Thursday, 24 December 2015

Film: Star Wars - The Force Awakens

Let's see now.. what day did all this happen? Ah yes, Tuesday, eh? Lordy, what a week..

Well, Tuesday was the day of our freebie Christmas team lunch, in the local Thai. We were told how much the budget extended to each of us (alcohol excepted), and given the low prices here, it was really difficult to use it up! Not that we didn't do our best.. we were seated at the high table in the middle again, with high stools that can be awkward to push right into the table. Our generous budget meant we all had starters, for once (represented as "sides" on the menu), and I can recommend their chicken satay. For main, I couldn't for the life of me remember what I'd had before that I'd found so tasty. I did remember it was somewhere near the pad choy though, on the menu - and sure enough, it turned out to be the pad see-ieuw, right below it. Which was, again, very moreish - I do love my soy sauce. A dish of lollipops finished out a very satisfying meal - and someone suggested that next Christmas, those of us based in London should schedule another Christmas meal, in London. Yes please - whatever this forced office move brings, we in the London office are a good team, and Christmas is a good time to remember what we had.

That evening, we went for a last drinks session, joined by whatever ex-colleagues were around. Sadly, I had to duck out early - just before this drinks session was scheduled, I'd booked to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And before that, I had to take a bag back to the new flat, where I stayed that night. I timed it well - made my way to the new flat, then caught a bus just up the road to the Clapham Picturehouse, in fairly unpleasant weather. I made the cinema about five minutes after the scheduled start time. I was a bit perplexed at first, unable to see the screen I wanted - turned out it was behind me, up stairs specially decorated in a Star Wars theme. In the screen, unfortunately it turned out my seat was right by the wall, on the inside, which meant I had to disturb a whole row of people.. the screen was already pretty full; people don't show up late for this!

Now, this was a 2D showing, which probably contributed to me getting to see it as quickly as I did. 3D hurts my eyes, to be honest, and I usually find it gimmicky. Mind you, the projection screen was a bit smaller than I'd have liked - but didn't make a huge difference to my enjoyment of the film, I think.

Right! Welcome to The Movie Event of the Year! I was delighted when this came out so highly rated (on IMDB) - and it still is, despite having fallen slightly. In the chronology of Star Wars, it's Episode VII - taking place some 30 years after the end of the original trilogy. To that end, the director - JJ Abrams, a self-confessed Star Wars fan - has brought back the Millennium Falcon, and the original trio of stars - Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill. And Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker. They all pretty much just have cameos though - the main action is left to the newbies. Domhnall Gleeson also appears, as a commander with the First Order - the new name for the Galactic Empire.

Is it any good? Yes, it's good - he's a great action director, and has great fun with the action sequences. That's.. kind of it, though! I'm a huge fan of the original trilogy - but you know, although that had action sequences, there was always something else to them: a sweeping score, a mystical, disembodied voice, a sense of purpose. Here, although each mission has a purpose, it's mostly about the big explosions - which is fine if you like that sort of thing, but I found myself shifting in my seat quite a bit, and wondering when it was going to be over. As for bringing back the original actors? It's kind of nice, but so throwaway that it's almost insulting. Mark Hamill doesn't get to utter a single line - I can just hope they make more use of him in the sequels. As for Carrie Fisher - o lordy, she mumbles so much I can hardly understand a word she says! Upon inspection, this seems to be because she's not moving her upper lip. Not a great ad for Botox.

They are basically on a mission to find Luke Skywalker, who's done a runner, it seems - and it's not a huge spoiler to say that they do find him, right at the end. He's stood at the top of a cliff, looking all mysterious and monkish in his cloak - and the Skelligs have never looked better; kudos to them for the sweeping helicopter shots, that must've involved some tricky flying. And there's just enough in it to make me anticipate the sequel. But it isn't anywhere near as good as its rating. Unless big explosions turn you on. Don't believe the hype.

