Saturday 10 November 2012

Run - good. Tina goes out on her bike to meet with friends in Oakley, and Ken comes round before twelve to whisk me off to the station. He has two tickets for Dweezil Zappa, tonight at London's Roundhouse, and one of them is for me!

In London, we visit the World Press Photo 2012 exhibition at the Festival Hall (we were passing and wandered in), cross the Thames to Covent Garden, eat lunch, and visit the TinTin store (very good). Later, we head for Camden on foot, via Regent's Park and the Regent Canal. We meet up with Jim, and find a pub. It's great to see him, as always. The three of us sit on a roof terrace, chatting, until we decide it's too chilly, and retreat indoors. Jim has a busy evening, with at least two social engagements, so as Ken and I walk the few yards from the pub to the Roundhouse, Jim departs to the nearest tube station.

Our seats for the evening's entertainment overlook the main space. Last time we were here, also to see Dweezil, we were standing downstairs. It's easier to see the fascinating structure of the building from our higher viewpoint - and on balance I prefer to sit. The performance is very good, with a real mix of Frank Zappa's material. I'm not as familaiar as Ken is with all of FZ's work, so I don't know a few of the numbers, but enjoy the whole thing immensely. One point of interest: the last time we saw this show, for a couple of songs, Frank was featured on a big screen with the band onstage playing along with him. Tonight, although it's all his material, Frank doesn't seem to get such high billing. Ken and I wonder how long Dweezil can continue before he becomes just another tribute band.

On the tube back to Waterloo, Ken engages in conversation with another concert goer. His new friend wears a very interesting suit - a lovely burnt orange colour. He is with his wife and another couple, and, like us, appears to have made good use of the bar at the Roundhouse. Ken is sitting opposite me, his friend is standing, and the carriage is packed, so I only get snippets of the conversation:

"Yes, really good.... not sure about all the songs selected... Peaches... very good... early stuff... 70's..."

"Basingstoke... yes, BASINGSTOKE... yes, tonight.... no, we're getting a train...yes, they do have trains to Basingstoke!.... yes, a train... from Waterloo!!"

"Family... Burlesque... Roger Chapman hitting himself on the head with a tambourine... he can't keep that up..."

"Barnstable... staying with friends up here... driving back tomorrow... the M3... yes, ok, twelve o'clock tomorrow... a silver Seat?... we'll stand on the bridge at Dummer...OK, we'll be waving... and spitting..."

The woman who is not Ken's new friend's wife confides in me: "He's staying with us!" and sounds both horrified and delighted at the same time. They leave the train with effusive goodbyes and we get off later to double back on ourselves one stop to get to Waterloo. As we sit waiting for the doors to close two young men get on and enquire if this is the right train for the Edgeware Road. It seems to be. The man who sits next to Ken and opposite me is very handsome and extremely youthful, and American, judging by his accent. It is his birthday, which explains the bottle of Hennessy cognac, a quarter full, which he grasps and occasionally swigs from. Of course, Ken engages him in conversation, and gets to take a mouthful of brandy when it's offered. He doesn't pass it across to me! I shall never forgive him.  

We manage to get the midnight train home from Waterloo, and throughout the journey have one of those intense drunken conversations which make so much sense at the time. Tonight we throw the full force of our combined intellects at the topic of evolution. Despite a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of Darwins's great theory, we have a very satisfying debate. Taking opposing positions, we try to conduct our argument in hushed whispers, as the train is very full.

As we get off at Basingstoke, Ken unveils the final, crowning piece of reasoning which will render me mute: "Anyway, in evolutionary terms, a giraffe is just a fish!!" At this, a fellow passenger, also leaving the train, emits a snort of suppressed laughter. "What!" says Ken. "Thank you so much!" she exclaims, and repeats Ken's pearl of wisdom, several times. It appears that hushed whispers were not what our fellow passengers heard. As we walk along the platform, the woman says she is going to have to write down the main points of Ken's evolutionary treatise. Ken is desperately trying to remember a fact which will prove his point, especially about the fish, but fails (he remembered, about twelve hours too late). His fan walks off, giggling, and we head homeward, to our houses and loved ones. Happy days...