Friends, Family and, er, Panto

Thursday 3 February
Mobile again, we decide to take the little car, aka The Biscuit Tin, to do all the things that are stacking up in the south. The Biscuit Tin whizzes along impressively, although high winds make it skitter a bit which is interesting. Arrive at Ma’s to find her glowing with health (apart from the obvious injuries). She’s had to walk everywhere and looks reinvigorated for it. My sister, by contrast, is out of hospital but looking very thin and pale.

Friday 4 February
Tom and I both to London to catch up with old friends and former colleagues. I begin in Holborn and have a rare old time catching up with a dear friend from my trades union research days. (And, John, you can be sure I won’t forget now that the quote was from ‘Boys from the Blackstuff’!) John then points me in the right direction to join Tom at a restaurant in Earlham Street. Alas, as some of you will remember, being pointed in the right direction in London doesn’t mean I’ll end up in the right place. Somewhere around Seven Dials, I have to stop to consult the satellite picture I’m carrying in lieu of a map. A very respectable-looking man joins me to tell me how much he likes my boots. Ooh-er! Hurry on and find myself outside Belgo Centraal which is where I’m meant to be! Hurrah! Join Tom and his friend Jude for pud and another fine time.

In the evening, Tom and I along with Ma, Rose and Si go to the panto. In normal circumstances, wild horses couldn’t drag me to a panto. However, this is not just any old panto; Stepson One has co-written the script, Stepson Two has written a terrific score and the players have worked together for yonks. I have to admit (apologies to Fennie and Rosie) to an absolute horror of any kind of amateur dramatics. Something about ordinary folk going up on stage pretending makes me feel bowel-curdlingly embarrassed on their behalf, but everyone else is having a grand time. I’m a bit envious of the four yummy mummies sitting in front of us getting stuck in to three bottles of wine and, as the evening progresses, a large section of the audience appears to be trollied. Ma observes, in her own imitable style, that Little Bo Peep’s revealing frock means that ‘her apple dumplings are on the boil’ and boozy requests from a number of male voices suggest they have noticed too. Nevertheless the evening is deemed a great success, so a huge ‘well done’ to everyone who put so much hard work into it.

Saturday 5 February
Take Ma and selves to Best Optometrist in the World then proceed to Worthing to catch up with Mil, Dil, Tom’s brother, sister-in-law and nephew.

Sunday 6 February
Croissants and coffee with my sister, brother-in-law and two nieces, before heading back up the M4. Call in at Cardiff for a brilliant Sunday lunch cooked by my newly-engaged daughter and her fiancĂ©. All gather round to admire Precious, her ring. Leave feeling very happy for the pair of them but then have the first of what, I imagine, will be many wedding-panic nightmares. Dream that I am standing in a windy field battling to spread horrid peach-coloured paper tablecloths on long tables. There are ten minutes to the ceremony and I’m still in my jeans. Then I step back and knock the cake flying. ‘Don’t worry, Mum,’ says Lily when I tell her the next day, ‘I’ll still love you!’

Wednesday 9 February
Washing machine has just given up the ghost. I know I’ve had posh chocs, dear Appliances Online, but just in case you’re watching...

And finally...
I’ve banged on a bit this week I know, but just before I go I must just tell you about the special Valentine’s offer from Choc Lit. From now until Feb 14th you can pick up a selection of Choc Lit Kindle ebooks, including Turning the Tide from just £2.14! Hurry, as they say, this offer won’t last.

Painting is County Kerry (2) by Tom Tomos


Milla said…
Love the apple dumplings on the boil. Vivid or what!!
Friends do a riotous panto held together by misplacedconfidence, affection and tradition but normally I'd be with you on the horror (with moreapologies to F and R). You have several nightmares left and many unappealing shades to appal you. Still, you'll wake up awash w relief each time!
Flowerpot said…
The panto sounded wonderful - and glad you are back blogging again Chris - have missed you!
Frances said…
Chris, sounds as if the Biscuit Tin did a fabulous job taking you and Tom on the road. What a tour!

Bravo to those involved in the panto. I have never been to one of those shows, but...perhaps one of these days or nights. It is so good to know your Ma is back in action, too!

Do I foresee some more posts regarding certain wedding plans? Or perhaps you could save that material for a future novel.

Please do let Tom know how much I like the picture. And that our snow has now just about all melted, which is good because we are back to sunny days with below freezing temperatures.

Oh, I almost forgot. Could you please describe those boots?

Pondside said…
What a whirlwind trip you had.
We have amateur theatre here, but nothing at all like what you've described - that could have something to do with our puritanical views on alcohol!
Kath said…
I don't understand why you're not a fan. You have all the elements of a cracking panto in your post - The Biscuit Tin, special boots, wandering the streets of London, yummy mummies being transformed by the genies in their bottles, and ending in the quest to see The Ring.
Posie said…
That had me smiling Chris, loved the image of you travelling round the country in a biscuit tin, and then people getting trollied during the panto...haven't been to Holburn in years so it took me back.
Fennie said…
Well we would welcome you (and Milla too and anyone else who might like to come) to the Market Theatre at the end of March to see 'The Benefactors.' We'd even put on a special show if there were enough of you.

Pretending - harrumph! I'll have you know I play a respectable though harassed architect, though I do have to pretend to drink wine. I keep asking Rosie for real wine but she says 'just pretend.' I have 261 speeches to deliver (and act as well) so maybe it's just as well.

I'm sure the biscuit tin would get you here. And you would enjoy it. Just like the real theatre, only less costly.
Debs Carr said…
What a busy week. I'm glad to hear your Ma is well on the mend and hope your sister is too. Glad the panto went well and that the Biscuit Tin managed to drive you to so many venues without incident.

Love that painting.
Chris Stovell said…
Oh, Ma's the queen of the ribald comment, all right, Milla! And that's her on her best behaviour. One panto's enough for me for now, though.

Aw, Flowerpot, thanks m'dear. Take care. Cx

Frances, you'll have to come and visit then we can take you to a panto, Tom can show you his paintings and I'll get my boots out! Glad the snow has gone there... your poor arms need a rest from all that shovelling.

Pondside, the alcohol certainly added an edge of danger and unpredictability to the proceedings!

Kath - that's brilliant! Love the idea of the genies in the yummy mummies' bottles.

Posie, you've certainly left Holborn a lonnng way behind - bet you don't miss it!

261 speeches Fennie! And you think I'm the mad one for running!! I would definitely need some real wine to get through that lot! Well done to you and all at the Market Theatre... I now have an inkling of how much hard work goes on behind the scenes.

Debs, thank you!
Cara Cooper said…
Very funny your bit about being accosted in Seven Dials by a man with an unhealthy interest in your shoeware. I'm doing research for a Georgian historical at the mo' and Seven Dials was such a hotbed of sin and disorderly behaviour, NO ONE respectable went there if they could help it. It's changed a lot now, but it's still a bit frantic. Can't say I've ever had anyone take an interest in my footware which these days is more designed for comfort than anything else!
Chris Stovell said…
Well, there's a coincidence, Cara... I promise you I was behaving, I even had my reading glasses on to study my map, but perhaps some of the old Seven Dials spirit was in the air!
Fran said…
Is that the 'in' chat-up line these days?... 'I like your boots'?

Things have gone downward, definitely.

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