Friday, 4 September 2009

Two first times for me last night. I went to see Alan Cumming's one man show at the Vaudeville Theatre, which is (a) the first time I've ever seen this hero of mine and (b) the first time I'd ever been to the theatre on my own.

Heads up: Alan Cumming is a Scottish actor who grew up in the same part of Glasgow as I did. He used to be in a comedy duo called Victor and Barry, who were very well known in Scotland, and in my opinion, they produced the funniest songs and sketches I have ever heard. Ask me about their version of 'West Side Story' set in the West End of Glasgow, and see me cry with laughter. I would give my right arm for recordings of their work - which is now unobtainable.

Anyway. Little Alan left Scotland and became a real well respected Broadway star (mostly famously in Cabaret) and then started to act too - he's been in movies such as Goldeneye, Eyes Wide Shut and the Flintstones (although I haven't forgiven him for that one - his character was painted green). He's lived in the US for years now and is married to an American man.

So imagine my joy when I realised that he was performing in London for a week. I bought a very expensive seat and decided that I was not bringing anyone with me, safe in the knowledge that I would have smacked anyone who had not professed that it was a work of genius afterwards.

And it was fabulous. It was the theatre equivalent of lying on your couch on a Sunday afternoon, wrapped in your favourite duvet and drinking hot chocolate whilst listening to favourite old songs. The reviews of his show have all strangely missed the point: they say that Alan is basically a name-dropper who constantly refers in the show to famous people he has met and famous places he has been. But in fact:

  • If Alan's show (or indeed his life) was about the joy of DIY or watching soaps on TV, it would have the same interest, would it?

  • This also totally misses the point - Alan tells us his stories with an almost child-like wonderment about how excited he is to have done these things - he reminded me of a child returning from Disneyworld who tells you about meeting Cinderella. No one could possibly deny him his happiness.

Alan also has a fabulous voice and the songs are without fail either poignant or funny. All in all, a marvellous evening and I envy each and every person who has the pleasure of knowing this man.

Alan Cumming's show, I Bought a Blue Car Today, is at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand until Saturday.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Hello first-timers, and yes, I am really back. For good.

So many first times to tell you about, but the most pressing one is that DH, George and I have now finally moved back into our house, after months of renovation - so finally, and for the first time, I am living in my forever home. Now the cynics amongst you would undoubtedly say "How do you know it is your forever home - things might change?" but trust me, you would be wrong even to think that. Not only do I love it, but this home is not only a mansion (and I should point out that the photo is not one of our home, just how it appears in my mind's eye) but the stress of unpacking nightmares means that I am never again going to move. Ever.

So, has it all been worth it? It has. We have chosen every last detail and that means that we love it and it is our dream home. Well, it will be when I persuade DH that the basement could usefully be a swimming pool instead. It is light and airy and massive for central London and it feels calm. So, my top tips for a renovation project are as follows:

  • Trying to decide on a wallpaper which both you and your other half will like is impossible. This year's trend for delicate, hummingbird design or other floral type paper is not going to go down well with your DH, no matter how many colours you show him. He will shout and say things like 'tart's boudoir' a lot. You may cry, and say 'But look at this month's House Beautiful magazine' a lot. You won't win. The wallpaper which you will end up with will be slightly masculine.

  • You can make up for this by nabbing most of the space in the walk in wardrobe before he has a chance to unpack any of his things. And yes, you can get away with this by pointing out that his rare coin collection/football programme collection/collection of airline sick bags takes up most of the other available storage space in the house.

  • You will find holes at the bottom of walls and missing light fixtures and yes, the loo on the ground floor won't flush properly. But this is called snagging and is all part of the process to make you even more stressed than the unpacking made you.

  • Yes, it will rain on the day you move in, thus ensuring that you can't use your first ever garden and your box full of shoes gets all soggy. This is also part of the process (see above).

  • On the first night, you will feel a bit teary. This is not just 'women's hormones' (as your DH will allege) but in fact is entirely due to the raining on the first day/snagging/unpacking traumas you have just faced.

  • You will accidentally walk back to your old house at the end of your first day back at work. This is not 'women's hormones' (DH did this and not me actually!).

  • Appreciate how lucky you are once it's all done, because you really are, and having a home, let alone such a stunning one, is a real blessing.