Well, that night ran late, and with the last of the moving, plus clearing out my desk, plus catching a flight, yesterday was manic. The string quartet at Heathrow was a nice touch. But by the time I got to bed last night, I was far too tired to blog. And today's post has depended on a very erratic internet connection. But you know, all's well that ends well.

And now I'm back in Ireland until the 6th January. With pretty much nothing happening. Fortunately, the telly is decent - especially with the torrential rain. Next scheduled event is on the 7th, when I'm back with Let's Do London - for less!, who are headed to the opera version of Eugene Onegin, at the Opera House. Last performance, apparently.. and do you know, the first week of last January, I was also at the Opera House - for a ballet version of the same story! Fancy that. And I've also booked for the comedian, Stewart Lee, in the Leicester Square Theatre on the 8th. Anyway, I'll be working from home on the 7th and 8th, which will be handy for getting organised.

Oh, and Merry Christmas to all! Talk soon..

Monday, 21 December 2015

Comedy: Trevor Noah

When I was looking for something to do today, and came across this Trevor Noah gig in the Hammersmith Apollo, I honestly had no idea who he was. Checked him out on YouTube though, and he looked ok. The venue only had standing tickets left, so I splashed out about three times face value on StubHub. Well, he did seem funny, it is Christmas week, and I have been good.

StubHub is a terrible site to sell with - I was trying to flog a spare ticket a few months back, and their fees are literally five times those of Viagogo! However, I can't fault them as a buyer - I had my ticket in the post ages ago.. which was something of a hassle to mind, while moving flat. But mind it I did, and even remembered to bring it with me today. I managed to get finished early enough to have a hurried dinner - including most of a bottle of wine (well, it was that or ultimately have to carry it to Clapham..)

Interestingly Google Maps suggested I take the Tube there, and a bus back - there isn't much difference in travel time. Who am I to argue? So I took the District Line to Earl's Court, where I changed to the Piccadilly Line - there's one stop less on that line, headed west to Hammersmith, than on the District Line. Mind you, I turned, out of habit, onto the eastbound platform, headed into town.. it wasn't until the train was pulling in that I suddenly realised my mistake! Luckily, the platform headed in the other direction is just along the corridor.

At Hammersmith Broadway, I followed the sign for the "Carling Apollo". For goodness' sake, how many names does this place have?! Anyway, I've been here a few times before, and had no trouble finding it - it's just across the road. I made it within five minutes of the stated start time (on the website) of 7pm. Took my seat in a deserted auditorium - wonderful, I could've relaxed! I occupied myself by reading the paper I'd brought - I had to use the light from my phone, the lighting was so dim. And I went to the toilet twice..

It was after 8 when the star appeared, and the house was packed. He entertained us for a good two hours (plus interval, which he seemed perplexed by the need for - and I agree). As he said, he was told it was because people might need to pee. His response was - comedy is like sex, and frankly, if you need to pee, you should go beforehand, or hold it!

Despite this rude interruption to proceedings, we had an absolute ball. The ticket price was well worth it - he has a well honed, sharp act, with a real eye for detail that is the hallmark of so many great comedians. A black South African, he builds most of his comedy around racial politics - which he can get away with. He's hilarious - drifting from colonialism to airport profiling to peoples' assumptions about accents. For me, the high point was his extended analysis of the Oscar Pistorius trial, which had us all howling with laughter! Really, this guy is worth the effort of going to see, and I'm glad I did.

As we queued to get out, it occurred to several people - including me - that it'd be much faster to get out the back. So back we went, passing on the way the disapproving woman who thought we should just have patience. We were right, though. Crossing the road, great swarms of people crowded into Hammersmith Broadway. I was looking for bus stop M, and remembered catching the bus inside the building before - oddly, upstairs! So, up I went - but no sign of the stop. The maps were no help, either.

The destination finder said Stop C would do just as well, and that was just behind me - with a 190 due in two minutes, which would take me to within a couple of minutes' walk of my (soon to be ex-) home. (Stop M turned out to be the next along, on the main road.) And I was home within half an hour of the show finishing - which is quite good, for London!

