Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Birthday, a Musical and a Surprise Encounter

Today I probably had one of my best days in London, for two reasons. Firstly, I celebrated a belated birthday with my three lovely housemates who waited until I returned from Melbourne to head into town for a girls day out. And secondly, for the very first time in London, I randomly bumped into people I knew on the Tube, something that might have happened often in my home city but I didn't think would ever take place here.

So the day began with four girls getting dressed to the tune of Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. And fun we had indeed. There was Hamley's, Carnaby Street, Spanish tapas in Covent Garden, a visit to the Australia shop, four pitchers of cocktails and cake. Lesson of the day: if you rock up to TGI Fridays on your birthday, they make you stand on your chair while everyone sings to you. There's also free cake, compensation for the humiliation as I like to think of it.

We then headed to the Wyndham's Theatre to see Avenue Q. The musical, if you're not aware of it, is about a group of muppet-like puppet characters that live on Avenue Q, a dodgy, slummy part of New York, and centres around the principal character Princeton on his quest to finding his 'purpose'... after graduating with a BA in English. Avenue Q's inhabitants are naughty, inappropriate, politically incorrect but, nonetheless, so endearing. The show works because it succeeds in weaving together themes and issues that reside on our conscience, matters that have a contemporary relevance and with which many of us will connect. Princeton's search for a purpose in life is a journey that most of us will find familiar in various forms. For other Arts graduates, like myself, this is a little too familiar. A lot of fun and laughter all round.

I should add at this point too that the goal I set myself earlier in the year to see one theatre show a month has well and truly fallen flat with this being my fourth musical in two weeks. To be fair, two were in Melbourne and three were birthday related.

So, onto my other excitement for the day. When I first moved to London, one of the hardest things about living in this city is the feeling of anonymity. I knew a total of about five people in the entire city of 7.5 million and stood no chance of randomly bumping into someone I knew in the streets, one of the real delights about living in Melbourne. These days, I know about 12 people living in London, still not great odds. But today, getting on the Tube at Tottenham Court Road heading to Leicester Square, I heard my name being called out and spotted two mates in the carriage. Both went to high school with me, and one was only in London for a day. At that moment, I felt like a local in London, and a sense of belonging in this city.

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