Sunday 3 August 2008

What are you? Fourteen?

Weight a bigger mystery than who did it in The Mousetrap; 7.0 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,281 days to go; Nose.

This was one of my better days since I started this blog. It started with not splitting up with the lovely Less Tall Cheshire Brunette. Then it turned into a classic, cold, wet, English summer’s afternoon, which many people might consider a bit of a let-down; but I felt only that warm, smug glow which comes of knowing that I had booked a nice, cosy restaurant for the long interval in Hänsel und Gretel at Glyndebourne, and that I would be able to smile in a superior way on those unfortunates turning up with picnics and looking for somewhere to eat the things under cover. Why, they had even thoughtfully constructed a glass-roofed walkway between the opera house and the restaurants since I last ate in the one with the tree growing through the middle of it, making the umbrella I had brought specifically for the walk across there completely redundant.

Rather to my surprise, after the prolonged struggle to find anyone to accompany us to this opera, both my guests turned up, and together, having made contact with each other on the train from Victoria. The friend of a friend I had not met before proved to be good company, and perceptive, too. When I recounted the tale of how I had tried to dump the LTCB before she dumped me, she fixed me with a withering stare and asked “What are you? Fourteen?”

Ah, if only I could aspire to be as mature and sensible as the average early teenager. I’d get to use a knife, too, which might be fun.

Perhaps most importantly of all, Hänsel und Gretel proved to be absolutely terrific. I was accused of taking an unhealthy interest in the young Slovakian lady playing Gretel, who threw herself about the stage with impressive energy, showing off the big white pants under her gym slip. I did my utmost to convince the LTCB that I was only admiring her voice, but am not sure that I was entirely successful.

Suitably fortified by an excellent dinner, we were easily bowled over in the second act by Laurent Pelly’s great coup de theatre of a witch’s house constructed not of gingerbread but of shelf upon shelf of supermarket junk food. After the wicked witch was despatched, a chorus of children in grotesque fat suits appeared to give the whole thing a suitably contemporary resonance. Though the irony would probably have been lost on any visitors from Sunderland or Hull, who would just have thought it was a typical everyday scene from any state school playground. I left it to one of my Guardian-reading guests to pose the unanswerable question of just what their critic had been bitching about.

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