This is definitely Bah Humbug time. So far, I have been asked to some nine productions of A Christmas Carol
and the prospect appals. Admittedly, one is being held in the Inns of Court and the hall does have a genuine Victorian feel to it but that is about as far as making it an appealing prospect goes. There is one which promises to be in tune with the times and we all know what that means – a Gay Christmas Carol
with drag queens playing the ghosts and a real life crutch user playing Tiny Tim.
So far, I have not received one to a production with an all BAME cast reflecting the position of BAME people in Victorian society, which is a surprise as I have just seen a production of The Importance of Being Earnest
which had exactly that – and a drag queen as Lady Bracknell, although the latter is nothing new. Several male performers have played her from Betty Bourne to Sir Hercule Poirot. I have also been invited to A Sherlock Carol
in which the worlds of Dickens and Conan Doyle collide – Sherlock, wandering the streets of London, meets Tiny Tim who asks him to investigate Scrooge's mysterious death.
For me, there is only one version to watch – the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim. Scrooge was one of his finest roles and is easily available. I suppose I could re-read the book. At least I have read it. I doubt if many in the audiences who turn out to these performances live or filmed have done so. The parents possibly but who under the age of 25 reads books these days? Children read mobile phones.
I could be wrong. Google the book and there are countless editions available online. For everyone like me quoting one line from it, there will be just as many saying: God bless us, everyone!
My favourite coffee shop is Pret A Manger. Not because it has better coffee, more delicious food or even a greater atmosphere. Pret's magic ingredient is total and utter confusion, bordering on anarchy. For me, it is a great joy to visit this particular venue. Every time I have been to any of their stores, I've felt the same bewilderment around what was going on. I will set the scene for any poor unfortunates who have not been touched by the experience.
Most coffee shops have a process and system in place where, on entering the store, you can make your order, then find your way following a clearly delineated route to the area where drinks and other bought products are despatched, sometimes even by calling your name. Pret eschews all of this, hang conformity and order, they like to mix it up and do so by not having any clear path to either the serving or despatch station, those being one and the same.
Typically a customer arrives, chooses a sandwich, etc, and makes for the service area, only to be confronted by a number of people hanging around in front of said area. Only when customer has asked each of these people if they are in the queue, and invariably being told no, do they have the courage to approach the server, advise them of their drink choice and pay. After which they melt back into the throng, awaiting the call that their drink is ready.
That is when the real fun starts as, typically on the shout 'tall latte' at least four people make a move forward to claim it. You would think that once that has been sorted out and the rightful owner has been established, things will become easier, as the numbers fall. However, the opposite is the case and the pressure actually increases as each of the remaining three attempt to work out whose turn is next. Will they have the pluck to step forward when it is called? This is complicated further, as by now at least one other latte drinker has probably joined the mass milling around in the store, causing the calculation to again be reset.
I was wondering if I should maybe get out a bit more. I mean no alcohol of any kind has passed my lips in the last 15 years or so and very little in the preceding five years either. I have never tried any recreational drugs, including the smoking of any strange substances, though do have to confess to dallying with a quick puff of a cinnamon stick in what I would describe as my experimental years – aged 12ish. I have never smoked cigarettes and don't recall even taking a 'draw'. In the last few years, I have stopped eating meat of any kind and now follow a vegetarian diet.
I love a cup of coffee, however, I restrict that now to decaf and I try to walk a minimum of 20,000 steps a day. I think my children worry about me, but not in the more usual way of where they would try to encourage me to curb excess. I can honestly say that I have put in the hours and worked hard to earn that epithet 'Fun time Frankie'.
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