Next month the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I will meet up once again in London for our regular "Lunch and Theatre Date." April's show choice, in case you want to know, is "Kinky Boots."
"Is that what you're going to see, or what you're wearing?" asks Mr B. Such a comedian that man.
Comedian or not, he is unfailingly generous in that he is completely happy my daughter
and I get together so regularly and never, ever moans about being left out. Just because he cannot cope these days with the whole London Trip Experience doesn't mean I should miss out too, he says, stoutly. I love him for that.
My daughter has booked the tickets for the two of us. I get the feeling that she doesn't quite trust me to buy "best available" rather than "cheap as chips." Were Mr B in charge of dealing with Ticketmaster, or What's on Stage, or lastminute.com, she
would have no such concerns. Mr B, indeed, was revered by all the older grandchildren for always, but always, securing the Best Seats at the Pantomime.
In my defence I point to my quite spectacular success
on our trip to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when we were moved from our cheap (£19 a pop) seats in the Balcony to £70 tickets in the Front Stalls. The Youngest of the Darling Daughters comments, dourly, that lightning doesn't strike twice.
She reminds me that tackling long, steep flights of stairs to reach The Gods is not good for me, in view of My Great Age. Nor, she points out, is it good for her to have the responsibility of One Such As I. Oh, dear, how can I argue with that?
I secretly love the way roles have been reversed over the years. Where once it was I checking out their travel arrangements, whether they had remembered to take everything they needed, when they had arrived at their destination
- now it is My Foursome who check up on me. "Have you managed to get a seat?" one will message me, almost before I've managed to clamber aboard my train. "Text me when you're home safe," they implore me. Sometimes all at the same time. If I were fourteen and
they were my over- anxious parents, I would doubtless be feeling mildly irritated at the very least. Being me - and knowing them - I just feel very blessed, very cared for.
Before we take our seats for whatever
show we have booked, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and I find somewhere to eat. Not necessarily anywhere super special, just the place whose menu, pasted outside on door or window, appears most inviting. "Lots of dishes I'd love on that menu!" we tell
each other - only to, almost inevitably it seems, order exactly the same meal as each other. We do it every time.
For our next outing, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters has managed to secure a Meal Deal.
This doesn't mean that we have to eat the same meal (though doubtless we will) but we have paid for both a meal and theatre ticket combined. This appeals to my parsimonious nature. My daughter knew it would. So before we don our Kinky Boots we will be venturing
into the jungle in search of Tiger, Tiger.
Mr B wonders aloud how we ever find enough to talk about, given that we will have spent hours on the phone both before and after our outing. It's not the same, I
say, as actually being together. We'll still be chatting when she shepherds me onto my train at the end of the day. Were we only able to travel home together, we'd still have plenty to say.
we have seen: "Bend it like Beckham"; "Les Miserables"; "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"; and "Billy Elliott". Plus "Annie" ,which we watched in the company of the other four Jolly Girls, and various amateur productions in which the Y of the DDs' offspring
have appeared. You could call us seasoned theatre goers, don't you think?
Today it is the Youngest of the Darling Daughters' birthday. Fate (and the calendar) meant it was the usual hectic Monday morning at
the school where she works but she enjoyed an afternoon with friends and, when I phoned her, she was looking forward to a family meal out. As I couldn't be with her (though we did enjoy a pre-birthday meal and birthday cake last Wednesday) I decided the next
best thing was to write about her.
How I love our Lunch and Theatre dates! I don't mind where we eat, where we sit, or what we see. Though in several of the shows we have watched there has been a poignant
scene which has spoken volumes about the love between a mother and her child. We sat beside each other, weeping companionably, as Billy Elliott read out to his dance teacher the letter his dead mother had left for him. "Love you forever," she wrote.
On the train home, I received the usual message checking I had found a seat, that I wasn't too tired, and reminding me to text when I reached home. "Love you forever" she signed off - and I cried all over again, right
there on the train from Victoria to the South Coast.
Happy Birthday to my fellow Theatre Tripper. May we - just occasionally - eat something different from each other in our restaurant of choice so that we
can compare meals. May we continue to mark each happy trip with the Inevitable Selfie. May we enjoy many, many more shows sitting in the best seats available.
Love you forever.