Again this year Tolii received a Christmas present to go see the Cirque du Soliel show at the Royal Albert Hall – this year it was Quidam. I remember that I saw it years ago, I think in Atlanta. Long enough to have forgotten most of it.
But it was almost not to be.
The day started fine; with a walk up to nursery to drop off Tosha – who definitely did not like being left behind. As soon as he’s four, like Tolii was last year, then he gets to come too. Logic doesn’t matter. Lots of tears and fuss (and rightly so, he’d say) – luckily, his best friend Josh was already at nursery.
Tolii and I walked over to the train station to catch the 10:12 departure – we had 10 minutes to get our tickets. Some fuss with the (new) station ticket guy who took his time selling the “Friends and Family” card and our tickets.
Luckily, I had already filled in the form for the discount card. Even so, I had to egg him along to take my money (£24 for the card and £28 for the journey) while Tolii stood on the platform saying, “Daddy, I see the train’s light – its coming!!”. A mad dash, up and over the bridge to the other platform and whew! we were on the train.
We played Rush Hour all the way past Farnborough. Tolii asked for a drink and I got one from the ruck sack.
That’s when I noticed that the folder with the tube map and, most importantly, the show’s tickets was not there! Time to PANIC!
By a very lucky coincidence, the Southwest train guard was just coming through the carriage to check our tickets. I told him that I left the folder at the ticket counter in my rush to catch the train. The guard said he would see what he could do – he went to the end of the train and somehow managed to reach the ticket man at the Whitchurch station.
The guard said the ticket man would have to ring his manager to see what he could do (!). The guard wasn’t too impressed (sounds like a jobsworth situation). He rang him back after we stopped at our penultimate station (“should we get off and return to Whitchurch?”, I asked. “No,” the guard said, “the station will be closed by the time you get back.” — more panic sets in, and a touch of dispair).
Again, the ticket man said he would have to talk to his manager. A third call was placed.
The ticket man gave the folder to the guard on the train behind us, which was just leaving Whitchurch station! We could pick it up at Waterloo station in one hour! RELIEF!
I had to walk up and down Waterloo station about 3 times to calm down. Thankfully, Tolii is used to daddy’s wanderings and enjoyed the escapade. We popped into the ticket office and I filled in a “Any Complains?” form, changing the title to “Any thanks?” and filled in a thank you note for our train’s guard.
A nice cup of cappuccino and a lemon/orange muffin later, and we had the folder from the next train’s guard. It was finally time to set off!
We took the tube to South Kensington station (Tolii loves all the escalators in the tube). We walked over to towards the museums – not quite sure where to spend the time before our show, or where to get lunch.
There were posters up for 3D Imax movies about space (and dinosaurs) at the Science Museum. Perhaps that’s what we could do?
We came out of the subway tunnel at the Natural History museum. That’s when we saw it. “Tolii,” I said, “will it be that or the space movie?”. “That,” he said, “’cause we see lots of space movies and we have never been ice skating before!”.
Yes, we went ice skating!
It was Tolii’s first time; and the first time for me in a couple of years (or was it just one year since Katya and I went to Winchester Cathedral’s rink?). Darn if it wasn’t expensive (just shy of £20, but that did include skate rental for the hour and a bit).
I taught Tolii the trick of looking straight ahead and keeping one skate pointed to what he’s looking at. Then I said to push, push, push with the other foot.
He did it!
Ya, there were a few wipeouts but that became part of the fun. There was a lovely little practice rink where we spent most of the time, and we did venture out onto the big rink to do a few laps near the end of the hour.
Time for some lunch!
We stuck our head into the Science Museum’s cafeteria but didn’t like the look of the chicken pie or curry. We left (but only after Tolii playing one game of the Martian lander game) and headed towards the Royal Albert Hall.
On the way we saw Imperial College – a place where Katya has been many times for work; I recalled her saying there was a funky place to eat there. Well, we didn’t find anything funky (we did see a wonderful clock in the mechanical engineering building though).
We found a cafeteria, where we had a cheese burger each while nestled at a table amongst all the buzz-buzz buzzing 20-somethings with their iPhones and other electric gadgets. Ah, I remember the days; and reminisced with Tolii a bit (who sort of was listening, but was mostly dipping the chips into the ketchup and eating them; the more I talked, the more chips there were for Tolii). There were signs about for a rally on Saturday to protest against the latest Israeli war (in Gaza).
Right – time to head out to the 3pm show! We walked the short distance to the Royal Albert Hall and went inside. We found our seats. Last year we were up in a box. This year we were in row C – one row from the stage (there was no row A). Wow. After the intermission (Tolii likes Appletiser!) we moved to the empty seats in the next section and had a front-row view. Wow-wow!
Tolii said he preferred the boxes because he got to see the whole stage. I liked this year’s seats because you could see the expression on the performers’ faces, and their budging muscles!
It was a very entertaining show (the first half was better than the second half).
Tolii liked so many things in it – the skipping rope act was particularly good (triple-skipping: one guy skipping inside another pair’s skipping rope who were also skipping inside a third outter pair — how do you coordinate jumping over three skipping ropes!? Amazing).
The clown act of making a silent movie using four members of the audience was very funny, too.
The show finished just after 6pm. We walked back to the tube (stopping to take a picture of the ice rink at night) and onto our train home from Waterloo – it was packed, as I expected it would be. We played Rush Hour all the way to Overton!
Tosha was very please to see us home. He was in bed, reading a book with Baba, but came downstairs to listen to our tales while we had some supper. Finally, it was time for bed.
Until next year (with Tosha)…I wonder what show it will be then…