Monday, 9 January 2017

Dutch pancakes and Let It Shine

I went to Columbia Road yesterday to spend time with Philippa, Dylan and my two God daughters, who made really very lovely pancakes which we ate with lemon, raspberries and some weird Dutch goo which seemed to be a cross between maple syrup and the sort of thing you squirt on ice cream. Dylan is half Dutch, and, what with having a Dutch brother-in-law and a brother who was a Dutch citizen for the best part of 20 years, I find myself surrounded by all things Holland. Curiously, when I was a child, Holland was my favourite country. I was obsessed with the place. I used to look at pictures of Amsterdam and dream, and I always supported Holland in Eurovision. I even spent a period wearing wooden clogs! 

We went to a bowling alley on Brick Lane. I didn't know such a thing existed. We ate in the diner: a delicious plate of macaroni cheese. Everyone's serving macaroni cheese at the moment, except they're all calling it mac 'n cheese to make it sound cool and American. Evidence, if you want my opinion, of a growing lack of British pride! I remember the early 80s when all cultural references seemed to need to have a French word in them. We had no pride back then. Just a right wing government, recession and a hugely divided nation. Does that sound familiar? Cool Britannia and the Swinging Sixties both happened under Labour governments. Just saying...

Today has been very relaxing. We did some washing up. I did some admin. We went into Muswell Hill to eat, but couldn't find a parking space, so went to the gym instead, came home, cooked pasta and watched the BBC's new Let It Shine programme, where they're using the reality TV format to cast a new West End musical. It's funny, I've been saying for years that we need another musical about Take That in the West End. The first one, Never Forget, went down so well, and Barry Garlow is such a talented musical theatre writer. Thank God the BBC have decided to line his pockets by promoting this fabulous endeavour.

I actually have no objections to casting shows in this manner. I very much enjoyed all those searches for Marias and Nancys. It's a bit hideous that performers have to have their auditions filmed, but if it raises their profiles, so be it. What I do have an issue with is this assumption that any old person has the talent and stamina to perform on a West End stage eight times a week. So you sit through all these Essex boy firemen and Scarborough cafe workers before the real deal tips up in the shape of someone from the cast of Thriller Live, who basically shits on them all and reminds everyone that being a musical theatre performer is not something that anyone can do. Interestingly, when they asked the turn who he'd brought with him, he said "uh, no one," and the audience went "ah" like he didn't have any mates. I was desperate for him to say, "I don't actually tend to bring my Mum to professional auditions with me. Is that okay?"

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