Town Mouse

A night of rev­elry

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

ON our way to the Na­tional The­atre’s en­gag­ing cur­rent pro­duc­tion of Twelfth Night last week, we were amazed by the vast crowds that had de­scended on the Thames to en­joy the warmth of the evening. The whole pedes­trian em­bank­ment seemed to have been trans­formed into a vast cafe or bar. As we picked our way through the crowd, the roar of con­ver­sa­tion drowned out all other sounds. For a rare and ex­hil­a­rat­ing mo­ment, London felt hu­man and re­laxed.

I fancy that, when I first came to live here about 25 years ago, such a scene was un­think­able (par­tic­u­larly on the once-un­fash­ion­able South Bank). Then again, hu­man­ity it­self man­i­festly doesn’t change. When we left the the­atre a cou­ple of hours later, fresh from wit­ness­ing the ex­cesses of Sir Toby Belch and Sir An­drew Aguecheek, the crowd’s com­par­a­tively light­weight rev­ellers had evap­o­rated. In their place was a stag­ger­ing ex­panse of rub­bish. Across the full ex­tent of the Em­bank­ment were plas­tic glasses, bot­tles and pack­ag­ing clus­tered in cir­cles, the foot­prints of van­ished par­ties. It was a dis­mal scene en­livened only by the noc­tur­nal seag­ulls en­joy­ing the spoils. As we fled, I re­flected that Malvo­lio, for all his faults, at least had the strength of mind to com­plain. JG

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