Sunday, July 24, 2005

Blog at 2 months, the National Theatre and food

I’ve been writing this blog now for nearly 2 months. It doesn’t feel like it but I have. It still feels new. I guess that’s because I haven’t written very many entries. I suppose I started with a feeling that a blog should be updated every few days and well, it just doesn’t work like that!

I have lots of ideas for blog entries but just finding the 30 minutes or so to write them up can be difficult. It hasn’t helped that during these last two months I’ve had to do final preparation for EuroPLoP (preparing my paper, shepherding), being shepherded for VikingPLoP, finalising my chapter in the PLoPD5 book (due at the end of 2005 or start of 2006 I’m told), co-ordinating work on the ACCU website and holding down a full time job!

Luckily my girlfriend likes me being active like this but I’m sure she’d like me to spend a little more time with her :)

Personally I like being busy, I can’t imagine it any other way but it does tax you, and its is stressful keeping all the commitments you make to people. The only way is to constantly try to reduce them - still the list grows.

The other thing I always want to do more of is culture: theatre, opera, ballet, art galleries, music and so on.

For some reason the Proms programme has been difficult to get hold of this year so the season has started and I’ve hardly got any booked.

With all this in mind it was especially nice to go to the National Theatre last night for “The UN Inspector” - a “free” interpretation of Gogol’s “The Government Inspector” by David Farr.

It was a good play, it had some not so good reviews when it opened a few months ago and I can see what some of the critics where saying but like most plays the first few nights are not the best, I guess it has changed a little and tightened up a bit. If you get the chance go and see it, it is very enjoyable.

Its a while since I’ve been to the National and in that time the Royal Festival Hall has closed for refurbishment. Which means one of my favourite restaurants in London is no more. I hope People’s Palace will return in time but until then I need to find somewhere else.

Now, it might be that my memory is faulty but I don’t recall the National Theatre being a place for restaurants but it now has three. Or rather, one cafeteria and two restaurants.

We went to the Terrace Cafe last night. The weather was OK but not great so we where inside not on the Terrace. What is obvious is that this Cafe has been squeezed into a bit of surplus space. This could mean something pretty awful but it isn’t, it was actually very enjoyable and hit the spot.

The secret is that the designers of this Cafe have integrated the food, service and space. The product offering (to use a marketing term) is tailored to the space and confines. So, there is no starter menu but a salad bar is included. The main courses are stock items (beef, duck, salmon fish cakes) but are prepared well, simple but tasty. The price doesn’t break the bank and the service is great - they know everyone there is going to the theatre so you don’t have to wait long for a waiter and the bill arrives ASAP.

If you want a lesson on how to integrate your service offering with your operational constraint go and have a meal at this restaurant and look at how it works.

And if your going to the National Theatre and want a not-too fancy pre-theatre meal you could do a lot worse than try here.

By now you can see my problem. Even when I’m not working my mind is racing.