VIctorian Santa’s Grotto at Museum of London Docklands – 17/12/16

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I feel like I may have gone into Christmas-panic mode. I’ve got Nathan wrapping presents and watching “Scrooged” while I down Minstrels, print out carol music and blog about Santa’s grottos. I may yet go for an emergency Tesco trip tonight.

So in the spirit of Christmas panic, we fitted a soft play party, two pub trips and a Santa’s grotto visit in to today. It started with Eva and I at 10am, attending her classmate’s birthday at “Tumble in the Jungle” in Walthamstow. Despite threats to close it, it’s still open and battling on..if you’re local, I’d suggest a supportive visit there. She had a great time and ate all her party lunch but I was hungry, so when Nathan and Reuben came to meet us we went for a restorative burger at The Duke in Wood Street.

I have heard about these legendary burgers before so let me be the latest to say it – they are indeed something special. I didn’t read the menu properly and was surprised when my burger was a breadcrumbed patty of brisket and mac n cheese but it was awesome.  I’m constantly astounded by the resurgence in popularity of the humble mac n cheese but seeing as it’s something of a hipster staple, I’m willing to indulge in its comforting goodness. And the shine on this brioche is spectacular too:

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The food was good but I wasn’t totally convinced on the pub’s layout. All the tables were reserved, so we squeezed on to a small one  which wasn’t reserved till 5pm but there was a huge empty space where they could easily have packed a few more in. Who am I to question the hipster aesthetic though?

Eva munched through her party bag as we dined and then demanded ice cream. I wasn’t feeling it right that moment so suggested we head towards the museum and maybe we’d find ice cream nearer by. So, a bus, a tube and a wizard train later we visited pub #2 – The Ledger Building, an accountancy-themed Wetherspoons right next to Museum of London Docklands. I can’t complain about the lack of tables there but it too was pretty full. Still, we found one right under the TV which had an RSPCA special on (Don’t look Eva! Some scenes may not be suitable for the more sensitive viewer!) and the children coloured quietly while we waited for piles of ice cream and sticky toffee pudding.

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After that, it felt like it might be nap time but no, we had a Santa to visit. And this was what it was all about. The grotto was on the third floor and we followed the footprints to Scrooge and Marley’s shop, then made our way through atmospheric Victorian “streets” to join the queue. I tried to convince Reuben that we’d stepped  through some kind of portal but the smartarse pointed out the electric lights. I briefly worried that if he was questioning the footprints and the time travel then this whole thing might be wasted on him. But we’re OK for another year I think. He still believes.

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The queue wasn’t long but we had a bit of a wait. Along the way, we found a door and a spooky red cave. This is Reuben – he is the one who knocks:

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It was pretty dark in there as you can tell – I won’t share the pictures where I used the flash. They’re just Roo with his eyes closed. But do have a look at the one Nathan took at the top of his post. Eva does make a good oil painting doesn’t she? I’d taken a photo of her earlier which I like to call “Waif on the Wharf”:

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To go off-topic for a while, there were some interesting things along the waterfront. We found a Big Apple, a church on a boat and a whole host of sparkly trees:

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We also found our way to the museum from Poplar, which wasn’t the easiest. There’s a dual carriageway in one direction and a building site in the other. I spotted it pretty much by chance from the top of the stairs but if you’re ever there, head to the building site side of the dual carriageway. You’re welcome.

Anyway, back to the grotto and we are moving forward in the queue every time Santa’s elf rings a bell. There’s a woman behind us singing “Starry Night” to her kids, which was my favourite carol at school. I should have done it with choir this year.  And eventually we reached the rope, where the elf came to chat to the kids and get their names.

Then, the bell rang! It was our turn! We went into the grotto, where Santa knew who they were and seemingly knew how good they’d been this year. He asked Reuben if he’d done all his homework, to which he confidently said yes. I mean, he got an award for homework from his teacher so he’s on solid ground. Then Santa asked Eva if she’s been good at keeping her room tidy. Less solid ground. Still, he flicked through the book and decided they’d both been excellent. I wonder if he ever makes any different decisions.

