After the Ball is over

~ Many a heart is aching.... ~ (Michael's last night) - Part 1

Leaving Pat's at 10:00 am  today, we made our way to London. Managed to read 100 precious Potter pages as living audiobook again. Might actually never be able to sit in car without longing to read out loud again.! Arrived at the London House Hotel, 81 Kensington Gardens Square at about 5:30 pm. Hotel room is fine. Feels sooo good to be out of boiling car! Only draw-back is malfunctioning TV. Cannot check weather forecast now.might try to find out what opposite of rainmaking-dance is, so can make own sunny weather! Gosh, it's hot. GAH no soap in bathroom! But what to expect from hotel without towels? Luckily we knew that in advance and brought them along. Must buy soap. Still V cheap and ideally situated. All together happy with hotel choice. Also better for self not to live in luxuries but enjoy simple life (as cannot afford any other lifestyle, also good for spiritual epiphany).  

Oh dear, must not tell anyone as is shameful, but when went to Palladium out of pure habit (and to get newest flyers), found selves in box office and asking for restricted view stall seats! They had! And naturally (as would every dedicated and slightly mad fan.or is dedication in that case just a politically correct term for madness?) we bought them. So had now FRONT ROW seats and 45 minutes till curtain-up! Desperate! Really bad when addiction takes over brain! No make-up, no nice clothes, long and hot day BUT front row seats!  Serious crisis. But there we were. Tried to convince selves that obsessing re outward appearance is both, superficial and product of patriarchal society. So, best detach and feel (more importantly radiate!) inner beauty and stop obsessing. Inner Poise!

Was V nice evening. New cast MUCH better than thought (especially new Vulgarian spies and their song Act English had us in stitches) and new Hushaby Mountain Reprise sure breath-taking, seat-wetting and mind-blowing. We love money notes! Whole audience gasped with delight and amazement at Michael's voice. Loads of cheersJ Chitty behaved immaculately and we waited eagerly at stage door for first Michael sighting (as opposed to Caractacus sighting) of our London stay. He really took time for everyone and we met a V nice lady from Virginia. Mmmmh Michael really looked gorgeous. No worries for him re inner OR outer beauty. He has enough for ten! Think might need tickets for tomorrow's evening performance (Michael isn't in matinees on Wednesdays anymore) as well. We were really quite detachedly indeed and bought only Friday and Saturday ones (our first ever matinee on Sat! V excited) in advance, so we can have other evenings off and do different things, like theatre or cinema and not seem to obsessed. But of we get tickets, must remember to bring make-up. Inner beauty just isn't enough in those days..

GAH!! 1:45 am !! Need sleep now!  

Thursday, 26 th of June, London House Hotel, in bed

7:36 am
GAH! Woke up at 6:55 am. WHY? WHY? Tried to go back to sleep but can't. Think might be because of stage door plan. Had idea of letting Michael signing our HP5 books, so we can combine both passions. Bunny said it's a good plan. Now all we have to do is stop him long enough to do it. Hum though, will be V V crowded as is his birthday tomorrow. So actually plan might prove undoable. Humph. Will keep positive about it all nevertheless, as much better for self's Karma. Bit boring being up when bunny is still asleep. Also curtains are closed, so barely have any light. Can feel eyes getting worse and worse. Might need glasses after this! Ok, now really exaggerating. Wish could be a bit more detached re stage door..

10:11 am
Wonder whether we will EVER manage to be early enough for breakfast (8 am -10 am).seriously doubt it. Went back to dozing after early morning waking. Just got out of bath and have toe nails polished. Hand shook slightly, so smallest toe on right foot looks like body painting or like bleeding heavily. Will see to that when polish is dry. Weather all cloudy and windy. Will take jacket along this time. Yesterday wore skirt and t-shirt and wind nearly turned self into ice-sculpture. We got tickets for Chitty again. Really must work on detachment! Was V nice though. All in top form except audience. No clapping along to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang song when they first drive her to the beach. Oh well, it is a rather long song when one has to clap all the way through it, so was ok. And they cheered and laughed enough at most important parts. V nice evening indeed, also nice stage door. GAH! Just remembered JK Rowling will be at Royal Albert Hall today for exclusive reading! Only children under 14 allowed in. Ageism  if you ask me. We will go anyway to try and catch a glimpse of most famous author in the world. Also might try and get tickets again for.well, guess for what.  