Tomorrow, we have a free Christmas lunch in the local Thai, followed by our last drinks session near the (soon to be ex-) office. But I'll have to duck out early - I booked to see the new Star Wars film in Clapham Picturehouse (to be close to the new place) tomorrow evening. Getting excited about that now. And the day after, I fly back to Ireland for Christmas.. exhausted..

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Pub: Nuala's / Teach uí Bhriain

I'm not sure why, but my mother felt like going to Teach uí Bhriain this evening. Well, fair enough - it did give us a chance to go the Gala store up the road, which is more decent than anywhere in Quin, where we usually go.

We got a parking space just up the road, and a seat in our usual corner. Really admired their Christmas decorations - what with the redecorating, the place is looking excellent! It was a little while before we were brought menus - mind you, as I was leaving, I noticed there was a stack of them just behind me! So I could have sped that bit of the process up slightly - never mind.

They seem to have changed the standard menu somewhat - which is a good thing, it's been pretty unchanged for a while. Interestingly, I noticed a warning on the menu, to "leave enough time for your meal". Uh-oh.. Sure enough, service was at least as slow as usual. It wasn't really that busy - maybe the chef was working slowly. As we waited, a woman was hovering beside the door - turned out she was waiting for a takeaway, and getting ever more anxious. I got the impression she was worried about how she was parked - she finally paid and went to sit in the car; they brought her dinner out to her when it was finally ready.

We waited quite a while for our (shared) starter. When it came, it came with a basket of bread - why that couldn't have been served to us while we were waiting, I don't know. My mother was bothered by a flickering light overhead, but it seemed they couldn't switch it off without turning off the main lights. After we'd finished, we waited another unusually long time for our mains. Now, I do understand about food being cooked from fresh, and indeed the food was excellent - the vegetables deserving of special mention, tasting honey-roasted: but when my mother's dinner arrived, she found it too cold, as if it had been left for some time after cooking. She had to send it back to be heated.

Moral of the story - don't come here if you're in a hurry, they really mean what they say on the menu about leaving time for your meal! We'd have stayed for a dessert - they did sound good - but it took us so long to get our mains, and we were so worried about how much longer it would take to get served anything else, that we had to go without.

Right! Back to London tomorrow, and staying for my last couple of nights in a now very bare flat - with most of my stuff gone to the new place, I'm only staying there for convenience, as I'm headed to the Hammersmith Apollo to see Trevor Noah on Monday. With only standing tickets left officially, I bought my ticket from StubHub. On Tuesday, I'll move to Clapham permanently, and that night I'm off to the nearest cinema - Clapham Picturehouse (sadly not within walking distance, like before - this one, I have get a bus to: but it still works out cheaper!). And we'll see whether the new Star Wars film lives up to the hype! I decided to book - it was nearly sold out, and I'm lucky to be seeing it in 2D - 3D hurts my eyes. That's the only way I could have got a ticket at such short notice, probably.

And on Wednesday, I fly back to Ireland for Christmas..

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Comedy: Laugh Train Home

Yep, it was comedy last night. Now, London for Less Than a Tenner was off to the Top Secret Comedy Club - but I'm not terribly keen on that venue. Comedy is subjective, I'm careful with it. After due consideration of YouTube clips of the performers, I decided to risk Laugh Train Home, and booked - tickets are with Design My Night, cheaper in advance.

Now, this show runs in the Four Thieves, a pub  not at all far from my new flat. So it would've been ideal to stay there last night. But noo... the removal guy is coming this evening, and I still had packing to do - so I came back to the old place. Moseyed off down there well in advance of the show, thinking to eat at the pub - my letting agent was due to show my old room yesterday, and I wanted to stay out of the way.

Streetview, as usual, showed me the way, and I rounded the corner to the pub just behind a young couple, who turned out to be going there too. We went in the first door.. up a rather dark flight of stairs.. and into a (deserted) games room! I checked out the bar menu - very limited, much less on it than on the one online. Didn't appeal.. I left, figuring I'd find something in one of the eateries I'd passed on the way.

