Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I take it all back … (so exciting, I had to blog it now)

I had a couple of firsts tonight. The second was more exciting, but first firsts first – so to speak.

I went to see my first Footlights’ Smoker at the ADC theatre – the proving ground of sketch and stand-up comedy here. The show starts at 11, tickets go on sale at 10.30. I joined the queue outside the theatre around 10.15 and felt chuffed for skipping half its length by diving in where I saw the people I was meeting.

About 10.30 someone came out to say the show had basically sold out on pre-purchase tickets. The could take the first 20. As Mr Fifty-Seven, I no longer felt so clever.

What do you do in these situations? You go to the theatre’s bar, latest opening in town. The stairs between us and beer were crushed with ticket holders, so we slinked up the wrought-iron spiral-staircase and rapped on the glass until someone let us in the fire door.

I was with some of the “Albert’s Bridge” cast again, and we were in the theatre where we’d done the play. So someone suggested we watch it on the little black and white TV in the club-room and listen to the sketches over the loudspeakers.

A frustrating (if free) way to see a show. There was some really good stuff, but it was quite the mixed bag ranging from the incomprehensible, to the guffaw worthy, to borderline comic genius. I’ll be doing it again.

Then, I stepped outside and there was my second first for the evening. I’d heard the warnings. I’d cast apprehensive glances at the grit and salt strewn on Mill Road and outside the University Library. I’d refused to believe. Thought if it happened, it would just be an inconvenience.

But it was snowing.

A soft haze of thick flakes, sluicing through the streetlights, settling on gutters, bicycles and pedestrians.

I was laughing as I cycled home through midnight streets, snow slowly forming a crispy white exo-skeleton on my goose-down jacket, accumulating in drifts on my cord trousers, caking my bike light to the point where I had to dust it off.

The gritted main road was fine, slick, black easy cycling just with cake-frosted pavements and shop fronts. My own street was, well, a fairly land. There were six friends with their after-pub hot chips staggering down the middle of the road, scraping snow of bonnets for the first snowballs of the season. They apologised for blocking the road and let me pass, slowly crunching snow under my tyres.

I take it back, Richard Curtis, England can be as pretty as Christmas Eve in your postcard-perfect films.

I had to brush myself down and stomp my feet on the doormat (drifts of snow on my shoes). The airvents of my bike helmet were clogged with it.

If it keeps up overnight, there will be photos, on so many photos.

Right, morning class, I should sleep.

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