There are some mornings I wake up without a smile on my face to show the world all the love in my heart.
Today though is not one of them.
Today, I have the widest smile on my face because today I am going to see the Carole King Story in London’s West End with my wife courtesy of SuperBreak.
She’s Beautiful (as is my wife).
Carole King and her seminal 1971 solo album Tapestry has been something of a soundtrack to my adult life since I first heard it in a record store as an 18-year-old and asked them to play it again… before buying it there and then before going on to wear out the needle.
Will You Love Me Tomorrow? summed up my feeble attempts at wooing… of course, they didn’t even love me that night,
Then it was You’ve Got a Friend when She came along,
So Far Away was when she was pregnant with the Son and Heir in Aberdeen and trying to sell the house and me starting a new job in Liverpool.
And since then Home Again as we have taken an Oydyssean journey around these islands.
It is the beauty of this timeless album that I won’t be the only one for whom it tells a personal story.
Of course, it’s Carole King’s story that Beautiful tells, a story that begins with her selling her first song while still at school through the ups and downs of her marriage to songwriting partner Gerry Goffin to her grand redemptive performance at Carnegie Hall in her native New York.
Along the way we thrill to the Sound of the Sixties which she and Goffin and their friends Cynthia Wiel and Barry Mann shaped with such classics as On The Roof, Locamotion, One Fine Day, Pleasant Valley Sunday and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, On Broadway and a bunch of others.
At the end of a fast-paced joyful paean to Carole who has inspired generations of singer-songwriters and still performs to this day, she had performed Tapestry in full with her daughter Louiseup the road at Hyde Park in the summer, I’m up dancing and clapping wildly to I Feel The Earth Move.
While I’m here at the Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End to pay homage to Carole King there’s time enough for some other kings and some queens and princes too at the Tower of London.
William the Conqueror built it nearly 1,000 years ago to fortify the capital of his new kingdom, King Henry VIII had tow wives beheaded here, near to where I’m standing by the Bloody Tower where King Richard III had his two nephews suffocated in their sleep,
Another queen, Lady Jane Grey, was also executed here… she spent only five days as monarch before she had to make way fro Queen Mary, or Bloody Mary if you will who then made way for Queen Elizabeth.
It’s another Queen Elizabeth we’re chiefly here to see, the current queen, Britain’s longest serving monarch at 64 years and counting.
Or more accurately we’re here to see her bling, the Crown Jewels.
Talking of counting, try counting the number of gems in her crown on your walk around or the number of salt bowls or how many drinks you could get out of that punch bowl.
All of which can make you quite thirsty.
I feast like a king at my palace for the weekend, the Radisson Blu Edwardian in Mercer Street, Seven Dials, near Covent Garden.
Our breakfasts are king-sized, instead of choosing buffet or continental they do both while evening meal is a Peruvian/Italian tapas fusion.
It works and the DJ with his decks and his ambient music add to the vibe.
Fat as a king, I need to work off the half a dozen meat, fish and pasta tasting dishes and rich Peruvian chocolate dessert which means a stroll around the city of Westminster.
It is a ten-minute walk from Seven Dials across Waterloo Bridge and along the South Bank.
I try to ignore the garish and overpriced Dungeon and Shrek tourist traps and opt instead two read William Wordsworth’s thoughts inscribed on the walkway.
The great Romantic poet loved London and waxed lyrical about the Thames gentled gliding by.
I despair then at what today’s town planners are doing to this great old city with their London Eyesore and Gherkin (and who builds something in the shape of the bit of the burger nobody wants?)
I avert my eyes and, of course, am drawn instead to the Mother of all Parliaments. I cross Westminster Bridge and think on Wordsworth’s Upon Westminster Bridge.
I consider knocking on Downing Street to give Theresa May a piece of my mind but Big Ben’s chimes tell me it’s too late, baby, it’s too late. I have an urgent appointment with another wordsmith.
HOW TO GET THERE
We travelled with Ryanair http://www.ryanair.com to Gatwick Airport.
WHO TO GO WITH
We had two nights on a SuperBreak package in 2016 and took in the Beautiful: The Carole King Story at the Aldwych Theatre in the West End of London. Don’t despair though there are one or two other offerings still running!!!