They were given their presents and then we had a little photo shoot – first just the kids, then with us as well. We chose to buy the one without my giant face in..this is the one we went with:

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After that we wondered about going to Mudlarks but the session was full and the kids were tired and so it was time to get home. They really enjoyed the experience and at least one of them was grateful for their gifts (the other one is just ungrateful). The Victorian streets gave it a real magical atmosphere and Santa seemed to have plenty of time to talk to them. There aren’t many days left before Christmas but if you have time, I’d recommend booking ASAP. And make sure you organise your timed ticket to Mudlarks too. Forgive me another side note, but it’s well worth checking out the East London exhibition with its own Monopoly board and a reimagined East End map with Stratford as its heart. Look what they thought was of note in E4:

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Sainsburys. Says it all. I think I’ll got to Tesco now…

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A Post-Baby Social Life Part 2

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Last week I went to a gig with my husband. Nothing unusual you might think but it’s kind of a rarity since we’ve had kids. By the time we’ve bought tickets and drinks and paid the babysitter we’re looking at the stomach churning end of the £0-£100 bracket. But here’s the miraculous thing. We can do it. As painfully expensive as the endeavour is, it’s perfectly doable. Our kids have reached an age when we can pay a teenager to look after them in the fairly safe knowledge that they won’t miss us too much. We sometimes leave them asleep, often in bed and awake, tonight with the smaller one practising her nativity repertoire with the door open “so people can hear me” but they’re leaveable. We no longer need complex plans where the babies need to be minded close by or brought with you. I don’t need to pump milk or cross my fingers that we can eat dinner between feeds. We’re through the baby stage and with it comes a fresh blast of living life.

Not that we have huge amounts of energy. We’re hardly teenagers any more and working, child wrangling and a million other commitments can start to take its toll. Nights out tend to see us home by midnight, gorging on leftover babysitter snacks in front of Mock the Week. The gig we went to was undoubtedly one for the more seasoned music fan but that’s OK because why would we want to listen to anything more modern? Aren’t they all just ripping off The Strokes?

The reason I call this part 2 is that I wrote a similar post a few years ago. Back then we were fully immersed in nappies and breastmilk (thankfully not literally) and it was real survival stuff. ..the social bread and butter to an extrovert in need of energy. It was coffees with friends, trips to Tesco, lunchtime birthday parties. ..the very baseline of “getting out of the house” that I needed to remind myself to do with a newborn and a three year old. I sounded pitifully optimistic and I’m pleased to say that optimism has paid off. Four years on, life has changed to an unrecognizable degree.

What’s tricky though is retaining friends during the foggy baby stage so that you still get the invitations once you’re through the other side. Nowadays I can more than hold up my end of the conversation when it comes to politics and general world-righting. But then? No. You shut the wider world out, to a large extent. It’s a survival mechanism. If you start to think too much about the politically terrifying world you’ve just brought a child into, you can do nothing but sob. In the newborn days, your concerns don’t tend to stretch far beyond the front door you left open all night.

And that’s OK… you don’t need to be going I’m marches and firing out petitions when you can barely remember to eat. And as for keeping up with what’s in the charts and out at the cinema? Pah! Not a chance. All of which tends to get new mothers labelled as boring. Not only have you given up drinking and dancing on the tables, you also struggle to converse on many subjects outside your day to day life. And that loses you friends.

But if you’re someone who’s reading this and thinking “well all my friends have turned boring since they had babies ” then I beg you to be kind. It’s not being boring, it’s coping with a profound life change. When I announced my much wanted and worked for second pregnancy on fbook, two friends responded with statuses about how annoying mothers were, talking about mothering all the time. I’ll admit it stung a little at the time but it got me thinking about why we get this reputation.

Strange as it might seem, most mothers don’t talk about their kids with the sole purpose of boring you to death with their parenting theories. Maybe it’s just the main thing that’s going on in their lives right now. Or maybe it’s what they have in common with other people in the conversation. Or maybe – in the case of Facebook – they’re aiming their statuses at people who actually want to know about their grandkids/godkids/nephron. I’ve taken to warning people when I post statuses or videos that only a grandparent would want to see. It filters out the arsiness.

As I said at the beginning, eventually you come through the foggy stage and can start to talk about other things again. But yknow what? Talking about politics loses you friends too. I’m sure there are people on Facebook who wish I’d go back to talking about nappies and teething again. And then there are people who wish I’d talk about going out drinking all night and dancing on the tables…I think ideally they need to be Facebook friends with me-at-university. But that would be impossible, seeing as Facebook wasn’t invented then. And trust me, I thank the Lord and all my lucky stars daily that that’s the case.

