Some lessons I have learned. Put together a heartfelt, well-worded post and a couple of people might glance at it. Stick some photos up here and I get loads of comments.
Unfortunately, I am not very good at taking photos. Therefore, I must give credit to the afore-mentioned Mike (he of the Birthday) for the pictures. He is rapidly becoming the de-facto Make Lard History official photographer. Partly this is due to the him being better at taking pictures, but mainly it's because he has a nicer camera, one the size of a helium atom but with quite a few of those pixel thingies crammed into it.
In addition, he can take pictures while we are travelling- belting, in fact - down the M40. I can't, being somewhat engaged with the whole "trying not to crash" thing:
The dodgy sunglasses hide the fact that I'm fast asleep. Best not to worry the passengers, I always think. And for those of you who are interested, that's a small bit of Oxfordshire in the background. Stunning, isn't it?
The M40 becomes the A40 when it comes to London - one of the main arterial routes into the capital. Of course the authorities do all they can to keep it flowing smoothly:
The more sharp-sighted amongst you will notice the yellow sign on the right, which basically means, "For your safety and convenience we're reducing the capacity of this road by 66%. Bet you wish you'd taken the train. Have a nice day."
Suitably ensconced in our hotel, we then set out to grab a bite to eat. I don't know London at all well, especially not this part, so there was a degree of aimless wandering until we found the Offside Bar. A lucky find, as in amongst the photos of Tour de France winners there were home-made burgers of herculean proportions.
Over lunch, Mike's wife Emma, a qualified clinical psychologist and therefore the Official Responsible Adult of the group, started to talk about the latest exciting discoveries in cognitive therapy:
(Sorry Em, couldn't resist).
Back to the hotel to change, then a taxi to the West End. The show was a late matinee 5.15pm start, so we had some time to mooch around. I can mooch for England when the need arises, however I wasn't aware how close the theatre and shopping districts were. Katie and Emma found their latest church:
I believe I've mentioned this before, but I belong firmly to the "Shopping Is Not A Sport" camp. Unfortunately I appear to be pretty much alone in this belief.
Is that the time? Sorry, dear, we've got to get back to the theatre:
The show itself was a work of pure genius. Our seats were pretty much up in the gods, so much so that I was clinging onto the aisle handrail for much of the first act, a rictus of panic painted on my face. But I was soon distracted by all of the silliness. At one point in the second act, in the song "You Won't Succeed.." I think I may have broken something from laughing. If you've seen the show, you'll know.
Leaving the theatre into darkened West End streets, we ended up in an Italian restaurant where I self-consciously ate my spaghetti like a true Anglo-Saxon (knife, fork, cut it into chunks) under the bemused gaze of the Italian family on the next table. Scusi.
Wandering the streets saw us taking a wrong turn, and it wasn't until I saw the signs for Mr Raymond's erm..specialist venue for adult entertainment that I realised we were heading for Soho. Perhaps not. As per all good tabloid journalists, we made our excuses and exited stage left.
Did I mention that we were in the presence of at least one responsible adult? If that was the case, then I'm struggling to explain this:
Three rather drunk people in a lift? Check.
Large wall wide mirror? Check.
Taking our photo by reflection seemed like a wise idea. Until, that is, the lift doors opened. Because then we had to deal with a complete stranger (visible over Mike's shoulder) wondering what the three giggly people were getting up to with a camera.
It does seem to be a man thing. Ladies, when faced with a camera, simply smile and enjoy themselves:
Men, however, take a different approach. No matter how grown-up, sophisticated and responsible we may be otherwise, if we get a camera pointed at us we have to behave like arses. Just smiling and being normal is not allowed. We have to act up. It is a law:
There is no hope.