Up to London yesterday to attend the two o'clock matinee of 'Hamlet' at the Globe, followed by 'The Fat Girl Gets a Haircut' at the Roundhouse in the evening - a real playathon of theatrical stamina. But this isn't about those - you can see reviews elsewhere if you're interested. This is about the journey to get there.
We had to meet some other people at the Globe at 1.30, so arranged to gather at Reading station at half-eleven. Plenty of time, no? Grab a beer and a sandwich when we get there. Sure enough, the train to Paddington was pretty well on time so, as C doesn't like the Underground (who does, apart from some rather creepy people?), we grabbed a taxi.
" Hope you've got plenty of time," the driver said. (He could have added "and money".) "Gridlock out there."
Really?" we said. "Why's that?"
"But, um, that was last Friday."
He shrugged. "Doesn't stop 'em."
By the time we reached Birdcage Walk we knew he was right. We moved about twenty yards in five minutes. This was something worse than simple post-nuptial fever (though we never found out what). We had plenty of time to observe hordes of tiny tourists with pullovers tied round their waists, photographing each other in front of various kinds of pigeon, and long-lensing the demolition of the scaffolding on the other side of the Park.
At about twenty to one, there occurred the first of the only two instances of altruistic London taxi driver behaviour I have ever experienced.
"Tell you what," said our driver. "You'd be better off on the Tube." Glances were exchanged. "Just walk down there to St James's Park station."
C bit the Underground bullet. "Okay, let's go for it." We paid off the driver - he refused a tip: "No thanks, I didn't get you there, did I?" - and started walking down the alley he'd pointed us towards.
When we reached Victoria Street, which seemed relatively uncongested - they must have been making at least twenty yards a minute, I had a thought.
"Why don't we walk down to Parliament Square? We'll be on the other side of this mess then, and we can pick up a cab there."
So we did. As we entered the Square, noticing the queues for the Abbey which would have put the Uffizi in Florence to shame, a taxi drew up beside us and two passengers disembarked. Not believing our luck, we climbed in.
"Globe Theatre, please."
The driver pondered, then altruistic act number two happened.
"In a hurry, are you? It's gridlock everywhere. They said it was the Royal Wedding, but ... You'd be better off on the Tube."
Well, we got the Jubilee Line to Southwark and walked half a mile to Tate Modern and the Globe. It was a quarter to two. Our companions were waiting outside, checking their watches.
"We'd better hurry," said Ben.