All That Jazz……

Arthritis / Autism / General


I had the most amazing night away with my Friend this week. You know when you just get to the point where you need a little bit of time for yourself, well that was where I was at and this break which was booked months ago came at the perfect time.

We where booked into the Europa hotel in Belfast and despite having worked beside it for years I had never actually been inside it. It is a beautiful hotel. I expected it to be dated and small, I have no idea why as its huge from the outside. I couldn’t have been more wrong, it was beautiful and modern. Our room ( we where totally blessed with a free upgrade) was massive! The bathroom luxurious with the most amazing powerful shower and beautiful bath. The staff where super helpful and the other guests where also very friendly, this will not be my last trip here I cant wait to stay again.

We then had afternoon Tea booked at Ten square which was a five min walk from our hotel. I have had several Christmas dinners here which where always great but afternoon tea was a new experience. This was probably the best value afternoon tea I have had it was all the usual savoury and sweet treats and a selection of tea’s but also included was a choice of cocktails and same very delicious chips, all for £20. We spent two hours happily chatting and eating, we where never rushed and the staff where attentive and helpful. I would highly recommend it.


We then headed for a bit of shopping before getting ready for the main event. Our trip to watch Chicago at the Grand Opera House.

Chicago is one of my favourite shows, I have only seen it once about 5 years ago, in the west end. When I saw it last it was an almost full cast of understudies, all amazingly talented. We had front row seats and went along with my mum in law, who had one of her dance students in the show and also my father in law and husband. They had all seen the show and knew the content. I didn’t and without any spoilers, its not a show you watch with parents and certainly not while sat in the front row. However I still totally loved every min of it.

I have to confess, even with a cast full of actors I know and love, John partridge is one of my favourite actors and I know he does musicals so well. But I still expected, as its a touring production and Chicago is currently closed in London, that this show would be inferior to the one I had seen before.


I could not have been more wrong. This time I was along with one of my best friends, ready for a great girls night out. Again we where sat front row – bare in mind front row isn’t always great for a show often u loose some of the set and have a creaked neck – not true for Chicago and The Grand Opera House.


From the second the cast stepped on stage they blew me away, every single person was phenomenal, the crowd went crazy from scene one and the atmosphere was electric. Now we simply couldn’t wait to see John Partridge as Billy Flynn and with those wicked eyes and that smooth voice he lived up to all our expectations and I have to say if it felt like he looked my way, my heart melted a little, that man is just beyond talented!!


Hayley Tamedon was playing Roxy heart and my word that girl can sing, she moves like a gymnast (which sure we all knew from her DOI days) and she just has so much character and talent beyond imagination, I have to say I particularly loved her facial expressions and even the hint of a slight giggle in one scene, shes real, she’s loveable and she’s just perfect for that role.

The real surprise of the show was Jessie Wallace, I love EastEnders I am a total soaps fan, and she is a true soap legend. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I saw her on the cast list. I though she would be good, I assumed she could sing (although that’s not always true of celebs brought into shows) but nothing prepared me for the spine tingling performance she gave. Jessie walked out onto that stage and she gave it her all she owned that stage and she wowed that crowd. She had us in the palm of her hand and I hand on heart could have listened to that woman sing all night, that is a voice that needs to be heard, that is a talent that needs to be seen and that wonderful woman has a heart of gold.

All the cast performed wonderfully and the orchestra are a real treat in this particular show – I am now selecting what musical instrument Elijah will learn based on what they play in Chicago!!

Afterwards Emma and I waited to meet the cast, most people understandably had to rush off as they had come straight from the airport to the theatre and I cant even imagine how tired they must have been. We waited after most of the crowd at the stage door had gone and our perseverance paid off as John, Jessie and Hayley all came out to meet us (yea, were on first name terms now, me and my musical friends).


John was every inch the west end star, you can tell he’s been doing this since he was 16 and he just was born for this life. He is the most lovely friendly man, he complimented our dresses and made Emma and I feel like princesses’ he called us ‘Billy’s babes’ and having never been called any ones babe in my life I will be claiming that title for the rest of my life!! Haley had to leave quite quickly for her taxi but she was still very lovely.


Jessie again surprised us she was so much fun, a truly wonderful woman who had all the time in the world for us. As her and John walked arm in arm for their post show drink, I loved that they where looking out for each other, that they have a real friendship and that showbiz world clearly isn’t all its made out to be.


This Blog might seem very trivial to most who read it, but what I haven’t said is just how much I’ve struggled the past few weeks. Having a child with Autism and facing the back to school routine is draining. Bens battle with Depression is ongoing and its a real war for him at the moment and I love him to pieces and want to get him through, but when your drained yourself that can be very hard to do. And On Tuesday (the day after Chicago) I had a major lung appointment. I have been dreading this one for a month, I know that the outlook for this isn’t the greatest, unfortunately the appointment ended up being a massive let down and I’m back to the waiting game.

The point is, a little bit of escapism helped, it refreshed me and recharged me. Time with a friend who understands me completely helped me remember I have people I can lean on when others need to lean on me. And a person who is insanely talented taking time out of their crazy schedule, when they’ve just had to leave their loved ones behind for another few months just meant the world to me.

A little bit of kindness, sharing your gifts and talents with the world, be that singing, dancing or your ability to drink cocktails and tea simultaneously is something that should be shared with the world. You don’t know anyone’s journey. You’re hello, your coffee, your laughter or your song could save someone from drowning.


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