I live in London’s trendy East End, surrounded by girls with skin heads and tramps that know me by name (Erol, I’m looking at you!)(Erol I’m still looking at you, if you’re reading this, give that lady her phone back), but unfortunately I work in quite possibly the worst area of London for a Londoner to find themselves in…….. THE WEST END.
Known for it’s polite people, ample pavement space and quiet streets, The West End hosts almost all of London’s best/biggest theatres. Whilst it may sound very glamourous working in one of the most famous areas of the most famous city in the world, the reality is like chewing wasps. Lots of them. Repeatedly. Until you can’t feel your face and feel like pushing the coach load of French student exchange wasps under the bus (yes a fucking bus) turning the corner off Long Acre (out of towners, be sure to visit Long Acre when you come to London, there simply aren’t enough people on that street).
So let’s think about this- I work in a musical, musicals normally begin at 7.30pm which means me and my beautiful colleagues (drops compliment in case any of them can actually read or have family members who can read this to them) have a vocal and physical warm up at 6.15 which means my usual commute- you guessed it, or you skimmed cause you’re bored shitless- begins at 5.
Wrestling your way through a stream of people all moving in the opposite direction to you, like some hero in a disaster movie (yes I’m the hero in this analogy, if you want to be the hero- do as Lourdes did and write your own fucking blog). And the very worst part is the tourists!!!!! The. Tourists. Sometimes. Just. Stop. They just stop. Stop. In the street. They just stop. And THEN get mad that you walked your Krispy Kreme, sorry vegan meal replacement shake into their back.
Is it rude to clap in people’s face to stop them walking into you/a wall/another candy crush player? “Yes it is”, my mother’s voice echoes in my head (she echoes A LOT!), even though if British social norms were REALLY challenged these days/Hitler had won the Battle of Britain anyone with a Candy Crush gaming problem would just be gassed.
Let’s think a bit harder, my show finishes at 10pm. 10pm in London’s West End is when all the after work crowd who’ve been drinking/secretly screwing a colleague in the 2nd floor toilets since 5.01 deem it appropriate to drag their drunken/less horny selves back home on the commuter train to Essex.
10pm is also the time a lot of other theatres kick out, meaning on top of said tourists on my pavement, I also have to contend with that Hen Do from the Wirral that decided Claire “would rurly lychhh ta see Mama Mia!” Cue drunken shouting, possible vomiting, wolf whistling if it’s summer (I can’t help having a ready made gun show) and DEFINITE renditions of Abba’s greatest hits. Kill. Me. Now.
10pm is also the time of night that the rickshaw drivers hit the streets. Rickshaws are the bicycles taxis. If you are already familiar with what a rickshaw is then great, you feel my pain. If not I will leave this here and you can have a quiet discussion with yourself about them and your distaste for them. I will wait till you have finished loathing rickshaws with me and I can carry on this post……..
Rickshaw hatred done? Great.
“But you are in a westend show” I hear you cry from your bed/sofa/Fritzl style sex annex……….. and your quite right……..(I’m trying to use the word alas somewhere here but……) I chose this life. I could have quite easily got a job in a shop or a bank or that cult that kept writing to me, but I didn’t. I chose THIS life. So perils or no perils, most days you’ll find me wandering the streets of Covent Garden (possibly on Claire’s Hen Do with the ‘gerls’, but definitely singing Fernando).
What a shame there’s no happy ending to this post. No silver lining. My editor (if I had one) would hate this ending. But that’s the truth. The theatre district for all its pizza chains and cocktail bars is a massive fucking ball ache but I’m paid to work in that area just like those lovely girls dancing in the windows on that lovely street in Amsterdam (please note- replace ‘lovely’ with ‘gross’ in both instances in the previous sentence and please use a valley girl American accent when doing so).
Long live Hackney (and all it’s perils. We’ll get to those later)
Ta ta for now