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Lard of the dance

It's been a good week for … podgy dancers

It's been a good week for … podgy dancers

Wayne Sleep has spoken out for chubby children who want to be ballet dancers. He says there are little girls all around the world "traumatised" after being "pushed to the back of ballet class because they are tubby".

Sleep, a former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, said telling children to give up their dreams to be a dancer is "criminal".

I don't know about traumatised, but I was that hefty five-year-old eager to develop grace and elegance in ballet pumps. Even at that tender age, I realised I wasn't quite cut out for my aspirations. The purple leotard didn't help. All the other wee girls floated about charmingly in shades of pastel. My ensemble made me look more like a big fat plum than a sugar plum fairy.

Then there was the smell that pervaded the community hall where classes were held, a faint antiseptic odour masking the unmistakable whiff of toilet, which got stronger the closer you got to the linoleum. A few years later, when we acquired an unruly puppy, I was to learn that a dog-training club had been using the hall before us on ballet class evenings. The pong had been that of incontinent puppy.

Suffice to say, my ballet career was short-lived. I took up tap, but fared little better, although I loved the shoes. In fact, I insisted on wearing them at every opportunity. My abiding memory of them, however, is of an unfortunate encounter with some dog poo.

After my dismal dancing past, I hope Wayne Sleep can make life in leotards a bit easier for ballet-tubbies. With the launch of TV show Wayne Sleep's Big Ballet, he will attempt to convince the public that "just because you're big in weight or width doesn't mean you can't dance".

Good pointe, Wayne.

It's been a bad week for … the free lunch

A Chinese chancer's cheeky scam has come to an end after he filled up on free food in the VIP lounge at Xi'an International Airport, north-west China. Having bought a first-class, fully refundable ticket aboard Eastern China Airlines, he then rebooked his ticket over and over again to qualify for complimentary meals.

One has to wonder, though, if Eastern China Airlines officials are the brightest blip on the radar screen. They only worked out the man's scheme after noticing his ticket being rebooked 300 times over one year.

They confronted him and put a stop to the scam. Not to be disheartened, however, the frequent freeloader cashed in his ticket for a full refund.

Talk about fly …

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