So we’re in phase two of parenting. No more dummies, bottles, cots or buggies. Just homework and Christmas Jumper Days (that’s a whole other post). Next up is phase three, where you don’t even need a babysitter but the gigs are even more uncool and the kids will probably have nicked the car any time you want it to go anywhere. I’ll report back then…

 

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Ziggy Played Guitar – 14/12/16

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(A note to my patient and ever-forgiving readers…I wrote this on Wednesday evening but have been having some technical issues with photos. That’s why the timing makes no sense)

A cafe named after a dog named after a Bowie song? In Highams Park? I literally cannot imagine a concept more perfect for me. The Cafe Latte site opposite Tesco has been so sadly empty for so long that I would have been overjoyed at pretty much anything opening there but a Bowie cafe gift shop? Amazing. HP cafe culture has taken a big upturn of late, with first Pantry & Co opening, now Ziggy Played Guitar and, on Saturday, La Boite opens, serving crepes and galettes from the disused signal box. Luckily, I have enough room in my heart for all of them.

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We decided to go to Ziggy’s, as it’s already being called, today because..well…I needed coffee…but also because it was staying open till 5pm instead of its usual 4pm so we could fit in an after-school visit. Turns out that half of HP had the same idea, with everyone from Crafty Kilner to Queen Bea hanging out there. Our resident Mod was even pressed into service as a coffee waiter. Of course, it might be opening-week frenzy but it seems like they’d have plenty of after-school business if they wanted to stay open till 5 every day. Do I need a #justsaying here?

So what is a Bowie cafe gift shop actually like? Well, it has the huge advantage that Cafe Latte has of opening onto the play area. My kids are pretty much old enough that I can just chuck them out there while I enjoy a coffee. There’s also a good amount of seating, a toilet/baby change and a comfy sofa that used to belong to Crafty Kilner’s neighbour. The decor is as cool as you’d expect, with posters referencing The Kinks and The Jam (no wonder the Mod was drawn in) and fun little touches like a Frida Kahlo lampshade. I was a bit worried about another lamp that was right next to the door to the play area. Kids were forever barging into it as they came through and I kept imagining it being  knocked over.

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Precarious lamps aside, it’s very child-friendly – there’s a box of toys and the menu is full of things like toasties and fishfinger sandwiches (plus pie and mash for the grown ups). My kids had smoothies, milky ways and a tantrum about muffins. Gotta be quick if you want the chocolate one Eva!

The coffee was good. I wouldn’t be writing right now without it. And they do soy milk.

The gifts are nice too. Lots of handmade stuff as well as wooden pocket-money type toys. I hear some local craftspeople may be selling through there soon too, which would be an all-round good thing. Some super cute babygros too. Pity I don’t have a baby and instead was made to fork out for a garish snowman-tutu-dress in Tesco a little later instead. I hope we didn’t overwhelm them with the sheer volume of children (in every sense) we brought with us. Ziggy is a great addition to Highams Park and I’m so happy they’re here. We’ve spent the evening listening to Bowie tunes as a result. Good times!

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It’s Christmas….

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We’ve officially declared it Christmas season – the tree is up, the presents are ordered and I’m singing Christmas songs. Admittedly I’ve been doing that last one since August but for pragmatic rather than festive reasons. With that in mind though, let’s chat about some of the Christmassy things you can do in London over the next few weeks.

Let’s start with the Christmas edition of “Tales from the Shed“. Chickenshed are taking their show to the Old Vic on 21st Dec and it promises to be as full of brightly coloured fun as ever. Tickets are selling out fast but there’s still availability for the 10am performance and some for the later show. Book now though before they’re gone!

There are lots of other festive theatrical treats to be had as well. We’ve already talked about the Snowman at the Peacock Theatre but it’s on until 1st Jan and reviews so far have been fabulous. Our competition had a great time, even with 3-year-olds in tow. Another show that comes highly recommended is The Nutcracker on Ice at Winter Wonderland. I haven’t been to Winter Wonderland in years but I think this could psossibly tempt me back. It sounds pretty darn Christmassy.

But what could be Christmassier than a visit to Santa? The kids have already met a slightly unconvincing one at their school but we’re taking them to meet him again, at the Museum of London Docklands. It’s a Victorian grotto and booking in advance is essential. It runs from now until 23rd Dec but we’ll be reporting back from there next week.

