Over the years we have always tried to have a Christmas treat at some time over the festive period. Usually it’s a trip to the local panto but occasionally we have had a London trip to see shows such as The Snowman. One year we got tickets for a Liverpool v Newcastle United match on Boxing Day. I’m not sure that was our best decision as the weather was freezing, Newcastle lost and we were sitting with the Liverpool fans but I do remember embarrassing the boys by singing and sobbing loudly to “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.
So what do you do with a teenage lad who’s outgrown shouting “He’s behind you” and isn’t that fussed about the footie? Take him to see one of his favourite comedians, that’s what. Rory loves seeing stand-up comics and over the last couple of years we’ve taken him to see Dave Gorman, Rhod Gilbert and, his favourite, Ross Noble. Being a Geordie myself, I have a soft spot for this madcap comedian. We last saw him in King’s Lynn when Ross gave Rory a shout-out, thanks to my mum. Bit of a long story but my dad and Ross Noble’s dad were both attending a Newcastle hospice day centre every Wednesday and used to be taken there in the same minibus. My mum mentioned to Ross’ mum how much Rory admired her son, she must have had a word with her famous lad, who then said hello to Rory onstage. Sadly Ross Noble’s father died earlier this year so the two mums haven’t seen each other for a while.
When I looked at Ross Noble’s dates for his Nonsensory Overload tour, I reckoned a Saturday night in Cambridge in December would be a fabulous family treat. I booked the Crowne Plaza hotel, bang slap in the middle of the town and two minutes walk from the Corn Exchange theatre, so we could stay overnight.
The gods were very kind to us this weekend. The thaw appeared at home as we left on Saturday morning, there was no snow in Cambridge and the drive was trouble-free. By 12.30 we were ready for an afternoon of shopping! We had told Rory he could go Christmas clothes shopping and, for once, he was eager to get cracking. I reckon this was because he knew the Jack Wills shop in Cambridge was staffed by some long-legged girls who, in the summer when we visited, had been wearing teeny-tiny shorts. Thankfully this time they were properly clothed but they were striking nonetheless (and the young men, may I say, looked equally attractive).
A T-shirt and checked shirt later, Rory was then up for a visit to Superdry which was heaving with customers. Another great shop for teens, my son was in his element. We left Dad in the huge queue to pay for a couple more T-shirts while we braved the Apple shop. Rory’s main present this year was going to be a new mobile phone. He had a play with the iPhone, proclaimed he found it really difficult to text with it so, if it was alright with us, he would stick with his old phone. Bless him!
Rory was now chuffed to bits with his clothes so his appetite for shopping had waned considerably. So we walked back to the hotel, had a drink in the bar and then left him in the room to watch Sky Sports while we had a final shop on our own. It was now dark and I felt we were on the set of a Christmas movie: carol singers in the market square sang like a heavenly choir, the Salvation Army band were in fine form, the Christmas lights were shimmering yet understated and there was an infectious excitement in the town with everyone carrying bags of presents. If Santa Claus had appeared in the sky I would have believed in him all over again.
We returned to Rory, waited for the football final results then had an early dinner at Carluccio’s . This was followed by an hour back in the hotel watching Strictly Come Dancing before we had to break ourselves away from the complimentary ginger biscuits and stagger out to the theatre.
Ross Noble’s show was as bizarre as expected, helped by some fabulous characters in the audience including the pet shop owner from Ipswich which led to Ross picturing him travelling to the show on a sledge pulled by guinea pigs…..you had to be there! The show went on until nearly 11pm, so we were thankful to be so close to our hotel. By the time I had faffed about in the bathroom, both husband and son were fast asleep.
A big buffet breakfast the next morning, an easy drive home, and we only saw snow again 10 minutes from home. We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend: a mini break in a beautiful city, a happy son and an even happier husband as he doesn’t have to fork out for an iPhone. Ho ho ho.