Last weekend, I took my wife away for her birthday (which was actually in November, but part of her present was tickets to see the musical ‘Wicked’ in Manchester, and this was the first Saturday evening performance available).
Ok, Manchester is not necessarily the most romantic of cities, but spending a weekend there did mean we could combine some of our favourite pastimes – Christmas shopping (her), drinking beer (me) and spending time away from the kids (both of us).
I actually bought the tickets prior to her birthday last year, but such is the popularity of certain West End musicals, I had to get them nearly fourteen months in advance and then keep them secret until a few weeks ago. Frankly, the fact I managed to keep the cat firmly in the bag for so long, is only surpassed by the fact I still remembered I had them as her birthday approached this year. There was, in all honesty, every chance of me forgetting completely during the intervening period, and there being two sad little empty seats throughout the entire show.
Having arrived in Manchester just before 2pm on Saturday afternoon, we arrived at our hotel shortly afterwards (which was nothing fancy, because at this time of year – particularly with the Christmas markets nearby – it would have been cheaper to fly abroad then spend the night in most of the city’s nicer hotels), and we checked in to drop the bag off. As it happens, she didn’t want to be dropped off, and insisted on heading out with me (joke, dear), to ‘enjoy’ the Christmas markets.
As I alluded to in last week’s entry, I don’t enjoy shopping at the best of times, so when that shopping happens to also be extremely crowded, not to mention outside in the freezing rain, I really don’t see the attraction, and was ready to leave within a matter of minutes. What really surprised me, however, was that it was my wife who suggesting moving on not long after we arrived, and – God love her – she suggested I go and sit in a pub while she did some ‘proper shopping’. As you can imagine, I took little persuading.
Anyway, the real reason for this week’s blog, is to tell you about our theatre experience – and how, by some unfortunate mix-up, our seats ended up right in the middle of the ‘Most Obnoxious People in the World’ Christmas Outing. Oh, sure, they may have pretended not to know each other, but it cannot be mere coincidence that that many utter dickheads bought tickets in the same section of Manchester’s Palace Theatre on the same night.
Look, I grew up near Manchester, so I am only too aware that – like most cities – it has its fair share of dickheads, but I can prove beyond doubt that most of the usual suspects were elsewhere that evening, because City were away to Chelsea at the time (and no United fans live anywhere near Manchester).
So, these particular morons had obviously gathered together for one reason and one reason only – to try their hardest to ruin a night I had been planning for more than a year.
To prove I am not exaggerating, let me introduce you to some of the theatre mutants we encountered, and then you can decide for yourselves whether their behaviour was acceptable for a kebab shop at 2am, let alone a West End production. I shall even leave out the pillock in the Christmas jumper, and the two hipster twats in the bar beforehand (who turned up in brightly-patterned ‘ankle grazer’ trousers), because I accept they were entitled to wear what they like, and they were only visually offensive to me.
Like these only brighter
First up, and sticking with the theme of inappropriate clothing, we have the giant lump of a man who sat directly in front of me wearing the world’s largest peaked baseball cap.
Quite apart from looking even more of a pillock than the trouser twats from the bar (at least once they were sat down only their nearest neighbours would have been offended), he kept the cap on throughout the entire performance – clearly worried about his ‘hat hair’ – which meant my wife, and the three rows behind her, had an obstructed view of the stage (and most of the stalls).
And, before you ask, I did offer to swap places with her, but apart from the fact I was in an aisle seat, and we both agreed I was in greater need of the option to stick my legs out to one side (I’m 6’3”, whereas my wife is 5’3”), we also agreed I was more likely to lose my shit with the mother and daughter she had on her left, who spent most of the performance discussing the plot. Admittedly, this was mostly the daughter, and it’s hard to be mad at someone else’s child, but I would have hated to be the person to elbow said girl in the ribs to shut her up.
We then have the couples (and small groups), who either arrived at the theatre late, or, worse, sat in the bar until one minute before the show was due to start, before embarking on their own theatrical performance entitled ‘of course my seat is in the middle of a fucking row, where else would it be?’
I firmly believe that people who turn up late to the theatre, or cinema, or any kind of live performance, always do this, and it’s never a one-off scenario where they have been genuinely stuck in traffic, or have faced some other emergency which has delayed them.
No, they either do it deliberately, or they are so fucking useless/unreliable/inconsiderate that they are blissfully unaware of what a colossal bell-end they are. In my opinion, there should be a separate section of every theatre for late-comers (perhaps a cage, with a feeding trough), so they don’t ruin the show for everyone else.
You could argue that the two very elderly ladies, who clearly had mobility problems, should be excused from my wrath – on account of the fact it would clearly take them longer to find their seats – however I would counter that argument with the following:
- Unless they can’t tell the time, they should allow for their fragility and make arrangements to turn up early;
- They shouldn’t buy tickets in one of the most inaccessible sections of the theatre, at the very bottom of a flight of stairs, and in the middle of a row;
- As it happens they did turn up early, because we had already spotted them sat in the bar quaffing gin, and they had evidently stayed there until thirty seconds before the curtain call.
There is very little I despise more than tardiness when watching a live show (at least at the cinema you aren’t distracting the performers by turning up late), but even latecomers are preferable to the next group of cretins we encountered – the noisy folk.
I will, to an extent, excuse the young girl who was sat on the other side of my wife, because she was only about Ollie’s age, and was clearly very excited (and somewhat confused), because she kept asking questions – plus her mother did at least try to keep her quiet for most of the performance – but there were grown adults around us who had no sense of decency, or volume.
Some of them talked throughout the entire show, others even sang along (it wasn’t karaoke, for fuck’s sake), and some whooped and whistled after every musical number, like they were in the X-Factor audience. It was as though they hadn’t been let out in months (which might actually have been the case).
Then, there was the constant eating. And not quiet food, either, loud food. Sweets, with noisy wrappers. At one point, I decided a woman towards the front of our section must have been wrapping Christmas presents, because no one could make that much noise purely by opening sweets. I was sorely tempted to walk down and beat her to death with my umbrella, to see if it would make any more noise than she was already creating.
Finally, we have the very worst offenders in the entire theatre, which was the group of women sat directly behind us. Well, I say ‘women’, but believe the technical term would be ‘bunch of slags’, and they swiftly became my least favourite people not because they were late, or noisy, or eating, or singing, or whistling, or talking…. but because they did all those things.
Not only that, when they did turn up late (and pissed), the first to push her way along the row behind us managed to stumble and spill her PEE-NOT GRIGG-EE-OH over the mother of the young girl, and then – despite briefly apologising – found it funny.
They then proceeded to ruin the show for everyone around them (bear in mind these tickets weren’t cheap), and it was only because they were so rough that I didn’t say anything, mostly because I didn’t fancy having the shit publicly kicked out of me by the middle-aged equivalent of Little Mix.
During the interval, they naturally had to go outside ‘FOR A FAG’ (because waiting another hour was not an option), and when they came back they loudly exclaimed how nice it was to get some fresh air (the irony, it seems, was lost on them), because the theatre was so warm.
Then, just when I didn’t think they could get any more deplorable, the slag over my left shoulder said to the slag directly behind “Don’t close your legs, because if they turn the air con on again second half, you won’t get that nice draft.”
Classy, ladies, really classy.
Thanks for reading x