Artisteer

After the Ball is over

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


Sunday, 29 th of June, official Chitty weekend starts today ( i.e. two days off)

8:30am
Hum, feeling a bit pointless, being in London without Chitty to look forward to.Michael that should mean. What is it about this musical? Is it a drug? Surely should be classified as addictive! Always think now it's enough.but then one day without it and we keep humming CCBB tunes all day, quoting bits out of it and scream in excitement whenever a Chitty ad bus drives past. Today will be sightseeing day. Though have seen most of sightseeing bits and little money, but decided we ought to have a closer look at St Paul's and, depending on weather, walk around in that area a bit. Food is likely to be Benji's again. Oh, my turn to have shower..

Noon, Soho Square (again)
It's lovely having sandwiches here. If only sun wasn't that hot. Maybe good though, hotel shower was pretty cold. Too many people showering at same time. Ooooer. Found ourselves walking past Palladium stage door out of pure habit once more. Deserted. Completely deserted. What a weird sight! Wonder what it will look like after July 19 th .

01:00pm, in St Paul's
Glorious cathedral. Only famous galleries are £6 and we thought nah. Also bunny has a slight problem with heights so seems expensive for a fright. Not bothered though, it's beautiful place to sit in, especially when hot outside. Many bits of walls are wrapped up and I think getting cleaned. Funny what some people wear without single trace of embarrassment. GAH, better not think bitchy thoughts in church. You never know. Rested enough now, out for walk through City district.

01:15 pm, on street
Can't believe this has happened! Phone box happily took my £1 but refused to do any dialling or return it to me! Happened for the second time in this week now! Will avoid this kind of phone box and search for other ones!

1:18pm
Ha, found other one right next to diabolic one, has different way to insert money into it. That's fine with me. Talked to mum. Now off to walking to Tower Bridge.

3:04pm
My goodness, found Riverside Walk and it was really nice. Also Hay's Gallery.roofed shopping area in V pretty building.with Cafés and bookshops. Felt much nicer than in deserted City. As was Sunday afternoon we hardly met anyone there! Only huge bank buildings. Camcorder did funny things, hope he behaves when we see Chandler tomorrow at stage door. Now in bus back to Regent Street. Feet quite fine, amazing as wearing whole new shoes. German tourists are a bit of a pain. Spoils it a bit when you hear German somewhere..wonder whether Spanish tourists think the same when they hear more Spaniards in London?

6:36pm, in Pizza Hut, near Comedy Theatre, Leicester Square
Went back to Leicester Square (as that's what always do when in that area). Originally wanted to see Colin Firth movies (mmmh Mr Darcy!) but they changed programme GAH ! So sat down and I read out some more Harry Potter. Felt a bit scared, reading out aloud not in a confined car but in open park, for all Londoner's to hear bad pronunciation..or mere guesswork at some difficult words.But after a few pages shut out world and forgot about listeners. Anyway, they all had better things to do than listening to me. Was really interesting passage when suddenly... Looked up. A little girl, maybe nine, stood right next to our bench, staring transfixed on my book, clutching the very same book in her arms. I smiled (and hoped she hadn't heard me read it!). In her sweet voice she said, very politely and noticeably American: "I just noticed you were reading the same book as I am." So we all had a little chat. She was WAY ahead of us so I begged her not to tell us anything. She promised she wouldn't. After some time her parents and brothers and sisters came over. The mother thanked us for talking to the girl and said apologetically: "I'm afraid she is in a bit of a Potter mania." Told her not to worry, it was V nice chat and we can understand all too well, as flew over to buy the book from Germany! V nice people. Oh and I did ask the girl whether they had seen Chitty and she said yes! And she liked it!! So fan mission was fulfilled. Her mum was quite furious on our behalf that German translation of HP5 will be released only in November! They had come over from North Carolina.but not only to buy HP book, obviously. Finished this chapter after they left ("Detention with Dolores", page 250!) and decided food would be good plan, so headed for Pizza Hut. New one this time. Waiter is V nice and speaks a wonderful English! Wonder whether he is maybe an actor who never quite made it...or needs this job to pay for his rent.really gorgeous to listen to! Would he'd quote Shakespeare instead of taking our order. Hum, two plastic boxes were near our table, on the floor, collecting water(?) dripping through ceiling, odd really as far from roof floor! Yellow-ish liquid anyway..oooer.reminded us a bit of last trip and hotel.but that's a different story. Better get a move on and see whether we can do some educational stuff and walk through National Gallery.

