We took the train from Shrewsbury to Birmingham, and as we were early hopped onto the one still standing in the station rather than hang about for another 20 minutes. Mistake. The two inadequate carriages were packed with a horrid mass of holiday makers returning from an Easter Break in Aberystwyth. (Remind me never to go there lest I meet them up with them and their baggage all over again.) An hour with one's nose stuffed under a stranger's armpit is not time well spent. And then, with apologies, the 'service terminated' at Wolverhampton....
But Birmingham was worth the effort. It looked really good - well the bits we saw anyway - bright and revived and with SHOPS!! Just enjoyed looking. We managed to spend 3 hours in Selfridges - Lesley had a 'consultation' with the delightful Spanish Wilma on the Chanel concession. She was worried that she'd emerge looking like a pantomime dame - over made-up, but walked away looking fresh as a daisy and very natural - but that might just have been the result of sitting down for an hour. Selfridges looks pretty good from the outside too; its sinuous disc-clad curves contrast hugely with everything around it. Lesley said she preferred the style of the adjacent church - St Martins - but I think there is a place for both and that we should embrace the new. Take a look.
Onwards once again to the NEC Arena and a treat for Lesley and a new experience for me. Il Divo. In concert. It was an intimate evening shared with several thousand others, mostly female and of a certain age.
Il Divo, a sort of mature boy band, are the hugely successful creation of Simon Callow. Their web site describes them as ' a cosmopolitan quartet of pop/opera crossover singers.' Well, OK, but singing 'Unchained Melody' in Spanish doesn't actually hack it in opera or pop circles, though rendering most classics in anything other than Dutch does make them more alluring.
And allure is what we got. With studied casualness rehearsed to perfection David, Sebastian, Urs and the sultry Carlos gave an extremely polished performance, belting out the classics with passion enough to stir the heart of any women with blood in her veins. We all want to hear those words of love - whether we understand them of not - and Il Divo certainly knew how to deliver. They received a rapturous reception from their fans and rewarded them with an encore of two songs, closing the show with 'My Way'. (This time sung in English - but it does work very well in Spanish too...) The show closed on the dot of 9.55pm - as the programme said it would.
We moved homewards our thoughts and dreams close to our hearts. It was a good evening. I do need to get out more but on reflection I did feel as if I had spent the evening bathed in warm treacle. A squirt of lemon juice might have been welcome.