A few days away and there is need for stage management at home. So for a week or so, I was wardrobe mistress, groundswoman, general handyperson, catering manager and walker of the theatre mascot. Once things were again semi-shipshape, I took the opportunity to reabscond, this time to be part of the audience.
The first show was Barcelona. The set was by Gaudi and the cast huge. It is easy to please an audience when the sun shines and the evenings are warm. There were scenes on an open-topped bus, a rowdy tapas bar and a roof terrace with a harbour view. What not to like?
The Diamond Jubilee River Pageant was next. Unwilling to pay out for the lunch-theatre seats on the House of Lords Terrace, we were destined for the pit on the Embankment. It is not often that I am upgraded, but elevated I was, to a private box, a 5th floor balcony near Lambeth Bridge complete with champagne and a banner proclaiming Vivat Regina. What it is to have friends with high places. The Bell Boat opened the show and there followed a well-rehearsed pageant with a cast of thousands. Weather, however, has always been a pitfall of outside productions and after the Royal Barge came not only boats of all shapes and sizes, but the rain. The six-deep audience below voted with their feet and went home to view the final scenes on TV – a shame, because many hours had been spent ironing costumes and repainting vessels. Sheltered by the balcony above, I manage to wave to the end.
Today I am backstage again in Orkney. A moth-eaten Union Jack my parents displayed at the Coronation hangs from the window as we watch the service from St Pauls. As the sign said – Vivat Regina