Writing a blog seems more time consuming than ever. I’ve been meaning to get things up to date and failing. This blog is a little out of sequence to the previous ones I’ve written but for my own sake, it needed to get it done.
Some time ago I was lucky enough to be the first member of the public to walk through a Crossrail tunnel. Not the whole thing but the section that passes under the Thames from Woolwich. The station at Woolwich was just a hole in the ground and I had to climb down a makeshift staircase that led down to the entrance of the tunnel.
The track at this time had yet to be installed, so the tunnel was just a pathway under the river that was reminiscent of the Woolwich foot tunnel that was opened on 26th October 1912.
This simple act of being the first to walk through the tunnel wasn’t demanding but it did have the fascination that this rare opportunity would forever be part of my history and maybe that of London one day. The tunnel seemed fairly narrow considering that modern trains were going to be rushing through it in 2017. The temperature was much cooler than that of the surface and with various dips and turns the end couldn’t be seen until the last 200 meters.
The representatives from Crossrail were very informative about the challenges and details of the tunnels construction and were prepared to answer virtually any question put to them. The walk through didn’t take more than an hour and I loved it.
Well over a year ago I bought tickets to see Hamlet at the Barbican in London. As you may know from previous blogs I’m a fan of Sherlock and its star Benedict Cumberbatch. Ordering the tickets back in 2014 took skill and many computers to succeed. I understand that they sold out in a matter of minutes and I was lucky to get a pair. Roll on 2015, London and the media seemed gripped by Hamlet fever. The newspapers reviews after the first night were raving about the performance and screaming Cumber-Bitches travelling from all over the world just for a chance to see BC at the stage door with tickets to the play being a dream of course. The theatre was a reasonable size and I had stall tickets which gave me a really good view of the stage. However, things didn’t run smoothly. As the ushers left with their please don’t take pictures signs, the lights dropped and the curtain lifted. BC appeared alone on stage, looking through boxes with a single spotlight on him, ready to deliver the famous, To be or not to be soliloquy. Then the curtain closed again and the house lights came up. Well, I thought. Shakespeare didn’t write much did he?
A man appeared to explain about a technical hitch and that things would start again soon.
After 15 minutes or so it did and the set design and entire cast were magnificent. The stage and set design was vast including a trap door under a rug that sadly caught itself in the rug while being raised. As BC was once again, alone on stage and acting his socks off, the stage manager with her headset on walks up to BC and whispers in his ear that the play has to stop for a second time for health and safety reasons. BC storms off to the rear of the stage and through a large door. At the top of his voice he screams, FUCK!!! I have to say that did make my chuckle. This pause in the performance was a little longer but did result in a treat with BC coming out into the audience and apologising. He explained that it was only the 4th night and some wrinkles need to be ironed out. Certainly different.
I’m told that you can’t really judge a play till press night despite the press already giving it rave reviews. The stoppages were however a memorable addition to a memorable performance of Hamlet. I would normally say, its well worth a watch but unless you have £1500 for a ticket I’d wait for the DVD.