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No Biz like Snow Biz

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There's no business like snow business, but the weather has come a week or two early for Christmas. Come Boxing Day, I fully expect to be turning up at the seaside for an end of the pier show.

Why everything should grind to a halt, or appear to, is beyond me. When I was a child, if the buses and trains were grounded, we walked to school, thought nothing of it (didn't do us any harm, etc). And schools certainly never closed on "health and safety" grounds; they simply changed their rhythm and embraced the challenge.

Theatres, like hospitals and newspapers, carry on. I had a slightly tricky minor invasive operation earlier this week at the University College Hospital (scene of my successful hemithyroidectomy four years ago) -- all clear, I'm glad to say -- and all the staff had managed to get into work. The delightful lady consultant who performed the intimate procedure had come in by bus and Shanks's pony.

And if that's good enough for her, it should be good enough for everyone else. I really will never hear a single word from anyone agianst the National Health Service in this country. 

The critics are huffing and puffing a bit about the cold and the slush, but really it just gives us all something else to talk about and another excuse to exchange plans for the holiday season and mutter on about how the cricket is going in Australia.

The next few days should be interesting, though. I'll be off soon to join Peppa Pig's Party -- just try and keep me away! -- at the lunchtime performance at the Criterion. Then I'll dash back home and try and work out the best way of getting to the Hackney Empire for Clive Rowe's panto performance premiere in Jack and the Beanstalk.

Tomorrow sees the Whatsonstage.com Awards bash at the Cafe de Paris, when the pride of the West End and the pick of the fringe mingle animatedly after the nominations are announced and a few songs are sung.

I'm particularly pleased this year that the WOS adopted charity is The Theatrical Guild, which offers care and cash to indigent backstage and front of house staff in the West End and beyond. And of course there will be the thrilling result of our West End foyer Christmas Tree competition. 

Simon Russell Beale is making the speech, and I look forward to catching up with all the lovely ladies of the Guild -- remember, this was once the Theatrical Ladies Guild in the days of Fay Compton and Irene Vanburgh -- such as Liz Robertson, Belinda Lang, Phyllida Law and Biddy Hayward.

My big task then will be to get from Leicester Square to the Rose at Kingston for the opening of the new Three Musketeers musical, something I'm determined not to miss, whatever British Rail may try and put in my way...perhaps Bill Kenwright will offer me a car, or Andrew Lloyd Webber his helicopter...

And so to Saturday. No let up then, either. I'm slated for the lunchtime Press performance of Steve Marmion's Dick Whittington at the Lyric Hammersmith (just hope it's better than last year's panto). And my evening gig is just that -- the reunion Cast concert at the Shepherd's Bush Empire.

Cast were one of the best Suede-style Indie bands of the 1980s, and their bass guitarist happens to be my daughter-in-law's sister's partner, so there's a three line family whip hopefully in some sort of VIP area.

En route through all this, of course, there's a small matter of the writing that has to be done. At the moment, I'm planning a laptop lacuna in the Lyric on Saturday afternoon, so if you're passing that way in festive mood, do forgive me if I mutter a couple of humbugs and keep my head down for an hour or two.


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