Our original parking target had been just off Victoria Embankment but we quickly realised that the area around the Thames was rapidly becoming a no go area for cars and so aimed further north of that “dirty old river, which keeps on rolling, flowing into the night”. Don’t blame me, that’s Ray Davies description (from Waterloo sunset ) of the glorious old lady that trickles through the centre of London. We found a space in Lincolns Inn Square, around 15 walk minutes walk away with only a 10 minute window to get to the theatre. (Sorry about this, it is rapidly becoming like one of those wildlife documentaries that I’m starting to hate so much. You know the ones……….where a contrived sense of urgency is introduced into the programme in a mistaken belief by the film maker that the viewer will believe, for a moment, that the missing tiger cub (add whatever cute animal you wish) is in real danger and has not just been kidnapped by the camera crew, who are waiting for the nod from the director to release cub/kitten/calf (delete as appropriate) back into shot at an appropriate time to bring relief to viewers who are sitting on the edge of their seats biting their nails at the drama of it all – In reality most of the viewers have probably got bored and are now channel surfing – This no doubt sound cool to the twitter generation, who don’t get out much and firmly believe channel surfing counts as a proper form of exercise in the same way that using an Apple or Blackberry phone or the Orange network counts towards your 5 a day portions of fruit and veg….) The walk became a quick dash as Mrs B and The Beast* were whisked through the busy London streets at break neck pace….
* While a full size SLR is not the best item to take into a West End Show, our later evening plans included a date with the fireworks along the Thames. Besides I had “The Kitchen Sink” (a large rucksack which swallows entire continents whole for breakfast and could probably eat 3 Shredded Wheat just for fun, if it wanted to…) to conceal The Beast in.
While no slow-moving pedestrians were hurt during the making of this epic journey, a few may have been cut up or even forced to take avoiding action as the Kitchen Sink swung wildly on my back. No doubt The Beast snapping ineffectively at them from the safety of the Kitchen sinks inner sanctum…...
We made it to our seats just as the curtain went up, much relieved at our triumphant race against the clock and settled down. At this point I had a sudden vision – all my CF cards for The Beast (Memory cards) were on our kitchen table back at home, where I had been sorting them out just before our mad dash out of the door. Doh!
So I had The Beast but no way of shooting anything but blanks**... I have no issues lugging The Beast around (it is quite a weight) but only if I have at least the opportunity to take a few pictures. The first few songs passed in a blur as I tried to think of how, on New Year’s Eve I could get hold of a CF card. I decided that my only hope was during the interval, since the show would not end until gone 10pm and what shops would still be open at that point? I settled down and, in an indication of how good the show was, started to enjoy the music. It’s the Beatles – who wouldn’t? (There was a 17 year old in our Ski Chalet before Christmas who claimed to have never heard of them or the Rolling Stones for that matter…mind you, they didn’t seem to recognise anything that hadn’t come out of X-factor, so clearly they had no understanding of real music.)
** Strangely enough this was the first West End show where I have seen people openly use camera during the production. Not just camera phones either….strangely enough, while I firmly believe gigs and concerts are fair game for photography, I still feel plays should be protected from amateur snappers, especially when they seem to have an inability to turn off the flash…..
Poor Mrs B. Not only had I failed to get her pre-theatre drinks but I abandoned her at the interval as I dashed out into the teaming streets of London with a promise that I would be back before the curtain rose again. Even if I say so myself I Impressively managed to check out 4 shops in the short time available. The tourist shop had SD memory cards but not the CF ones…. A little corner store once again was a similar story - SD cards but none of my holy grail for the evening. Then I remembered the large HMV at Piccadilly Circus….. They didn't even carry memory cards – no wonder they are in financial difficulty….
My last chance was Boots the chemist. I was relieved as I dashed through the door that they had a photo section. I plunged headlong down the stairs….. looking through the rack of memory cards…. SD card, SDHC, SD mini card, SD micro card, XD card, Memory Stick,
“Excuse me” I said to the vacant looking assistant picking at their finger nails and looking like they wanted to be a million miles away. “Do you have any CF cards …”
So called Boots photo expert - “We have lots of SD cards”
Me - “Yes but they are too small to fit into my camera”
So called Boots photo expert – “We have the high capacity cards”
Me - “Yes but they are the same size as the SD card”
So called Boots photo expert - “No Sir they are bigger”
Me – “While the capacity might be bigger the actual physical size of the card is the same”
So called Boots photo expert - “Are you sure?”
