I took Stacey out on the town this week – brought her up from country exile for a big night out. I felt a little pressure to do something special, as my normal routine of getting totally smashed in a bar talking TV bollocks was probably not what she was after.
In a fit of lunacy, I got us two tickets for a play. I loathe plays – I don't care if this makes me a philistine. I can understand why theatre was needed before telly and cinema: the proles were bored and restless and needed entertaining. Theatre provided them with storytelling and costumes and boys dressed as women. Nowadays, however, I can't see the need for it, except as a kind of heritage industry.
The whole thing was so wooden and stilted and... hammy. I just didn't believe any of the story or in the characters. Yet I was surrounded by people howling with laughter at every bon mot.
There was one scene in particular where a woman, frustrated with her lawyer husband constantly being on his mobile phone, snatched it off him and dunked it in a vase of flowers. The audience erupted in mirth. This was clearly amazingly funny and a blow against the tyranny of the mobile. I can only assume that none of them watched television, as there is more social commentary in an episode of 'Desperate Housewives' than in this rubbish.
After a while, I started to fidget uncontrollably and kept looking at my watch. Even worse, there was no interval. I love intervals, as they are when you can piss off early. I remember regular trips to the National Theatre when I was at school. I think I've seen the first half of every Shakespeare play as we'd sneak away in the interval and get drunk in a bar before throwing up on the coach back to school. Ah, the joys of a private education – can't wait to waste my money on my kids.
Actually, that reminds me – my daughter Parker has the lead role in her school play: some Maori fable about the sun. It's running for three nights and Stacey has informed me that we are expected to attend all of them. I hope there's an interval – I can hide some cans of scrumpy in the bushes behind the school theatre beforehand and then slip out and get blotto. Parker won't mind; she'll be doing the same thing soon.
Anyway, back to the play with Stacey. The thing finally finished and the four actors gave themselves three encores that nobody seemed to have asked for and we were free to stretch our cramped limbs and rush for the loo. To my delight, Stacey hated it as much as I did and we agreed that we should have gone to see 'Iron Man' in the cinema, although we were both proud of ourselves that we'd done something cultural.
Obviously, not a word of this will ever be heard by our country friends. To them we'll waffle on about how great our night up in "that London" was and rave on about the theatre as though we were Kwame Kwei-Armah on 'Newsnight Review'.
We were staying at the St Martins Lane Hotel, an establishment that Stacey rang up at 2am the last time I was staying there alone, and made the concierge enter my room to check that I was alive, as I wasn't answering my phone. I was very drunk and very naked – fortunately, the same gentleman was not on the desk this time.
There's a good idea for a play: you get an audience to follow a concierge around the corridors of a hotel, randomly opening doors and catching the guests at whatever they might be up to. Is that a play? I have no idea – I'm a philistine – but I'd pay to see it.Reuse content