Friday, 8 March 2019

"Have A Nice Day Out”,

my friend said. "Enjoy yourself, stop worrying, I’ll look after Millie for the day." The man who arranges such things in Valley’s End had promised a rip-roaring time at the Malvern Theatre for Tom Stoppard’s ‘Rough Crossing’, a play to make us laugh until we peed ourselves.

I took him at his word, booked the trip, paid an exorbitant amount of money up front for coach and ticket and looked forward to the entertainment. Except the nice day out turned into an (almost) unmitigated disaster.

It started as I left in the morning on the way to the bus stop, about 15 minutes walk away from the house. It was blowing a gale, with driving rain. All the way there my umbrella turned itself inside out, every few steps I had to stop and right it. No matter how I held it, into the wind, against the wind, sideways on, the damn thing flapped and creaked and dripped. By the time I got to the bus stop I was drenched, trouser legs sodden from the back of my knees to the hems. Did I say it was also bitterly cold? A little chap walking by on the other side of the road as I was struggling laughed happily. “A bit wet today, isn’t it?” Hahaha. Sadist.

Some of my fellow theatregoers assembled at the bus stop shivered but others were made of sterner stuff. The shelter would normally accommodate six or seven people but a man in a motorised buggy, who had been the sort who feels “entitled” long before he became slightly disabled, assumed that everyone else would gladly leave the shelter to him and stay exposed to the elements. I didn’t, I had been the first to arrive, and I stayed perched on my little seat. Make of that what you will.

The bus arrived and we climbed on board. Luckily, the heating was on and gradually, during the two hour journey, my clothes dried on me. When we got to Malvern the rain had stopped. The mass exodus from the bus duly effected, a large knot of people formed on the pavement, everybody was making arrangements for the hour before lunch and where to have it. Didn’t they have time during the two hour journey to do that? I needed the loo and made for the theatre, shouting to a couple of friends that I would meet them at ‘The Italian’ in an hour’s time, wanting to visit a posh supermarket first to buy some of their famous ‘cook’s ingredients’ to take home to my back-of-beyond-village where such things are only dreamt of, never available.

Of course, I bought too much, now being burdened with an extra load of groceries, my large handbag (purse), my wet umbrella. True, I can’t blame anyone else for this oversight. I am still not a good walker, still limping when I’m tired or when the effort of walking straight and upright gets too much. I no longer use a cane, though. Malvern is a hilly town, I frequently had to stop on the way to the restaurant to catch my breath and straighten up. Gosh, I am an old crock!

The next two hours were a pleasure, I enjoyed my Tagliatelle Bolognese and we all had a couple of glasses of wine, not something we usually do at lunchtime. Everybody got merry, greatly helped by the waiters who flung their ‘per favores’, their ‘pregos’ and ‘grazies’, their ‘signoras’ and signores’ around with wild abandon, who burst into song while sinuously weaving  and undulating between the tables and made much of their giant pepper mills. I bet they were from Roumania really.

Finally it was time to go to the theatre and take our seats, having left coat and groceries at the cloakroom. Stoppard can be a bit of an acquired taste but he has written some really good stuff. Sadly, ‘Rough Crossing’ is far from good, it has the thinnest of plots:

Two famous playwrights, one jealous composer, an unorthodox waiter, and a mistimed lifeboat drill… let the sharp Atlantic winds turn to gales of hysterical laughter as our colourful characters become tantalisingly tangled in a Stoppardian string of absurd events…

If only. The Art Deco set looked splendid and promised much. The moment the actors appeared the promise evaporated and within the first ten minutes several of our coach party were sound asleep. The sound was bad, the dialogue barely distinguishable, the action messy and incomprehensible. The cast (all fairly recognisable TV actors)was lacklustre and seemed tired and bored. We were all disappointed and two of my friends decided they’d had enough and left at the interval, as did several of the others. I had nowhere to go and, in any case, couldn’t face lugging my groceries around, so I stayed to the bitter end. The action perked up for the last ten minutes but by then I’d given up on the play and was simply waiting to be released from captivity. All I wanted was to get on the bus and go home.

But my trials for the day weren’t over. I couldn’t swear to it but I may have, in fact, actually peed myself, even if for quite another reason as the one promised. When I came out of the loo right at the end, before climbing back aboard the coach, I felt a dampish kind of warmth spread over my belly. Yes, the front of my trousers was wet. I had been hovering over the toilet bowl, being loath to sit on the seat which appeared a touch insalubrious. But I had also been sprayed with warm water as I washed my hands afterwards. Enough to cause a damp patch in my trousers? We will never know. Suffice to say that I kept my coat on the whole journey back to Valley’s End and the first thing I did back home was to take a quick shower.








27 comments:

  1. Right now I just send you love and warmth and many good thoughts, friend Friko cuz baby its cold outside … talk to you later in the spring, maybe, I dunno says this Alberta cat and her cat Theo … https://youtu.be/U8LuwWJTNog … Love, cat.

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  2. Oh my, what an outing you had. Glad you made it home safely and had a nice warm shower, and may you enjoy the fancy goodies from the grocers.

