A rare visit to the theatre on my own and on a Wednesday. No point trying to get Janie to a Georgian comedy; she doesn’t do classics and she doesn’t do farcical comedy of any kind.
But for reasons of my own – I still have some distantly related ideas for a comedy play on a jotter – I very much wanted to see this show, which had but a short run at the Barbican before going on to the Holland Festival.
As it happens, I had been invited that day to Lambeth Palace for lunch by the Church Commissioners (as Ian Theodoreson’s guest), so it seemed a suitable day for me to take the rest of the day off and therefore be free to spend the early part of a midweek evening at the theatre.
While suitable in practical terms, it was perhaps not quite such a suitable cultural switch from a dignified Lambeth Palace lunch under the auspices of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to a bawdy Georgian comedy under the auspices of Deborah Warner, the radical stage director. Neither the irony nor the culture shock of the switch seemed to affect me unduly on the day.
The Lambeth Palace lunch was delightful, btw. I met several interesting new people (this was the only occasion I met Rowan Williams) as well as getting a chance to chat with Ian T and the people I know in that Church of England circle. I was particularly impressed with the dignified informality and grandeur with a tasteful lack of ostentation to the whole Lambeth Palace event.
Afterwards I had plenty of time to do some reading at the Barbican Centre over a coffee or two in the afternoon before seeing the play.
Here is an explanatory vid with Deborah Warner talking about her production of the School For Scandal:
It had some super people in the cast and I thought some of the modernising ideas were quite interesting. But on the whole I thought it was a pretty standard production of a Georgian play with a few nods to modern touches.
Of course it isn’t easy to refresh ideas that have been around for centuries and get their relevance across to modern audiences…
…perhaps the two halves of my unusual day had more in common than I thought about at the time.
Janie and I were supposed to go with Hari and Mawju, both Sri Lankan people we know, Hari from the Lloyd’s bank in Ealing and Mawju from the Atari-Ya Japanese fishmongers (long story, don’t ask).
Also don’t ask why Mawju didn’t turn up and didn’t call to excuse himself or return his ticket.
Anyway, we had a very pleasant day at the cricket with Hari, who loved our picnic and we loved the cake he brought from home as his offering. It all sounds a bit TMS commentary box, doesn’t it? In some ways it was.
The match had been badly rain-affected the day before so we got an elongated day on the Monday. England did very well to turn a seemingly nailed-on draw into a possible winning position by the end of the day, although we had a sneaking suspicion that it would end up a draw anyway.
Unusually the first day of a Lord’s test match on a Friday.
That day I went with Charles “Charley The Gent Malloy” Bartlett, Ian “Iain Spellright” Theodoreson and Mark “Uncail Marcas” Yeandle.
The following extract from my e-mail to Mark and Chas the day before reveals the expectation of a very hot day:
Weather looks set fair for tomorrow.
Please could you both bring plenty of water with you. I’ll have my hands full and Ian T was muttering about “fancy juices” as his contribution to the soft drink side of things, but I think we might all need good old fashioned (still) H2O. Especially given the weather and the picnic I have planned.
Don’t forget your booze rations also – as if I had to remind you about that!…
Mark threatened (and saw through his threat) to bring some Frittenden strawberries with him. His strawberry offering the previous year had gone down an absolute treat. If you look closely at the picture of Charles below from that report, you can make out the colour and shape of a Frittenden strawberry. The 2011 batch was delicious, but I believe the 2010 batch was “peak strawberry”.
A few years later there was a potentially ugly fruit incident, as Ian and Mark were reunited with me at the test on the same day. Mark brought famous Frittenden strawberries while Ian brought a giant bag of plump cherries that he had been unable to resist en route. This competitive soft fruit showdown could have been very bloody indeed, but it mercifully led only to MAD (mutually assured delectation):
Back to planning for a very hot June day in 2011. Chas wrote back threatening to soak me in factor 30 sunscreen.
I don’t recall the exact nature of Ian T’s fancy juices, but I think they might have been the flavoured water variety, which does work rather well on a ludicrously hot day.
Ian T seems to specialise in weather extremes when he comes to Lord’s with me. Our 2014 visit (which will eventually be published on King Cricket, I believe) was one of the hottest days I ever remember at Lord’s and Ian nearly melted.
I suspect that I was quite careful with the booze, because I was going to see a late night concert of Paco Peña at the Wigmore Hall after stumps. I suspect that all of us were a bit careful with the booze, partly because it was a very hot day.
I do recall this one, despite the heat, being an especially enjoyable, dreamy day at Lord’s. England were hot off the back of an away Ashes win and had even won the first test of the summer the previous week. What could ever, possibly go wrong again for the England test team?