Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Audra and Billie

There is nothing like hot weather to zap every inch of energy out of a person. I woke up with chronic shoulder pain as a result of my pillow becoming so laden with sweat that I was forced to prop it up with my hand all night.

Nathan continues to be ill. We went to A and E yesterday and were, mercifully, told there was nothing untoward going on, so I suspect he's just going to have to sit it out and wait for the hell to pass. He seemed rather chipper this morning, but retired to bed this afternoon.

We seem to have an enormous problem with fly-tipping in the alleyway leading to our house. About a week ago, twenty black bin bags were dumped on the path, entirely blocking our way. Most are filled with leaves. Some are filled with masonry. There are no lights in the alley, so, at night, we trip over the bin bags and they split. Their contents have spilled out all over the pathway. Unfortunately for us, the footpath is privately owned by the owners of the properties which back onto it, none of whom actually live there because they're all rented out as shops and flats. Because it's not a public right of way, Haringey council refuses to help us. Today I spent hours trying to get through to the health and safety people. My neighbour tried yesterday and was held in a queue for an hour. When I phoned today, a recorded message informed me that the call volume was too high even for me to be placed in a queue. I'm not altogether sure how a Heath and Safety department in a council can operate like that. It's all very curious and incredibly frustrating.

This evening I came into town to meet Matt. The poor bloke couldn't get more than a few feet without being stopped and asked for a selfie. I'm not sure I'd ever have the gall to walk up to a complete stranger and ask for their photo, but I guess it's all part of the circus attached to stardom. Matt is always so gracious. I guess if you get snippy, people instantly call you a diva and take your picture anyway.

We were in town to see Audra McDonald's blistering performance as Billy Holiday in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill." The show has transferred from Broadway where it won McDonald her sixth (count them) Tony award and there is no doubt in my mind that this particular award wasn't wholly deserved. The show is brutally painful and portrays Holiday in the last few months of her life: a nervous shell, high, drunk and not coping with life.

I didn't know much about Billie Holiday but didn't need to to enjoy the piece. All the information I needed was there. She had a pretty desperate life. She went to jail, she was raped as a child, she had a succession of bad egg husbands, she suffered untold prejudice. As a "coloured" performer, she was banned from going to the loo at one gig because there was only one loo in the building for black people, and that was for male staff members. We none of us know that we're born.

We went backstage to meet Audra afterwards, and she told us that Holiday used to really like coming to the UK because people treated her so much better over here. It was a real treat to meet her. She's a Broadway icon, one of the world's greatest singers, and this is the first time she's come to the West End to do a run of theatre shows. This was only her second preview. She's such a lovely woman. Warm. Interested. Intelligent. Her love and respect for Holiday shines through.

I wholeheartedly recommend this show. Move heaven and earth to see McDonald perform.


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