WARHORSE AND DINNER AT THE RITZ
My young niece had done incredibly well in her exams (what I would have called O-levels) Proud aunt moment - 5 A* 2 A’s and 2 B’s and all in good subject like mathematics, chemistry, biology etc etc, and I wanted to mark such an outstanding effort so we arranged as a family to go to see Warhorse in London, which everyone says is very good, and which secretly I had been wanting to see since the little clip of the one of the full size horse ‘puppets’ was shown on the televised Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.
Looking on the internet for tickets I spotted a package offer for Dinner at the Ritz with a glass of champagne followed by good tickets at Warhorse. Okay we were on. All was arranged, we would meet up for drinks at the Ritz in plenty of time, have our dinner then taxi over to the theatre, as there was no way I would make it walking.
I must say I didn't know which I was looking forward to most. Going to the Ritz or seeing Warhorse. So with much excitement Richard and I set out to meet Michael and his family as arranged. For some long past reason the family always call Richard, Nick, and I suppose that is an example of a real nick-name. He acquired is as a toddler when a great aunt said of him - I have heard of Old Nick, but this one must be Young Nick. and the Nick Name stuck.
So Nick and I thought we would do a little London sight seeing on the way by taking one of the hop on London Bus Tours, and hopping off when we got somewhere near. But we were sidetracked by going into St. Paul’s - which I had been told many times was stunningly magnificent and a definite lifetime ‘must see’ for everyone.
Isn’t it surprising how some things fail to live up to expectations. Is it that having been built up in the mind to such an extent they cannot possibly deliver on the promise? Or is it one of those ‘Emperor’s Clothes’ things where everyone has said it is so, and then it is endlessly repeated. I am not sure. Obviously it is a magnificent, and stunningly decorated space, but it just didn't hit the spot for me. What did particularly strike me was what a wonderful building it was for its time, though presumable the architect Wren, had drawn on his experiences when travelling abroad and seeing the amazing ancient buildings there. Still - it has been ‘ticked off my list’ so to speak.
The entrance fee was I felt exceptionally high, but as it was mostly foreign tourists who were prepared to pay to go in perhaps there is some sense in that. The leaflet one is given starts off by saying St. Paul’s is first and foremost a place of worship, which I would think is no longer the case in reality. It is most certainly first and foremost a tourist attraction at the pay counters, as the queues and ropes testify. Plus down in the cafe area where we stopped for a coffee and cake the prices were tourist trap high, and the sad monuments to the various famous dead stuck behind the expresso machine, or surrounded by munching sightseers I felt said it all really. Let’s face it - if you were so well placed amongst the high and mighty of this country that you merited a burial and fancy marble tomb in the crypt of St. Paul’s, you probably didn't imagine you would be spending your wait for Judgement Day behind a fast food counter.
When we came out the Tour Buses had pretty well stopped running, so we had to taxi it over to The Ritz. I have to say that when the taxi pulled up I wasn’t certain we were actually there - I had somehow expected a much grander entrance. But the top hatted doorman rushed over to open the doors for us, and once up the steps the place is amazing.
I had bought a skirt and some very swanky shoes with me in honour of the occasion, as I felt my normal corduroy trousers and comfy flats were not up to snuff. So I headed down to the Ladies Loos and Powder Room, and came up looking far more acceptable, though hardly able to walk at all and desperately missing my normal shoes. Still they looked very elegant when I sat down in the stunningly over-the-top reception area.
When Mike and his family arrived and got themselves sorted we all headed to the Cocktail Bar, where it was Champagne Cocktails for the adults and fruit cocktails for the teenagers. The bar was again amazingly decorated, the drinks beautifully served and presented, and tasted wonderful. Its making my mouth water just typing this.
We took our time, chatting about the day and enjoying our drinks and the ambience of the place. Then through to the even more magnificent dining room. I have a few snaps, but my camera was throwing a wobbly (or more likely was experiencing extreme operator error) Although some have come out there is a strange cast over a lot of them, so you will have to imagine the colours much clearer and crisper than they show.
The meal was, as one would expect, exquisite in every detail, and the service impeccable but not over bearing. A thoroughly enjoyable experience. We probably lingered a little too long, and then there was a mix up with taxis at the door, so getting to the theatre on time was a tense moment, and if you are late you are not allowed in until an appropriate lull in the performance, plus I hate disturbing others. But the taxi driver was a star, and got us a close as he could as quickly as he could and suggested we walk the last bit, as it would be faster than waiting in the queued traffic.
Of course I had on my stylish, and horridly uncomfortable shoes, but I hobbled after them as fast as my little legs would go. Liz and the children striding on ahead to sort out the tickets, and with a last rush up the stairs we made it just in time.
The tickets were excellent, we were seated right in the middle facing the stage and at a nice level to see and enjoy everything. I was a bit put out at first as I knew the real story of the actual Warhorse - Warrior - and hadn't realized that the play was based on a children's book, which had used the true story as a starting point. But the puppets were stunning and I was soon swept away, and of course the story bought tears to my eyes, though that is not difficult. The whole evening was most memorable, when I asked everyone afterwards which was the best bit all the adults went for the Ritz, and the children the play, so it was a perfect choice.
And I got to see Warhorse, and go to dinner at The Ritz. Excellent!