The Youngest of the Darling Daughters texts me while I am still on the train travelling to meet her in London. "It's now free for a wee!"
No, we are not talking Matters Technological here but something much more basic. My daughter follows up her excitable text with a photo of the public conveniences on Victoria Station, with notices above the entrance proclaiming "FREE." I text back:
"Fantastic! A free wee!"
Regular readers may remember that when I used to meet up with the Middle of the Darling Daughters at Victoria station some years ago Pre-Trio,
she would invariably text me to say: "I am you know where, with you know what!" By which she meant that she would meet me outside the Ladies loo, with a 20p piece clutched in her hand for my entrance fee to the facilities.
Ah, yes, it used to be just 20p in those days but the price has risen inexorably over the years till it reached, recently, 50p. Mind you, even that was a bargain compared with the loos in Covent Garden
which demanded a whole £1 from its patrons. I did, on my last visit, ask if I could negotiate two of us for one - a kind of BOGOF offer, if you take my drift. The attendant either didn't understand or had no sense of humour...
What an exciting start to our latest Lunch 'n' Theatre date! It was our first port of call when I eventually arrived. It had to be done, I said, even if we didn't need to "go".
These Lunch 'n' Theatre dates have been a regular part of my life for well over a year now. They were introduced by the Y of the DDs - in consultation with Mr B - to provide me with
a day off from caring responsibilities every couple of months. I am indebted to an army of lovely friends who visit to make meals for Mr B and keep him company in my absence. Yesterday it was the Really Rather Wonderful Eleanor who stepped in. "I do like Eleanor!"
commented Mr B. And so say all of us.
We had additional company in the comely shape of granddaughter Hazel Bagel who was keen to see Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins
in Rodgers and Hammerstein's glorious Carousel. Or, as I like to term it: Casserole. Don't ask - it's an in-family joke. Or, rather, it's a piece of whimsy on my part which has the whole family groaning and wishing they'd been born to Some Other Mother. Or,
indeed, Any Other Mother.
Hazel's mother and I were delighted to have her company, not least because of her Ability With A Selfie Stick which far outstrips our
efforts on occasions past. After making ourselves comfortable (a euphemism much used by my dear Mum when I was a littl'un) we set out to walk to the Coliseum Theatre, past Buckingham Palace (the Queen was at home, we were sure we saw a curtain twitching),
through beautiful St James's Park where downy ducklings paddled desperately to keep up with their mothers, along to Trafalgar Square with a salute to Nelson. Boy, it must have been cold up there!
At the restaurant of our choice, we cooked our own sirloin steak over a hot stone - lunch was quite a performance, we agreed, and how very fitting. Though obviously the main event was the show itself, with a packed audience
to watch the short, unhappy life of Billy Bigelow, the fella who rode the carousel and chatted up the girls till he met the love of his life.
While the two big
stars had drawn in the crowds, they were certainly not the whole story. A magnificent orchestra, fabulous choreography and a great supporting cast helped make our day. Hazel, who sang one of the songs from the show, "What's the use of wonderin' " in an important
audition, was grateful that she hadn't heard Katherine Jenkins sing it first. "Just too much pressure!" she admitted.
It was raining when we emerged from
the theatre but, hardy souls that we are, we walked back to Victoria all the same. "So now you know what we get up to on our Lunch 'n' Theatre dates," I told my granddaughter, who nodded contemplatively. She was so glad she was able to come, she said.
In twenty-five years time, I like to think, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and her daughter will have introduced their own programme of Lunch 'n' Theatre dates. They
will meet at the station, before finding somewhere fun but not too expensive for lunch. They will capture the happy scene via whatever photographic method has taken over from the selfie. They will laugh or cry, as appropriate, through the show and congratulate
themselves on the seats they have booked.
"Your Nanna, of course, would have booked seats up in The Gods!" my daughter will tell her daughter and they will laugh.
But affectionately, I like to think.
Heaven only knows what it will cost them for a wee...