A Wonderful Day of Ups and Downs In London

Posted on June 11, 2011

I treated Harry to a day out in London for his birthday on Thursday and what a fun time we had, even if, as is the norm in the life of Bob Lethaby, not everything turned out according to our plans. On arrival at Waterloo we decided that we would do what every tourist does and go on the London Eye. We had done this many years ago when Harry was very young and I am sure I remembered it being a value for money experience. Age has obviously numbed my appetite for excitement as I didn’t find it that riveting at all to be honest, especially at a rather excessive £30 for the two of us. I found myself desperately trying to admire Big Ben, the Post Office Tower and the Gherkin from a different angle only for the other half of my brain to keep interrupting me at regular intervals with the words “Fuck me, thirty quid to go on a painfully slow turning big wheel.”

Disappointed rather than dissatisfied we walked over Waterloo bridge and headed off to Victoria to see the highlight of our trip, Billy Elliot, the musical. My ticket was a cool £62 and Harry’s was £40 so with the sixty quid already destroyed on train fares and the fun fair ride followed by another £20 on a beer and a couple of sandwiches, my recently produced recession busting and money saving Xcel Spreadsheet was metaphorically speaking, lying on the floor in tatters and it was all about to get worse. Unbelievably, we were halted at the entrance and asked to go and see the manager of the box office because apparently, there was a “problem” with our tickets. Any one of you reading this who has children will understand where I am coming from when I say how distressing it is as an adult so see your child’s bottom lip quiver as he or she bravely tries to hold off the fear imminent disappointment. I wanted to hit someone.

It turned out that I had bought my tickets from an online booking company called SEETICKETS.COM, remember that name SEETICKETS.COM. I had purchased a children’s ticket, but because it was just Harry and I, it turns out that we didn’t qualify for family discount and that his ticket was to be handed back, however, we could still go in if I was prepared to pay full adult price for him. I am going to apologise for this next sentence in advance if you don’t mind. WHAT A BUNCH OF FUCKING CUNTS!!! There we go that’s better. As I see it, if you are single parent wanting to take your child to the theatre you get penalised, fucking marvellous isn’t it. I don’t get family allowance and I don’t get family tax credits, but at least I get to take my thirteen year child to the theatre and pay full price. I hope SEETICKETS.COM are proud of being such total fucking cunts. Sorry but no other words can sum them up.

It does get better though, a whole lot better. Billy Elliot the musical is quite simply three hours of the some of the best entertainment I have witnessed in my life, it totally engulfed me emotionally, it was just brilliant, it reduced me to tears of both laughter and sadness on at least half a dozen occasions. Not only was it great theatre, it was a brilliant modern history lesson for Harry as well. Most of us, in fact all of us in the south, never suffered the misfortune of seeing our communities shredded by pit closures and violent strikes as the Thatcher regime battered and literally starved and froze whole communities in to submission in the bitterest of industrial conflicts seen in modern times. It reminded me that whilst I am sure a lot of people (actually, probably a minority if I am honest) go in to the Police force to try to make the country a better place, there are large swathes of them who are fascist bastards who seek violence rather than trying to control it, I have seen them at football matches. The scene in the musical where the police taunted unpaid striking workmen by waving overtime payslips in their faces took me back to the anger I felt for the miners at that time. No one should go through what those people went through, that’s why I will raise a glass to the sky when that evil Witch dies sometime soon.

So that part of the day went really well, we both came out buzzing and decided that we would skip the tube and walk in the early evening sunshine to Covent Garden for some dinner. It was a walk that made me realise what a great place our capital is. Through the back streets, along the Mall and on to Charing Cross past the the bustling pubs, all unique, the little stalls, the different fashions, cultures and multi national restaurants from Italian to Morroccan to Mexican to Nepalese, you name it, London has it. You won’t get that by voting for BNP. We had a light meal and watched some street entertainment in Covent Garden, one of my favourite places, before meandering across the bridge back to Waterloo where we were met with an electronic board telling us that every train out of London had been cancelled or delayed.

We eventually boarded and went on an unplanned tour of Suburbia that took us to Surbiton, then to Guildford where we had to change and go back up to Reading via places I had never even heard of. Then it was change again at Reading and a dash to the Basingstoke train that eventually got us home safely. It was all a bit messy, but we chatted to all sorts of people all with their different stories of the commuting disasters they had faced. There was something stoically British about it all that made it just another part of what was a lovely day with my youngest son, who is to me, just fantastic company.

Right, where’s that spreadsheet, I need to do an emergency interim budget forecast!!

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