The stars sometimes align, even for us atheists.
My son was making a fleeting weekend visit from his last year at his university. It’s all we were going to see of him over the Easter period. He’s taking it very seriously and aiming for top grades in math.
The week before, one of our leading food critics, Jay Rayner, wrote a food review in The Guardian. As a former arts critic, I’ve never accepted the guff that you shouldn’t trust critics. Sure, you shouldn’t respect them all, but many of them you should. In my case, there’s the extra incentive that in the distant past, our bylines had occasionally been in the same magazine.
It was a rave for a Japanese restaurant in a hotel called Beaverbrook. For those of you who know your World War II history, Beaverbrook was the Brit William Randolph Hearst, a mate of Churchill’s and the man who sorted out aircraft production during the Battle of Britain. His former house is stunning, and the hotel seems to have sympathetically adapted it. Drinking an extremely dry gin martini in a room where Churchill may have done exactly the same makes one hell of a cocktail.
Now, both my sons love Japanese food, so I booked the restaurant, the kids, and a WAV (wheelchair-accessible vehicle) taxi.
I kept the style of food secret from the boys, and I’m pleased to say they were both blown away by it — as indeed, both my wife and I were. I also love Japanese food, and I’d never eaten anything even approaching this good.
We live in the southern outreaches of London’s suburbs, and this was in Leatherhead, only a 30-minute drive away but slap-bang in the middle of the lush green rolling downs of Surrey. If someone was going to be mad enough to plonk a class idiosyncratic Japanese restaurant in the middle of nowhere, I was going to frequent it. It was like my pre-MS days.
I’d only come down the stairs on my own once since mid-February (when I was struck down by a relapse). But I was feeling stronger, so it was time for a gamble on a gambol.
So, it was also back to work. Again, in a WAV cab. The only time I had to get out of my wheelchair was to transfer in and out of the stairlift at the venue. My mate, Simon, the Comedy Store’s technician and associate producer of my show, had even worked out a way to get the wheelchair into the sound box.
Physically, it was a breeze. Mentally, it was torture. Show opening times had just been made earlier, but loads of performers were late (Ohh, surprise, they don’t read my emails, but always complain if they don’t get one, though!) and another was trapped in motorway traffic. He never made it. I had 10 minutes to reorganize and give notes.
The show was good; the audience and team were very happy.
I’m glad to be back, grabbing what I can while I can.
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