I wore a bra. And jiggled.

It’s so boring being fourteen and a half.

She’s nice to me, but I know she thinks I’m just a kid.

When I left she gave me her ‘special’ comedy moustache. She’s grown out of it and thought it would suit me. She said, “Always remember, Lullah, if in doubt, get your moustache out.”

I do love Georgia and wish I lived near her. I haven’t got a sister and it’s not the same having a brother. Connor mostly likes to talk about what he’s going to kick next.

And that I am like a daddy long-legs in a skirt.

And how he could win a kicking contest with a daddy long-legs.

Is that normal in a boy?

Well, all will be revealed when I start my new life at Dother Hall.

Georgia’s also given me a secret note to read on my first day at college. She says she will write to me. But will she?

I will look at the college brochure again to get me in the creative zone.

Let me see.

Aaaaaah, yes, yes. These are my kind of people.

This is more like it.

Here is a photo of a girl leaping around in the dance studio. The caption says:

Eliza loses herself in the beauty of modern dance.

As far as dancewear is concerned Eliza has gone for big tights.

As indeed she needs to.

Oh and here’s a photo of a boy.

What on earth is he holding?

Let’s see.

The caption says:

Martin has made an instrument. Here he is holding his own small lute.


Martin has got very bright lips.

Perhaps he is a mouth-breather, that makes your lips go very red.

Or perhaps it is lipstick.

I suppose anything goes in the crazy world of dance and theatre! Hey nonny