quarter to midnight, back in room
Now feet are really aching! No buses for us, no Ma'am. We walked all the way home. Was BEAUTIFUL walk! But began with slight frustration as National Gallery was closed since 6:00 pm. Didn't make us too sad, to tell the truth. As Weather was wonderful we decided to just walk around. Firstly did the official "Michael Ball Stage Door Walk", meaning all the London Stage doors through which he has once walked. Starting at Her Majesty's Theatre ( Phantom of the Opera ) , to Prince of Wales ( Aspects of Love ), to Queen's Theatre ( Passion , now had Rocky Horror Show.nice second Michael connection through Richard O'Brien). Palace Theatre ( Les Miserables) we already had done and took pictures of (V nice quote over the door about all the world's greatest performers already having gone through that door or similar).Donmar we didn't do, but guess where we ended up? Right, the Palladium. Walked across Golden Square just because it is much quieter than main roads and found Clear Channel! His tour promoter. Must have been kismet. We were all excited.feeling all silly at the same time. Anyway, we were back at the London Palladium, feeling a pang of guilt for being there but not watching Chitty (V mad, as only saw it twice yesterday.and there IS NO show on Sundays!), walked past stage door just for the fun of it and got minor shock when it was open! And people sitting near entrance! Also people inside the theatre. Luckily no one came in dark Mercedes van or we would have waited for hours feeling hopelessly obsessed. Anyway, we knew the theatre was used on Sundays for different events, so that must have been just such a Sunday. Still.they could warn you, couldn't they? As sun was still a bit out and was all warm, we decided to just walk down Oxford Street and then hop on a bus when we got too tired (that never happened..). Walking down the rather empty street with all those shops closed .

Sunset came, and really romantic. People sitting outside having drinks pre theatre or similar and all were in good mood. We criss crossed our way back home through deserted, dreamy small streets, away from tourists paths and found so many beautiful houses and little parks  it made us speechless. Could have walked on forever. Only it got dark and we still needed something cold to drink and our feet seemed to slowly say they'd had enough after hours and hours of slow walking. Luckily, when it got worse we turned one corner (we didn't really walk with plan, simply in vague direction of Bayswater Road) and were suddenly on that very street. V busy it was, compared to peaceful passages before. Got Pepsi from KFC and headed for hotel. GAH they developed nasty habit of asking for our key card. This is a bit difficult when you hold drink and food and have to fumble in backpack for purse and said card. Anyway, this time only drinks in hands so no problem. Just had the two left over pieces of pizza. Felt V G to have done some little exercise today. V tired now.

Monday, the 30 th of June, Chandler day

To early to check watch
Hum, last day of Bus Pass today. Must remember to buy new one tomorrow. Gah, seems it's raining, that means trainers and trousers. Luckily bought a few when first thought of leaving them all at home and only bring skirts and dresses (as much lighter!).Oh I HOPE I'll have warm water for a change .  

9:04 am
Oooer, was all cold AGAIN! Really should take showers before going to bed!

11:32 am, at M&S
Oh my god. Just saw loads of newspaper headlines saying "Tribute to a Hollywood Legend", I kept wondering who died. I opened Evening Standard or similar on page three as instructed and there she was: Katherine Hepburn. She died at 96. Fighting  back tears now actually. She was one of my favourite actresses in the whole world. I assume 96 years is impressive, but still.V V sad. Weather seems only appropriate. L 

11:45am, on steps of Palladium backside entrance
Bunny bought umbrella at M&S. Seems was good plan ad pouring with rain now. Having breakfast at Palladium to cheer up a bit. Sharing  steps with three bicycle couriers. Seems a bit like intruding their privacy. Loads of odd looks. But we won't move till finished with breakfast (sandwiches and orange juice once more). Think we need to go to Hamley's to cheer up a bit more..