As I walked outside though, I was puzzled - could this really be it? I did some exploring, and discovered the entrance to the bar proper - the games room, upstairs, is quite separate. The main entrance is the next door along, and when I went in, the place was buzzing. I did a quick reccie, but couldn't see a single free table, so I left again. The next couple of places down the road were equally busy - lively area, this - and the most attractive option seemed to be Panahar Indian, across the road.

It was completely empty when I went in - well, apart from a guy sitting near the bar, who I subsequently discovered was waiting for a takeaway. Nice little place - a single, long room, toilets downstairs. A Christmas tree blinked away at the top of the stairs, and blue fairy lights in the window. I took a table in said window - a couple of other tables were filled while I was eating.

Service wasn't the absolute quickest, but nothing to complain about. The house wine was better than usual, and I made an excellent choice for starter - the onion bhajis were delicious! and served with a slice of lemon. They were a bit spicy, which was as much spice as I fancied - I had the chicken korma main course, served on a plate-warmer.. it's ages since I saw one. I didn't have rice - weird, I know, since these places serve their dishes drowning in sauce, which the rice is handy for mopping up: but I always get too full if I do. Instead, a went for a peshwari naan, which was lovely. Everything was served on piping-hot plates. When I asked for the bill, I was spoiled - it was served with a really hot hand napkin, a couple of slices of orange, an After Eight mint, and a little glass of Bailey's, for goodness' sake! Indeed, I was happy with my choice..

It was now about time to head back to the pub. When I went in, I spotted the performance area to the right. Most of the seats were reserved, though - seems they had no fewer than three groups in last night! There wasn't anyone on the desk when I arrived, but I was soon spotted, ticked off the list, and had my hand stamped. And filled out my details on a small ticket I was given, and told to pop in the raffle box on the (boat-shaped) bar - I could win a free pair of tickets to another show.

I tried to take a seat on the bench at the back, but was asked to move - they needed it. I ended up at a table in the front row (ooh-er!). Anyhoo, it's a pretty cool venue - the bare brick wall at the back of the stage was obscured by the projection screen for the first act, James Veitch, who described for us, in a very funny set, how he always replies to spam emails.. he also has a book for sale. The acts after were a mixed bag - and there was something of a problem with the crowd, who could be rowdy at times.. and yes, the people on stage didn't appreciate people whispering amongst themselves, either.. but it was a decent show. Despite the fact that, when the final act came to the punchline of his closing story.. I'd heard it before! (On YouTube.) For sure, the girl beside me enjoyed herself - she practically exploded with laughter several times, and provided much amusement for the performers. This show runs on Wednesdays - just not the next two. Probably worth a look.

And so back to Flat #1, and a late, late night packing, and a blasted early start too. This week may kill me yet.. So, I'm moving properly this evening, then back to Ireland for the weekend. And on Monday, I'm off to the Hammersmith Apollo, to see Trevor Noah, on a ticket I got from StubHub. So I'm not quite done with Flat #1 yet! (I see there are still official tickets available for that show, but standing only, so I'm happy enough.)

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The London International Horse Show

Oh holy hell, What A Day!

Product release tomorrow meant I had to get everything at work finished today. Everything. And there just wasn't enough time, y'know? Couple that with the fact that, as I was leaving the flat in Clapham Junction this morning, I got a text to say that my room (in the old flat) is being viewed tomorrow, and for a week thereafter. Cue the panic of trying to bring some semblance of order to it.

No sign of my ticket for tonight, either. I was hoping to get a refund from Seetickets, with whom I booked it, since the weight of the world had descended on me otherwise. Nope, they swiftly agreed to leave a duplicate ticket for me at the venue. Bummer. There was no way I was going to make it - in the end, it was after 7:30 when I left the office.

Never mind - I've now arranged the official move for Thursday (this has turned out to be a great day to get things done!). As for the order I'm bringing to my room? Heh. Not one of my talents, tidiness. Vastly overrated, if you ask me..

In other news, SexAndRope is up and running again! Seems it was a cyber-threat that closed it.. but all's well that ends well.

