Yesterday evening, Head office and I went to see Andre Rieu (pronounced Ree-oo) at the Arena in Birmingham. He is a charismatic 69 year old Dutch violinist who has created the Johann Strauss Orchestra and tours the world with this orchestra, his choir and several soloists and visiting acts, putting on grand concerts which are obviously successful as he is reputed to be worth 40 million US dollars. I should think that, after last night, he is worth a lot more money.
The last time we visited the Birmingham arena was a year ago. We went with Calum and his family to a military tattoo. Our seats were situated where the top of the arena wall meets the ceiling. The concrete steps up to the seating block were extremely steep and we sat up there, peering at the people on the hall floor; they looked like ants. Deannie suffered from a combination of dizziness and oxygen deficiency at such a height and, when she found out where we were going, was most anxious to reassure herself that I had not booked similar seats for Andre Rieu. I was able to reassure her that, having studied the floor plan carefully and having shelled out over £100 per person for what must have been the most expensive seats in the place (the price gave me serious indigestion and we agreed that it would be our Christmas present to each other) we would surely be in excellent seats. We arrived and, after a meal at Wagamama’s restaurant (surprisingly excellent Japanese food), we went into the arena to take our seats. We climbed ever higher and, yes, you have guessed correctly, we ended up sitting where the top of the wall meets the ceiling, looking at all the ants on the stage. Fortunately, they had massive TV screens so we could see what was going on. It transpired that our seat were the cheapest in the house and all the ants at ground level had paid at least £200 each for their seat! My only satisfaction came when the ants were deluged with artificial snow during “Silent Night”.
I am having trouble getting used to the local traffic. From our house in Worcestershire (sounds better that the West Midlands) to central Birmingham is about 10 miles, the same distance as Wereham is from Feltwell, but it can take a long time. Yesterday afternoon, we left home at 4pm for an 8pm show. We arrived at the theatre car park at 5.30pm a slow journey because a burst water main had paralysed the city centre. We the spent 45 minutes touring all the city centre restaurants, looking for one with space for two to eat. We ended up in Wagamama’s at 6.15pm and left there an hour later, just in time to join the massive queue at security before entering the arena.
The Arena holds 15,800 people and it was full (Income from tickets alone at, say, an average of £150 per ticket, would have been £2.37 million, so his income for the evening was secure. Obviously, there would have been expenses to deal with). I was intrigued by the fact that our friend, Judith, had been to exactly the same concert in London the night before and I wondered how they had moved the whole show to Birmingham apparently overnight. As we left the theatre, we saw about 8 massive articulated lorries parked outside with an equal number of luxury coaches – all part of his empire.Tonight, he is in Liverpool and, tomorrow night, he will be in Nottingham. The lorries and their crews will be exhausted.
As a butcher was shooing a dog out of his shop, he noticed a £10 note in the dog’s mouth, with a note asking for “5 lamb chops, please”. The butcher put the bag of chops with the change in a bag and the dog picked it up and trotted out. The butcher followed him and saw him go over the road to a bus stop, having stopped at the kerb to check both ways for traffic. The dog studied the timetable and, having checked the number board on the bus, he rode home. He pushed the stop bell for his stop, ran up to the front door of his house and threw himself repeatedly against the front door until his owner came to the door and opened it. He started shouting at the dog. The butcher caught up and asked the man why he was shouting at the dog, who was obviously a genius. The butcher replied “Genius, pah! This is the second time this week he has forgotten his key”
This joke reminds me of the “talking dog for sale, £5” joke which I really love. I shall make space in next month’s article.
Best wishes to you all Ian Nisbet.