5:39 pm , on grass at Soho Square
Saw JK Rowling arrive at Royal Albert Hall. Looked V good and caught her on film and photo. Sat in bright sun for ages, waiting for bus with HP5 ad to drive past the Hall, which was decorated with Hogwarts banners. Due to millions of children (ok, only 4000 were allowed in) there was a traffic jam, so had to wait for about an hour, till one finally passed. And I, in excitement, managed to switch of the camcorder just as it was in perfect position. Gurrr. Now have slightly red arms.and nose.and feet (wore sandals). We just about made it to stage door after long waiting for JKR. In fact, we were just coming through Carnaby Street when saw Michael's car! GAH! He was V early (4:15!!!)! So we made a mad dash across the street. Must have looked really sad indeed. Luckily his car stood between him and us, otherwise he might have seen us.oooer, what a thought! But anyway, managed to see(and film) him go in. No HP5 signed YET. Too much in a rush. Got orange juice at Marks & Spencer's and met Pat and Pam when about to call home in a phone box. Sadly they were a bit too late to see Michael. Had a nice chat and headed for Soho Square. Actually Bloomsbury is only feet away from where we are sitting now. Home of Harry Potter (the publishers) within walking distance. V much in awe. Humph, grass is a bit damp. Not V G. But off to Chitty soon anyway.

Midnight, in hotel room
Chitty was V V G! Also funny for those of us who have seen it several times (it was our15th time). First of all we got Grandpa's understudy, Mr Coggins. It was so weird to see him do it. He did well, but of course we were so very used to Anton Rogers that he took some time to convince us. As Coggins had to be played by his understudy in turn now,  we learned a lot about who does what. Michael quite distracts us from watching  other cast members in their various roles. It needs a change to make us aware of  the going-ons on stage That is a bit sad, we know, but bunny and I are always too focused on the main man). Interesting indeed.  Apart from that some little accidents in Michael's first scene on stage made it fun to watch. He is so good in unforeseen situations. When the children threw him the eggs for the breakfast machine, one of them rolled along the stage (eggs that is, not one of the children) and he chased after it, still singing.and giggling. Then Caractacus tries to impress Truly with his sweet-making machine. Well, he has to tap a little instrument that might show.I don't know, boiling temperature or something.with his finger. This time he did it a bit too hard and it fell off! It was so hard for the two of them not to laugh. Truly very elegantly involved that into her lines, saying: "The problem is obvious. First of all: That!", indicating the little instrument in his hand and then smoothly processing to her next (and original) lines about the boiling point of his sugar being too high etc. The audience was just fabulous today. No wonder as the closer his birthday came, the more fans filled the theatre. It is so much more fun when the audience is really responsive. With all the hissing at Childcatcher, and laughing, cheering and clapping, it makes all cast members give everything and they obviously enjoy it much more  (as would anybody).

The stage door war really great that evening, as Michael's dad Tony was there (this made several friends of us really happy) and Michael told us he has invited him for a pre-birthday dinner, as he won't be there tomorrow. Awww. Two very charming men.we all wished they invited us to come along! It must have been a fun night out!!

Oooh, sleepy me! Off to dream about Hushaby Mountain. 

Friday, 27 th of June, Michael's birthday!!! Soho Square

lost track of time

We did it. We bought a birthday card for him that does look V nice and not too childish or cheap (actually was far from being cheap!) and a bag for our pressies that goes well with it colour-wise. Also got food from Benji's again and brought roll to Boots for one hour development, so we have gorgeous pics to look forward to! Hum though, need to write card and always panic slightly, as he will read what we write (or so he says) and don't want it to sound silly.or overly friendly, as we are complete strangers to him after all, and only because feel close doesn't make us. Keep wondering about how it must feel to arrive at work and a group of strangers awaits you, desperate for a hug and a photo with you, even a kiss!, telling you ,you are wonderful (nice idea!) and they love you and you changed their life. And a similar crowd greeting you on your way home. Wonder how he feels about it.? Right now, this card. We have nice silver pen..but what to put? Oh I better eat this chicken  salad sandwich now. And the melon pieces.

