… before I got so unsettled and found myself reliving the 1970s, when I was young and beautiful (yeah, right!).
I was in theatre. Nothing much has changed since the 70s in that respect. What has changed, though, is what punters are allowed to do in auditoria these days. Once upon a time all you could do was surreptitiously suck a pastille if you were coughing so much that you were disturbing the actors and the rest of the audience, or, after the interval, carry on enjoying your ice-cream in silence. Now – now! – you’re allowed to drink wine all through the play and asphyxiate the person sitting next to you with the fumes.
Pretentious people who bring in bottles of water and take a sip from time to time are bad enough. Since when – no, really!, since when is it necessary to constantly be drinking? Don’t tell me they’re scared of getting dehydrated in such a short time.
Wine is worse, though. Forget about horrible perfumes (I seem to always get a seat behind someone whose favourite fragrance is some sickly gardenia), the smell of wine is disgusting ‘out of context’. A 20-minute interval is more than long enough to finish up a glass or wine, or two or even three, if you insist on getting sloshed. Of course, the management shouldn’t allow it. When people started taking their drinks into the auditoria, there were accidents so now most theatres supply plastic cups to avoid people getting hurt by broken glass, but they shouldn't encourage this new habit; they should forbid it. Years ago, at the Barbican, I was even stopped from taking my ice-cream into the concert hall. I haven’t been there recently, I bet they allow wine drinking like everywhere else.
I suppose I should have been grateful, that night, that my neighbour wasn’t also munching sweets or peanuts, like the one who recently nearly spoiled a wonderful performance of Antony and Cleopatra for me. In the first half, it was Maltesers rolling around in their box and, in the second, it was the smell of wine. What next? Three-course meals?