Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Goodbye Gielgud

“So, hopefully, this is the start of my big adventure. My new year's resolution this year was to be brave and start living my life. I think I might just have achieved that. I shall keep you posted!!”

These were the closing words of my first post in this blog. The ‘adventure’ which followed was certainly big – bigger than I could’ve imagined then and led on to the greatest time of my life. That adventure came to its close last week, but in style, making for an unforgettable climax.

Exactly one week before my leaving date, the occasion was marked by my two favourite celebrities finally walking into the theatre. After seeing so many famous faces come through the door of the theatre, my week was made by the two and only French and Saunders strolling in together! We prepped their interval drinks with a decorated order slip and (through just a tiny bit of misbehaving) I managed to chat to them both at the interval. They were every bit as lovely and funny as I hoped. Major high.

On the Saturday following that, we had a shift during which an incident happened that two days later would make the international press. It is an astonishing thing to witness a story first hand and then to see how it gets reported, exaggerated and responded to in the press.  I needn’t tell you about it myself: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/4917429/helen-mirren-drummers-rant.html
On the night, it was very funny but we never thought it would get far beyond the little village of the West End. But when I turned up to work on Monday, I was greeted by a throng of press: TV cameras and journalists. Helen came in just afterwards wearing the T shirt in one of the pictures in the article. I listened to her being interviewed and cleverly spinning the story in her favour.

The following day, I was on stage door and hoped that it would all be over. On the contrary – ‘drumgate’ continued with Helen doing a photo shoot outside with some of the drummers involved. She brought them inside the theatre, ushering them along behind her at such a speed I couldn’t possibly sign them in, so wrote ‘Drummers x4’ on the visitor sheet. Since the whole affair, I have had emails and messages from around the globe and pretended to laugh at countless customers’ joke about drums.

Also that Tuesday I spoke more to the actor in the cast I’ve got on the best with to date and unearthed all sorts of ‘small world’ type coincidences – he knows the villages where I’m from and my sister goes to school with his neighbour’s son. I invited him along to my leaving do on Thursday.

Which brings us onto my last day. Thursday 9th May. I met with Myles, Greg and Maria for a spot of afternoon tea and then we headed into the theatre early to mess around and take photos on stage. I had been allowed to choose my position on the rota for the evening and had a nice shift despite a South American guy who was late twice because he couldn’t wait to have a cigarette.

At the debrief meeting I was presented with a beautiful card and present and we headed off to the Phoenix. So many people were there, which was wonderful. Almost the whole of the bar and front of house teams; box office; backstage; supervisors; people I have worked with in the past and Paul from the cast, who came later as promised. We stayed til close, I had a wonderful time and went back to Myles’ afterwards against my will because I was deemed too emotional to make it home alone!

My first evening off was spent with Sophie, having a nice Italian meal in Covent Garden. Then it was back to the Gielgud, as if I couldn’t stay away for more than 24 hours. It was strange watching everyone come out from a distance. I met Myles and we returned to his house to make the final preparations for the next day: The Moonwalk!

We’d been in training – in a fairly loose sense – for the half marathon walk for several months and were so excited about it! We’d dressed our bras in sweet wrappers (the theme was ‘space’ so we found a good excuse to eat lots of Mars, Galaxy and Milky Way bars); donned ourselves in flashing pink tutus and headgear and headed to Battersea and the pink tent. The atmosphere was amazing; we had a fab time around the course and there was a great sense of camaraderie throughout. I am so proud of my team who together have raised over £1000 and counting for breast cancer charities.

I got home at 8am on Sunday morning, went straight to sleep and awoke early evening to immediately pack and head down to Kent. And so, farewell London. And also, farewell to this blog. I will end it with the end of my time in the city, to close the chapter properly. It’s been amazing and great to report my adventures here.

Thank you for reading.

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