My autumn almanac

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Sandie knows me too well…

You may recall that last year I made a bit of a festival of my birthday – what with it being my first living in London. No such extremes this year (I’m older and more tired), but a fun time nonetheless!

After last year not being able to go to my favourite show on my birthday (as that honour changed between booking & the day itself), I had been set on my evening plan being Sunny Afternoon. However, with cast change this plan became less certain – because I became so emotionally attached to the original cast, I didn’t know if I’d be up to sharing my special day with the newbies in time. Thankfully I was! It was sad not to see a group of some of my most favourite people but, like the Queen, I think I did manage to have an ‘official’ birthday a few months ago: my 100th show. Surprises, cards & presents from my friends – and gifts from the cast of all my favourite things that they did, as well as that drum solo (and those sticks).

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No chance for a lie in… Tickets were looking more than sparse, so Jess & I were heading in for opening time (though, of course, I managed to miss the train I needed to catch so I had to hand over responsibility!) – and it paid off. A couple of lovely seats in row F!

Because it always ALWAYS rains on my birthday, I hadn’t made any proper plans for the day (I like planning as much as the next person, but doing two plans for one day? No thanks.). We started things off sensibly by caffeinating – see above for the biggest coffee in the world – and then decided to stretch our legs for a bit, despite it being cold & me wearing a dress…

We ended up covering uncharted territory for Jess. No, not some amazing secret hidden spot in London – only Parliament Square & Millbank! Honestly… She’s lived in London for over 3 years and never been that way before. We quickly established that I don’t have an immediate future as a London tour guide, despite having some facts about the Houses of Parliament up my sleeve – and knowing that the church on the square was Westminster Abbey!

So while we were down that way we took in a bit of culture in the form of Tate Britain, both finding most interest in the Pre Raphaelite section of the gallery. We also enjoyed spotting a goat in one of the paintings… Don’t ask.

From then on we lacked a bit of inspiration really. A bit of time in the Theatre Café (first time in ages), a bit more wandering (Covent Garden this time), we briefly ended up in the National Gallery – and then hit upon something different & interesting for us both! A trip over to the National Theatre to test out the Sherling High-Level Walkway! We even caught a Waterloo sunset on the walk over… It was great to see sets in storage round the back of the Dorfman (from Husbands & Sons, which I recently sat on the stage for), as well as people hard at work on props for wonder.land. The cakes looked amazing!

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Pizza Express had very nicely wished me a happy birthday by way of a voucher for a free bottle of prosecco… So that was next on our list! Well, who am I to refuse that? For the price of a pizza.

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And then. The main event! We had quite wanted to get a front table, but row F actually was probably the best end result; I managed to see the entire show from a close vantage point, and it was still close enough for the cast to spot me having a really good time (according to Tom I had a big smile on my face whenever he looked over at me – even when he was leaving the band!). It was also close enough for Olly to get ‘bubbly’ spray on our knees, and for Jay to wish me a happy birthday from the stage at the end!

It really was one of the best performances I’ve been to. Fridays, from my experience, are notorious for having annoying people in the audience – but thankfully I had no such hassle this time. We even had the treat of a ‘Team B’ representative being on (Lloyd as Page).

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Lloyd Gorman

It was lovely waiting at stage door and getting some more birthday greetings after the show. Both casts are honestly the loveliest sets of people, and I’m forever grateful of the time they spare for us. Especially in my birthday treats to myself of the first stage door pics with this lot: Lloyd, plus a couple of Kinks sandwiches!

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Tom Whitelock & Damien Walsh
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Olly Hoare & Danny Horn

And my final (accidental) birthday treat came at the pub. We decided to go, despite being knackered, and that decision paid off when a certain John Dagleish sidled up to us! He’d just finished another performance of The Winter’s Tale over at the Garrick & returned to his old haunt for a quick drink, inadvertently topping off my night wonderfully.

So, that was my birthday! Quite possibly the best birthday ever.

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