01:55 pm, on bus No 3, Dulwich - Piccadilly route
Found most cute little soft toy dog from beanie babies. His birthday is stated as 26 th of June! We might have to buy it...as is too cute to be true and not too expensive.will leave it for Wednesday I think.  As a bit  aimless today and weather not too good (It stopped raining eventually though, good.), we decided to just hop on the next bus and drive all the way to it's last stop and find out how outskirts of London look like. The Dulwich one was first to come, so we took it. WOW, found selves on top of a small mountain(contradiction it itself, it seems..), overlooking parts of the city. V nice! Bus back came only minutes later, so could drive back, enjoying pretty little houses and gardens like on sightseeing trip. Might as well use bus pass to full extend, after all covers whole of London. Not like Travel Card for tube, only doing central zones but costing twice as much! Scandal!

03:15 pm, in Warner Brother's cinema, screen 1
Decided to watch Matrix Reloaded. Great reviews and quite liked clever yet scary plot in part 1. V expensive cinema though (£8,50 for afternoon!) and screen is rather small.  Hum, hope guy in front of me will sink into his seat.fingers crossed film will be scary!

after film
Oh dear! What a cliff-hanger! Don't like it when they just stop at most crucial moment and say "To be concluded" ! Mean! Oooer! But next part will be out in November.oooh, can probably see when doing Michael's tour! Think will have a quick look into Nostalgic Magazines shop.loads of film posters.and 60s magazines. Then probably more HP until we can go into Comedy Theatre to see Chandler form Friends! Oh, ok, Matthew Perry, in "Sexual Perversity in Chicago". Bound to be nice play with a  title like that!

Nearly midnight, back in hotel
Had all hands full with McDoanld's  food (really no dieting potential!) and they wanted key card again! Why do they sometimes ask for it and sometimes not? Ah well, better than letting everyone that wants to into rooms I guess..though windows cannot be locked probably, anyone from other room could get in.

Did do the Potter reading (now on page 276!) and then off to Chandler. Decided NOT to change in Comedy Theatre's loos as they were TINY! Quite steep Royal Circle. but front row seats and small theatre, so ideal view. (guess what a man in suit was reading in the very last row? Exactly, HP5.as we have seen half of the Chitty Ensemble do! And I mean grown-ups, not children). The play was V funny, but also frustrating, as it ended very suddenly, nothing was solved, nothing changed. Just "The End". Familiar frustration came up.must have been the day of incomplete things.  Play is about two friends who meet two girls. Chandler, I mean Matthew and the woman that wasn't Minnie Driver (sadly, would have liked to see more of Ms Driver, really like her)  get together, move in..and separate again. Then he is back on his old track, chatting up women, insulting them if they ignore him.and then it's over. But had it's very funny moments.and some strong language, but we didn't mind that as is what made it funny, most of the time.  It was soo weird to hear Matthew's original voice (we get all those TV things in German versions, so was V used to his German voice).quite a bit higher than expected.   Afterwards got programme, bit disappointing, only very little pics and then rushed to stage door. Weird feeling! A bit like cheating on Michael, to be perfectly honest. But aware that this is madness, don't worry. When Matthew got out it got V pushy. Worse than Michael stage doors! He took a lot of time though..nearly 15 minutes! We were good and contented ourselves with watching from opposite street (have zoom in camcorder anyway), what a spectacle! Do we look like that, too? I hope not! But probably yes.tragic! V obsessed, should be shamed of selves.

V late

Ha, finished chapter 15 (page 295)..now off to bed. 

Tuesday, 1 st of July (cannot believe it's already July! When did that happen?!)

