Monday, 30 December 2013


I knew David Wood a little at Oxford, where he displayed a precocious talent in the OUDS and ETC. Starting as he meant to go on, he is now hailed by some as the children's theatre laureate. We turned our backs on panto for once in order to sample his adaptation of "Tom's Midnight Garden" this afternoon, the children scoring it 10 out of 10.

For this, the five of us sat at the back of the steeply-raked stalls at Birmingham Old Rep. It's celebrating 100 years as a theatre this year, and the space between the rows is an indication of how well we've all been eating our greens in the interim. I remember being taken to pantos there by my grandmother Gateley - probably in the 1940s, when my legs and trousers were shorter.

Before the play, we paid a visit to the crib at St Philip's (in fact two cribs - plus of course the Burne-Jones Nativity window); and then had lunch in the new Library café, explored its lifts and escalators and admired the view from the top floor. The children rolled merrily around on the carpet of the recreated Shakespeare Memorial Room, where they clearly felt at home. (Ida has been spouting Macbeth.)

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