Friday, 25 May 2012

Farthingale

I've spent way too much time today rushing to get things done. I had so many things to do at one point that I was forced to do everything on a revolve. I became a giant Lazy Susan, focussing my attention on one issue for ten minutes at a time. Wipe a surface, format a score, send an email, clean the cooker, format another score, send another email, wash the kitchen floor, make a phone call... And so it went on until about 5pm when I took myself for a run around Highgate Woods. The run over, I returned home and found myself having to pack two suits, three pairs of shoes, four bags, five Jaffa cakes and a piano into my car!

Foolishly I agreed to come to the theatre tonight, forgetting that I also have to travel to Hampshire as soon Nathan's finished with the Naked Boys. Marinella is getting married in the New Forest and it's my task to walk her down the aisle.  Half way down Highgate Hill, I realised there was no petrol in the car, and, believe it or not, there was also  no petrol in the only petrol station between Highgate and the Bridewell Theatre!

I arrived in the theatre and was immediately informed that there'd been flood in the building, which I found rather difficult to comprehend given that we're in a heatwave. I also discovered that The Bridewell is the only theatre in the world where you can't pay with a card. The box office woman actually looked under a pile of  papers to see if she could find a card reader! Surely you either have one - and more crucially know how to use it - or you don't?  I was at the end of a very long queue. I refuse to believe I was the first person in the world to ask if they could pay by card! 

I went in search of a cash point with three minutes to spare before curtain up. I ran towards the nearest main road and was fortunate to spy a bank on the opposite side of the road. There was a small queue. Two hatchet-faced middle-aged people at the front seemed to be having a crisis. She was aware of the queue, he was pointedly ignoring it, almost aggressively, like if anyone had told him to get a wriggle on he'd have punched their lights out, before having some kind of stress- related aneurism. His face was scarlet. His blood vessels waved at passers by. Card after card was coming out of the couples' collective wallet. I got so bored waiting that I started to film the proceedings on my iPhone. I passed the camera along the queue, and then filmed some pretty buildings behind me. The film lasts three and a half minutes.  People in the queue started openly discussing what was going on, "I reckon it's the most elaborate fraud in the world" said one, "I think we're looking at almost definite divorce," said another. Sometimes I love the Brits for their humour! 

...And other times I find myself deeply insulted. The "reviewsical" I've just been watching was all about love, and, as you'd expect from an American show, there was the obligatory gay character song. It was a very touching moment, performed really rather well by the actor sitting at a breakfast table singing a love song to his life partner whose face was covered by a giant newspaper.  It was genuinely hard to tell if the silent partner was male or female. At the end of the song, the newspaper came down revealing a bloke... And the audience literally erupted into peels of 1970s-style laughter. I felt so offended. The actors played the truth of the moment and yet the audience laughed hysterically because it was two men who were sharing their breakfast.  Can you imagine how offensive it would have been if the newspaper had come down to reveal a woman in a sari and everyone in the audience had laughed at that?

It was an am-dram production, so it wasn't a theatre-going crowd, but sometimes I'm reminded that for all the leaps and bounds we're making in the quest for equality, we're not quite there yet. It takes rather a lot for me to be offended by theatre! 

350 years ago, and Pepys woke up, and shaved with a pumice stone; a little trick he'd learnt during his recent visit to Portsmouth, which he described as "easy, speedy and cleanly." I might try it myself!  In the afternoon, Pepys and his mate Captain Ferrers went to Charing Cross to peer at some Portuguese ladies, who had come to London in advance of Queen Catherine de Breganza's grand arrival. Pepys wasn't impressed; "they are not handsome and their farthingales a strange dress. I see they have already learnt to kiss and look freely up and down already and do believe they will soon forget the recluse practice of their own country." Yes, and their entry for Eurovision this year was shite!

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