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.

Stresa and Lake Maggiore

Just an hour North by train from central Milan is the small lakeside town of Stresa. It sits right on the edge of Lake Maggiore and is famous for its stunning sunset views. There is a real sense of belle époque elegance and sophistication to Stresa, with beautiful old villas lining the shore and a pretty warren of pedestrianised cobbled streets in the old town where there is lots of fantastic  restaurants, cafes and gelato all over to choose from. I stayed at the Hotel de Parc, a beautiful former private villa since converted into a quaint little boutique hotel.
Along the gorgeous lakeside promenade sits the Hotel La Palma. From the outside it looks very traditional and maybe even slightly old fashioned, but peaking out on the rooftop sits the Sky bar. This was definitely my favourite Aperitivo spot in all of Stresa. The views over the lake are incredible. Go around 6.30/ 7pm just before the sun starts to set and enjoy the stunning views across the lake with a Spritz or two.

Ceresio 7 Milan

This cool rooftop bar sits atop the former 1930s Enel (electricity company) HQ in the Porta Garibaldi area of Milan. It includes two stunning swimming pools, a bar and restaurant all under the guidance of the ex- Bulgari Hotel head chef. You can hire cabanas by the pool from €110 a day, but I went for evening cocktails or what the Italians call Aperitivo. After a few delicious Spritz cocktails and with the sunsetting over the rooftops of Milan I moved into the adjoining restaurant. Although very tempted by the amazing sounding tasting menu, I felt I probably wasn’t hungry enough for 8 courses and so resisted and went for a simple primo and secondi option instead. I started with a raw tuna carpaccio with black figs and caramelised onions, before moving onto a beautiful loin of suckling pig with celeriac, honey and chilli, accompanied with a glass of Italian white with the fish and a light fruity red with the pork. I skipped the dessert, but they generously surprised me with a couple of complimentary mini choux buns filled with a white chocolate and passion fruit mousse before bringing me the bill.

Ceresio 7 Milan

Heartthrob Rob

You might know Heartthrob Rob from his hilarious TikTok or his Instagram reels. My good friend Rup and I first got into his videos over lockdown and so when we saw he was doing a world tour and it was stopping in London we booked tickets. It was in the basement of the Soho theatre a lovely intimate venue ideal for comedy. The show itself felt a bit work in progress, it involved quite a lot of audience participation which might of been more forthcoming if the audience was a bit more tipsy or drunk, but unfortunately it was a Tuesday evening, so we weren’t. Also some of the jokes didn’t translate and land because they were focused to a more American audience, something he definitely needs to work on if he wants to do a world tour again. There was some genuinely very funny bits though, but unfortunately not too many, it was very hit and miss. However there was definitely some potential there, but some more work needed.