The run is already taking its toll. Or probably more honestly, the post-show socialising is. I was hungover and tired as I stepped on to stage tonight, in front of another gratifyingly large crowd (it's approaching a sell-out for Saturday night, so book now if you want to be part of that. It's an amazing theatre when it's full). Luckily, yet annoyingly, being on stage revitalised me and by the time it was all over my hangover was gone and I was ready to repeat the whole self-destructive cycle.
I managed to duck out of things at about 12.30 and looked for a way to go home. It's my least favourite thing about London at the weekend - it's so hard to get a cab and the tube shuts stupidly early, so as I walked up Regent Street, I decided to get a bus. I don't know how many other performers from the West End stage took the bus home tonight. I didn't see Jessica Lange on there anyway, but she may have been downstairs.
I think I was probably the oldest person on the bus and it was packed with young drunk couples, kissing and chatting and sitting in stupors. They can't have been very cool young people to be heading home at such an early hour, but then perhaps they preferred being at home in bed together, rather than in a noisy club with others.
There was a couple behind me engaged in quite an earnest discussion and I found myself tuning into it. I couldn't see them and I wasn't going to look round, so it was like listening to some kind of radio play. They were clearly inebriated, but surprisingly eloquent. They were discussing the state of their relationship and an obvious sticking point. The woman obviously wanted to have children, but the man was not at all keen.
"Maybe in four or five years," he told her, "But you have to understand, men and women are different. I don't have the biological imperative that you do."
"You could have a child any time in the next forty years, but I'm 30... 30's not that old though is it?" she half asked and half stated.
"No," said the man. There was no other sensible answer, "And Jenny at work is 37 and she's having her first baby, so you have time."
The woman was talking more quietly and it was hard to hear her words, but she was clearly disappointed in her boyfriend's attitude. She wanted babies and she wanted them soon and in her heart she knew that if she waited for him to be ready and he was never ready then she might miss the window of opportunity. The window was slowly shutting and if it got any more shut it would be a foolhardy man who put his penis through it.
But she obviously liked this guy and wanted it to work out, but it felt obvious to me that he wasn't so into the whole thing. I mean I could be wrong. I was a 39 year old man on a night-bus alone listening into someone else's conversation and trying to scrawl little bits of it down in the back of the book I was reading. I may not be the best person to ask for relationship advice.
I had been impressed by the man's mastery of non-commitment. "I don't mind children," he said, "And I might want to have some one day, but just not yet. It's too soon for me. I think of the polar bears...."
This was an impressive turn.... "There are so many human beings in the world, far too many and we're sucking up all the earth's resources and because of us the polar bears are dying out and their environment is being destroyed. I just don't know if I want to add to the population any more."
This was genius. He was making it look like his wish to remain childless was down to a concern for the future of the planet, rather than not really wanting to get into too serious a thing with his girlfriend.
She was sweet and understanding, but clearly in the tone of her voice, worried that her dream of motherhood was in danger of being crushed. The couple wanted different things, but it was clear they were going to postpone this realisation to a later date in the hope that something would magically change. In your early 30s this is the way things are. By the end of your 30s you are much more realistic and pragmatic. I thought about turning around and saying, "I think you should end it. Nothing will change. You want different things. You can compromise on the little things, but not stuff like this. Nice polar bear argument by the way mate."
"Thirty isn't that old," the woman repeated. By now I had realised that I could look at them in the reflection in the window. She was trying to convince herself that she was right. And she was right - she has plenty of time, but that still doesn't mean it's a good idea to waste some. The bloke wasn't all that too be honest. If you're reading this, young lady, then I would advise you to move on. He doesn't care about polar bears. He just wants to remain fancy free and uncommitted. Believe me, I know.
I am going to use that polar bear thing on my next girlfriend though, if she starts getting a bit serious. It's genius.