Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Canny Chanter

Sometimes you book something so far in advance that it feels like it will take an eternity to get there and then, blow me down, we're suddenly here and off! This was very much the case with my beloved's Christmas present - mine to him in this case - and having booked this a good ten months ago we found ourselves on Wednesday night at the Sage in Newcastle for an evening with Art Garfunkel.

Who doesn't have a Simon and Garfunkel song somewhere stored in their memories of good times, bad times, sad times? For me, this varies from America to Homeward Bound to Old Friends with so many more along the way - all wonderful and surprisingly, Art can still sing them all.

But I am getting ahead of myself. First we had to get there... How hard can this be? Number 3 is at university in Newcastle, we regularly go to the rugby there - what could possibly go wrong?

Now that my beloved works away from home during the week a plan was hatched that he would train up to Newcastle and I would get on the train (he with my ticket as well as his own) at Northallerton and join him. Yes, I got to Northallerton in plenty of time. The platform was quite busy and I checked my phone that I was due to join my beloved in Coach D in seats 17 and 18 - how's that for attention to detail?

A few moments before the train was due to arrive, a train drew into the platform with Coach D right in front of me and everyone on the platform made a dash for it. I followed suit and by the time I had established that I was not married to anyone in Coach D, the train was on its way to Middlesbrough via Yarm and Thornaby. So now I was going to places I've never been before with no idea how to change my route. It's surprising how enticing the communicating cord or emergency brake looks when you find yourself heading the wrong way on a train!

No guard in attendance so I sat next to a very nice lady who was going to Thornaby and told her my tale of incompetence. She was very helpful and supportive (thank you!) and told me to get off at Thornaby and get the Darlington train which I did. Of course, I had to confess my incompetence to my beloved and after all the years of getting children on to right trains I no longer have a leg to stand on in terms of public transport.

Thornaby to Darlington and a very cold wait on metal seats (why?) on the platform and then on a train from Darlington to Newcastle. All of which took £12.50 and nearly two hours.

But we made it to Art almost on time and heard his beautiful voice in the acoustically wonderful Sage. Worth every minute of the unnecessarily fraught journey and something I will never forget.

On the way back in the taxi to the station with my beloved, the driver referred to Art as a 'canny chanter' which just proves that in Newcastle there's music in everything - including their speech.

Art Garfunkel now and then.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

"Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington" Part 2.

When I came back from the Edinburgh Festival a couple of weeks ago, as soon as I got home, I knew that the buzz of the Fringe had got under my skin and I wanted to see more, do more and be a part of it for a bit longer. Also there is something so liberating being in a city of strangers. So some appointment-juggling later and I whizzed back up on the train with number 4 for another slice of Fringe cake!

This time there was a bit more forward-planning and two shows which had been sold out on my previous visit were booked and along with another chance to see The Solid Life of Sugar Water The first production we were going to see was on Wednesday morning, Shakespeare for Breakfast which apparently is on offer every year and takes place at... breakfast time. So early night required and snuggled up and fast asleep by 10.00pm. At 12.30 am my mobile rang. It was number 3 who was home alone with the dog.

Pause... If you are a child of any age ie anyone with parents who are alive and kicking, please note that if you telephone your parents between 10.00pm and 6.30am they will assume one (or all) of the following:

1  You've had a car accident.
2  You've burnt the house down.
3  You are in hospital/the police station.
4  A close family member is involved in 1, 2 or 3.
5  The dog is involved in 1, 2 or 3.
6  The dog is dead.

Actually number 3 needed my access code for my emails in order to track down his British Tennis Association membership number so he could book Davis Cup tickets. This activity is not covered by numbers 1 - 6 above and he was quite surprised by the ticking off he got from me. I, of course, was practically hyperventilating at this point with a) panic that it could be one of the above and b) rage that he had woken me up for none of those reasons.

Moving on...

Shakespeare for Breakfast with children 1 and 4 was Hamlet combined with Star Wars combined with a drama student's desire to make his first film. Very entertaining, and coffee and croissants were included. Then, leaving my children to get on with their busy lives, I headed off to see Austentatious. Now this is a belter! Standing in the queue, the cast, dressed in classic Darcy/Elizabeth Bennet garb, approach you asking you to write a title for a Jane Austen novel - no, to be clear, not one she actually wrote but one you think she should have written. Then once inside the large inflatable purple cow (venue for the event and I am talking very large!) the cast pick one title out of the hat and improvise the story as Miss Austen might have written it. It must have been improvised because the cast as well as the audience were cracking up.

Then it was another chance to see The Solid Life of Sugar Water and the production has moved up to even greater heights. It is so beautifully written and the acting is sublime (biased I know but at least the critics agree with me). I loved it. Then off to Dusit which is, in the opinion of this family at least, the best Thai restaurant in the UK. Family celebration with two of my girls and such special times. Full of great food we made our way back to number 4's flat and into bed by 10.00pm.

Then my mobile rang at about 10.30pm. It's number 3. No, it's not any of the above listed reasons to wake anxious parents but, to give number 3 his due, it is a legitimate reason. We had 60+ sheep in the garden. Given that I have been busting my a**e to make the garden lovely for number 1's wedding in April, this was not good news. I gave him the farmer's number (owner of the aforementioned livestock) who was less than pleased to be woken in the middle of the night when he has to get up an at ungodly hour to do the milking but at least the sheep issue has been sorted.

Pause... there is a seventh reason to wake your parents...

7  The garden is full of livestock.

Son-in-law-to-be, Alex with two of my beautiful girls post-production in Edinburgh.

Postscript: Number 4 child is doing The Great North Run for Cancer Research next week having watched me being treated over the last year. Please support her and Cancer Research if you can: