Most people – and a much larger proportion of those who have actually met me – assumed that I would never get married. The phrase “confirmed bachelor” has probably been bandied about behind my back (which, for the avoidance of doubt, is my best side). Who would be fool enough to take me for a start? However, yesterday afternoon – in front of several dozen witness – I finally tied the knot. Some readers might wonder, was it was a church service or a rushed registry office job.? Did the old fool marry a man, a woman or an other? Was a shotgun involved?
All of these questions will be answered (after a fashion), but not until I’ve forced you to wade through some background material and a few weak attempts at humour (as is entirely traditonal for GofaDM).
I spent yesterday in London with a (much older) friend. For the avoidance of doubt, he was not the object of my wedding vows (though he did witness them): I have no intention of becoming a toy boy at my age. He took me to the ballet in the evening and I took him to a panto in the afternoon. Financially at least, I was very much the winner from this arrangement as ticket prices (and production values) were significantly higher at the ballet. To partially compensate, I did treat my a companion to a pie and a pint as his pre-ballet supper: as you will imagine, the pub was heaving with pie-munching ballet fans! Despite this entirely characteristic (if overwhelming) display of generosity on my part, I have somehow remained unmarried for fifty years: go figure!
I can thoroughly recommend The Red Shoes at Sadler’s Wells (especially if someone else is paying). When I saw ENB’s production of Giselle a couple of months ago, I thought I was unlikely to see a better ballet in my lifetime, but as it turned out I didn’t even have to wait until the end of the quarter. The whole production was stunning: the scenery, lighting and costume were all incredible. The range and depth of creativity on display was truly extraordinary – you could certainly see where the ticket price had gone. I have never seen the like on a stage before: and all without so much as a single revolve or trapdoor.
The stars of Sadler’s Wells may have brought scarcely believable feats of grace, flexibility and athleticism to the stage – but they weren’t the first example of Terpsichorean brilliance to have graced a London stage that day. Which brings us to the afternoon’s panto and, more importantly, me!
My cultural offering to the day’s fun was Ricky Whittington and His Cat at the New Diorama Theatre. The panto is subtitled “London’s F*cked. A Panto for our Times”: which correctly suggests that it was not your traditional family option. The panto was hysterically funny and included all the standard panto tropes, while gleefully subverting them. It was so good that no-one missed the absence of the line “3 o’clock and still no Dick”, which I had always assumed was the only reason to stage Dick Whittington. I have long harboured the dream of writing a panto, but I rather fear Liam Williams and Daran Johnson (the writers) have left my hopes in tatters by doing it so much better than I ever could hope to match. The songs were also alarmingly good and the staging simple, but really effective.
The whole cast were great, but if I had to pick a couple of stand-out performances it would be Omar Ibrahim as the most cat-like cat I have ever seen on stage (and I have been taken to Cats!) and Rob Carter as (among others) a doomed Tiny Tim-alike, a plaice-obssessed fishmonger and King Rat.
As one would hope, the panto included audience participation with some decidedly non-cananocial words and phrases for the audience to shout-out at the appropriate moments. It also included slightly larger roles for some audience members: my friend had to hold a sign (a task at which he rather failed) and another audience member had to catch and hold a number of spoiler-free northern dinner related items. I had a somewhat larger role…
The fun started early on when I was involved in some banter with the Dame and then described as “past-it”: to the obvious delight of my companion. Things moved forward rapidly in the second-half when I was “taken” as a boyfriend by the Dame (aka Big Peg) and required to come up on stage. My starring turn started with a short quiz where my obvious ignorance of Mario and his counterpart was somewhat redeemed by knowing that Keenan belongs with Kel (though I have no idea who, or what, either of these names might represent). I was then required to take part in a dance number – just think Busby Berkley, and you won’t be too far wrong – in which I produced the sort of genre-defining performance that critics will be discussing for years to come. Minor exaggeration aside, I think my dancing was pretty good for a man with peroneal tendonitis, and I don’t think the audience noticed my wincing, but I am now paying the price for my inability to resist amy opportunity to show-off and am typing this post with an ice-pack round my foot.
Anyway, after a fair chunk of further business with Big Peg, (s)he and I were married to much hilarity: especially from my soi-disant friend. Given that a man dressed as a vicar was involved and we both said “I do” at the appropriate stage in the brief ceremony, I’m pretty sure I’m now actually married. We have yet to decide on a location for the honeymoon, and I will admit my wife was getting a little too friendly with a toreador at one stage, but I believe I am now step-father to the London Mayor. This makes it the third time I’ve played someone’s dad in a theatrical setting since the summer (which is becoming a tad depressing: I like to imagine I had my various children very young as a result of my sexual precocity and irresistable allure). One of the perks of my new role was having the lovely Charlotte Ritchie sitting on my knee (luckily of the limp-free leg): an experience for which many would pay good money! The downside (from some points-of-view) was the requirement to feel David Elms’ cleavage – but I’m sure it was vital to the plot and in no way gratuitous or staged only for laughs (though these were forthcoming).
You may wonder what drew Big Peg/David Elms to me as potential husband material. I can only speculate but (s)he did admit to some degree of madness and did seem quite taken with the depth of my voice (perhaps enhanced by a couple of recent late nights and some associated embibing that could be desciribed as undertaken not such much wisely as too well).
So far, married life is treating me well – though I do now have now some extra Christmas presents to acquire. If you are looking for gift ideas, I would recommend acquiring some tickets to see my new wife (or is (s)he my husband – it is so hard to know when marrying a Dame) in Ricky Whittington and His Cat. If nothing else, it should help out our new family’s finances at this difficult time of year.