Friday, August 31, 2007

Ye Olde Fleet Street Tour

Today it is 10 years since the death of the ‘people’s princess’ – a fact which will have escaped no-one who watches tv, listens to the radio, reads a paper or gets their daily fix of news and gossip online.

On the day Diana married her prince I was a young hack working in Fleet Street and by leaning out of one of the windows it was possible to see, far down below, the guests and the main players as they passed by on their way to St Paul’s. At the time I was pregnant with the daughter who has just had her own wedding, so hanging out of windows was rather uncomfortable. But last night I found myself pointing out the building to a mother from South Africa, here to visit her son.

The son’s partner is a journalist and we were all there because of an invitation we’d had from our boss: We are proud to announce that Ye Olde Fleet St Tour has been modernised, updated and refurbished at VAST expense and is to be relaunched next Thursday 30 August as the Incredible Fleet St Holistic Experience 2008 and Beyond, sponsored by Sol, the touchy-feely Mexican Lager.

In other words, the annual Fleet Street pub crawl (with a bit of history thrown in for newbie journos who have no idea what life used to be like on the Street of Shame).

Last night, we started the Fleet Street experience at the Blackfriars pub (terrible service, stunning interior, named after the monks who lived there in medieval times); moved on to the Old Bell (which backs on to St Bride’s church - burnt down when the Great Fire crossed the River Fleet, rebuilt by Wren, bombed in the Blitz); and from there to Gough Square (Dr Johnson and his dictionary) to the Cheshire Cheese (full of tourists – including a couple with a child in a buggy).

It was as we crossed Fleet Street on the way to the Cheese that I found myself pointing out that window. The South African lady looked suitably impressed. But not half as impressed as I was when she told me later that her daughter got married in the summer – and she had made all the dresses for the bride and the bridesmaids herself!

PS: St Bride’s is the journalists’ church. It’s where some of us get married or go to sing carols at Christmas and it’s where we hold memorials for friends and colleagues, before decamping to El Vino’s to swap memories. If you’ve ever wondered why Fleet Street became the centre for printing and newspapers, their website has a good explanation

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Two's company

Togetherness is tricky. It’s an odd thing to find yourself saying to a newly wed, but it’s true. As I told my daughter, however much you love someone, the day always comes when you wish they were somewhere else. Just so that you can do your own thing, in your own way, in your own time. On your own.

Take shopping, for instance. Most women complain that their men hate shopping. That they have to drag them to malls and supermarkets. My question is – why bother?

I’m married to someone who likes shopping. Only he shops in a different way to me. He plans each trip with military precision. Operation Brent Cross usually involves a series of missions (buy new socks, check out laptops in Apple Store, get birthday present for grandson in Early Learning Centre) carried out at maximum speed in order to return to base by the time the football kicks off on tv.

My way of shopping couldn’t be more different. I may have a vague objective (present for friend’s birthday next month) but I’m quite happy to go into a number of stores seeking inspiration while simultaneously keeping an eye out for: a) an outfit to wear to the birthday party that would be nicer than anything I currently own, b) a pair of shoes to replace the ones I wear when it rains, only I can’t any more because one of the soles has split and c) a bean-bag because my daughter wants one and I’d like to know how much they cost.

It’s quite possible I’ll come back hours later empty-handed. But it's a sure bet that I won't be greeted with ‘Hallo darling,’ but ‘What took you so long?’

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mirror, Mirror

Thanks must go to the Mirror newspaper for alerting me to another must-see tv programme about weddings (ITV1 tonight). This young lady staggered down the aisle in a crystal-encrusted dress weighing 20 stone.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

One Big Con?

I have a confession to make. I have been sneakily watching The Big Day on bbc tv. The show is a cross between a house makeover – in this case it’s a venue – and a wedding reality show.

The premise is that some poor couple on a limited budget allow their families to get together with the BD’s ‘experts’ to arrange their wedding in the space of a week. The bride has no idea what her dress will look like, and neither bride nor groom knows where the reception will be held. Will it be in a Scout hut or a stately home? Will the theme be Hollywood – or Robin Hood?

I am clearly not the only wedding-obsessive who’s been watching this. Nor am I the only one who thinks the Beeb’s been cheating again. Rose, who’s been chatting on, says:

I absolutely am so impressed by what they achieve on that show! They actually brought the beach indoors- very fab- but was anybody else wondering like me? How on earth would they get it back outside again?!!! We never get to see the tidying up that must go into it after the event- it must have taken a while! Also, is it just me or at the end when they total up the cost of everything are there parts that are deliberately missed out such as the wedding make-up, hair, suit hire, accessories, church venue costs, transport, or is that all included in the price - because if it is I'm very impressed that they could produce everything with just £7000!!

Exactly. I smelt a rat, too. I think we should be told.