01 July, 2007

a little more theatre before we go

But before I tell you about the greatly improved second go at "The Pain and the Itch" on Saturday (plus some great celebrity sighting), I must confess: we just broke a fundamental school rule: a party on Sunday night. AND the Sunday night before the Monday performance of the school play, "Peter Pan." It was like this. I invited several families, FAMILIES mind you, to our house for a nice end-of-year get together. A little champagne, a little dinner, the gulls could play together, it begins at 5 and ends at 8. Done. No problem.

Into this happy scenario comes a last-minute birthday party from one of the gulls in Form Five, in Notting Hill-ish, to throw a wrench into everyone's plans. Oy veh. In the meantime, of course, it occurred to Becky and me that Avery and one of her girls would be riding at the stables all afternoon. Becky gallantly offered to pick them up early, take them home to hose them off, and take them to the party, whereupon she and her two other gulls and husband would come to us for dinner. Except.

The school headmistress actually telephoned the Birthday Party Mum and told her in no uncertain terms to end the party early! As in, shortly after our dinner was to begin. Grrr. So what was to be a lazy evening of Moroccan meatballs, Lebanese cucumbers from Green Valley in sour cream, fresh dill and lemon juice, and steamed new potatoes with parsley and olive oil, turned into a race against time. How fast can you chew? In fact, is chewing really necessary when you can just... swallow? Ah well, everyone came prepared to have a good time, and we did. The enormous mound of strawberries I'd prepared, accompanied by freshly whipped double Devonshire cream with vanilla, disappeared in record time. It was three families plus ours, and the conversation ranged between the school play and next year's tests, which topics I must say can keep most parents busy for hours. But we didn't have hours. Before we knew it, we were ripping forks from peoples' mouths as one little sister murmured, "it's 7 o'clock," whilst simultaneously asking for more strawberries. Just an end-of-year frustration, but better than eating alone! Next autumn we will plan a much more extensive debauchery, I promise. Four courses, at least.

But I digress. The play! As you know, my friend 6point7 and I had been to see "The Pain and the Itch" last week, as an extra for the theatre Open House day. But the ticket I had for this Saturday had been burning a hole in my calendar since I booked it in March, so I was quite excited. And it was worth the wait. Due to unpleasantness on Park Lane on Friday (a bit daunting, a block from our flat), the traffic was such that I ended up walking to the theatre, and can I just say: the humidity was like walking through a wet paper towel. By the time I got to the Royal Court I was feeling like I'd been steam-cleaned, only not clean. 6point7 (otherwise known as Sue!) and I met up with fellow Matthew Macfadyen fans Caz and JoAnn in the bar before the play. How can I describe Caz as a "fan"? In fact she is THE fan, initiator of the wonderful fansite that was, for me, such a great distraction last year during our move. It was just lovely to meet her in person, and JoAnn is a transplanted New Jersey girl who will be living in Oxford for the foreseeable future, so we have plans to meet again in the autumn. And sitting next to JoAnn, perfectly friendly and sociable? Trevor Eve and Sharon Maughan, live and in person! Very exciting indeed. It is hard to believe they're old enough to be parents of the gorgeous Alice Eve, so impressive in Starter For Ten. Did she actually get to kiss James McAvoy, lucky girl?

The comic timing of the play was much improved, Matthew better than ever, and even the slightly irritating little girl in the cast was not quite so irritating. And after the play we sat down for a drink at a table just adjacent to... Keeley Hawes, Matthew's wife, and her family. And in just a moment, there he was, ready to relax. I thought Caz would faint. Can't wait to read her account on the boards.

But for now I'm off to my last "Creative Nonfiction" class. It's been such fun. The assignments are really mind-bending: "choose a small object that has significance in your life and write an essay about it." "Choose a photograph from your history and write a story about it." And today, "Choose a person in your life that you knew up until that person's death, and describe your relationship in an essay with a beginning, a middle and an end." I shall be sorry when the class is over, but the tutor, Amy Prior, thinks she will teach a continuation next term. It's good just for the feedback and the discipline. This morning at breakfast John asked, "Did you finish your homework?" and Avery started and said, "I didn't have any!" "Not you," he laughed, "I was talking to Mummy."

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