For tomorrow, I'm fecking out of here again - I'm off for a bit of comedy. Laugh Train Home is in the Four Thieves in Battersea - flat #2 is handier. And after the Great Move, I'm off to Ireland for the weekend. Where I have nothing planned - and if I did, I probably couldn't tell you about it, considering that 3 have deigned to deny service to customers in my mother's area for the past couple of weeks.

On Monday, I'll be staying in flat #1 again, because I'm off to the Hammersmith Apollo, to see Trevor Noah. Got a ticket to this sold-out show from StubHub..

Monday, 14 December 2015

Concert: The Marian Consort

For tonight, I didn't see much that appealed on Meetup.. but I did come across the Spitalfields Music Festival. And when I saw what was on tonight - I booked it immediately. The Marian Consort is an early music choral ensemble, and they were performing sacred Christmas songs from the 15th and 16th centuries. Hubba..

It was in Shoreditch, so handier for my new flat. I went straight from work though - Tube, then a bus. As with any combo journey, I had several options - Google Maps presented me with two that involved getting off the Tube at Cannon Street, and two that meant I needed to get off at the next stop, Monument. I figured the longer Tube journey was the better bet, what with traffic. The Monument option then presented me with two bus choices, leaving from the same stop - as ever, the wise thing to do is to take whichever comes first.

So, I headed for the nearest station - West Kensington, frustrating as ever in not having an indicator board on the platform. Just as I was getting antsy - particularly with all the bags I was carrying - one arrived, and I crammed on. It got particularly crowded at South Kensington, but I finally got a seat at Victoria, where there's always a large changeover of passengers.

Exiting at Monument, I took the time to check the map at the door, which showed bus stops - I'd forgotten to check earlier. I also, wisely, checked where I was coming out - I had a vague idea of turning right and heading towards the river, but had I done that at this exit (Fish Street Hill), I'd have gone under the road I wanted. Instead, I needed to go up and around the corner, to King William Street, then cross and head down to the bus stop.

Relieved to drop my bags there, I just nicely had time to check the map before any bus came that I could use, and discovered that there weren't just two buses I could take - there were four! Google Maps had told me about the 35 and the 48 - when I saw a 149 approaching, I checked and, sure enough, it went right past Shoreditch Church, which was my destination!

It was horribly crowded. I managed to squeeze on, and ended up right beside the luggage rack at the front, where I put my things. But it was pretty uncomfortable, and it was a real relief to get off, just down the road from the church. And it was nice not to have to rush, as I strolled up to the box office and got my ticket. I went straight in.

For some reason, I thought I was booking a seat at the front - it was at the back, but no matter. The view was partially obscured by a column, but I knew that in advance and paid less because of it. The pews were comfortably accoutred with long cushions, and there was plenty of room for my bags under the seats. No point in taking pictures, really - it's very run-down, all peeling plaster. Fairy lights were draped along the galleries, for the season that's in it.

I don't think anyone was sat upstairs, but the lower level was reasonably full. And oh my, but it was worth the journey to hear such incredible music. It continually astounds me that London regularly produces world-class entertainment in very humble establishments. It was glorious.. Victoria, Mouton, Morales, Guerrero, finishing with Stabile. Music soared past the peeling paint, and we were transported. Never mind that it finished half an hour later than advertised - I don't think they were counting the interval.

Collectors on the way out held buckets for us to give to the festival, which aims to bring music to the disadvantaged. And outside, the rain was drizzling down, for my walk to the Overground station - handier for getting back, a straight run to Clapham Junction. A long flight of stairs up to the platform, and a long journey back - and for the third time in a row, I noted officials on the train; I think they're much more visible on this route.

At the new flat, I didn't have anything to hand to eat, and it was getting late - I decided to hit Dallas Chicken and Ribs again, just for chips - I suspect everything else there is too spicy for me. Took him a while to fry me some fresh - they didn't have much custom, on a rainy Monday night. And I had to explain a few times that that was all I wanted. And very much appreciated they were!