On this weekend is the Discover Centre’s Christmas event, called the “Ready Steady Colour’s Christmas Feast!”. As with all Discover events, it’s interactive and promises to be lots of colouring, musical, comedy fun. Also on this Saturday is the Golden Hinde’s Festive Pirate Fun Day. I don’t know much about it, but what more do you need??

And no Christmas preview is complete without a nod to our friends Big Fish Little Fish. They have a whole host of parties coming up in December,  in Parsons Green, Hackney and even Selfridges (sadly sold out). If you’re not a Londoner, fear not…there’s also High Wycombe, Edinburgh,  Cardiff, Birmingham and Bristol on the menu. I’ve probably missed a few so do have a look and see if there’s one near you.

And for now, Happy Christmas! I’ll be back soon, with news on our Santa visit and whatever else we get up to this Advent…

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Wonderlab at the Science Museum – 12/11/16

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I realise I’ve taken a while to blog about this but it’s been a busy month. Still, let’s get this wrapped up before it turns all Christmassy around here. Have those snowflakes starting falling across the homepage yet?

So, we went to the Science Museum. That’s hardly revelatory, but we did go to a new bit or at least some of us did. I’ll explain later.

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Firstly though, a walk in the rain through Knightsbridge to take in the Harrods windows. They weren’t as impressive as I was expecting  - they’re all sponsored by Burberry and look kinda samey – but maybe I’ve just got cynical. Eva was ooh-ing and aah-ing at every one. Even once we got past Harrods onto more mediocre shops, she still made me look at everything. “A window vinyl in the shape of a star! A small amount of glitter! It’s all so yuvyee!” I would have been more up for it, but she had to stop still at every one and, as I may have mentioned, it was raining.

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There was a reason we’d alighted at Knightsbridge. Not a great reason but a reason. I always struggle to find places to eat near the Science Museum that are affordable and have a decent amount of seating. There’s a sushi place, but Eva went there on Bunny’s borthday and I’m not sure she ate anything. There’s an Honest Burger, but people are always queuing out of the door.

So McDonalds in Knightsbridge it was then. We were with Ellie and Wylie and it seems to be a bit of a tradition. But it wasn’t to be -it was closed for a refit. So we walked in the rain, past the museums and eventually rocked up in a Burger King just opposite Gloucester Rd tube. There were loads of seats, and one of those drinks dispensers that can give you Diet Coke Cherry Vanilla and other excitements. It may not be haute cuisine, but it’s cheap and warm and a short walk back to South Ken. There’s even a KFC next door too.

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Plus, we found a joke in the toilets that Reuben is still laughing about now.

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“What’s a Toilet Manager?” Comedy Genius!

Let’s speed ahead to the Science Museum itself because I’m here to blog about what, as a friend said, lies behind that green wall. For those not in the know, Wonderlab is a new section of the Science Museum. It’s on the third floor, where Launchpad used to be, and it’s aimed at the science-curious 6+ year old. Luckily I have a 7 year old with a yearning for learning in the realm of “forces”.  I only realised once we were there that Eva was below the recommended age, so I sent her to The Garden while Roo and I went to the Wonderlab. I’ll be honest – if we didn’t have to pay for entry then I wouldn’t have worried about the age restriction. There were plenty of younger kids in there once we were in. But the choice was to pay for one adult and one child or two children and four adults…it starts to add up.

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I know the charging for Wonderlab is a bit controversial – I understand that the museum needs to raise funds somehow but I can also see that people are directly comparing it with Launchpad, which was free. Personally, I think I’d rather have a small entry fee for the whole museum then not pay once we’re in…but that’s just me, and again I understand why they don’t. Still, I saved money by rationalising on kids. Then spent it again as Reuben blagged a milkshake out of me – we were only going to get a bottle of water but  by the time we’d queued, he’d worn me down. I got myself a coffee too. Life was pretty good.

The queue for Wonderlab wasn’t too long either. Just about long enough to drink a milkshake. The guide recommends 90 minutes for the whole experience but I was trying to cram it all into an hour because it was already 3:30ish and getting dark outside. I should have left longer. There was so much we didn’t do and so we really didn’t get the best value. But hey, here’s what we did do.

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First off, forces! Can you guess what Roo is studying in Science this term? In this section there are friction slides that we didn’t go on (the queue was a bit long), chairs that you can pulley yourself up in, and a marble run. We spent a long time on the marble run.

