The Things That Help

This is annoyingly going to be a photoless blog post, which I hate doing, but I felt the need to blather.

We’ve lived in London for five years now. And as we all know, lots of stuff goes down in London. Fun stuff. So much stuff that it’s always really hard to choose what to do. Over time Nick and I worked out the things that we liked doing most.

Those things are comedy gigs and the orchestra.

(I suppose at first glance they seem like really opposing things together, but after Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra and Tim Minchin hosting the first ever Comedy Prom this year, I think we can agree that this really isn’t the case, and thank goodness for that.)

Nick isn’t big on crowds. The one time we went to a stadium concert, he was utterly miserable; music volume he can deal with, but crowd screeching – and this was a Bon Jovi gig, so the screeching was pretty epic and worryingly of age groups above mine – I think melted his poor eardrums. So this level of music gig is kind of out.

I don’t know if he actually likes going to the orchestra, but he likes taking me. Because I get stupidly excited. I am a relatively fussy audiophile, and will worry over my speaker settings until it feels exactly like I’m being swallowed up. I don’t have to worry about such things with an orchestra, because that’s precisely what they’re supposed to sound like.

My first orchestra performance was when the London Symphony Orchestra – in my mind, the greatest orchestra in the world, for all the film music it has recorded since 1935 – performed a free concert in Canary Wharf, playing a selection of sci-fi music. I immediately fell in love. For my 30th birthday we got tickets to watch the LSO at its home at the Barbican Centre performing a huge catalogue of film music that it has recorded, including just about everything John Williams has ever composed.

They opened with Superman. I swear, I was in tears when the first notes came up. There might have even been faint, high-pitched squeeing.

No orchestra has a brass section like the LSO. I can honestly say that I can tell when it’s the LSO or not. That’s how much I love their sound.

Much as I am an LSO fangirl, last week we found ourselves at the Royal Festival Hall, home of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Our good friend Martin linked me to discounted tickets to a concert they were doing, and the reason he linked me to it was because it was a concert of video game music.

I never said I wasn’t a geek.

Considering my state of mind these last few weeks, it was a relief to both me and Nick when all I could do once we were seated was quietly squeal, repeatedly, “Orchestra!” I hadn’t been so happy or excited in a long time.

But music has always been regarded as one of the best healers; I’m not about to argue. I love that London has two great orchestras, and I love that I’ve actually been in the Royal Albert Hall about half a dozen times already. I’ve even been in the Royal Opera House, and considering I know bugger all about opera, I loved it when two very knowledgeable and  patient friends took me to see La Fille du Regimént. I love that it’s all there for me.

Nick has promised me Prom tickets next year. But in the mean time, he’s done pretty well on the comedy front.

We go to comedy gigs largely because it’s something Nick gets as excited about as I do, and there are always comedy gigs going on in London. We both love comedy and we both laugh a lot, maybe because we like to think we’re funny people – who knows, maybe we actually are. Any time there’s a stand-up show on telly, we’re on it. We’re not really sitcom people; we’re more the Mock The Week/QI sort of people. Fast, loose, clever, surreal sort of stuff.

In our time living in London, we’ve done two Bill Bailey gigs, including the magnificently funny Remarkable Guide To The Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall, two Russell Howard gigs, a Dara O’Briain gig that nearly killed me and a couple of other smaller gigs. Criminally we’ve been missing the Greenwich Comedy Festival, but not this year: we have tickets for this Saturday!

One year we’ll do Edinburgh, though I fear that if we do, I will insist on going every year.

Our only other gigs to come are the Uncaged Monkeys – again, not apologizing for the geekery – in December, and Jack Whitehall in November. It’s good going, but we have such a list of people we want to go see live. It’s crazy.

I’m going to end this blather with something of a morality tale.

Some months ago Nick and I scored tickets to be in the audience for a recording of Chris Addison’s new show called Show and Tell. Even though it’s going to be showing on E4, it was being recorded at the BBC Television Centre in White City. So already I was stupidly excited. I’d been to studio recordings before, once for Top Gear and another time for QI, but going inside BBC Television Centre was something very special.

Unfortunately with these sorts of things, sometimes you’re not lucky enough to get into that particular evening’s recording. So it was that Nick and I were unlucky, after standing in line for some time, and several other people behind us were unlucky.

But here’s the morality tale.

If you wait quietly, and listen to the guy that tells you he’s very sorry, you won’t be getting into tonight show recording, but he’ll come back to you  in just a second, instead of whining and bitching and ranting about how it’s so stupid that you can’t get in and what you think you might deserve because you’re so used to instant gratification, and then stomping off in a huff, you might get what we ended up getting.

Priority tickets. To any show we want. Whenever we want.

So we’re going to a recording of Live At The Apollo at the end of the month.

I have every good reason to laugh.

4 thoughts on “The Things That Help

  1. >> So we’re going to a recording of Live At The Apollo at the end of the month.

    That’s nice, I hope you have fun.

    >> But here’s the morality tale.

    Mmm, judgemental. It may not have been intended as such, but it’s hard not to take that as a dig, so in my defense…
    I took time off work and paid for two people to travel up to London from Eastbourne for a trip that was meant to be a treat for my birthday. We arrived 2 hours before the time on the ticket, and then stood in a queue for 3.5 hours.
    During which time, several members of staff walked up and down the line, counting. The line moved forward a considerable amount, it started to rain, another member of staff walked up and down the line counting again but when questioned (on their way back) refused point blank to give any indication if it was worth standing in line.
    So we walked away, pissed off at the utterly disrespectful attitude of the staff to the people in the queues time. I believe we ranted at the show in question on twitter afterwards.

    We then had delicious pizza and watched How to Train Your Dragon.

    I would not swap that for another half hour wait for a complementary ticket to something else.

    • Oh, now that is rubbish! :( I’m sorry that happened. And it’s good that you complained.

      It’s not the first time we had to be turned away and were given alternatives later on, but we were well-informed by the staff and they always answered when we asked what was going on. Sounds like you had horrible staff that evening! :( If we had staff like that we would have walked away, too, if I’m honest.

  2. Aww thank you!! I also made you watch Simon Boccanegra – which was much better on TV than the night we went to see it live on stage. We should take you to the Met at the movies since ROH doesn’t allow to have more than 1 friend when you buy tickets.

    • Ooh, that reminds me: Nick and I are going to check out our local cinema, the Greenwich Picturehouse, as we want to go less to multiplexes, and they do showings of the Met! We get good prices if we decide to join as members. :) Will let you know.

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