28 November 2021

Short but sweet this week. Well, if not sweet it certainly is short. We’ll blame it on the shortened Thanksgiving work week, even if we don’t participate.

We had a great day out on Sunday with Jessie and Adam and Ava, even if numerous obstacles were thrown in our way. We went to a production of the Nutcracker at the Birmingham Hippodrome and it was marvellous.

The first obstacle was that Jessie wasn’t feeling on tip-top form. As she came through the front door, she announced that she was, unfortunately, unable to give us a hug as she had been sick in the night, poor thing. And, she was sick a few more times in the car on the way to the railway station but nothing was going to stop her attending her first ballet – she was so excited.

We encountered the second obstacle at the station. After collecting our tickets from the automated machine, we made our way into the station proper to discover that our train was cancelled. Hmm.

And, due to the joys and lunacies of the privatised railway system we were unable to use any of the alternative services without paying a £30 surcharge. It really is unbelievably stupid. There are two railway companies which go from Banbury to Birmingham. One goes to Moor Street station and the other goes to New Street (via a change at Moor Street). So, they both go to Moor Street but if you want to travel on to New Street you need to hop aboard a quick shuttle service and pay £30 more for the privilege. Moor Street is about a five-minute walk from New Street and the Hippodrome Theatre is about a further fifteen-minute walk. We were intending to travel to Moor Street and then walk to the theatre. But even if we had simply taken the alternative service to Moor Street and alighted there, we would still have had to pay the £30 surcharge. In the end the discussion I had with the ticket agent was irrelevant as the alternative would not have got us to Birmingham in time. No option for it but to jump back in the car and drive.

So, we popped the location of a car park near to the Hippodrome into the SatNav and off we went up the motorway. We arrived in Birmingham in good time but soon encountered our third obstacle – the road leading to the car park was closed with no diversions marked. Never mind, SatNav is wonderful and we soon found our way to the car park.

Fourth obstacle? No parking spaces. Eventually, we found another car park nearby that had spaces and we made our way to the theatre in good time for the performance.

It was fabulous and especially, I guess, through the eyes of a five-year-old. We had great seats and Jessie could see everything clearly. Soon after the show began both Adam and Penny noticed that she was welling up with tears. Adam was about to ask her what was wrong when she announced, “I think I’m going to cry. It’s so beautiful!” Normal service was resumed about ten minutes later when she asked, “How long is this going on for?”

After the show we found obstacle five – every restaurant in the immediate vicinity of the theatre was heaving and we had not made any reservations. Never mind, we eventually found a quiet but perfectly acceptable Chinese café which produced some very acceptable dishes. A splendidly lovely day out and Jessie will remember her first ballet for some time to come, I should imagine.

Not much else – Penelope and I “celebrated” our 49th wedding anniversary on Thursday while many of you were tucking in to Thanksgiving supper. I give thanks every day that I was lucky enough to encounter Penelope Butler all those years ago and equally thankful that she’s put up with me all this time.

25 November 1972

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep isolating as much as you can, wear a f**king facemask when you go out and keep your distance. And keep safe.

Lots of love to you all,

Greg

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