Ralph McAllister’s UK Letter

piccadilly circusSummer Survival in London

By Ralph McAllister

Having lived in London on and off through the last forty years, I find it very easy to cope with the problems of summer.

Tourists are legion but only in the usual spots like The Tower and Piccadilly Circus.

Mentioning which reminds me of the young New Zealander who expressed his disappointment to me that there were no animals in the Circus!

He was serious.

Air conditioning is still too modern a device for the tubes, the theatres and the pubs, all of which I tend to brave because of the speed and frequency of the trains,the quality of the plays on offer and the variety of the beers to be tested, now that competition has at  last emerged to challenge the big brewery boys.

The gardens are glorious,the goodwill left over from the Olympics prevails,people are more polite and the food industry has improved immeasurably.

c laridgesDinner for two — nearly $800!

I did, though, decide not to try the new menu at Claridges with the dinner bill for two coming in at about 400 pounds.

I saw a fine production of Noel Coward’s Relative Values, impeccably directed by Trevor Nunn and I remembered that this was the first play I had ever been part of, as prompt, when I was 14.

Patricia Hodges and Caroline Quentin
Patricia Hodges and Caroline Quentin

And I still remembered some of the lines,all these years on.

We are seeing the Russell Beale Lear next week at The National, which I believe is showing in Waikanae about the same time, on film.

The new Peter Brook stage production is scheduled too, he is now 89 and shows no sign of flagging.

The worst event was Twelve Angry Men which,while good in parts, showed all the marks of tiredness as the production wends its weary way to the end of a long run.


Football madness 

Football madness is everywhere as England is expected; our household did not watch the first of their games as we ‘knew’ they would lose. They did.

We did however marvel at the Dutch annihilation of the Spanish, so we are hooked one way or another.

I braved the local pub at 8am to see the All Blacks play England, keeping quiet for the first half, as I was the only Kiwi present. I did not keep quiet for the second half as the blitz occurred.

The markets are as colourful as ever and as cheap, but thank goodness I am vegetarian!

Thirty-seven Pounds (about $NZ72), for a leg of lamb at the local very good butcher.

Reading has taken a bit of a back seat but hope to offer some suggestions in my next communication!

With best wishes