9:50 am
Gah, cold water again! Gets to feel like on campsite! Why does everyone shower at same time? Also cloudy and cool today. But weyhey, Chitty day again! That's something to look forward to..even when it is last night.and we will have to leave too early to catch him walk in tomorrowL   

3:20pm walking to Palladium stage door (thoroughly undetached indeed!)
That was a nice day so far! We went to get tickets first thing in the morning, feeling a bit obsessed, but used to that by now. They still had the Peter Bishop is playing the role of Caractacus Potts sign out in box office, so anxiously asked whether Michael will be in. Pitiful looks from staff but yes, they said, as far as they knew, he will be in. Goody, tickets please. Got row B in stalls (standard seats now)  5 + 6. Hurrah. The yummy side! Then off to Boots for more piccies.and we got more rain. Ah well, as long as it stops in time for Michael to arrive. In spare time went to HMV to check back on their amazing sale.and the freshly  re-organized CDs of Michael's. We did some other day. Placed the albums chronologically in their shelf. Cannot possibly have First Love stand before This Time.It's Personal! Looked all very well and the Alone Together DVD has been sold! V G. People with taste. Then off to Virgin to organize their shelves anew. Really nice to be able to walk into shops that sell Michael items, just like that. After that the one hour waiting was over and we went to collect piccies at Piccadilly's Boots. It took them ages to find them. And when finally the nice young man had them, he explained they had a slight mess up and did three sets instead of the two we wanted. Ah well, it was for free so no complaints!

Ah, there we are. Let the waiting begin. 

4:03 pm
waiting..waiting.waiting.feet aching (this rhymes! Stage door poetry!)

Later, inside Palladium, during interval
Was V V V fantastic stage door! Finally Sharon and Joan arrived, so we had lovely company again. Also Allison with a hurt knee. Showed each other pictures and reminded ourselves why we were doing this. At this point feet really were killing us. Gareth arrived. Always good sign. He motioned he didn't want to be approached right now...possibly was on mobile...or simply not on duty yet. As we wouldn't have done so in any case that was quite alright. Bin people came again, but before Michael this time (Phew!). At 5:50 he arrived. We were all excited , as still had our HP5 signing mission..and would have loved a pic of him with us two (actually was bunnies mission, as on the one with bunny, Angela, Michael and me, haven't been close to Michael, i.e. at Angela's side, so bunny thought would be fair if I got pic with him and I , positively scared at mere thought, said no way, it had to be the both of us! So there we were, all arranged with Sharon ). So we tried to get closer, successfully. He turned and saw our books. "I've only just finished this one!", he smiled. We were in quite a state, I can tell you, but in the most positive way you can imagine. He said it will be "tense" and how much would be pay him to NOT tell us who dies. He happily agreed to sign them (looking gorgeous.gave him my golden pen, now we have signature on dedication page, where JK Rowling thanks her family, making her life magical.as Michael does for us.). Then we asked for pic and he put his arms around us. We called Sharon over and she hurried to her "duties". Joan took piccies, too so we had a moment more in his arms. Then we let him go (finally he might have thought..) and  felt complete bliss. As you do. Thanked Joan and Sharon over and over again (still not enough!). He seemed in a very good mood. When he was in and I put camcorder away, Kerstin was already deep in conversation with a fan that did seem familiar. I rescued our books and joined the conversation. It was Lynn Eppler from America! We met at Donmar. Lynn really is a very sweet lady. She does a lot for ROC in America and was really ever so nice. Actually, she made us forget our aching feet! We stood outside Palladium main entrance just until the show was about to start, having forgotten about pain completely! When finally sat down, we DID feel feet again. But there were other things to worry us. We finally realized that it was only tonight we got the original Boris! All week we had seen the understudy and he was brilliant! Actually, although original singer did well, he was funnier than him! That's really rare, as normally the understudies have no chance to develop a real harmony with their acting partners. This one had. We missed him. But the scenes worked nevertheless. V funny. Oooh ,lights out again.

