Turning Twenty-Two, and Why Good News Isn’t Always Good

A week-past Monday now (20th May), it was my birthday, where I turned 22 years old.

I spent the majority of the day working on the bar at Haddington Bowling Club before taking to the green at night in the first round of the County Cup, which is a knockout competition run by East Lothian Bowling Association. We ended up making it through to the next round on Wednesday.

To my surprise, one of the Committee Members had organised a chocolate cake for the afternoon; how did they know I would like one of those? ;) You’ll just have to trust me that it tasted good, it didn’t last very long …

That wasn’t the biggest surprise though. Turned out my younger brother was treating me to a trip to London for a couple of days, and two other friends were coming also. I probably knew 1% of the details, but everyone else did a pretty good job keeping the other 99% to themselves. I was really looking forward to what they had planned.

It turned out one of them had audience tickets for Russell Howard’s Good News which was being filmed on Tuesday night, and would be shown on TV on Thursday.

We had a 9:30am train to catch in the morning, so it was up bright and early. Can still remember that lovely bacon roll I had for breakfast at Edinburgh Waverley before jumping on the train to London King’s Cross. The four-and-a-half hour journey passed fairly quickly while we scrolled through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and enjoyed the view(s) outside.

Arrived In London
Navigating your way around London was actually much easier than I first thought it would be, especially using the Underground. We got checked in to our hotel, located within a five-minute walk of Tower Bridge, before making our way to Hammersmith.

We arrived after a couple of stops on the Tube and set about grabbing a bite to eat before heading to Riverside Studios which was in walking distance.

Having finished our rather lovely burger and chips, and walked for 15-20 minutes, we arrived at the studios only to be greeted by an already long queue of people obviously here for the same thing.

A lady from the Avalon TV Productions Team (I’m going to assume) was checking people’s tickets. She informed us that we had been put on a standby list, and given numbers 13-16, then asked to come back around 6:40pm to see if there was room or not? This wasn’t very promising, although she did say there was a good chance we’d make it, so that helped ease the pain I guess.

All we could do was walk around the local area, before that got slightly boring. It was decided to head back and wait it out in the queue.

Some time passed before the same lady from the Avalon TV Productions Team came back around checking everyone’s tickets to make sure nobody else had tried to slip in. The words “OK, that’s fine” when she passed us the second time around. Slowly but sure the queue started to move.

We made it to pretty much the front; it was now within touching distance. You can imagine how disappointed we were when she shouted “there is only enough space for standby people 1-10.” I was about ready to cry. All the way for nothing!

To make matters worse, I had a button fall off my new polo shirt.

She took our tickets and said that they would be in touch with Priority Tickets for another show. I was at the stage I didn’t know what to feel. I’d have happily paid money to guarantee me a place the first time around.

We headed back to our hotel before going for a couple of drinks.

The Next Day
Having made plans for Wednesday, we set about tackling the all-you-can-eat breakfast.

After checking out of the hotel, it was a quick stop at the Left Luggage facility in King’s Cross. This would save carrying our bags about all day when we didn’t need them.

Madame Tussauds was the first thing on today’s agenda. If you’ve never heard of the place before then you’ve already missed out. I’ve heard my mum talking about it in the past so was looking forward to it.

We probably arrived about 11:15am and made our way inside. It’s a massive place with many different areas to walk around. The wax models were just out of this world, I couldn’t quite believe how identical they were.

How often can you stand beside so many Celebrities and have your photo taken? ;)

Must have left a good couple of hours later and headed on to our next destination which was the London Eye. Actually seeing it in the “flesh” instead of on the TV was quite exciting. The queue kept moving at a pretty consistent speed which meant we didn’t end up waiting long.

The views you get from within the pod are quite spectacular to say the least, especially after you’d made it right up to the top. All you could see was miles and miles of the London skyline. Professional photographers would have a field day snapping away.

After about 40 minutes it was sadly time to get off. I could have gone round another couple of times seeing thing I’d probably have missed the time before. If I was down in London again, I’d most definitely go on it again.

I wasn’t exactly too bothered about our third destination, the Science Museum, but the other three were so I went along anyway. To be fair, it was quite fun playing in the Google Web Lab zone, trying out all of the different experiments.

We left and headed back to King’s Cross grabbing a McDonalds in the process, and picking up our bags, before catching the last train back to Edinburgh at 7pm.

I’ll Be Back London
Really enjoyed myself over the couple of days I was away in and about London. Having not been on holiday, etc, for a few years now, it was actually nice to just get away in general. There are loads of areas of London yet to explore, so I will be back down at some point; for a few days longer though?

We did receive our Priority Tickets for another showing of Russell Howard’s Good News. I really would like to go, but unless I get the VIP treatment, I’m unsure how I can warrant the expenses that’ll be involved? Too early to call it a Christmas present?

Thanks for the trip though Graeme, now to plan your birthday …

© Copyright Mark McWilliams.
Mark McWilliams
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