June 5th, 2008

Morris Minor, Fenchurch

Our House

I took the day off work yesterday and drove down to Birmingham to meet emmzzi and see Our House, the musical based on the songs of Madness. It was the first time I had ever driven into the centre of Birmingham, and I left the motorway at bang on 5PM. Luckily nearly all of the traffic was heading out rather than in, but working out which lane I needed to be in at each junction/roundabout wasn't easy. I miraculously reached the car park behind the theatre without getting lost, parked up, and wandered off in search of food and a public toilet. The latter proved rather difficult to find - I came across one in a shopping mall that was locked, then I found my way to the railway station because I was sure there was one in there, only to discover that the toilets are on the concourse and you need a valid travel ticket to get to it. While I was in the station I decided to grab some takeaway food from Burger King, then carried on up the escalators and through the huge mall, eventually finding some toilets about another ten minutes walk away. The place was strangely laid out, and it took me another five minutes to work out how to get outside (passing a second Burger King on the way), where I sat down near some interesting buildings and water features to eat my now-cold burger.

emmzzi had arrived at the theatre by this time so I set off back, taking a detour on the way to buy a new parking ticket (it costs £2.50 from 6PM to midnight, but I had arrived at 5:30PM so was forced to buy a more expensive ticket that didn't allow me to park for as long). I encountered three Big Issue sellers, two of them very bouncy and charismatic compared to the ones we get in Nelson (but still not enough to make me buy a copy). Even though emmzzi had texted me to say she was in the bar, I still wandered twice around all the public areas of the theatre without spotting her before phoning to discover she was sitting at a table a few metres away.

The musical itself was really very good. It's a fairly simple morality tale about a lad who takes a girl out on his 16th birthday and breaks into an empty flat to get out of the rain, wrongly thinking this will impress her. The police arrive and the story splits off in two directions, one where he runs and gets away, and the other where he stays to face the punishment for his crime. Musically the songs were good and fit the plot fairly well. We discussed during the interval how they might be going to fit Night Boat to Cairo in, and the link was... inspired. The hero had a rather harsh singing voice but his girlfriend sung beautifully. The cast were all very young and athletic apart from the hero's parents, and the choreography really took advantage of this. Of course the real star of the show was the knackered white Morris Minor convertible the hero buys at one point for £80 to take his girlfriend out in (It says Morris on the door, the GPO owned it before). We had a good time and I would definitely recommend going to see it if you enjoy Madness songs.

There was another incident of lorry-rage on the way home. Entering a single-lane 50MPH section of roadworks on the motorway, the van in front of me slowed down to 50 so I did likewise, maintaining a sensible stopping distance in front of me. The HGV behind me kept on going until he was literally inches from my bumper. If I had braked at all at that point, he would have clipped me. After a few seconds he dropped back perhaps ten yards (still much too close to safely follow someone at 50MPH) and maintained that distance all the way through the roadworks. It's not as if I could have gone very far if I had accelerated as he seemed to want me to do, because I was simply following the van in front of me. Upon reaching the end of the restricted area, the van quickly accelerated up to 70 and so did I. The HGV pulled into the next lane as if meaning to overtake me, only to see me rapidly getting away. This really ticked him off, so he pulled back into my lane and gave me a long blast on his main-beam headlights and spotlights.