How the other half lives

Saturday 3 November 2007

Move along now. No theatre to see here. The West End Whingers are conducting a bit of a social experiment this week.

In an attempt to understand what ordinary, well-adjusted people do with their spare time they have cancelled all their theatre appointments for the week and are embarking on other activities with a view to exploring the possibility of adopting an alternative lifestyle.

So, here is our Mass Observation diary recording our activities.

Saturday/Sunday 27/28 October

Phil shocks his parents by taking a trip down to Wiltshire and staying with them for the weekend. Several sweet sherries and a lot of television later, he returns to metropolitan life and his parents breathe a sigh of relief that he’s taken his horrid 5 litre bottle of sherry back with him.

Andrew claims to have been “pottering” all weekend but details are sparse.

Monday 29 October

A trip to the talkies to see Eastern Promises starring Vigo Mortensen (right) and Naomi Watts and – more interestingly to Phil – his sometime travelling companion Sinead Cusack. It’s directed by David Cronenburg.

Sadly, the Odeon Shaftesbury Avenue has embraced the concept of unallocated seating despite the fact that all the seats are actually numbered, but as there are only 23 people there it doesn’t matter much.

The Whingers are particularly struck by the realism of the cinematic experience, especially when it comes to blood and gore and look forward to seeing how the violent nude Turkish Bath fight scene will play in the inevitable transfer to the stage, probably with Christian Slater. Or possibly Eastern Promises – the musical! directed by Matthew Warchus.

Marvellously, it is all over by 8.40pm and the Whingers gleefully mock and jeer at the Les Mis audience shivering on Old Compton Street who are only half way through their ordeal. The Whingers, meanwhile, have time for a delicious Thai buffet followed by a leisurely bottle of wine.

Tuesday 20 October

The Whingers are dragged off to a pub quiz at The Duchess in Battersea. Apparently their team (which can not be named for legal reasons) comes second but everyone is hazy on the details due to the large amount of wine consumed, this being the problem of trying to combine activities with alcohol.

Apparently actor Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) is often the quizmeister but not this Tuesday, possibly having been tipped off that Andrew was going to be there. Anyway the Whingers are particularly proud to be acclaimed for knowing (among other things, obviously) that:

  • The number of balls on a snooker table is 22
  • The names of Charlie’s Angels were Jill, Kelly and Sabrina
  • The planet discovered in 1930 was Pluto

Quiz team

“Team name withheld for legal reasons”: City Slicker, Helen, Andrew, Oliver, Phil

Presumably the winners call themselves “Best in Show” because they have low self-esteem and are very harsh on themselves. The Whingers wouldn’t have described them as dogs exactly. Approximately, but not exactly.

“Best in Show”: Lauren, Kate, Richard, Damon, Chris

The Whingers pronounce their team to be the moral victors, and everyone is happy.

Wednesday 31 October

Can’t go into too much detail but Phil is rather busy with his coven (it being their busiest day of the year).

Andrew goes out and about in full costume and causes the neighbourhood much mischief as to save time he has dropped the “or treat” bit from his activities. Has great fun.

Thursday 1 November

Andrew pinches Phil “and no returns”.

Friday 2 November

It becomes clear just how much drinking time is available to those who do not go to see plays.

Andrew gives in and goes to watch some plays.

Phil has got a taste for not watching plays and drinks instead.

5 Responses to “How the other half lives”

  1. Helen Smith Says:

    Just about the only answer I could get in that quiz was the poetry question. So I was heartened that one of the other teams, apparently unembarrassed about profiting from discussions overheard nearby, gave ‘W S Audley’ as their answer for that one.

  2. Phil (a west end whinger) Says:

    Tues 20th October (we think Andrew means 30th or he has possession of a Tardis) circa 10pm.

    Andrew suddenly does a runner failing to hear of his team’s (which cannot be named for legal reasons) “victory”. Thus leaving City Slicker and Helen to force Phil to drink their prize, a bottle of wine.
    City Slicker ensures Phil gets home safely, though he remembers none of it.

  3. Sam London Says:

    As I’ve not got round to seeing it yet.. I need to know if my Mum made it to the final cut of Eastern Promises. She spent 3 days shooting. Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts et al were “very nice”, she said. She plays the wife of an Asian chemist. Ring any bells?


  4. Hi Sam. We definitely remember there being a scene in a pharmacy and we’re almost certain that the chemist’s wife was in it.

    Sorry, we can’t be more certain than that. We would have been rubbish on Screen Test, wouldn’t we.

    But let’s rewind: your mum is in a film and you haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet? Shame on you!

  5. Sam London Says:

    My mum hasn’t seen it either, to be fair. I haven’t seen Brick Lane either, yet, and she’s got a big role in that. Shame on me indeed. But there is a peculiar embarrassment about watching your own mum on a very large screen.


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