Day Out

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The Independent Culture
My ideal day out starts with a lie-in, a boiled egg and toast and news of fresh disasters befalling the Tory Government. On a Sunday in summer I'll read the papers in Regents Park and perhaps my mother will drop by with a flask of morning coffee.

Lunch would be at the Belvedere in Holland Park W8 (071-602 1238) with chums like Miriam Karlin and Charlotte Cornwell, swapping theatrical gossip, and letting off steam about the Government's iniquities. Between meals I'd wander alone round an undiscovered bit of London just looking at the shape of doors, fanlights and door-knockers. Joan Littlewood taught me to do this. When we once had two hours to kill at Waterloo Station, she took me by the arm for a perambulation to look at the ticket offices and shops on the concourse, not what was in the shop windows but at the windows themselves, and the architraves and the styles of sign-writing and all the details of human endeavour.

Evenings it's friends again. I regret deeply that London doesn't have coffee shops and bars where you can guarantee running into friends and acquaintances as frequently as you do at the Edinburgh Festival, where I'll forego a show if I'm in the middle of a good chat. The show you can book again but you can't guarantee a recurrence of the convivial occasion.

Table-hopping to chat with theatre friends at Joe Allen's (071-836 0651) Exeter St WC2 has its charms as does Sheelans (071-637 4907), the new Irish restaurant in Charlotte Street where one meets TV folk. Best of all are first nights at a fringe theatre with a good bar.

Philip Hedley is the Artistic Director of Theatre Royal, Gerry Raffles Sq, Stratford East. 'Curse of the Werewolf' by Ken Hill previews from 5 Feb and opens 10 Feb (081-534 0310)

(Photograph omitted)

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