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  • Writer's pictureStuart Champion

Sitting with the Fiddler - on the Roof

Updated: Feb 27, 2019

Mrs Champion and I had a lovely day yesterday.

We went and did our food shopping at Quality Foods in Hayes - an experience I'll write about later - had lunch with friends by Borough Market and then went to the Chocolate Factory.

I know I now have your rapt attention, but for those of you who don't know, The Chocolate Factory is not Willy Wonka's London home - it is a small theatre in Southwark near Borough Market.

In case you have any doubts about my ability to Over-Engineer, I've prepared an illustrative slide to help you follow proceedings. For anyone who still has doubts about my Over-Engineering ability, there will be an animated 3D version available shortly.

We were off to see Fiddler on the Roof.

Nicola and I with our wonderful friends, Brett and Susie.

'Nothing complicated about that,' I hear you say, 'what could possibly go wrong?'

Enter Stage Right, The Chair.

You see, Brett comes with a wheelchair.

For those of you who know about my other slight fault - that of Being Clumsy - you'll recognise Brett as the source of the fabulous carbon fibre wheelchair I turned up in last year when I broke my leg. Then one of Brett's wheelchairs was a blessing because I could get around whilst non-weight bearing, although The Chair did occasion two interesting phenomena.

Firstly, most people stopped talking to me, instead addressing Nicola. Who can forget the helpful assistant in Marks and Spencer when I asked for large-fitting socks who turned to Nicola to reply.

'What size does he want?' she asked.

Secondly, those people who didn't know me but felt obliged to speak to me, invariably asked the same question.

'Are you doing the London Marathon this year?'

So with the need to get The Chair into the theatre, we have to go from the Box Office, through the Restaurant and wait outside by the Stage Door.

We've done this loads of times before, but as we were slightly later than usual the very helpful lady we saw in the Box Office said she would come and let us in last.

This is where you need to study the handy Over-Engineered diagram.

The various routes taken - pay attention, there will be questions after

We were waiting outside the building by The Stage Door as we heard the final call.

We were still waiting a few minutes later, so I said, 'Let me go and check.'

Off I went, into the Restaurant where I was greeted at the door.

'Would you like a table for one?'

Having politely declined, I went through the Restaurant and into the corridor leading to the Box Office where it was patently obvious people were still queuing to get into the auditorium.

I went back through The Restaurant, declined a table again, and joined our party.

'It's alright,' I said, 'they're still queuing to get in.'

Five minutes later I lost my nerve.

It was now 3:29, the show started at 3:30 and all the signs indicated that "Latecomers are not allowed into the show."

I did the obvious thing.

I went back through The Restaurant, declined a table for one and headed to the corridor.

It was empty.

I walked past the man shutting the door to the auditorium and went to the Box Office.

It too was empty.

I realised that our lady from The Box Office had sold me the dummy and gone through the auditorium to get to the Stage Door to let us in.

Back I went.

Down the corridor, through The Restaurant, past the bemused staff and out to The Stage Door.

This is the moment where you expect the story to end.

And it would have been, except for one slight thing.

The rest of my party, The Chair included, had disappeared.

Having tried the Stage Door to no avail, I did the only obvious thing.

I panicked.

At least this time I was able to address the burning issue of the day before anyone else did, 'No,' I said as I entered The Restaurant again, 'I don't need a table for one.'

Through The Restaurant, down the empty corridor to the empty Box Office.

The door to the Auditorium was now closed , but, fortunately, I did manage to find the man who had just closed it.

'Do you want to go in?' he asked.

'Yes.' I said, briefly explaining about The Chair.

'Fine,' he replied, 'if I can just see your ticket...'

If you are still with the story, I am going to pose a question for you.

Can you guess where my ticket was?

Suffice to say that for a moment it looked like my only seating option was going to be on the roof, next to the fiddler. Then fate intervened, the lady from the Box Office reappeared and all was well with the world.

'Hello,' Nicola said when I took my seat, 'you took your time.'

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