Day 139: Achievement 85. Go see the darts at Alexandra Palace

Happy new year.  Hope you had a good Christmas.

A few things quickly struck me about going to see the darts at Alexandra Palace.  Firstly, it’s a lot smaller than you’d think.  Secondly, and incongruously, the dart board is a lot further away than you’d think.  Thankfully, a pair of giant projection screens flank the stage and provide a helpful clue about what on earth’s going on.  This is surprisingly useful; the alternative is seeing the back of fine, athletic, players throwing darts at a fuzzy round target.

Gaaaaame on!
Andree Welge at the oche in his match with Colin Lloyd

So, in summary: it’s £30 to watch a the evening’s darts on a big TV. And it didn’t even look to be HD. And there was no commentary from the legendary Sid Waddell.  And the beer was £3.40 a pint (but served at the table by enterprising keg-carriers).  Freebies included boards to write amusing and/or coded messages on and some amusing Ladbroke’s ear warmers. This was just as well, considering our night at the darts coincided with London’s worst cold snap for at least a year.

Prat with a sign
Proof. I really was there.

But, those major pitfalls aside, the atmosphere is excellent.  Excellent and boozy.  Even the attending ladies were going in hard with the grain.  Luckily for them, relieving themselves didn’t entail a half-mile walk and a long flight of stairs.  It did, and my thighs concur with my view here, for us chaps.

In terms of the action, we saw a first round surprise as Co Stompé went out to Peter Wright.  The crowd boo’d and jeered when Colin Lloyd (playing Andree Welge) thumped the board, mid-game, in frustration.  The noise picked up by the board’s microphones nearly blew the roof off the place; Nick’s top tip is to not be near the PA system next time Jaws steps up to the oche.  I could tell you more, but I’d merely be repeating what’s on the PDC Website.  Go have a look there if you’re massively bothered.  Which I suspect you’re not.  So you won’t click that link.  Which makes me wonder why I’ve put it in.

Oh, yes, and I managed to get on TV.  Sort of.

Can you see my sign?

Hopefully Sky TV won’t mind too much.

I aim to do more Things soon.  Sorry I’ve been hopeless lately.  (Not that you care; you’ve probably already skipped over this post in Google Reader or something.  What’s that?  Hmm.  Oh, OK.)

Day 137: Achievement 40. Make it to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

Oh, I wondered how long it’d be.  Writing this, in late January, it seems I’ve cocked up the chronology of last year’s events.  If you’re one of the more avid readers here, you’ll have learned about our japes at the darts.  The aforementioned japes were on a Friday.  On the Wednesday just before, I paid a visit to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.  If you’re reading this at some point after (*oohs, scratches beard*) about mid-February, you’ll be wondering what I’m going on about.  And that’ll be because I’ve slyly changed the publishing date of this post so it appears in the right place.  But, if you’re reading this now, I probably haven’t done that yet.  Or perhaps I have and, in a fit of fakery fear, have forgotten to remove this paragraph.

So. Moving swiftly along… let’s experiment with drama!

SCENE 1: Hyde Park Corner station ticket office.

CLAIRE is leaning against a ticket machine with a bit of a face on.  NICK approaches from the up escalator.

N: “Hey, lady!”

C: “I’ve been robbed, Nick!”

NICK makes some deductions  Bag?  Obviously not, cos it was over her shoulder. Purse? Probably not, otherwise CLAIRE would be on the phone to the bank. iPod?  Nah, because CLAIRE still had her earphones in. iPhone? Unlikely, seeing as CLAIRE was in the process of texting someone to tell them she’d been robbed. Gloves? Hmmm, perhaps. Everybody needs a pair of gloves in winter, even the quick-fingered. Actually, they could probably make extra use of them (leaving no finger prints). CLAIRE is texting on an iPhone; NICK considers this not to be a pursuit for the be-gloved.

NICK decides there’s only one thing for it: a calm, rational, assured, masculine, response.

N: “OHMYGODAREYOUOK?”

C: “I’ve been robbed, Nick!”

N: “Oh my.  Shit*.  No?  Er, are you ok?  What did they get?”

C: “My Oyster card!  Someone’s robbed my Oyster card!”

N: “Oh”, failing to keep up the initial worry and concern, “is that it?”

NICK doesn’t want to point out that it’s CLAIRE that’s been robbed of her Oyster card and that robbing an Oyster card would be something else entirely.

C: “Nick! I have been ROBBED!”

N: “Oh. Did they get anything else?”

C: “No. But WHO STEALS AN OYSTER CARD?”

N: “Well, these are austere ti..”

C: “Nick! I HAVE BEEN ROBBED!”

N: “Shall we go?”

NICK and CLAIRE exit the station via a staircase

[That’s enough drama.  Too much, actually. -Ed]

I’m pretty sure that Dante wrote Inferno as a clever, extended, metaphor for Winter Wonderland.

Nine Circles of Hell?  Let’s see what we can do:

  1. The German market, selling all manner of crazy continental trinkets;
  2. The German sausage stalls, selling all manner of unpleasant-looking sausages;
  3. The German bars, selling all manner of Bavarian beers;
  4. The German musical entertainment (i), comprising a man playing an electric piano with little more than enthusiasm alone;
  5. The German musical entertainment (ii), comprising the same man singing with little more than enthusiasm alone;

So, the German tortures take care of Upper Hell.  Those who remain resolutely self-indulgent (and nothing more) get off with nothing more than a casual Teutonic nightmare.  But what about those of us who have strayed into violent behaviour?  Ladies and gentlemen, Circles 6 and 7:

  1. The booming discotheque music from some of the fairground ride;
  2. Portable lavatories;

What about those of a malicious disposition?  Journalists, or people from Todmorden, for example.  Read on:

  1. Show-offs flaunting their skills on an elevated ice rink;
  2. Lots and lots and lots of children.

And, if you need more convincing, how about ‘Satan’?

Frosty

Above: Satan

In short: abandon all hope, ye who enter here.  Unless you’re less of an all-round grumpy bastard than me.

And, just in case you’re wondering, Claire got her Oyster card sorted out in the end.  Thanks for caring.

(* Sorry, mum. I sometimes swear.)

Day 105: Achievement 67. See the Lord Mayor’s Show

As London is home of the world’s oldest civic procession, it would seem remiss to not see it at least once. So, the day after the election of the 683rd Lord Mayor of London, I went down there with my camera:

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There’s not that much point in me banging on about what the Lord Mayor does and all this and that; there’s a great website (http://www.lordmayorsshow.org/) with all that stuff on it.  It’s interesting reading, for sure.

A selection of my photos from the day are, of course, over on flickr.  Look out for the one of the Thames Fireworks that I managed to take through a star filter — it’s a corker.