Tuesday, 25 March 2008


“Alice?” It was my gay friend Ian on the phone. My fabulous old school friend, who works in ‘showbiz’ in London and who is my connection to the bright lights of the Big Smoke. The one who, when I am feeling at my most provincial, provides me with salacious gossip regarding the goings on in the West End.
“It’s the Premiere of Jersey Boys on Tuesday night. Story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It’s a big do. Lots of celebs. Big party afterwards at the Natural History Museum”.
“Wow!”, I said, “You’ll have to tell me all about it”.
“Thing is Alice”, he said, “I’ll be working on the show that night but I’ve got two VIP tickets going spare. Just wondered if you fancied one? My friend Lizzie is taking the other”.
“Oh. My. God”, I answered just a little excitedly, “I’d really love to. Can you hang onto the ticket until this evening? I’ve a lot of childcare logistics to sort out?”
“No sweat”, he said, “The ticket’s yours”.
Hubby - cross that I’d let our daughter’s passport lapse, although I had no idea that passport upkeep was ‘my department’, but as we are going across the Channel for Easter and it thus cost £94 for their one day passport service -would need cajoling. Later that night I said rather coyly,
“I know I’m not your favourite person at the moment but I‘ve got a big ask”.
Four days later then, having roped my mother-in-law into the domestic melee that is Chez Band, I was on a train to London. I’d like to say that I was catapulted at great speed to the Capital city, but as is often the case with First Great Western, no sooner had we embarked on the journey than we were all turfed off at Taunton, due to unbelievably, a faulty horn.
Eventually I arrived at the Theatre six hours after leaving Plymouth, mightily cheesed off that my few precious hours of freedom had been eaten into by a bloody defective horn but within minutes of dropping off my overnight bag with Ian at his theatre, I was strolling around the streets of Soho. Sitting outside an impossibly cool bar, watching the world go by, I couldn’t believe the world of difference a few hours travelling makes to one’s vista. My goodness, people don’t look like that in Plymouth and let me tell you, they don’t sell the same things either. Mercy no.
Sinking my sauvignon blanc I watched with growing excitement the hullabaloo going on outside the Prince Edward Theatre. Police had arrived in droves as had the paparazzi and celebrity spotters. Barricades were erected and a red carpet laid. I went to the stage door to get ready. Ian met me and showed me to a toilet within the theatre, “Get dressed in there darling. Theatre is all a facade. There ain’t nothing glamorous backstage”. Luckily no-one interrupted me whilst I undressed, and Ian soon led me in my glad rags to another little room full of sweaty dancers limbering up.
“Budge up darling”, he said to one hoofer, “Let my friend get her face on”. Minutes later he led me out of the stage door, around the front and onto the red carpet. Immediately the papparazzi’s flash bulbs went pop, pop, pop. I put on my most dazzling smile until I heard them all call “Cilla! Cilla! Over here Cilla!”
They were all there, Babs Windsor, Ronnie Corbett, Brian May, Hale and Pace bloke, Mr Blair – Lionel not Tony. I was totally star struck. Ian introduced me to his friend Lizzy and together we spent ages whispering, “To your right Russ Abbott”, “Look left right now, Alan Sugar”. Unfortunately we were just as silly during the performance. Before it started Lizzy owned up that she knew no Fankie Valli numbers. “Neither do I”, I confided. It was a revelation to us then when song after song was instantly recognisable. We couldn’t believe how many other groups had covered the tracks.
When the performers launched into ‘Bye Bye Baby’, Lizzy and I looked at each other in disbelief. “I thought this was the Bay City Rollers”, then another number was met with “Bloody hell thought this was Wet Wet Wet”, I said. “Any minute now and they’ll be doing an Arctic Monkeys one”. For some inexplicable reason we found this funny beyond words and had to be hushed by people around us, I choking on my programme to try and shut me up. During the interval we did a bit more, “Look who’s over there”, aided and abetted by all the free champagne we could drink. After the show- which was truly fantastic especially as Frankie Valli made a personal appearance on the stage - we all clambered onto coaches which took us to the Museum.
I was like a child in Wonderland. It was so spectacular – a lavish bash, what with the television cameras, the ever present paparazzi, another red carpet and all the booze you could drink, I didn’t think it could get better until we walked into the main hall, where the biggest dinosaur was flood lit in red light - given the age of some of the celebs though, the dinosaur wasn’t the only fossil in the room. A swing band played, everyone was dressed to the 9’s, the food was stunning and the flower arrangements were works of art.
Queuing to get some much needed food, Lizzy and I were most put out as the estimable King of the Jungle, Mr Christopher Biggins jumped the queue in front of us. It was all I could do, buoyed as I was by far too much champagne, not to shout out, “Get back to chewing your kangaroo anus” but I didn’t. All to soon it was 2am and like Cinderella and Eliza Dollittle before me, the party was over, our glad rags dispensed with and the cold, harsh light of reality woke us cruelly only hours later.

Glossary - These celebrities are very old school British who American readers you will not have heard of apart maybe from Brian May who was in Queen. They are much loved and most very old. Christopher Biggins was in a reality celeb show called I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here. He and several other celebs, desperate to relaunch their careers, go to Australia and live in a camp in the bush for a few weeks where, every day, British viewers phone in a vote to get the celebs to do a hideous 'bush tucker trial'. It's fantasic TV! Anyway, Christopher Biggins had to eat, amongst other things Crocodile cock - true and Kangaroo anus. He won the show!


thefoodsnob said...

Funny enough, I've heard of the show "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" but didn't know what it was.
Glad you got to have so much fun, sounds great! An adult night without having to worry about the cost, what could be better?!


Kit said...

Hi Alice, I've come over from Mary Alice's blog and have been loving reading yours! We're even further than Cornwall from the bright lights now - on a farm in South Africa, so it's great to read about your night out ...can't say that I'd done that for a long time even when we were still living in London!

Alice Band said...

Lisa - It's trash tv but up there with American Idol - Another show I love! My husband and I were addicted to Idol when we lived in America! So shallow but alas, so true..

Kit - I visited your site a couple of weeks ago. If I remember you live on a farm like the Danish lady and Paul Newman. Getting all my refrences muddled but I hope you know what I mean. Thanks for saying hi to me. It's much appreciated. Is there anything worse than one or two comments on one's blog?!!

Mary Alice said...

Oh.My.God. How fun.....only further proving the idea that every woman needs a gay friend. I moved away from mine...I could always count on him to have obscure kitchen tools like citrus zesters and chocolate curlers. Sigh. And yours with theatre tickets....your are sooooooo lucky!

enidd said...

lovely, alice. enidd wishes she'd been there with you.

and... funny how men are like trains, isn't it? a bit stinky, frequently late, and now faulty horns.

Trudy said...

Hello Alice....I've also come from Mary Alice' blog...you are my new decadent addiction!!!!! I've read all the way back to you wearing the basque (I don't even know what it is, but I'm still laughing)and am thoroughly enjoying your look on life.....take care

Alice Band said...

Mary Alice - I wish I saw my friend more often too. I had to buy my own reamer in the end!

Enidd - yeah and some are electric whilst others old diesels..

Trudy - Lovely to meet you!

rosneath said...

how fantastic that you discovered you knew most of the words! that must have made it great fun.

was Frankie Valli ancient? was he in a zimmer?!