The woman in the ticket office at Victoria didn’t look the least bit bothered by our plight. If we wanted to catch an earlier train than the one we had booked on, then we would have to pay out for two single tickets
which, even with our Rail Cards, would set us back a cool £37.
There could be no adjustment to take account of the money we had already paid out for
our tickets. No acceptance of the fact that the tube strike had caused enormous difficulties for anyone trying to get around London. Her face was grim and completely lacking any sympathy.
“It’s such a lot of money,” I said to Mr B, “We’ll just have to wait...” Mr B explained, more in sorrow than in anger, about his bad back and legs.
Suddenly: “Let me see your tickets,” said the woman at the ticket office. Hardly daring to breathe we pushed them through the grille then watched, in amazement, as she scribbled out
two chits which would allow us to catch an earlier train and stapled them to our tickets. Even as we thanked her profusely, her face didn’t register so much as a glimmer of a smile. She was, however, our Angel of Mercy despite her forbidding
countenance. Which just goes to show that you should never judge an angel by external appearances.
What we did not tell our angel was that we had had a great Up
Town Day. Never mind the tube strike, never mind the weather. Our good fortune was largely down to the fact that we had a Knight in Shining Armour on our side. Or, should I say, a Son in Law in a Shining Black Cab. No sooner had she read my last blog
worrying about how we would fare in a tube-less London than the Middle of the Darling Daughters was on the phone offering us the services of our own private cabbie. He would meet us at the station and transport us to the theatre, where we would have plenty
of time for a pre-show lunch; then meet us afterwards to take us back to Victoria. We would be back at the station earlier than would otherwise have been the case – hence our need to try to catch an earlier train home.
That all sounds easy-peasy – but with three times the normal amount of traffic in London, our poor Knight In a Shining Cab had a torrid time getting us where we needed to be. Thanks to his amazing
command of The Knowledge, he was able to whizz us round lots of back streets to avoid the worst of the jams. What would we have done without him?
We had lunch
in a pub just off the Charing Cross Road where a sweet Polish lass chatted to us about the culture shock of moving from a tiny Polish village where she knew everyone to cosmopolitan London where she knew nobody. She was staying for a year to improve her English,
she told us, as she brought Mr B his “Juicy Luicy Burger”. The food wasn’t the best – the welcome was warmer than our main meal – but the wine was delicious and the two hours before the show just sped by.
What to say about Twelve Angry Men? We were gripped from the very first minute. OK, so it is undeniably dated in one way – no jury today would be composed of twelve white men. But once you had registered
that point, somehow you tucked it away in the “doesn’t matter” file because what unfolded on stage was so compelling. Among the stars, Robert Vaughn (the Man from UNCLE for those old enough to remember) whose timing was as impeccable
as ever – and the inimitable Martin Shaw.
If you don’t know the story and haven’t seen the film starring Henry Fonda – well, basically
it’s about a jury who have to decide on the guilt or innocence of a 16 year old boy accused of killing his father, knowing that a guilty verdict will send him to the electric chair. Eleven of the twelve are convinced of his guilt –till Juror Number
8 (Martin Shaw’s character, who else?) sets about challenging the evidence.
Could it have been, do you think, that it was watching the way Juror Number 8
persuaded his eleven fellow jurors to change their minds that subtly influenced our approach to the woman in the ticket office at Victoria Station? Was it what we said? Or, perhaps, the way we said it?
I will be practising the art of persuasion on Mr B over the next few days.
So far it’s not working all that well - but I’ll keep you posted.