Tomorrow, I'm meant to be off to the London International Horse Show - if they get my ticket to me in time! It was only posted on Saturday, to my old flat - I'll be swinging by there in the morning anyway, I can check. And on Wednesday, I'm off to Laugh Train Home, in the Four Thieves, Battersea. So, back here again..

Play: Your Last Breath & Concert: Academy of St. Martin's Orchestra

Oh goodee, goodee - I've missed quite a few Meetups with the Let's Do London - for less! (and, indeed, London for Less Than a Tenner) groups over the last few months, but here we were and the Man with the Hat had scheduled two attractive-sounding ones for the same day - and a Sunday, so I could make it! Not much to decide on there - I booked.

Well, I got to bed a bit earlier than I had the night before - so I actually woke in time to get some decent breakfast. Which turned out to be a good thing.. anyway, I got myself out in good time to Southwark Playhouse. I've been there loads, but not for a while - I did have to look up the Tube route. So, for future reference - from where I am now, District Line to Embankment, Bakerloo to Elephant & Castle.

I think I've figured out why I got lost, the last time I was in Elephant & Castle. See, it's important which exit you take - you want the University exit for Newington Causeway, where the theatre is. The shopping centre exit lets you out on the other side of the roundabout - and believe, me, with all the roadworks, you do not want to be figuring out how to cross that! I was perfectly aware which exit I wanted - but the signage turns out to be a bit ambiguous. The first signs indicate that you pass through this arch for both exits.. then the way immediately branches, with separate staircases. No, they do NOT both go to the same exits - this is where you need to make sure you're going up the one for the university/Newington Causeway. So, last night, it was with some relief that I rounded the corner, to the left, to see a Nando's across the road - it's a good landmark.

I got to the theatre in plenty of time - how unusual. Entering the cafe in the foyer, there was no sign of the Man with the Hat - I persevered, and found him discreetly ensconced in a corner at the back, with a small flock of followers. First thing he did was express surprise and look at his watch.. yeah, yeah, I know.. So, we hung out there for a while, until the house opened and we went in.

There are two spaces here, conveniently named the Little and the Large. We were in the Little - unreserved seating, and although there was a decent attendance, it wasn't completely full. I briefly considered the front row, but ended up following the others up to the second row from the back. We'd all been warned, on the way in, not to step on the white stage - why was to become apparent during the show, as it's used as a projection screen and they obviously don't want to get it dirty. To which end, all the performers were barefoot, too.

Your Last Breath is inspired by the true story of Anna Bagenholm, a Norwegian woman and keen extreme skier, who had a skiing accident in 1999 that left her trapped under the ice of a frozen river. Her heart had stopped for quite a while by the time they could get her out, but her body had chilled to such a low temperature that permanent damage was avoided, and with a lot of careful care, she made pretty much a full recovery.

So, the show opens to the sight of a woman, prone on the white stage, arms and legs attached to threads leading from the wall - like a puppet. What follows isn't so much about her story at all - but a set of interwoven stories, from different decades, obviously inspired by this story. There's a 19th century cartographer, sent to map this bleak and underpopulated landscape. There's a woman from the present day, come there to scatter her father's ashes. And there's a lad from the future, telling us how the process of super-cooling the body - inspired by her accident - saved his life, as a baby.

And it's fantastic. I felt a chill all through the 70-minute show (no interval) - I think they deliberately kept the temperature low. And that, combined with the completely white set and images of Norwegian landscapes, and the Aurora Borealis, projected onto the stage at times, gave a real sense of place. (And, by the way, I'm now nostalgic for that place - I haven't been further north than Bergen, but it's definitely on my list.) The minimal props are cleverly used - a table, a chair, and those threads, which are used to represent freezing ice, but also gridlines on the map that the cartographer is lovingly putting together. Moreover, although it takes a while to figure out what's going on, the stories are cleverly interwoven, to give the feeling of a timeless story - of a harsh country, that can take a life, but also holds the secret to preserving it.

