Witness for the Prosecution

I love a good Agatha Christie murder mystery. Witness for the Prosecution has been on at County Hall in London for quite a few years now and I’ve been wanting to see it for ages, so with the ‘Get into London Theatre’ January sale on I couldn’t resist.

The play is staged in what was the main council chamber of the old London County Council, later the Greater London Council, that was famously led by firebrand Ken Livingston and then eventually scrapped by Margaret Thatcher is the 1980s. It is a beautiful Edwardian baroque space and was perfect for the play. As it was built as a former council chamber and not specifically a theatre, it also meant that there was much more leg room that normal and even a little fold out table in front of me, perfect resting spot for a cheeky G&T.

Without giving too much away or any spoilers I can tell you the play revolves around a trial of a young man accused of murder. This being an Agatha Christie there is of course lots of twists and turns in the story. Being a fan I sort of guessed the ending, but nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend.

Backstairs Billy

Backstairs Billy is a play all about the late Queen Mother’s favourite servant, William Tallon, who was cheekily nicknamed Backstairs Billy. He was so called because his official title as a royal servant at Clarence House was Steward and Page of the Backstairs. I actually read the book ‘ Backstairs Billy: The Life of William Tallon, the Queen Mother’s Most Devoted Servant’ that the play is partially based on during lockdown and found it utterly fascinating. As soon as I saw this advertised I knew I had to get tickets.

Written by Marcelo Dos Santos, the production is set in 1979 and explores the unusual relationship between Tallow and his royal employer. As well as being a servant he was also a very promiscuous homosexual. The gorgeous, out gay actor Luke Evans plays the main role of Billy and Penelope Wilton the role of the Queen Mother. The play is very funny and also quite naughty in places, but is an amusing romp. It’s only on until January 27th, so not long to grab tickets if you want to see it. I loved it.

Ain’t too proud

Ain’t too proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations is the West End debut of the 2018 jukebox musical all about the classic R&B Motown band, The Temptations. You’ll know them from song’s like ‘My Girl’, ‘Get ready’, ‘Papa was a rollin’ stone’ and of course the song the title of the musical comes from ‘Ain’t too proud to beg’. It’s from the same producers that did Jersey Boys, the brilliant musical about the Four Tops, as such it does feel very similar in style. As it was press night we had an extra special guest appearance at the end of evening from the founder and only original Temptations member left in the band, Otis Williams. I went with my friend Simon and we loved it.

Ramo Ramen

This ramen restaurant is famous for its award winning oxtail kare kare ramen. Until recently they only had a branch in Kentish Town in North London, but they’ve now opened a second branch on Brewer Street in Soho. A much easier option for me. I was passing and meeting a friend for drinks later so went for an early dinner. I was the only customer in there at the time, though a few other customers came in while I was eating. The ramen was relatively quick to come and looked interesting. The broth was sadly a bit cold, definitely more lukewarm than hot. Ramen should always really be served very hot and eaten immediately for maximum noodle slurpage, so this was disappointing. The noodles were the standard shop bought in type and on the slightly too soft side. The egg was starting to get hard and was slightly broken. Personally if I was the chef I wouldn’t of served it. However the highlight was the oxtail which was really good, definitely the star of the show. This has the makings of a pretty decent ramen, unfortunately on the day I visited standards had very much slipped.

Oxtail kare kare ramen
Oxtail kare kare ramen

Tower of London

So often when we live in a city like London we can forget the wonders that are right on our doorstep. While abroad I often take the chance to visit those countries art galleries and museums, I forget that some of the best of these in the world our actual in my own home city. Making a conscience decision that I needed to rectify this I suggested to my friends that we should head to the Tower of London. Not only is this World Heritage site actually in our city, it’s even in our borough, so local in fact that as residents of Tower Hamlets we can visit for just £1. Anyway we all took the Friday off work and headed to Tower Hill with our proof of addresses and local library cards.

After buying our tickets we walked through the main gate and waited on the bridge over the moat and on the advice of the ticket office waited for one of the regular tours that start from there every half an hour. The completely free tours are led by one of the famous tower beefeaters and take about 45 minutes. The tour only covers the outside of the tower complex, but gives a really good overview of the various buildings and the beefeaters are excellent guides and drop in lots of jokes and fun facts along the way. This leaves you to explore the insides of the various buildings by yourselves. The main building is the White Tower, which although famous as being a jail was actually a royal palace for over 500 years,

The other main building is of course the Jewel House that houses all the Crown Jewels. This building is completely windowless (I imagine for security reasons) and also included the coronation robes. Annoyingly no photography is allowed, though I did manage to catch a sneaky shot of the imperial state crown when one of the guards wasn’t looking! I asked why no photography was allowed, but was told if I wanted a picture I could buy a postcard in the gift shop, which I thought was a tad rude. The main jewels are located in glass cabinets with travelators each side like you get at large airports. I assume this is to stop overcrowding and encourage people not to dawdle, but it was hardly necessary on the day we visited as it really wasn’t that crowded.

Afterwards we went to the small Chapel Royal of St Peter next door where some of the VIPs were buried after their executions, including three Queens of England, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey.

We finished off our tour by walking around all the battlements walls of the Tower and admiring all the stunning views of the City of London and Tower Bridge that they provided. We then exited on to the riverside and walked across Tower Bridge to the Ivy Market Grill at One Tower Bridge for a late lunch.