Friday, 6 December 2019
Reading time 3 minute 26 seconds
I mean, it’s sort of exciting, isn’t it, breaking the rules? — Hermione Granger
I don’t like that Harry Potter character. I’ve argued with children and adults who were once children about it and they all agree, I’m wrong. So as punishment to myself I took my Mrs to see the Harry Potter play the Cursed Child up London’s West End or as my dad called it “The Other End”.
It was a Christmas present It’s so popular the next available tickets were nine months away. I’m clueless when it comes to gift buying, I once got her gym membership so this was fractionally better. Apparently.
6 weeks before the day, I started receiving emails from the theatre. Was I excited? Of course, I wasn’t excited. It’s a play.
Excitement comes from finding a tenner in a pair of old jeans or your football team making it into the Championship playoffs against Blackpool who you beat at new Wembley securing promotion to the Premier League even though you missed the goal as you went for a wee and they scored once your back was turned.
Excitement is not a play.
As the day drew closer I received more emails. The rules were strict, no one under a certain age, no food, no drink and don’t forget to enjoy it.
My girlfriend was more excited than me. I rarely see her impressed face as we’ve been doing this relationship lark for over a decade but a Harry Potter play
had brought it out of her. Thank you J .K Rowling and me I guess.
When we first courted I took her to see Russel Brand perform at the O2. I brought her an expensive steak dinner with cocktails beforehand. The show was then used for a scene in his new movie where we became extras. That is a tough date to top so I stopped trying but thanks to this orphaned little wizard kid, I may have another shot at the title.
As we queued outside the theatre we hid our food as it clearly stated you’re not allowed any on the numerous emails. I didn’t want to eat in the theatre but I always carry food and snacks in case of an emergency. People were throwing food into bins and pouring expensive bottles of water down drains. The homeless should be camped here to get the grub, that way the orphaned wizard could help them too.
The entrance to the theatre had a security checkpoint similar to an airport. I answered questions about my water bottle and they found my distraction apple. That was the one I left for them to be distracted by from all the other food that I’d hidden. It didn’t work. I had to jettison the lot. It was key that no one ate during the performance as it was paramount not to spoil the show.
Once inside there was an announcement at 5 minute intervals to switch off your mobiles. There was even a person walking around with a sign. There was to be no interruptions. This was to be an unmatched theatrical experience and nothing should ruin it. It truly was a great sign.
With 1 minute to go my girlfriend squeezed my hand and gave me an excited look. Yep, I was nailing this date. I couldn’t see what possibly could go wrong. The house lights dimmed and we were off. A moment later I was swept away by the magic of the show, it truly was glorious fun and even better as stupid Harry Potter was barely in it.
45 minutes in and I’d returned to a childlike state. I ohhh’d and I ahhhh’d with my fellow audience members. It was as good as promised. I was transported to Hogwarts and nothing would ever spoil this moment.
Then there was a noise. It came from our left so close I could almost touch it. The noise stopped and then repeated. Was that a baby crying and part of the show? It was called The Cursed Child after all. Was that the Cursed Child in question? If that was the case why were the sitting near me?
No, it wasn’t part of the show. It was a baby. A real Muggle baby.
Who brings a baby to the theatre? It sounded very young. Did they bring their new kid because they had to buy the tickets 9 months in advance and didn’t know they were pregnant at the time of booking? A Baby was clearly a breach of the rules.
My fellow audience members were initially a bit taken back but were all being very British about it, even the Americans. The baby then started crying uncontrollably, like all crying.
The actors on stage were not phased as the show must go on. Sadly, this was not the case for us untrained audience members as the howls were distracting and we couldn’t hear the actors, not because it was one of those loud annoying babies although it was, they all are, it’s just that people started shushing.
I don’t have any experience with kids but I know a baby doesn’t understand a shush even if it is smart enough to get a ticket for the hottest show in town.
When people realised that the infant would not shut up they started to tell the mother to leave. There is nothing more glorious than an English theatre goers anger. I’m not ashamed to admit it but I revelled in their unhappiness. It enhanced my joy.
The show faded into nothing as I tuned into their discomfort. I heard my girlfriend think “stop enjoying others misery”.
The mum was not going to budge. She struggled to get this ticket and she was staying put thank you very much. The child would shut up eventually she argued. Let’s just ignore the Dirty Dancing rules and put baby in a corner said someone who was probably me. I was starting to really have fun now.
Eventually, the theatre staff decided to get involved. They didn’t want to but their hand was forced by what they would refer to later as a very rude patron who for once was not me. After some toing and froing mum eventually left. After a few more minutes of complaining from the British things settled down.
After that the play was ruined for me. My brain was distracted by one single annoying thought. How did she sneak a baby into a show that I couldn’t even smuggle my apple into? I had a lot to learn from this woman!
Picture: Me as a toddler pre booking my tickets to the show. [I clearly love this picture]