It’s Grumpy Group Organiser’s first column of 2022 and he’s in a ranty kind of a mood. 

Mousetrap at St Martins theatre, London

Source: Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash

“Nothing beats a group trip to the theatre.”

Theatre is precious, it needs help

We all know that, throughout the pandemic, there has been an enormous amount of financial support for businesses from the Government. The trouble is, so many have, and still do, fall through the cracks. Those responsible either fail to recognise this or just couldn’t care less. The travel and tourism industry needed - and deserved, in my view - sector specific support. Despite various campaigning this has never materialised.

The cultural sector has had more support through the Culture Recovery Fund but not enough. There is never enough. Take the theatre, for example. It was so wonderful to return to live performances last year but the Omicron variant resulted in so many shows cancelling performances these past several weeks because cast and crew caught Covid. Audiences have also been wary and bookings affected, especially for panto… a season when many regional theatres set themselves up for the year.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has pledged to support the effect of ‘lockdown by stealth’ on the hospitality sector (and rightly so), and the theatre and cultural sectors need this too. But I fear that no-one is holding their breath. Downing Street is too busy suffering a hangover from all those parties.

Hipster tea bags

When I’m staying at a hotel, I appreciate some light refreshments being made available in the room. Nothing too fancy, although I do get excited if there is an over-priced mini bar I can raid at 1am so I can regret paying £3 for a Mars bar when I survey the bill upon check out. A few tea bags and some coffee is good enough, something simple that will please the masses. But no, some can’t do simple, they feel compelled to conjure up new ways to make me turn the air blue.

There I was boiling the kettle on the morning of check out, when I reached for the tea bags to be greeted by two options. The first was a ‘forest fruits infusion’ and the second was ‘soothing lemongrass & ginger’. Now I am all for choice but not at the expense of English Breakfast. So I went without until I found a nearby café, thirsty and grumpy. If you experience something similar, make sure you, like me, throw the tea bag at them. What is the world coming to?

Tea bags for GGO

“What’s wrong with English Breakfast tea?”

‘Anti-vaxxers’ go too far

Everyone is entitled to their views, even people who are against vaccines for Covid-19. I imagine many have come to their point of view after extensive research – perhaps by using social media while sitting on the toilet. Call me old-fashioned but I prefer to reference the research and views of experts in their field who have a demonstrable pedigree rather than just a clever username.

I may scratch my head when trying to understand certain views, and worry about the harmful messaging that spreads, but some ‘anti-vaxxers’ go way too far. In fact, my blood boiled when I read of a group of protestors who forced their way into the foyer of Milton Keynes Theatre last month while families were eagerly anticipating the latest performance of their Jack and the Beanstalk panto.

The protestor Piers Corbyn (yes, older brother to Jezza) led a crowd who chanted and used airhorns while holding large signs. Children and parents were said to be traumatised by the experience. I would like to think that those involved were not only punished but felt shame and guilt, but I doubt it. If Covid passports mean I don’t have to visit theatres alongside such morons, I hope they stay in place for good.