Wednesday, 17 October 2012

One Man Two Guvnors

I've already bored you with our New York exploits over the summer here, here,  and here so I'm sorry that I'm about to add to the list.

It was the night of our 22nd wedding anniversary. So how to celebrate? Some discussion ensued. It lasted all of 2 minutes. The perfect solution presented itself.  The Shah and the son managed to get tickets to see the Yankees play the Red Sox.  They kindly invited us along. Once the daughter and I had finished wiping torrential tears of laughter away, we politely declined (are you having a larf?) and headed for the TKTS booth in Times Square.  It came down to a choice between Mama Mia 

and One Man Two Guvnors.  

Some discussion ensued.  It lasted all of 2 minutes.  Given that we had already tried (and failed) to get tickets in London we suddenly discovered that the London cast of One Man Two Guvnors had transferred to Broadway, lock stock and barrel.

Fantastic! we thought and headed back to the hotel for a shower.  The performance began at 8pm.  The theatre was 17 blocks north of our hotel, so we left at 7.30 to give ourselves plenty of time.

And this was where it all began to fall apart.

We stood outside, trying to hail a cab.  Cabs were there plenty but available cabs were there none.  Is this the witching hour in NYC?  Not one of the buggers had their light on - it looked as though they had all decided to head home for the night.  In despair, we began to walk north. We hadn't yet used the subway and didn't think we would have enough time to negotiate it and get out at the right exit.  We kept walking.  We walked faster and faster.  Going uptown means going uphill and it was already a steamy evening.  Small rivulets of sweat began to trickle down my back as we stomped past strolling tourists.  We glanced at watches, the time was ticking by.  We broke into a jog.  The streets were rammed with people and we weren't exactly sure where we were going either. We crossed over several avenues and eventually reached the right street intersection but couldn't see the theatre anywhere.  By now scarlet and dripping attractively, we stopped a passer by who luckily turned out to be a native New Yorker and gave succinct directions.  We tore into the theatre with minutes to spare and then had to climb a million flights of stairs.  Our reward was seats on the front row of the Grand Circle but I didn't stop fanning myself with the programme until the interval!

But about the play....I can't say I've ever been a massive fan of either James Corden or physical comedy but that night changed both of those opinions.  The play is quite farcical but the skill that is apparent in the physical comedy is just outstanding and we literally wept with laughter throughout.  James Corden was absolutely brilliant in the lead role. There is interaction with the audience that is really skilfully executed - to say more would be a spoiler...

We realised later that we had caught one of their last performances as the play closed at the beginning of September and although it is still running in London, James Corden is no longer in it.  That made it even more special and we reeled out of the theatre at the end and after several ovations for the cast.  They had given us a wonderful evening's entertainment and one I thoroughly recommend.  And one of the best things about it was that the cast all looked as though they were having a brilliant time too...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Gift ideas for neighbours and friends

I say this every year but this year, I really mean it.  When it comes to Christmas, I am going to be organised.  Yes - really!

During the Christmas season, the focus naturally tends to be on buying presents for close friends and family members. Generally, these are the types of gifts that you consider far in advance, and spend a great deal of time on. After all, at Christmas, we like to show those closest to us how much they mean to us, and part of this means finding great gift ideas.  That's the easy bit.  However, we still need to think about those people we see often, but might not consider to be close friends. You may want to give little gifts to people in your neighbourhood, colleagues, or even teenage friends of your children. These gifts can be a bit harder to come up with, but really (because I like to embrace the concept of 'less is more') something quite simple will usually do the trick. Here are a few ideas to help get you started. 

Gifts For Neighbours

  • Treats/Accessories - Perhaps the simplest and nicest gift to give to your neighbours might be a set of baked treats, such as biscuits, fudge, etc. Of course, finding time to bake even a batch of cookies can be tricky, our national obsession with The Great British Bake-Off notwithstanding! However, you can make loads at once, and divide them in tins or jars to give to neighbours. You may even want to make the tins or jars part of the gift.
  • Christmas Hampers - If you want a gift that involves less preparation, simply head to Marks and Spencer online and order a few Christmas hampers for neighbours or friends! These lovely hampers are essentially pre-prepared gift baskets filled with anything from selections of fine cheeses or wines, to seasonal treats. They are very convenient, in that you can order them online, ready to be presented, and they are also fab for families to have around during the holidays. And being from Marks and Spencer, you can be assured of the quality.
  • Snowman Kits - If you want to do something a bit lighter, or funny, for your neighbours, consider something like snowman kits! A few sets of black hats, scarves, and fake eyes to set up snowmen can be a fun, charming gift, and one that you might see in the gardens next to yours in the coming days - assuming the good old British weather plays the game. I guess it's not too much to ask that we have a proper, snowy winter having had to suffer the worst and wettest summer weather for three zillion years?
Gifts For Teenagers
  • Christmas Decorations - For the friends of your children, simple, funny gifts usually do the trick. Consider small Christmas decorations, such as a bobble Santa for a car's dashboard, or a musical ornament that sings a joky tune, etc. These presents don't need to be huge, and even teenagers will appreciate these sorts of little jokes.
  • Hot Chocolate - Finally, if you've run out of ideas, there is always hot chocolate - the simplest possible Christmas present - to consider. To make it a bit nicer, you can purchase tins of different flavours of hot chocolate, which will certainly be enjoyed and appreciated - even by the surly teen in your life!
Published on behalf of Marks and Spencer.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Les be friends

Regular readers will already know that the Shah has, for some months, been working in Kuwait - from where he is allowed home for a measly two and a half days per fortnight.  He's just been home for the weekend and was mightily huffy to discover that life goes on and I needed him to chop some wood and do a few blue jobs, not lie about arse-resting all day, watching the Ryder Cup and alternately cheering and swearing.

He also had to do his expenses and that led to more cursing about the expense of life in the land of sand, although petrol is an astonishing 8p per gallon or thereabouts.  YES!  you read that right 8p per feckin' gallon!  After all, they just dig it out of the ground and bung it in the cars, pretty much.  

So we got to discussing our financial situation and how we could improve it.  It was a fairly short conversation.  And it did nothing at all, nix, nada to improve the Shah's mood.  

Then I had a brainwave!

Meet Cecil Chao Sze-tsung:

Mr Chao is a Chinese billionaire of rampant heterosexuality.  So rampant that he claims to have slept with 10,000 women.  A fact which just goes to prove that love is regularly tripped up by its guide dog.  Mr Chao and his over-active trouser snake have taken exception to his daughter's lesbianism and her recent marriage to her long-term girlfriend.  In fact, he is so incensed that he has offered a reward of some £40million to the man who can seduce her and "turn" her.  Oh and he'd quite like a male heir as well, if that could be slotted in, if you'll pardon the expression.

"There you go, Shah" I announced.  "It's the answer to all our problems and every man's dream, surely - turning a lezzer?"  The Shah looks vaguely interested but somewhat suspicious of my motives at the same time.
Gigi Chao and wife
"Look," I continued, "it says here ‘I don’t mind whether he is rich or poor – the important thing is that he is generous and kind-hearted,’ - you can always pretend that bit," I added helpfully.  The Shah narrowed his eyes.

"Take one for the team!" I implored.  "There's 40 million smackers at stake here - are you a man or a louse?   Anyway, you'd better get on with it because apparently offers are pouring in from all over the globe. And it might be nice if you could have a shave first."  The Shah treated my idea with the contempt it deserved and stamped off upstairs to pack his case for the return journey.

The funny thing is that, when I dropped him at Terminal 5 last night, I could have sworn he headed off in the direction of the Hong Kong desk...