a few minutes later
Humph, finished food now. No excuses left. Really must write card now. As there is a nice Happy Birthday printed on card, contemplating to just sign it. But no. Must get a grip. It's only a birthday card and cannot really put all in there that feel like needs to be said (i.e. how he changed self's life, how wonderful he is etc , see list above). Want it to be funny though. Wit is terribly difficult to develop in one day. Oscar Wilde had natural gift.self is hopeless. Oh, could of course quote clever people, but must be clever, too. Or it will sound like sentences to be found on calendars that nobody wants.

even more minutes later
Sweat, blood and tears went into it. Looks ok and I think it's nice. We found nice words. Not too originally of course, as filled with Chitty quotes.but also some Oscar Wilde. Very little self, but that's probably best.

Really quite pleased. Also handwriting is readable. Done V slow! Ok, off now to Boots and collect piccies and then to Liberty's for final pressie.

3:00 pm Palladium stage door (found track of time again)
When we got the piccies we didn't wait long for the undignified drooling. We opened the envelop right in front of Boots on Oxford Street, making all kinds of squeaking noises to attract quite a few bewildered stares. But didn't care. Detachment worked well, were all free from judgement of others.  Really tough job to get pressies for someone who is a) very rich and b) you don't really know personally. Hope he liked pressies a bit. When we left shopping centre it started to rain quite heavily. Panic again. Phew though, it stopped shortly afterwards. V nice people here. Sharon and Joan, Pat, Pam and Jen and finally Angela, too!! Was sooooooooo great to meet finally! After all that she had done for us and all the emailing. Love that about internet, you meet so many wonderful people! Hesitantly we admitted to Pat our wild plan: We wanted a group shot with Michael and needed some trustworthy person to take the precious pic. It was madness of course, as the street was filling constantly with more and more fans. She agreed happily to do it if we got the chance.

5:20 pm
Awwww someone from Palladium put a Happy Birthday banner across the gate! Really sweet! Also his huge birthday cake was just brought in! Oh no!! Bin people are coming! They will tear the banner down again! Not today! GAH they did it!  

5:31 pm
Not only did they tear down the banner but they actually made the door hang very loosely in its hinges! Gareth said he'd rather not have Michael go through there.looks like door might come down on us all! Wish they would have come later as.oh my god, here he comes!! And bin people are still here! Chaos!! Oh dear, Scott gets a ticket! On Michael's birthday! Not fair!!

11:52 pm, back in hotel room
What a day! The bin people did say sorry when they passed Michael with smelly bins on his b'day. He did have a laugh. AND Angela told him he introduced us three and we got the photo!! Suddenly he was there and we were there and Pat took the pic! Digital camera let us check that it looked really nice (especially his smile!)!!! Soo happy! I mean, it was really crowded and all, I had given up hopes. We had given our bag to Gareth and minutes after Michael was in, he led Gill and Maureen inside, the latter carrying our bag!! I told her it was ours, couldn't resist. All is in a blurr of giggles and happiness now. Angela invited us to Pret a Manger and we actually sat there and talked until they closed! The door was already locked and the guy at the counter had real difficulties getting it open again! It was 7:05 by then. Amazing how time flies when you have lovely company.And delicious nuts and honey sweets. We had two packets of those and hot chocolate. Exchanged Michael pics and German food. LOL Must have been quite a sight, us handing over German ketchup and mayonnaise to Angela. We got really nice Michael stuff in return so we were all really very happy. And naturally couldn't wait for Chitty and whether there would be birthday references.   We went to Marks & Spencer's (on our way there we met Gill and Maureen who kindly showed us the replica of Michael's Fan Club pressie. WOW!) to get changed and headed straight for the Palladium. This time bunny and I had tickets in the Royal Circle, row C centre. Perfect seats. Well worth their money. We are V happy we saw Chitty form above a last time. She really does fly! Grandpa mentioned the birthday twice. People all around us wondered why these little remarks got such a massive response from the audience. I especially liked it when he called him "birthday boy" right in the middle of "Posh". Next thing was Michael demonstrating Truly (Caroline) the joys of the freshly invented Toot Sweets and playing Happy Birthday on it. Well, have to admit you had to know what he was trying to do. The flute doesn't seem to be his favourite instrument. It goes without saying (and yet I will do so) that the audience went wild at the end. Standing ovations and cheers and a very happy Michael.