11:57 pm, back in hotel room, V depressed.
So that was it. Our last Chitty till 19 th . It was our 18 th show. You'd think we wouldn't miss it so much. And oh god, need to get bag all neatly packed again...all without baking scales this time! Well, at least we had a spectacular Chitty Finale! Those poor people on stage! It was the very last scene. When Grandpa burst into the dungeon with Chitty, the Childcatcher gets knocked over and finally captured. The famous "Happy ending" (why are we told it is a happy ending?! We can see for ourselves!). Now, who didn't burst through dungeon wall? Grandpa. Instead he walked onto stage with a rifle and pretended to shoot at Childcatcher. Right, the first two rows knew from that second on something was thoroughly wrong. All suspected Chitty of course. They managed the scene very well. Mind you it was really crowded on the narrow bit of stage that is accessible when the dungeon wall is down. With quite some add -libbing Michael managed to get all children on stage , also all the others and the scene continued as if all was well. As it does when loads of pros are on stage. But finally there was no escaping it. The Baron and Baroness were off, the Childcatcher, too. The lines stated clearly that they had to get into Chitty to fly back home. No Chitty to be seen. Then the music died, as Robert Scott frankly seemed to have no idea how to continue. He just started at giggling Michael. Now all other audience members knew something was definitely wrong. Must have been tough for those onstage, as they had no idea whether to continue or leave it at that. It really was a bit silly having them stand around doing nothing. So Michael decided that the show must go on and  begged his conductor to continue playing. Nothing. Michael then FELL DOWN ON HIS KNEES (!!!most sexy sight!!!) and begged him to give them their music, so they can fly home. We had such a laugh, and do did Michael. Mr Scott couldn't resist such a heartfelt plea for mercy and started playing the theme tune. Relieved everyone started singing, giggling heavily at the "and our Chitty loves us, too" bits. The dungeon then lifted a bit and we saw bits of Chitty.but only for a few moments. FINALLY they managed to lift it completely and Chitty was there. They all climbed into their seats and although the music was over a wee bit too soon Chitty did all her flying and everyone was ecstatic with delight. The audience loves it when things go wrong. Self kept thinking oh god, how would I feel standing in front of 2300 expectant people, not knowing what to do next.Oooer! But they handled it really well.

At the stage door , one of the Sewer Kids explained to Joan what went wrong. They looked really miserable, saying it was their fault. We said it was nothing to worry about as made the night special and we got the flying car after all. They said, apparently they let the  rope on which the lift the Baron before the finale , slip too early and it got entangled with the wires. When cutting it through, someone cut the wires and they had no electricity in parts of the stage. The problem was the entanglement of Chitty. They couldn't set her flying. But when this was solved all went well. So wasn't poor Chitty' s fault after all. She always gets the blame. When Michael came out he asked the fan crowd whether we had noticed the "deliberate mistake?" LOL !!

When he had left all the long good-byes started. Felt like never seeing all those wonderful people again (This trip really was the BEST stage door experience ever!!), when most of them would return for his last night. Except of course the Americans. So we stood with Lynn for quite a while. She wanted to get a taxi home, but Gareth had  begged her to wait for him, so he can say good night to her. We , of course, waited with her, as no way we'd let anyone stand there all alone in middle of night. Eventually Gareth came out of stage door, when everyone else had left and we had a short but V nice chat. He asked whether we'd leave now (must have heard us tell Michael.we think!)  back to Germany and we said yes, sounding miserable. Then he asked would we return for 19 th ? And we admitted to our mad plan.(staying in London for only this day.getting there at 7 am and leaving at 7 am next day.without hotel room!), assured him that we were aware of the fact that this was a bit mad.and sad! So he wished us a safe journey and had to leave for a little birthday party (most of ensemble seemed to be in Café Libre) and vanished inside the small Café.  We found Lynn a taxi and drove home in weird mix of joy about what a great time it had been, especially with the excitement of this last show, and depression re leaving the next day.

Food was KFC again...no Popcorn chicken in Germany! Now have to do packing, yeuch, really don't want to!

1:38 am
All packed. V sad. Don't want to go to bed.but have to.soooooooooo tired L

Wednesday, the 2nd of July, in Stansted Express bus

17 :49 pm
V depressed. It's pouring with rain now. Hahaha, won't be nice at stage door. Oooer that was a truly mean thought indeed! Especially as do like most people at stage door. So ok, will not try to cheer self up with bad weather.