It’s basically just a big wall with magnetic marble run elements that you can stick on in different combinations…but Reuben loved it and spent ages building runs. He also spent a long time on the tessellation wall in the Maths area, that was similar and also very pleasing in an OCD kinda way. Ooh, perfect tessellation.

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Other activities he enjoyed including making a perfect paper dart with the help of an explainer, which you can test out on an air blaster and watching the science show where another explainer produced lightning in a giant Tesla generator.

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There was a beautiful Space section, with a giant Earth on a spinning platform. There were many more sections to look at to but we were seriously running out of time and had to go and find our party. Given that we mainly did marble runs and tessellating (which Nathan just reminded me is also in the Pattern Pod), I’m not convinced we got our money’s worth. I need to go back and give it a lot more time…and possibly take the other child in too. Check out this dynamic spiky liquid stuff though:

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As reviews go, I realise this one is a bit lacking which is why I promise we’ll revisit soon. It is worth a look, even if you have to pay, but make sure you leave at least the recommended 90 minutes because there’s lots to do and it’s easy to get distracted and stuck on one thing. Ooh, tessallaty…

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“The Snowman” Winner Announced

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Happy Monday, World! I’ll keep this brief as I find it hard to blog with a bowl of cereal in one hand and kids demanding things by shouting in my ear…but, we have a winner for “The Snowman” comp. Congratulations to….

CARLY AYRISS!

Enjoy the show – we’ll be in touch soon :)

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Competition time!! The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre

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Like any girl who’s grown up on the Sadlers Wells’ series of books, I get excited at the very mention of those two words. So I was thrilled when I had an e-mail from them, asking me to run a competition for “The Snowman” – a contemporary dance version of the Raymond Briggs’ classic. It’s being staged at the Peacock Theatre, rather than “The Wells” itself but still…how exciting? So, here’s the lowdown:

We are giving away one family ticket (4 people, must include at least one child) for the 7pm show of “The Snowman” on Tuesday 29th November. Yes, I know that’s soon. I’ve had a lot on, OK?

To enter, just fill in the form below, with a message to say why you’d like to win,  and don’t forget to like and share on Facebook to let me know you’ve entered. Competition closes at midnight on Sunday 27th November and the winner will be announced and contacted first thing Monday morning. Good luck!!

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Reuben Writes to The American Police

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In what might be a first for this blog, one of my children is providing the copy for this post. Partly because they’re readily available labour and I don’t need to pay them but also because this is something quite special.

It’s Reuben’s idea. It’s all his words. It’s a letter to the American Police, asking them to arrest Donald Trump. He may have embellished some aspects but there are some facts in there somewhere. I’ve been struggling to organise my own thoughts, post-election and I wrote something for the HuffPost but it was all a bit vague and helpless. I don’t know what to do in the face of such aggression and hatred.

Roo knows. He’s taken decisive action. He made his own envelope. And so, without further ado, here is his letter to the American Police (translation below):

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“Dear American Police

Can you please arrest the eval (sic) Donald Trump. He plans to make a wall between Mexico and America to start a war. Also he is making a tunnel to ruin peoples homes*. Hes even telling people climate (change) is not real so no one recicles (sic). He truly is superkalusfragileegoestrabraggadocus** (it’s a silly word of words). He truly is evil. Go arrest him”

*I think this is referring to the Dakota Pipeline

**Ask Randy Rainbow about this bit

Well, I don’t know about you but it pretty much sums up how I feel. Now, he wants me to post it. Anyone know the mailing address for “American Police”? It needs to get there before January…

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London Without a Toddler – “Bits of Me are Falling Apart”

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9th November was a very dark day for me. I don’t need to explain why but you’ll understand why I needed an antidote to the extreme right-wing lemons that life had just given us all. And who better to alleviate that depression than a left-wing anarchist? Or, to reuse my Facebook joke, left-wing EdmondAde.

Not that “Bits of Me are Falling Apart” is Adrian Edmondson’s most anarchic work – far from it. In fact his character. William. seems a middle-aged middle-of-the-roader in most respects. And in some ways, this show was also a touch depressing. But there’s much that is wonderful about seeing a comedy legend live in the flesh and every facial expression that he had a hint of Vivian about it filled me with joy.

