How Shirley Valentine Struck a Chord

We had a real negative hour at work today. Complaints about daily routine, the hamster wheel of life and how we were all wanting the sunshine to come and not go away (as we looked at the cold rain pour down). You could feel the energy in the room change as we were all ranting. Our voices became louder and more strained, there were hands on faces and in hair. The evidence our negative moods were having on our eating habits we evident just by looking at the waste paper bins. Our minds were full, and none of us really knew why.


My colleague and I went to see the stage production of Shirley Valentine last night at the Lyceum in Sheffield.It was fabulous. For those of you not familiar, Shirley Valentine is the story of Shirley Bradshaw a wisecracking housewife who lost sight of her rebellious younger years to be marooned on an island of housework, loneliness and chips and egg. On a whim she takes the offer of a free ticket to a fortnight on a Greek island with her flamboyant friend, Jane (who subsequently has a little romance on the plane and disappears in a puff of passion for a few days) landing her in a world she only dreamed of.

It is a wonderful story of self discovery and how one woman found herself.

The end of the play see’s Shirley sitting at a small table by the sea outside a taverna owned by her holiday fling, Costas waiting for her husband. Shirley pours two glasses of wine, one for her self and one for Joe and waits. Shirley didn’t return to England at the end of the holiday, opting to stay in Greece and work a job in the taverna and she knows that Joe will walk on by. For she is no longer Shirley Bradshaw, she has changed, she is unrecognisable, she is, once again, Shirley Valentine.


We talked about this at work today and recognised that there was an element of Shirley in all of us. We were all once carefree girls who then grew up, got married and had kids, got jobs, got divorced (some of us) and slowly watched our identities, priorities and dreams change.

I myself have just had a few days in Spain without my son who was away visiting his dad and it was like turning back the clock years. I could lay on the beach and read with no interruption apart from the sound of the waves, stay out late, wander and eat where I wanted. Now, please don’t get me wrong – when it was time to go home and pick up my son I was as giddy as a school girl but for that short time it was different. An a short spell of different was what I needed to remind me that I am still me and I might now be a divorcee, a worker and a mother but deep down my 20 year old self is still there. As for my ranting colleagues, before we left work I asked each of them what they were going to do this evening to neutralise their negatives. One said a hot relaxing bath, the other said she was going for some retail therapy. And me? Yoga of course!


I likened this quote to Shirley who for a long time had lost sight of the shore and never managed to cross the sea, until one day she did.

Lose sight of the shore

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