So, the show my daughter bought tickets for us to watch (Calendar Girls) was an afternoon matinee, which started at about 4pm I think. The theatre was in the heart of the West End and it was packed to the rafters. I have to say that because I’m tall my knees were constantly pressed against the seats in front of me, but I ignored it, in fact I became oblivious to it because i enjoyed the show so much. We were high up in the balcony so our view was birds-eye magnificent.
When the magnificent show had finished, the actresses and actors came back to the stage again and again because of the un-moving standing ovation. It was close to 6.45 when we walked out into the cold December air, instantly caught up in the masses of people scuttling around, pushing and moving without direction, all looking suitably mesmerised by the bright flashing lights. The sounds of buskers caressed the eardrums every now and then when we turned a packed corner. We stopped by a dimly lit shop just around the corner from the theatre we had emerged from, it was selling handbags and coats I think. My wife wanted to take a nosy inside so I took the opportunity to enjoy a smoke whilst she entered the abyss. It was then I noticed an old chap, sitting on a tattered piece of cardboard, looking dejected and dishevelled. He was propped up against a wall, unmoving apart from his eyes, which were partially hidden under very tired eyelids. Everybody was passing him by, oblivious to his existence. I felt guilty and ashamed of the people who walked past him. I looked inside my wallet and I had a five pound note, with a little bit of change. That’s all I had until we passed by a wall bank. I walked over and gave it to him. Bless him, he mustered a genuine smile and nodded slightly when I lit a cigarette up and handed it to him, which he held between his worn out fingers and took a long drag. I know that’s not the healthiest, best thing I could have done for him, but I did it anyway.
My wife came out of the shop holding a carrier bag with another bag inside it and she was happy and smiling as we walked in the direction of Downing Street towards Westminster Bridge. We crossed the bridge, dodging the already growing crowds in anticipation of the New Year firework display, turned left down the steps, past McDonald’s and the great big bloody wheel and headed towards Our daughter Emma, who was waiting on the other side of the grass just after the wheel. Emma led the way to a bar across the street that advertised half price on all cocktails. I thought yes, a cheapish start to a long, expensive evening.
Nope, nope and stupid me nope!! I ordered 3 cocktails, we all ordered different ones so we could try each others. It came to £21. I asked him to repeat the price and he repeated £21. I then reminded him, just in case he didn’t know, that it was half price on cocktails, and he confirmed that £21 was indeed half price. I gave him the exact money begrudgingly and walked away slightly stumbling, in shock, placed the 3 drinks down on the table and suggested that they mustn’t spill a drop because they were actually drinking gold. My wife looked shocked when, after a drum roll, i revealed the price. However, Emma nonchalantly shrugged her shoulders and reminded me that everything was more costly in London, especially on New Years Eve. So, I delayed my heart attack for another year and we sauntered off to another bar to meet up with some of Emma’s friends.
Part 3 will continue the night.