24th February

Today’s high winds meant that several tube stations were closed due to overcrowding. I was travelling to Highbury and Islington and many of the stations around Kings Cross were affected, so when we reached my chosen stop it took us a full twenty-five minutes to exit the station as we shuffled along endless platforms and corridors at snail’s pace. For once the fact that everybody remained perfectly calm and stood patiently waiting for the next shuffle while lost in their own digital worlds was strangely reassuring. But had there been any kind of emergency I dread to think what the result might have been. But it was all worth it for the performance that I was attending. Andrew Scott’s Hamlet is luminous, mercurial, funny, questioning and deeply affecting. Well, I would say that, wouldn’t I? Press night isn’t until the 28th so who knows what the critics will say? But for me Robert Icke’s production – modern, spare, with glass partitions providing layers of action, and technology cleverly used, gives the plot a credibility that is rare, and Andrew doesn’t so much deliver the lines as draw us into Hamlet’s thought processes. Unmissable!

‘Let me be perfectly clear’ – the current ‘in’ phrase used immediately before being anything but clear. When the housing authority responsible for acting on behalf of the purchaser of a ‘new build’ refuses to admit that having water running down the walls and mould growing in the kitchen is unacceptable, this is not ‘disappointing’. The performance of the authority in this case could more accurately be described as ‘criminally negligent’. ‘Disappointing’ might describe the experience of having the Weather Fairy arrange a downpour to coincide with your walk on the beach or seeing the supply of ice cream tubs run out just as you reach the top of the queue. Stop insulting our language and our intelligence by attempting to condition our responses in this way.

Hats off to Continuity at Radio 4! In response to the ‘boltning lights’ forecast for some areas, weather forecaster Seamus Toffernacker was warmly thanked. I’m sure Tomasz Shafernaker was delighted.

Today I visited some friends and was met by the family dawg before I could even get through the door: a charming poodle/spaniel combo clearly determined to lick me to death. With great difficulty, my hostess and I finally got past him and made it into the kitchen … where I found myself staring into the calm golden eyes of an elegant ginger cat seated on a cupboard at eye level. He met my gaze unflinchingly and serenely read my thoughts as the pooch concentrated on tripping everybody up and rearranging the furniture. Dogs and cats: one desperately eager to please, the other simply observing – unless of course the humanoid can be of use.