Gareth was laden with flowers. He walked back and forth several times carrying loads of stuff, looking exhausted. Then bunny and I nearly fainted with happy shock when he brought several bags into Michael's car and ours was one of them!!!! Hooray!! Nearly too excited to realize Michael appeared. Ok, not really. No chance to miss that as the crowd next to the ramp started singing Happy Birthday and he played conductor ,asking who wanted jobs as backing singers. We all did! Completely fascinated by this man. The bigger the crowd the faster he gets into his car (better that way, all the pushing and shoving.and hysteria.must be a bit intimidating). He needed exactly 2:15 minutes and that is with a second Happy Birthday sung to him when he reached the other end of the crowd, next to his car.

We stayed at the stage door for ages, chatting to all those lovely ladies (not in the Les Mis sense!), enjoying the adrenaline of the exciting day. Admired Gill's tattoo on her arm and asked her whether it was real. Also some V nice lady whose name I never new gave us a spare Harrogate review from some newspaper. Really good one, too. Naturally it was though, as done by a woman. When finally did say good night to everyone, filmed the new Chitty pics outside Palladium, got some Kentucky Fried Chicken (chicken Popcorn! Yummy!) on our way to hotel and  relived this magical day.. Blimey, thanks for reliving of magical day! I nearly forgot! We saw Nichola McAuliffe, the original Baroness, just outside of Liberty's while we were waiting for Michael to arrive !!! She looked across the street.seems she wanted to check whether it would be as mad as last time - or  maybe she was just there doing some shopping..

Saturday, 28 th of June, in stalls of London Palladium, 09:03 pm
Interval now. Sitting in our second Chitty in less than three hours. Feels like strong déjà vu, to be perfectly honest. But nice one. Was V lovely day today. We arrived early at stage door, 11:40 am, as we needed some more food and freshly squeezed orange juice from M & S and needed to call home , too.   When back from food-acquiring and mum-calling (good daughters we were!) mission we positioned us at usual stage door bit, having V nice chat with Pat, Pam and Jen again. Sweet ladies. All were quite relaxed, but suddenly the all too familiar van drove up the street. Hectic and panic again. Who'd expect him that early the day after his birthday!?! It was merely 12:00 !! We couldn't believe it, but there he was. Looking V gorgeous in jeans and white blue t-shirt. Mmmh.. He asked us whether he looked hung-over to which we replied NO, truthfully. A bit tired perhaps but that becomes him very well. He explained he has a meeting ,so was in a bit of a rush (also maybe this was reaction to all those surprised he felt need to explain himself LOL).  He was in and we stood there, not believing it still. Angela arrived 20 minutes later and we had to deliver the bad news. Really don't like to tell people he is already in. As looks so promising when you get near stage door and there are lots of people. We know the feeling to have narrowly missed him too well to be smug about having seen him arrive.  Stood there waiting for Peter Bishop, not thing we would usually do but Pam said she might want a pic with him and could Kerstin take it. Sadly we never saw him arrive that day. While waiting, Angela's husband called from New Zealand and had a quick chat with him, too. Amazing how long it takes to hear what other person replied! He is so lovely, such a shame he couldn't be there that day. After waiting for a while in hot sun we decided to get some drink and went to Costa Café, right next to Palladium's box office. Kerstin and I had a Double Chocolate, which was V nice! Like hot chocolate, but cold..with vanilla ice in it. Also used time to show her filming material of Michael's arrival..and somehow managed to over-tape some seconds accidentally! GAH GAH GAH ! Again Angela paid the bill, V, V generous  friend! Had loooong chat about topic No 1, mainly.obviously. Suddenly it was time for first Chitty and Angela went off to do some shopping, also to get some rolls processed for us. We had most wonderful seats!! Let me tell you, it's sitting on the right that's really worth it! That's right from audience' and  left from stage's point of view. Great show, great view (especially on male lead!) but it was over all too soon. Always the case with Chitty. Once it starts you don't realize it's over two hours long! That also meant we had to say bye to Pat's gang(who had sneaked into on of the boxes for the show! Originally they weren't going at all.then decided to get standing tickets on the back.and then went for the box when offered. V envious us, always wanted to get in there! View must be spectacular!). Was V sad to say good bye. Extra hugs again for sweet Jen who held me hands V tight all the time. Cheered selves up with prospect of seeing them all again on Michael's last night. Kerstin and I couldn't help feeling a bit decadent when remembering we would be back in town after having been at home for only 17 days after this trip..

