Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A Colourful Day in London Town

Firstly, I didn't realise you can get the 28 bus from just down the road at Wandsworth Town Station to Chelsea Football Club in 31 minutes. But that's what journeyplanner indicated at 8am this morning. The sun was shining, the pavements were skiddy with ice, and I was in an adventurous mood. It's nice going somewhere different in the mornings once in a while, especially if the weather's good.

Arrive at the bus stop as one shiny red 28 sped away from under the bridge: there is no way I am going to catch it. A damp wait for a second seems to take the edge of my mood. Under the bridge is just cold, wet, and you're well out of the sunshine. Once the bus finally arrives, as is stated in the Bus Impatience Law, all murderous, city-leaving, shit-climate-escaping thoughts disappear, and happiness is restored.

At the home of the Chelsea Blues (who am I kidding, I don't really know anything about the team, apart from their recent sacking of several managers), VL's hotshot, leaner, meaner, storming(!), norming digital team meet in a suite overlooking the pitch (it's less impressive than the one at Arsenal, where we spent our Christmas Party), and spend all day talking about what colour we are on Jung's personality spectrum.

(Sunshine Yellow, if you want to know: look out for enthusiasm, exuberance, exaggeration etc. Apologies if you're a Cool Blue, I don't mean to be rude.)

Followed by a rush into the West End to see Three Days of Rain, alone, as big sis has been struck down with a migraine.

A confession: I still struggle with London geography, and still get confused by the greeny / yellow District and Circle melange. So I struggle from Fulham Broadway to Embankment via a couple of hesitant, open-mouthed board reading moments (I still have a cold), and asking a friendly guard for help.

From Embankment, I hit The Strand. And realise I have no idea where Three Days is playing. Not at the Vaudeville; my first prediction, Piaf having closed. Up into Covent Garden, grabbing a londonpaper to check their listings with cold, awkward, maroon gloved hands by the blue lights of Carluccios. No information about theatre, the shits. From Carluccios through back passages, I get to St Martin's Lane, and the brash, yellow Avenue Q. Three Days must be playing at Duke of York's. That's where I saw Orlando; this one's got McAvoy. Nope, it's Ken Stott in A View from the Bridge. I snatch a London Shite from a bloke outside Pret, the gloves come off, and I finally find Three Days is on at the Apollo. Where I saw Josh Hartnett. So, up through the cheap bright shops and bars of Charing Cross Road, left into Shaftesbury Avenue, past Gerrard Street, the great red gate to China Town, and there, beyond the Lyric and Les Mis, is the Apollo.

Time to duck into the familiar welcoming orange of Satsuma for some solo sustenance.

Requesting a table for one, I'm placed next to a couple, and try, as lone diners do, to make little eye contact with anyone, so you don't get asked to join people who feel sorry for you / want to confess all / hope you'll provide them with conversation.

Glancing round carefully, I realise WG, herman and K are sitting An amazing coincidence. I'd asked her to take my spare ticket earlier, but she'd declined: going to see La Clique that night instead. So a solo dinner became a great chance to catch up with old flatmate, herman and mate. What a result.

The play is excellent. Fast, modern, clever, funny, involving, great acting, nice script. Odd, after the day I've had, to see the first three characters, with their striking personality types arguing over their Cool Blue architect father's lack of communication; one son's Earth Green touchy-feely hurt at not being included; a sister's attempt at Fiery Red management; and Nigel Harman's fun exuberant Sunshine Yellow: "I'm lucky. I feel bad; I go to the gym; I feel better. Everything's tolerable if you just talk about it." I'm sure it's not all that simplistic, but after nine hours solid of this stuff earlier in the day, I suppose my reaction's inevitable.

Once over, it's back into the magical shiny Shaftesbury, down to the Comedy Theatre, past that red hotel bar on the dodgy darkness of Whitcomb street, and out into the breath of fresh air that is Trafalgar Square at night. A bright white, practically full moon shines onto the National Gallery's comforting pillars from London's never-dark, murky-brown sky; beyond Nelson, the red (Valentine's) lights of the London Eye twinkle. In front, Thomas Schütte's Model for a Hotel glows that odd yellow from its place on the fourth plinth. Suddenly, unrequested green men are ushering me over the crossroads to Charing Cross, past a bloke playing Careless Whisper on the sax outside the station. Over the bridge, the National Theatre is lit in red and yellow, its Travelex season advertising echoing the rest of my day.

On the train, I sit and exchange smiles with an elderly, slightly anxious American couple poring over a theatre programme. For Joseph.

Joseph, and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

I close my eyes, and hope they don't catch me grinning.

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