Got up at 8:30 (VG) , out of hotel at 10:00 am. Luggage left in luggage room. Great invention! Another bus pass  and filmed everything from Hotel to Regent Street (mainly so that mum knows what am talking about).  Straight to Hamley's and bought sweet little dog soft toy.  Went to Past Times to get pressies for our mums.  Shameful food at KFC at 11:45 am! Off to culture this time: National Gallery for two hours and we hurried and skipped several rooms! More left for next time. To bring piccies of Big Ben to bunny's mum (who likes it from webcams) went there and Westminster Abbey. Some demonstration against fox hunt.and for it.several groups in front of Parliament. GAH realized were a bit on the late side as still needed food for travel and get back to hotel and from there with heavy luggage to Stansted bus. Record time. Arrived at hotel at 3:30 and needed to be back at Marble Arch at 3:55! What a rush! Also a V unfriendly conductor woman in bus when we got in with all our bags etc. Poor bunny's bag had a broken wheel so it was quite an effort to try and be really fast with it. Made it JUST in time! 3:54!! Bus only arrived at 4:00. Humph. Bus drive through London was really very nice. Now past Golders Green and rain.  

7:43 pm, Stansted Airport, Gate number six, Air Berlin
Oh my b****y god! Cannot believe what has happened! There was an accident on motorway to Stansted and our bus driver had to divert. She said add a further ten minutes. That's no problem , we thought, as would have arrived over 90 minutes prior to check in time.  All poised. BUT!!! Turned out to be OVER 1,5 hours later than thought !! Was at gate TEN MINUTES after they had closed it. So plane was still there, but I wasn't permitted to board! V frustrating! And it had happened before on that very airport! GAH! Was there at 6:25 and my plane stood there till 6:55 and I couldn't go with it L  And was alone, too!! Kerstin only just made it  for her flight. V hectic good byes and she left her credit card with me, as knew perfectly well, I'd need another flight. And Ryanair only had this as their last flight of the day. One night at airport?! Alone?! Ooooer! PANIC! Was V kind of bunny to leave her money with me, but of course couldn't use it as she pays for so much already. Still all touched at her doing it without me asking or even thinking of it! Talked to Ryanair people, V polite, telling me, tomorrow morning, please queue for tickets. No thanks. So hurried to Air Berlin desk. YES! They had a flight, ready to board in an hour. Also seats. Took only three frantic phone calls to mum to get all the required details and a flight that would be in Berlin at 11:00 pm. sigh, but better than night on airport surely. Also paid 150€ (about £100) for extra flight. V poor now. V expensive ten minutes late.

GAH! If I had known could have seen Michael walk in to Palladium!! 

9:04 (10:04 pm), in air (plane more like)
Wow, is V posh plane indeed. Little screens showed computer animation and thus freeing stewardess from silly demonstrations. Also gives height and speed of plane! We are just passing Münster, that's where bunny works! Hum.Michael is probably bamboo-ing now.or had been a few minutes ago..mmmmh.

Will wait till half past to change watch again. I really miss bunny.and London.and Michael.and Chitty. All kinds of Chitty tunes in my head all the time. Soon again! V soon indeed!  

10:30 pm
Done it. Guess this really means good bye England..It was a pleasure, as always, looking forward to meet again very soon. Fasten your seat belts, ready for landing. Berlin here I come (back).

Summary:

Days spent in England: 12 (excellent)
Michael concerts: 1
West End shows watched: 8 (VG)
Number of shows that were not Chitty: 1 (poor)
Money spent: better not think about it
Days till back again: 17
Harry Potter pages read aloud: 295 (good)
Number of cold showers: 4 (felt like much more!)
Number of celebrities caught on film: 3
Celebrities that were not Michael: 2
Trips to England with bunny including this one: 10 (good start!)
Number of times have seen Michael perform on stage: 37
Number of times got asked "Who are you waiting for?": 2
Number of times answer hasn't been Michael Ball: 2 (making good progress)
Minutes on camcorder tape recorded: 90
Number of rolls needed: 8

All together V satisfactory outcome. Couldn't be more pleased with trip! Thanks to all those wonderful people who made it special or, indeed, magical!

Legend: 

VG      = very good
Bunnies = Julia and Kerstin
M&S   = Marks & Spencer
KFC    = Kentucky Fried Chicken
HP5     = Harry Potter, volume five, The Order of the Phoenix
CC      = Childcatcher
CCBB = Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

04/09/2004 14:32

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