I’m sure we have all experienced cancelled holidays, events and weekends away during the past 18 months. Some may have been cancelled altogether and some may have been rescheduled. Last weekend, the munchkin and I went away to Leeds to see Six the musical – a theatre trip rescheduled from last June. But even the rescheduled trip nearly didn’t happen.
We’d decided to make a weekend of it when I discovered I could book two nights in a chain hotel using loyalty points I’d gained from when I used to travel a lot with my day job. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the deal again for the rescheduled dates but I’d promised my daughter a weekend away and didn’t want to pull out of that after such a tough 18 months just because I now had to pay for accommodation.
The train journey is usually a smooth no-change one but, when we went to book the train tickets, we discovered there were disruptions both ways so travelling was not going to go as planned either.
And the delay in restrictions being lifted meant a reduced audience at the theatre. If we hadn’t got our tickets for this year, I’d have lost my hotel money (as it was on a non-refundable deal) and most of my train fare. Thankfully it transpired that we’d booked really early so we had priority over keeping our seats.
Then the munchkin had to isolate after positive Covid cases in her school. Thankfully she tested negative in a PCR and subsequent lateral flow tests and the isolation ended just in time to travel.
I felt a little apprehensive about the trip as was so many firsts for me since before the pandemic began – first train journey, first night in a hotel, first visit to a city and first peopley event, even though it would be reduced capacity – but I was determined we’d have a good time after being stuck at home for so long.
The show itself was phenomenal and, if you have a chance to see it, definitely do. I have to give huge thanks and praise to the staff of Leeds Heritage Theatres, specifically the Leeds Grand Theatre, as it was a really smooth process getting in (via temperature check and track & trace logging) and all the staff were really friendly.
It was really good to be back in the theatre and especially lovely that we’d booked a box which we’ve never done before. With social distancing, we had the box to ourselves!
I’d wondered how they’d manage the social distancing but it was fairly straightforward: every other seat had a covering over it and boxes only had people from the same booking in them with every other box empty.
If you’re not familiar with Six, it’s a musical about the six wives of Henry VIII. I didn’t know what to expect. I’d seen some of the cast performing as an interval act on Britain’s Got Talent years ago which is what prompted us to want tickets, but I hadn’t heard anything about it.
It’s different to any musical I’ve seen before in that it’s just the six wives on stage throughout the whole show (1 hour 20 mins) alongside a four-piece all-female band (keyboard, lead guitar, bass guitar, drums). They sing and there’s a bit of talk but no set changes/costume changes/long acted segments which was different to any musical I’ve ever seen but it absolutely worked. The songs were amazing with funny/clever lyrics and oh my goodness those voices! Wow, those actors could belt out a tune!
I was on the verge of tears all the way through the first song. It felt so emotional being back in live theatre and thinking about all the struggles that those involved in the arts have faced during the pandemic. Actors, producers, musicians and so on are mainly freelance and would have fallen through the gaps in financial support. The theatres – usually beautiful old buildings with expensive upkeep costs – have struggled so much with the lost income and the staff have had all the extra work of cancelling and rescheduling then rescheduling again and probably some very angry customers to deal with for something the theatre couldn’t control. Add to that the amazing voices and how resounding music can stir the soul, I had to give myself a stern talking-to not to turn into a gibbering wreck!
The audience were wearing masks and I wondered how that would feel from the stage, not able to see the smiling faces, but there was plenty of audience engagement with laughter, cheers, clapping and dancing in the seats. The cast and band absolutely deserved the standing ovation at the end.
If you have a chance to see this, do grab a ticket as it is interesting, funny, and fabulous. I have learned a lot more about history and I now don’t just know the rhyme we all know – divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived – without being able to tell you which wife was which. I now know which is which and why they met their fates. If you’re interested, check out my list under my signature for a little slice of history.
So the show was definitely worth seeing, but the rest of the weekend was a bit of a wash-out – literally. Yes, the great British weather did a number on us. We had steady rain, torrential rain, and thunderstorms. So we got wet. A lot.
I don’t like shopping but was happy to traipse around with the munchkin knowing I’d be able to treat myself in my favourite shop in Leeds – specialist teddy bear shop Mary Shortle. Only it has closed. No!!!!!!
Stuck for what to do in the bad weather on Sunday, we went to the cinema to see Peter Rabbit 2. We’d loved the first one but I felt that this one lacked the same humour and charm so was, for me, pretty disappointing. I’m sure plenty will love it, though, so please don’t be put off by my verdict.
We had an unpleasant run-in with a frazzled server in a famous doughnut chain who told me off, gave me filthy looks and was extremely rude. I understand that retail staff have very unfairly had abuse from customers about masks and social distancing but I’m not one of those customers so there was no need to direct the anger at me. To top it all, the doughnut bags got wet because the rain soaked through the bag I had them in, and they got squashed, so the eating pleasure wasn’t quite the same and didn’t make up for the experience.
The stress of all the arrangement changes, the horrendous weather, the bear shop closure, the disappointing film, the transport problems, the doughnut incident, and the Covid restrictions made everything about this weekend so difficult. I loved the show and the time with the munchkin but I kind of wished we hadn’t booked our tickets early and had had to defer until next year instead. I’d rather have stayed at home where it’s safe and dry and there are no angry doughnut sellers! Hopefully our next trip out will be more successful.
Wife 1 – Catherine of Aragon – divorced for not bearing a son as Henry VIII was obsessed with keeping the tudor line going. The Roman Catholic Church wouldn’t grant a divorce so the monarch broke away and formed the Church of England
Wife 2 – Anne Boleyn – beheaded. Henry lost interest in her when she didn’t give him a male heir. She was accused of adultery and treason and their marriage was annulled two days before her execution although the exact legal reasons surrounding the execution remain a mystery
Wife 3 – Jane Seymour – died. Finally Henry had the male heir he wanted (Edward VI) but she died from birth complications a few weeks later
Wife 4 – Anne of Cleves – divorced. This was a strategic European alliance to marry one of the daughters of Germany’s Duke of Cleves. Henry wanted to see a portrait of each to decide which one to marry and he choose the best-looking. Except the portrait was super flattering and he was shocked at the lack of likeness when he met Anne. It was too late to halt the wedding (he tried!) and his “ugly wife” (isn’t that awful?) agreed to a divorce and generous settlement after six months. She lived in luxury on the back of that
Wife 5 – Catherine Howard – beheaded. She was only 19 and he was 48 (if I’ve done my maths correctly) when they married but he was overweight and unable to walk by this point. Rumours of infidelity on her part surfaced after less than a year of marriage and she was executed for adultery and treason
Wife 6 – Katherine Parr – survived. She was known as a peacemaker and had great influence on so many aspects of court and European relationships. She outlived Henry by a year.
Images courtesy of the programme.