London: Observations and Entertainment

Would you believe?

By Ralph McAllister 

Did you know the Americas Cup was meriting about one column inch in newspapers here? That thrilled me as I escaped every bit of hysteria and brouhaha associated with this elitist and boring sport.

Did you know that in the first six months of last year out of 14000 fruit pickers in England, 4, yes 4, were English!

Gatland the Clown? Nothing to what they are doing to Teresa May in the press here daily.

One almost, I say almost, feels sorry for her.

Shows good and bad

An American in Paris  Great dancing, clunky script, overdone graphics.

Worth £140 a ticket? No no no. Cost? Cheap return £30.

Babette’s Feast, a stage adaptation in Notting Hill of short story and 1987 award winning movie.

Excruciating seats, well I had just stepped off 35 hours flying, earnest presentations, but glad to get home. Cost? Free tickets.

Judy the Musical, at the Arts Theatre which I had not been in since the sixties.

Being a huge fan of Garland I could not resist seeing if I could get in to a matinee.

Box office woman said, even though I was an expert I would love the singing but the script was a bit clunky, that word again.

Great idea was having not one but three Judys, from broken down druggie  in her last days, back to the young Judy having her breasts hidden with binding as she tried to gain the role of Dorothy, to Judy at the Palace in midlife, the long player of which I still own.

Three in one worked so well as they joined forces for final Somewhere over the Rainbow.

Good stuff.

Cost ? £25.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, prize winning comedy from Scotland had a group of teenage lassies letting rip in Edinburgh.

Largely unintelligible dialogue, and remember, I do have a background in the vernacular, but with excruciating ear splitting music.

I would have left after 15 minutes, but my nephew was enjoying it, so I martyred myself, stayed and suffered.

Cost? He paid.

The Ferryman, a play about The Troubles, booked out for months, I got last seat in house by just bowling up half an hour before.

Front row, dress circle, slightly obscured view. Cost ? £29.

Brilliant Sam Mendes production, funny, violent, family at war, 21 in the cast, and that doesn’t include the baby, the goose and the rabbit, all very much alive and kicking.

Easily the best seen in my brief stay, especially as it will never be presented in New Zealand.

My first Gordon Ramsay restaurant, Heddon Street Kitchen, scared to walk in the door in case he threw a pot at me. He wasn’t there.

A good meal with friend Doctor Murray from Waiheke, before seeing final show of the visit.

Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill which took us into the last concert of Billie Holiday in the fifties.

Audra Mcdonald in a brilliant award winning performance captured all the intonations and delivery of this intoxicating legendary star accompanied by a great jazz trio and a beloved live, yes, live chihuahua!

A night to remember especially, as I left the standing ovation to escape the crowded exits and was pursued by a stunning young usher who had spotted I had dropped my glasses, dear boy, thank you.

Cost? £ 29

As I mentioned in my last article, the kindness of strangers still applies in this wonderful city

Fancy a trip?



I thought The Ferryman was very good when I went this week and it reminded me why I visit London once a year to see such drama.

Ralph forgot to mention a stunning garden in South London and the Pakistani Honey Dew mangoes in Tooting but who’s counting? Cost? My ego.