The play is a one-man show currently running at the Soho Theatre where, co-incidentally, Edmondson’s daughter Beattie is about to appear too, with the Birthday Girls. It’s about William’s midlife crisis so I was surprised when we walked in and the set was adorned with colourful children’s toys, suspended from the ceiling – there was even a whole Wendy House. The PA system was cheerfully playing something that I suspect was a “They Might be Giants” album. Was this definitely not a kids’ show? I had my doubts. I  even checked the tickets a few times to make sure we were in the right place because this didn’t seem like it was the setting for a 75-minute monologue on the grim realities of ageing. But it was. He walked on stage and it was very definitely Adrian Edmondson. Hence the hints-of-Vivian facial expressions.

William is a man in a rut. His relationship has broken up, he only sees his son sporadically and his body is – as the title suggests – slowly decaying. It would take a lot of talent to make this material funny and constantly interesting but of course it was. Not always uplifting – there were plenty of moments of drama and wistful reflection – but always engaging. There were diversionary anecdotes about the Norse, the life cycle of the cod, the D-Day landings and even a mention of Donald Trump, which elicited a nervous laugh from the still-raw audience.

The use of the props was interesting too – everything came into play at some point, with the Wendy House representing the spike in the housing market, a Beano used as a newspaper and a colourful vTech laptop as William’s work computer. There was even an analogy to do with arteries and balls of fat, portrayed by those spiky, light up plastic balls that work as playthings for both dogs and toddlers. He came back to them a few times, as a recurring metaphor on the state of his health.

Occasionally it all verges into the dour, but for the most part, William is just about likeable to sympathise with and there’s a lot here that will strike a chord with anyone who is feeling the inevitable creep of later life. The ending becomes more positive as William learns to break through a few of his own self-imposed barriers and I left the theatre feeling ever so slightly better about life. And on 9th Nov 2016 that’s quite an achievement.

“Bits of Me are Falling Apart” is on at the Soho Theatre until 3rd Dec. See here for tickets and more info.

Disclaimer: I received free tickets for this show in exchange for my review. All opinions remain honest and my own.

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Comic-Con – 28/10/16

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It’s been a while since I last went to a ComicCon and quite honestly, I didn’t really plan to go to this one. Nathan and the kids were going with some friends from church and I planned to finish work, hang out nearby and go home with them. Which meant I got to catch the DLR from this impressive-looking station front, instead of some covert-looking doorway at Bank:

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But when I got to Custom House, there wasn’t a lot there. The way out of the station took me straight into the loading bay of the ExCeL, so I thought I might wander up to the door and see how much tickets were. That wander was more like an epic hike  - I was in sight of the next station along by the time I got there – so I gave up on turning around and just kinda paid and drifted in. Without ever intending to, I was at ComicCon. In workwear.

I might have stood out a little. Most other people there were wearing superhero outfits, catsuits or giant robot costumes. Once I’d found my family, lounging on beanbags in the kids’ area, I caught up on some of the people they’d met already. Here they are with the Avengers. I think Hawkeye was pleased that Roo was also dressed as Hawkeye.

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Later on, Eva found her perfect place – in the middle of a pile of princesses:

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I wasn’t sure how Eva would take to ComicCon, as I thought there would be more Judge Deaths, less Meridas. But it turned out there were plenty of both:

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I also wasn’t sure what you do at ComicCon but there was a lot going on. Signings, with some Dr Whos of my childhood:

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Live drawings, stalls full of toys, light sabre classes. And a lego table:

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And obviously, the kind of geeky conic stuff that Nathan likes. I took Eva round the pinkest and fluffiest stalls while he and Roo went to the 2000AD stand. And then we all went for energising coffee and cake at the in-house Costa. ..it’s tiring work schlepping round the ExCeL. Did you know it’s massive? No wonder the length of it spans two DLR stations. And we definitely didn’t get to see everything – there was an inflatable wigwam that Eva reayyyyyey wanted to go to, but it was 5ish already and a long way home.

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Turns out it’s even longer if you wander round Bishopsgate in a kind of post-ComicCon haze for a while and then end up at Nandos. I’m glad I went, especially as it meant Nathan wasn’t wandering around Liverpool Street with the kids on his own. But also cause it was more fun than I imagined it would be. So many people made an effort to dress up and there were some excellent costumes. Just don’t make me read any comics…

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