In 2017, having retired from teaching, and with a Cape Town season of Killar ballets behind me it was time to get on with the book in earnest. If you ever write a book, try to make sure that you have the equivalent of a Jane Allyn at your side. Not that you’ll ever be fortunate to find anyone to equal my darling wife’s understanding, self-sacrifice and ready assistance.
Jane came with me to London on two occasions and instead of doing the things most visitors do (although we were both born there we’ve lived abroad much of our lives) I dragged her to long sessions at the V&A Theatre Archives, the Sadler’s Wells Theatre collection at Finsbury Library, and to a very chilly Suffolk to visit the Britten-Pears Archive at Aldeburgh.
At the Royal Ballet Junior School, White Lodge (which brought back quite a few memories!) the very helpful archivist, Anna Meadmore, showed us Ninette de Valois’s letters to Joy Newton – enlightening stuff, and some of her observation very funny indeed.
As always the ever-hospitable Brenda Last and the late Stephen Lade not only accommodated us but arranged dinners and get togethers with a stream of old friends. These research trips were not all arduous labour, by any means!
On one of the UK trips without Jane I took myself off to Aberystwyth (via Birmingham and a fabulous triple bill by BRB) to meet Clarissa, daughter of John and Myfanwy Piper. She remembered Cranko well from when he visited the family at their farmhouse near Henley on Thames in the 1950s. The last time they met, about 1970, he encouraged her 3 year old daughter to jump in puddles to make bigger and bigger splashes.