"See if you fancy anything", my friend says to me as she chucks the What's On at me. For months, she's been trying to convince me that there's nothing to do in Birmingham, but a quick flick through the magazine tells me she's horribly wrong. "Oh look!" I say, "There's a nature park...and a sealife...oh! and Cadbury World! Let's go to Cadbury World!" And just before I close the mag and put it away, my eye falls on the announcement that Jack Dee will be performing live at the Hippodrome that very night and the next. I squeal with delight, and my friend looks at me in wonder. "You like Jack Dee? But he's so English!" I check the clock. An hour an a half before curtain rise..."Do you think there'll still be tickets?" We call the Hippodrome -- and hear it's sold out for that night, but there are still some 20 tickets left for tomorrow's show. We can reserve two, or turn up at the box office tomorrow and get them at reduced rate...In a celebratory mood, we repair to the balti house down the road, and indulge in a wonderfully tasty curry.
The next day, we traipse all over town visiting the Nature Park (red pandas! lynx! meerkats!), Cannon Hill Park, Sarehole Mill (the inspiration, allegedly, for Sandyman's Mill in Tolkien's Hobbiton), and Moseley Bog (which, again if local legend is to be believed, is the original Middle Earth -- smack bang in the middle of a council estate). Then it's home for a quick bite to eat, and off we trudge into town again, for a night of comedic brilliance at the Hippodrome theatre. We're way up in the gods, but with a clear view of the stage. Jack Dee proves every bit as morosely funny and deadpan in real life as on TV, and I'm having the time of my life. My friend has to admit, afterwards, that she had enjoyed herself as well -- and she never really liked him before! Huh? Some people!
I'm meeting her at Borders in a minute, to go on from there to Bournville for our tour of Cadbury World: all the liquid chocolate you can drink, and then some! See you later!