Me - “Is it a high capacity SD card?
So called Boots photo expert - “Yes”
Me - “Then it will be the same physical size as the normal SD card”
So called Boots photo expert – “So it’s like a TARDIS – bigger on the inside”
Me - “Yes but without the all important time travelling capabilities – if you happen to have a TARDIS I’ll take one of those”
So called Boots photo expert - “We don’t stock those….So do you want one of the SDHC cards?”
Me – “No I need a CF card”
So called Boots photo expert - “We don’t have any of those”
Me – “Yes I think we established that about half an hour ago. Have a good New Year”
So called Boots photo expert - “Are you sure you don’t want the SDHC card?”
I answered in mime, my rapidly retreating back was surely a big enough clue even for a complete moron….
I had been beaten – I would just have to enjoy the fireworks without being able to use The Beast.
Back on the streets and once again I found myself dashing for the theatre…. I had enough time to purchase Mrs B a bottle of water (don’t tell me I don’t know how to treat a lady). The G and T would have to wait until after the show.
Surprisingly, on exit at around 10:pm the majority of the shops were still open – unfortunately, none that would sell CF cards but certainly more than I had expected. We made our way to Soho, to the late night bistro we had carefully selected on line the day before. The establishment’s website had promised that it stayed open late and you didn't need to book – that became more than evident when we located it. The place had been shut for at least a month….. We looked around at the full restaurants around us, people spilling out of the doors ………. all except the Indian restaurant opposite…Oh well, curry and fireworks it was.
We enjoyed the meal but had to hurry through it as the midnight hour was closing fast…..We left the restaurant around 11:30 and made for the Thames about 10 minutes stroll way – luxury, even if I was carrying the unusable Beast and the Kitchen Sink. It was busy but we made good progress dodging through the drunken revellers like Charlie Chaplin on an ocean liner that is floundering in a huge storm…. – a drunken last waltz but moving steadily towards our goal….until we reached The Strand, about 100 metres short of the Thames. All the side roads and alley ways leading down to the river were blocked and guarded as if the nation’s safety depended on it….Apparently people had been queuing along the banks and bridges all day (it had been a particularly damp one – sounds like a blast)
Oh well, we would just have to enjoy those fireworks that strayed high above the buildings….
Midnight came to a huge cacophony of sound as if the first World War had decided on making a comeback. The sound echoed around the streets……. with just a faint glow appeared in the sky above the buildings – ummmm, it was about as exciting as watching extra-slow drying paint doing its thing. The height of the buildings meant that we didn't get to see a single whiz bang… My emotions were split between feelings of delight that failure to get a CF card had turned out to be a non-issue and annoyance that New Year 2012 was ending like a damp squib. Such a shame that a really good year for us ended up like the proverbial lead balloon.
The way back to the car was a sea of disappointment shored up with enough booze to keep the British economy afloat for at least a few more weeks. You have to admire the British spirit, no matter how bad the economy they always find enough to pay for the physical spirit (well mostly larger and cider). At least the evening had stayed dry and we had enjoyed “Let It Be” ….I was half tempted to have the car’s roof down but could tell Mrs B was not keen ….That turned out to be a good decision – it stayed dry until we reached the M11 at which point we were hit with the sort of deluge that Noah would have been at home with and floated home….
Next time I’ll post my favourite photographs from last year. I had hoped to leave you with some spectacular firework pictures but will have to leave you with some shots from our walks on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day….
|Is this how baby trees are made?|
|Moss dating site|
This is Eric he likes hanging around on trees and rocks
If you don't fancy him, don't worry there are
another 12,000 different varieties....
|Mrs B enjoys the fine conditions |
on Boxing Day 2012....
Playing the game Rock, Scissors, Paper
Frankly he proved a bit predictable ....
|The River Stort has never looked so good...|
New Years Day 2013.