    Have a good weekend dear Friko ~ FlowerLady

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  3. What a story! An adventure to be sure, but not one I would have enjoyed much more than you did. But the good part, the best for me anyway, is a truly memorable blog post! I loved it all, since I didn't have to be there, just ready about it. Thanks, Friko, for recounting this event so perfectly. :-)

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  4. The worst experiences make the best stories. You had me laughing from beginning to end, which is much better than the promised rip-roaring play at the Malvern Theater that you had to endure.

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  5. What an adventure you had.

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  6. That was a great story, even if it took unwelcome turns. I laughed and wish you a wonderful next adventure that is everything you desire it to be.

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  7. Oh dear, poor you!! I'm not at all familiar with Stoppard's work so can not comment on the piece you saw, but it must be so disappointing when you have high expectations, knowing the actors and being promised a hilarious performance.
    The bit about the Italian restaurant is brilliant! You should post that on their TripAdvisor site :-)

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  8. Hi Friko - many unfortunate turns ... and what an unmitigated disaster - except perhaps the goodies purchased ... once your arms had returned to normal length. Reading Librarian's comment above - yes at least the lunch sounded fun ... I'd have been asleep with 2 glasses of vino. I see the play has been described 'as not terribly interesting' - what a pity ... I'm sure the actors/director could have livened it up a little ... but you had an excursion - not sure if you'll want to repeat it too soon ... or perhaps agree to whomever recommended the day out. Malvern is hilly - that I definitely know ... have a good weekend - though it sounds like it's going to be cold. I'm off for a tour of our local theatre - should be interesting ... cheers Hilary

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  9. Apart from the ingredient shopping, I think Millie had the best of the day....

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  10. Your writing style is wonderfully delightful. You made me laugh throughout. That last paragraph made me spew my tea. Have a great weekend.

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  11. What's true for sailors is true for us all, even in very different circumstances: the worst storms make for the best stories. Granted, they usually don't seem so wonderful while we're in the midst of them, but time and a little distance can improve things.

    I laughed at your comment about being "released from captivity." One reason I'm more loathe than I should be to accompany friends to the movies is that I dread boredom, and if I become bored with a film, I want out. Now. Unfortunately, that's not possible, so I endure. It's the best reason for watching a movie at home that I know.

    I suspected what was coming when I read your title. "Have a nice day" is one of those phrases I despise, but can't keep myself from using. Another I don't like, and never use, is "No problem" as a response to "Thank you." I have a friend who's dedicated himself to wiping out the use of "No problem." He'll never win, but it is fun to watch him trying to instruct the sixteen year old bagger at the grocery store.

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  12. Great story ... you sure haven't lost your sense of humor. Personally, I find that my interest in a matinee decreases in direct proportion to the increase in the amount of wine I've had for lunch!

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  13. Well, it was an adventure, at least. Something to make you glad you were back at home again and relieve the restlessness for a while--LOL! It's always good to have stories to tell. ;)

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  14. The shower sounds like the best part. :-)

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  15. Stay brave and adventurous, Friko. You got a post out of this which is more than I can squeeze out of my past three days here alone in the cold and gray with a broken heating system! I have learning how to keep a fire going, but have made a big dent in the remaining wood before spring. I have not been to live theater in ages and envy you that dull and boring lay with the marvelous art deco set.

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  16. Sorry for the typos, my laptop keys are not cooperating.

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  17. Oh gawd, that sounds like my personal nightmare beginning with buses of others eager to have a "good time" with the Italian on the side and awful theatre to follow.

    Dear heavens Friko, sounds like the watering of self and the shower were the best things in it.

    We need to find you more enjoyable outings.

    XO
    WWW

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  18. Oh lord, that sounds awful, except for lunch. I doubt I would have given up my seat, either!

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  19. Much love, friend Friko … https://youtu.be/_fzciDHlMVA Always, cat.

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  20. your day sounds like more of a comedy of errors than the promised play. but you got out and you dealt with life and you got special groceries!

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  21. Dear Friko, this is the kind of day that makes up what is known here in the States as "sitcom comedy." So many of these half hour programs, with their canned laughter, are an insult to anyone's intelligence. And the jokes are often so strained.

    Your whole day, not just the day, seemed strained. I so hope that not only did you take a shower but that you turned up the thermostat and got toasty warm and ate whatever you consider a delicious treat. In other words, I hope you treasured yourself. Peace.

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  22. I've had days like that, where the best part of the day is coming home. You are a wonderful writer. Thanks for the giggle.

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  23. love to read your adventure...
    have a great day

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  24. Oh Friko, what a day! At least you didn't loose your humor! Next time will be better, keep trying! Big hug!

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  25. At least the lunch was good -- and you got the groceries. The rest of it -- what a shambles!

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  26. Oh, my! I'm sorry it was such a rough day!

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  27. Days like that make you wonder why you ever go out! And then will come a sunny day when things go right and you wonder why you stay in. You made a good story of it, at any rate.

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