I woke up at 6.30am, as usual, and demanded my presents. I was now 28, after all, and the frightening closeness to the big 3-0 had to have a silver lining somewhere. Michelle had been teasing me for the best part of two weeks about her plans, and as it turned out she’d pulled out all the stops and get us tickets to the We Will Rock You musical in London. This was doubly brave for her, as she’s not keen on visiting London these days in case she gets blown up….
Naturally, I was excited. We travelled up just after lunch, and ambled round the sights of central London. After initially thinking the Dominion Theatre was in Leicester Square – which was entirely wrong but did enable us to get a meal meal at TGI Fridays into the bargain – we found the theatre, with its huge gold statue of Freddie Mercury glistening outside the entrance. There was a real buzz outside, and inside people we rushing upstairs, downstairs and across the foyer, bundled with sweets, drinks and lightsticks to wave during the performance. We forced our way through to the main theatre – past the poor souls queueing for ages to get their tickets – sat in a seat at the back middle of the auditorium.
And, from there, we sat – increasingly mesmerised at the antics on stage. Michelle and I had forgotten how good musicals were – and this one is no exception. It’s not your standard musical – and it doesn’t chart the musical life of Queen or Freddie Mercury either. It has it’s own imaginary story, based around Queen songs. And it is VERY good indeed. On a chilly Thursday night, after 6 years of twice-daily performances, they still managed to get the entire audience on their feet, chanted, laughing, dancing and singing along with the cast.
I can’t imagine how the cast manage to do the same thing every day for years like that. One of the cast had been there since it first started in 2000 – although I later learned that they do swop roles, which I suppose is something. And I imagine the cash incentive is a bit of a factor…
Anyway, after these musings, Michelle and I stepped out into the chilly night, eagerly peering round for a taxi. But there, shining it in eccentric brilliance, was a far better form of transport. Ladies and Gentleman, before us was a rickshaw. With a man on the front, eager searching for punters. Most people stayed clear, not wishing to be seen on a glorified bicycle – but it was exactly what I was after. I dragged Michelle into the two-seater “cab”, and sat down. The “driver” peered in and took a long look at me. I was wondering whether I’d have to pay a surcharge for my ample frame, but he relented, hoped on and cycled for all he was worth to Waterloo train station. Luckily, there were no hills, and he managed to get there with the minimum of fuss – although we had time to wave to astonished onlookers and text most of my phone book with the words, “Currently on a rickshaw”. Sorry about that…
So, another cracking birthday, thanks to Michelle. When I got to work the following Monday to boast it turned out my boss had seen it four time “and counting”. Show off.
I defy you not to like this guy’s songs…
What you see isn’t what you get…
Useful incentive for the cancer-stick addicts…
I’m getting stares. A waitress has just said, “look, he’s sitting there with his imaginary friends. “A Birdhouse In Your Soul” – a wacky favourite of mine – is playing around the restaurant.
Ladies and gentlefolk, I am in Chester, in a very nice hotel just on the outskirts of the town – and there’s a reason they’re staring. I have brought my laptop to the table, in an fine example of geekery. In fairness, I do have online work to do, and the wireless internet isn’t working in my room. I could have caused a stink about it, of course. Just like I could have kicked up a fuss at the petrol attendant for charging me for someone else’s petrol earlier today. I could have torn a strip out off a colleague who managed to stand on an important certificate I’d dropped at the office. And I could have had some serious words about my company expecting me to come in to work for the entire weekend a few weeks ago.
But I’ve always been calm, been a little laid back. And I’ve found, certainly recently, that calmness is definitely the way forward. By not complaining about my weekend of work, I’ve been rewarded with a bonus and a letter of thanks from the Managing Director. As a reward for not kicking off at a colleague, I’ve managed to get a fresh printout of the certificate and a mention that I was “a nice chap”. By going along with the mis-charged petrol, I managed to get the petrol free (as it’s a company car, they WILL be pleased with me). And finally, by accepting that problems happen, my internet charge is being refunded, I’m moving rooms and, as I join in the mocking of my geekiness at the table this evening, the staff have said how nice it is to have “someone who’s not angry at everything.”
As I said in a slightly drunken stupor to someone the other day, life’s too short to get shirty with people. Problem’s happen. Some people get lucky, others don’t. You’ve only got one life – spread the love while you can.
And so endeth the sermon for this week.
We don’t have many excuses for a lad’s night out these days. I’m buying a house (more on that in another post, I’m sure), Nick’s getting married, and Jac’s working all the hours god sends him. But last Friday, we managed it – and with it came the realisation that we’re definitely getting on a bit.
We didn’t rush out to the bars and clubs, which is the first indication that something has changed. We “stayed in for a couple”, conscious of our wallets and bank balances. After several bottle of lager and sessions on the XBox 360, we left and headed straight for McDonalds, eager for a piece of cow to line our stomachs with. Jac looked a little out of place amongst the gold hooped earrings and shell suits, so we rapidly left and found the first bar of the night. In fact, it was TGI Fridays, as Nick was eager to try a fun cocktail and wasn’t taking no for an answer. I tried to be cool and had a Mojito – apparently the “in” drink according the to the bible Heat. I’m not too good at being cool – I got bits of crushed mint leaves stuck in my teeth. A good look, I think you’ll agree.
All Â£4.70 of Mojito went down in a flash. I’d been looking forward to the night for a while, and I was downing drinks like George Best. Next stop was Lloyds Bar, a posher version of Wetherspoons. Well, I say posher – essentially the only difference is music and big screens. The drinks were cheap, and Jac – ever the spendthrift with rounds – immediately sensed his moment had come. After buying the drinks, he positioned himself under the stairs to the upper floor, so he could ogle the female legs and short skirts that went up. “I’m single,” he reminded us.
Then, the biggest decision of the night, and one which I’m sure every drinking person in Guildford was asking – which nightclub to go to? Harpers – which used to be called The Drink until its owner planted his ego on the name – was the safe option. Completely overpriced, but the music in the Voodoo Lounge section was always good. When Nick and I were little – I was 19, he was 26 – we would always go to the other nightclub in town, Cinderellas. Now renamed Time, the club is and was a tiny shoebox, but in those halcyon days we visited several times a week. It became our local club – we knew the doormen, the people inside, and everyone was our age. We haven’t been for years, mainly because it’s a good while away from the main bars. If we went to Time and it was rubbish, that would be it for the night. So, inevitably, we chose the safest router, and headed for Harpers.
It was the worst decision of the night. Â£10 to get in, and there was no one there. The drinks were Â£4.70 each. We were floored by our bad luck. But it did give us the option we all secretly wanted – a visit to Time.
We wandered up the hill to the club, and instantly felt a whole lot better. Good music, friendly faces, and plenty of women for Jac to get his teeth into, as it were.
There were several highlights. In the middle of a popular R’n’B song, Jac and Nick dissolved in tears as I loudly asked the DJ if he had Inspector Gadget. He couldn’t have looked less impressed if I’d asked him to shove a hot poker in an unfortunate place. Jac attracted a large young lady, who he managed run away from several times during the night, while Nick reminisced on the good old days and threw a few stylish shapes on the dancefloor.
After I successfully made Jac and Nick stay until 3am, we meandered into the Kebab House, ordering the last kebabs of the night. We even managed have another XBox session before finally giving in at 4.30. It was a good night. We’re not that old yet…