When Angela came back from shopping we went to queue for a table in Bella Pasta. Gosh, loads of places to sit and eat/drink 'round that theatre! Ok, think around most theatres.. Sadly loads of other people had had same idea, so we stood and waited a while, studying the menu longingly and smelling all those wonderful dishes. Finally they had some pity and we got a table in the smoking area. wasn't too bad really. Ordered fast (as after 15 minutes of waiting we knew exactly what we wanted) and drooled over fresh piccies. The food was V G indeed! Again we got invited and felt a bit like VIPs. Thanks for all that Angela, dear! After dinner we all had to rush. Angela to parked car and we into Palladium for second Chitty. Did go to the loos but not changed. Met Laura (I think!), Joan and Sharon there and had nice chat. Doesn't matter where one meets Michael's fans, it's always nice! This time we were on the left.meaning far from usual fan block. But Chris Kitchen sat in same row, so we formed own little fan block.                  Ooooh ,lights out again!

11:40pm, back in hotel room
Most remarkable at this Chitty was the improvised scene in act two. The Captain of Vulgarian soldiers and the Childcatcher always change there lines when they are in the toyshop and scary Childcatcher finds out Jeremy and Jemima are hidden there. The Captain comes to get him back into the castle as the Baron wants him there before he can really take the children. (Phew etc) And exactly those lines about the CC being wanted in the castle always vary (we heard David Henry, said Captain.also Lord Scrumptious.. tell some ladies at stage door - were it Joan and Sharon? - that they do this to keep their musical director happy and it worked! Robert Scott was in stitches most evenings! Cute!). Now this time the Captain had a little stammer (he's obviously afraid of the CC.everyone is! Even at curtain call the spies always move a bit to the side when he stands next to them LOL), saying: "The Baron wants you in the ca-ca-castle." After which the CC asked the Toymaker whether he got what the Captain said. He repeats the Captain's stammering and the CC  shouts at Captain to "G-g-get out!" . Mr Scott was V pleased with his little extra performance. As were we. Other remarkable thing was the snog Truly got at the very end. How I wish my father owned a sweet factory!! Audience was fantastic once more. And so Michael said when he got out, nice to be praised! Anyway, he wore shorts and that made the evening only more perfect. When we were standing there for a while, saying good byes to Laura and Lila , Peter came out wearing a tux and a bow tie! If all our camera equipment hadn't been packed away already we would have captured it. Looked V classy.

On way back to hotel we were stunned at masses of people at Marble Arch.looked like whole of London tried to get into tube station! Then realised it had been a Bon Jovi concert in Hyde Park that caused this chaos. We are sooo lucky with Michael! Those masses were scary indeed! Just imagined end of concert hysteria break out with this lot behind self...ooooer!! One guy in bus boasted with how much he paid for his front block seats.and he wore sunglasses in middle of apparently was very cool.NOT!

As we already had warm food that day, decided to be good and walk on by McDonald's and KFC, both of which are in Bayswater Road and we walked past every day! Temptations everywhere! Oh, my turn to get tooth brushed. So better go.wonder what we will do tomorrow!! Feel aimless!!

~ Read part II - Our last day with Michael ~

04/09/2004 14:32

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