Tour guide

It’s a lazy Sunday in Amsterdam for me. Saturday would have been lazy too; no rehearsals, for a change, and nothing pressing to do. But it didn’t turn out that way. A handful of Brits, despite a free weekend on the cards, decided to stay put in town rather than cough up the ridiculous sum it now costs to pop home for a weekend. Gwynne Howell, despite his mammoth career, has never spent anything more than a few days in the city. He’s 73 and his wife is joining him in a few weeks’ time. He wanted to know where they should be going, what the city had to offer, and having established my credentials as the cast’s longest-serving Amsterdam hack, it was only natural that he should turn to me for advice. I volunteered to take him on a little tour.

Move over Sharapova

It’s a strange thing about being a singer, that you far more readily remember your failures than your successes. Well, I suppose that’s probably true of any performer and it’s not just confined to the singing fraternity. The difference is, I guess, that singing technique is very much tied to confidence; half the battle goes on in the brain rather than in the throat, and anything that makes your brain say “really, are you sure you can sing that high note? Well, best of luck but don’t count on it!” is far from welcome.

Meat and two veg

I had some of the cast, all Brits, over for a good old-fashioned Sunday lunch today. Despite having come to Amsterdam regularly for the last 21 years I’ve never done this before. There are many reasons for this.
First, for many, many years I used to fly home most weekends so it wasn’t a possibility. Second, this is the first time in a long while that I’ve done a show here with enough old friends who not only understand the concept of Sunday Lunch but who are also not flying home themselves every possible weekend. I’ve got used to spending Sundays here on my own.

Sea interlude

There are days when you are reminded that Amsterdam sits below sea level and today is one of them. That’s not to say that the city is literally underwater but it is so shrouded in damp and dankness that we may as well be a few feet under the North Sea that lurks, a grey and grumpy beast, just a few miles to the west, barely tamed by dunes and dykes. I used to swim in the North Sea as a child, on its western edge in Essex, and it has always struck me as grim and inhospitable.