Cross those legs and wait for the break

If I hadn’t left the Lighthouse Theatre early the other night, I wouldn’t have settled myself down on the sofa in front of the TV with a packet of hobnobs.

I wouldn’t have started to watch a programme that went on past my usual bedtime. If I’d stayed until the end of the show, when I arrived home I would have had a quick cuppa and been tucked up in bed fast asleep before midnight.

As it was, I was still up and relatively alert when I got a phone call from my son and his friends to say they had missed the last train home from London but had managed to catch one to Bedford, and could I please, possibly, please, if it’s not too much trouble, please, pick them up from there at 1.50am? Ah, the joys of parenthood. Good job I wasn’t in bed or I might not have felt so kindly disposed.

So why did we come home early? Partly because the show wasn’t very good, but mostly because the audience was driving us mad, or to be more precise, a certain section of the audience was driving us mad.

I’m all in favour of a pint before curtain-up, perhaps a swift half during the interval or a post-show snifter. But – and listen up, gents, because this is important – I am quite capable of sitting through a show without the need for a comfort break.

Do you remember when you were little how your mother used to ask you if you needed the toilet before you set off on a long journey? Well, recent experience suggests that some people need reminding of this exercise in basic self-awareness.

I should have been alerted when the chap next to me arrived with a pint in each hand. Sure enough, we were only about 15 minutes into the show before he had to go out and make himself comfortable. Then, of course, he had to come back.

Then his mate went. Then a couple from further along the row. And when it wasn’t them it was folk behind us or in front of us.

I appreciate that when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. What I don’t appreciate is the theatre ushers letting these fidgets back in again! Why can’t they wait until there’s a suitable break? It’s disrespectful to the performers and teethgrindingly annoying for those of us with bladder control and a sense of how to behave in public.

Next time I’m seated at the end of a long row I shall have a good look at my fellow theatregoers, tap them on the shoulder before the entertainment starts and ask: ‘Have you been?’