The writer is patently fascinated by the story, and popped down from his seat at the back, at the end, to say that there'd now be a short film in which he interviews the real-life woman whose life was saved - and he'd be leaving for that bit, being embarrassed about hearing his voice on film. And it was a lovely ending to a most intriguing play. Really, this is the best thing I've seen in a while, and I can't recommend it highly enough. Runs until the 30th - go see!

Afterwards, we headed back to the cafe for a drink and a chat, then went our separate ways. Seems I was the only one "doing the double" - apart from the Man with the Hat, of course. In retrospect, I should've got something to eat in the Southwark Playhouse - instead, I headed straight for Sloane Square. Now, it was too early to head to the concert - and too late to get a proper meal. I had visions of a bag of chips somewhere, but I suspect anyone daring to open such a venue in these posh environs would be beheaded. So, I mooched around, taking photos with my (for once, working!) phone camera:

Was passed at one point by the Man with the Hat, on a mission, doubtless, to collect/deliver tickets at Cadogan Hall, where we were headed shortly. When I was finished, I headed up there myself - no sign of him at the box office, so I peeked in the other door, and sure enough, there was the Hat. With a Man under it. So in I went, got my ticket from him, and mingled - with several people I knew, from this group and others! Really, I've never before met so many people I already knew at one Meetup.. including, BTW, Mr. SexAndRope, who explained to me that his site is currently down. So, watch this space - he's trying to get it sorted, and if I hear anything I'll let you know.

They had chocolate behind the bar, so I kept starvation at bay with a Mars Bar. And so we took our seats for a concert by the Academy of St. Martin's Orchestra. I'd booked with London for Less Than a Tenner, some of the others were with Let's Do London - for less!, and were further front: but we in the cheap seats were fine in the rear stalls:

A programme of Brahms and Beethoven filled the first half. And it was lovely.. unfortunately, with my hectic schedule, I've taken to falling asleep at these things, and what with the comfy seats and the subdued lighting, up the back, I felt myself nodding off quite a bit. And I wasn't the only one. ;-) But we'll say no more. Anyway, at the interval I checked my phone, to find a "Keep in Touch" email (as is standard) from Meetup #1. Soon after, I was able to Keep in Touch for real, when the Man passed by, to collect his Hat..

The second half gave us some Haydn, and some entertainment right at the end, when the conductor seemed to think the piece had ended before it really had. And then we trooped out to the lobby bar, clustering around the Man, now reunited with his Hat. He knew where we were off to - so once he'd popped off to inform the one who'd gone to the cloakroom where to find us, we all followed the Man with the Hat - down the rabbithole, it seemed, as we followed this street, then that, to the Duke of Wellington pub. And yes - I've checked, and we could've gone round the other way, which is slightly shorter:


Anyway, we ended up arriving at the exact same time as the orchestra, which meant a long wait at the bar - and many thanks to the kind gent who bought my drink, seeing how long I'd been waiting! And the cashew nuts, which served as my dinner. I shared some with the Man with the Hat, who was also in need of dinner.. I could have shared more, it occurred to me as I finished the bag. But it was a bit late by then. :-)

Anyway, it's a really nice little pub, and the lack of blaring music was a nice touch. And we had a lovely evening session to finish off a long Meetup day. Appropriately - I'm unlikely to meet this group - or any other Meetup group - again this year. :-( But hey, I've signed up with The Man with the Hat for the first thing I'm going to next year! (Again, watch this space..) And in the meantime, Happy Christmas to all..!

And so home, to bed. Earlier than usual for this group, but still too late to blog. Tonight, I'm off to Shoreditch, so I'm staying in the new place, which is a bit handier for it: I'm off to a performance of early music in Shoreditch Church, as part of the Spitalfields Music Festival. And I do love my early music.. Tomorrow, I'm meant to be off to the London International Horse Show - if they get my ticket to me in time! It was only posted on Saturday, and I'm away tonight - I'll be swinging by my old place in the morning anyway, I can check. And on Wednesday, I'm off to Laugh Train Home, in the Four Thieves, Battersea. So, back to Flat #2 again..