Every so often (OK, the previous occasions were 2000 and 2005 so it isn’t VERY often) my dear wife and I give the car the weekend off and take the train from Peterborough to Kings Cross station in London where we take in some touristy sites and book tickets for a show of some sort.
On the first of the above mentioned years we were accompanied by two teenage daughters so a certain amount of shopping was deemed essential by the womenfolk resulting in the men of the party (ME!) being dropped off at an old fashioned pub somewhere around the back of Carnaby Street for a couple of hours. Which was nice!
The entertainment on that occasion comprised a visit to what was then known as The Millennium Dome – which, despite the public’s unthinking and sheep-like acceptance of the words of some ranting journalists in the national press, I found very enjoyable indeed. I suspect that said hacks didn’t get as many free tickets as they wanted!
We also took our first “flight” on the London Eye (we enjoyed THAT too) and arranged through the concierge at our hotel, The Lancaster Gate Hilton, for tickets to “Buddy” the life story of the late Buddy Holly. We had seats in the front row and the show is chiefly remembered by us all for the fact that the actor portraying JP Richardson (aka “The Big Bopper”) had his flies undone for most of the performance! Fortunately his “Big Bopper” was not exposed to public critique and the show was loud and great fun!
In 2005 (the last weekend in March to be precise) Faith and I went off by ourselves to the Hilton Metropole at the southern end of Edgware Road as part of our 25th Wedding Anniversary celebrations.
Incidentally, on 7th July of that year we saw that hotel again when its reception area became a first aid station for the walking wounded being brought out of the nearby Edgware Road tube station following the terrorist bomb attacks!
Anyway, to return to happier matters, we once again roamed the city by day, taking a long walk along the South Bank footpath and including another “turn” on the London Eye as well as a tour of the reconstructed Globe Theatre (featured in the Doctor Who episode “The Shakespeare Code”) .
The show we went to was the “Queen” musical “We will Rock You” and it was, as I said of the last one, loud and great fun!
And why, you may be wondering, am I telling you all this stuff about my wife and I having a good time together?
Well, quite simply, this weekend just gone we did it again.
My good lady, faced with the old problem of “what do you get the man who has everything for his birthday” rejected the obvious answers of “something to keep it all in” and “a t-shirt with ‘I have everything’ printed on it”. Instead she booked us into the Docklands Hilton (and if you’re noticing a pattern of hotel names here, I LIKE Hilton Hotels so there!) directly across the Thames from the massive and impressive Manhattan-style skyline of Canary Wharf.
We spent Saturday checking in, crossing over to the north side of the river on the 3 minute complimentary ferry and exploring this area of London previously unknown to us before taking the Docklands Light Railway back into the city and just wandering about like tourists.
In the evening we travelled back into the theatre district, specifically the Shaftesbury Theatre to take in “Rock of Ages”. The plot is pretty basic but the enthusiasm of the performers as they belted out various 1980s “perm rock” classics and power ballads made it (would you believe?) loud and great fun! Go on, look it up – it isn’t, as you might possibly expect from the title, even remotely religious. The title is a Def Leppard track actually.
I’m sure you noticed the loud music theme running through all of these theatre visits – not for me yer gently crooning 1940s and ‘50s Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals! I like to clap hands, stamp feet and sing along – something they generally don’t approve of in performances of “Carousel” or “South Pacific”.
And the really weird thing about it all is that after each of those musical extravaganzas, with my head still buzzing from loud rock music, I have had the same strange thought:
“I must get the band back together again!”
This is very worrying because you see; I have NEVER had a band!