Through the Time Out London magazine's website I scored a half-price ticket to see a creepy ghost story play called "The Woman in Black", about which I had already heard a great deal. I don't get too upset about seeing movies or going to the theatre on my own, because I figure that by the time the show starts you're sitting in the dark, so who can see you?
I'm still getting used to the idea of going to dinner on my own though. I always wonder whether people at adjoining tables are wondering if I've been stood up, or if I'm just exceptionally boring and nobody wants to eat with me. I find myself dreaming up storylines about friends I was supposed to meet, only they bailed at the last minute and I didn't want to lose the reservation...oh the fantasies get nuttier and nuttier - and I never have to say them aloud anyway. But tonight the play I was seeing didn't start until 8pm, so I had to think about dining alone and wondering what excuse (if any) I might use to explain my friendlessness.
I figured I would treat myself to a nice pre-theatre dinner in Covent Garden, where there are always so many people that nobody was likely to notice somebody on their own. I had done a bit of Google Mapping beforehand, which we know has had mixed results in the past. But this time I found the restaurant first pop (my stomach must have led the way)! Maxwell's Bar & Grill is not a high-brow establishment in any sense, but it's location cannot be beaten. It faces right out onto the Covent Garden piazza and has alfresco tables so you can watch the world go by. Flying solo, I wasn't really in the mood for visibility, so I requested a table in some dark, dingy corner so I could people watch from the shadows. My flirty waiter brought over the French martini that I'd ordered, only leaving me in peace once I'd declared the cocktail delicious. He returned periodically to wink and flirt, at least I think he was flirting - I was having trouble understanding his very thick Irish accent. So I did a lot of nodding and "uh-huh"ing - which on reflection is probably the very WRONG thing to be doing if you can't understand someone. Hmm.
The two-course, prix fixe meal of herbed chicken & garlic mash with a dessert of spotted date pudding was delicious but I knew that if I had that second French martini (happy hour or no), I'd settle in for the night and miss my show. No chance of that, thank you.
So I emerged into the Covent Garden Piazza, dodging people and pigeons and some crazy pamphlet-wielding evangelist trying to recruit me to his plethora of crusades. Denied. I headed downstairs to the delightfully named Crusting Pipe Wine Bar. Underground as it is, the whole bar has a sort of mysterious, hidden-away quality that I quite liked. But it is also quite dank and has an unfamiliar odour about it that I wasn't so crash hot on. I also found the Sancerre Rose rather unsatisfactory, but that was hardly the bar's fault. By now though, we were getting close to curtain-raising time and I had to head out.
The production of "The Woman in Black" was really great and I was in the third row from the front, so I had a perfect view. I think that's the bonus of going to the theatre on your own - it's much easier to find a great solo seat, particularly at the last minute. The foyer of the theatre had a bunch of brochures for current and upcoming productions too. There is one with Joanna Lumley (Patsy on "Ab Fab") and David Hyde Pierce (Niles from "Frasier") that I desperately need to see. I wonder if Time Out magazine will help me with a discount on that one, plus the two hundred other shows I want to see?!