audiences

Queen Elizabeth attended a Service of the Order of the British Empire at St. Paul’s Cathedral (London) yesterday.
A huge audience gathered in front of the majestic Cathedral. Despite the downpour.
Tiny me happened to be there, too.
Like a little ant, I creeped through the crowd to go my own way, do my errands.
To my surprise, I decided to wait to see Her Majesty.
How could I not?
The audience that had already gathered didn’t stop with the cheers and the woos.
And, although nobody appeared all that while, the woos and cheers didn’t subside.
They only kept me waiting more, damn them.
I thought, “what goofs, someone at one end of the crowd probably sneezed or yawned; the guy next to him picked it up, like a parrot, he repeated the same yawn or sneeze stretching it to a louder “waaa”; the group next to that second guy thought, “Oh my God, the Queen is  coming aaaaaaaahhhh wooohaaaa”, like a Mexican wave passing the woohaas”. And, then me, at the tail of the crowd, or rather – down in its large feet – I perk my neck, wipe a few drops of rain from my eyebrows, pop my eyes in case I miss the lady, alas, no Queen anywhere.
I did wait, honestly.
Umbrellaless and cold.
While I was waiting, I was shoved a few times.
No biggy.
Several times people mounted in front of me, so I had to move again.
I kept retreating. It was a battle zone for who gets the spot from where he can spot the Queen.
There were mothers with kids sleeping in their strollers.
There were tourists with cameras.
Tourists with maps.
Confused tourists.
There were random business fellas – probably on a cigarette break.
Everybody was buzzing in a delightful, cheery chatter, like there was nothing else in the world they would rather be doing.

Why?
I thought.
Why would you want to see the Queen?
And that’s when it threw me: we, people, are voyeurs.
No wonder the Romans organised the gladiator battles.
It gives people food, when there’s none to eat. Well, that last part is optional.
It’s something to look forward to, to talk for days on end, to bet on, to wait for, to fight about, to cheer, to dream of.
We people, the masses – those, who do not possess a PhD or…a football club – want to crowd  to watch stuff (in some cases, sleep to wait to watch stuff – like, when they launched the first iPad at the New York Apple store on Fifth when little me, happened to be there, too.)
The bigger the crowd is, the more we want to be in it.
And, if there’s popcorn to go with it – totally in, babe!
If the show is free – oh dear, oh dear, I love you!

***

Audience 2
I attended a different crowd after the waiting-for-the-queen one.
This time it was for a show – a theatre spectacle called, the Ladykillers.
Relaxed atmosphere – as in, people in tracksuit pants (one I saw, I promise!);
eating chocolates (my husband and I, I promise!);
carpeted floors – I could have easily taken off my shoes and walked in my socks.
I love the Leicester square theatres.
It’s like, you’re at your granny’s mansion.
Of course, if your granny is noble – those theatre houses don’t really look cheap to me.
The program was absolutely spectacular.
Not only it takes you off kids-related responsibility and everyday grey.
It makes you laugh.
It makes you think that wanting to write a novel is a ridiculously easy thing to do.
It makes you think that wanting to own a football club is a ridiculous thing.
It makes your day.
It makes you full.
Because this is food.
This is food for the mind.
Going to a theatre show is just like being 33 and going on the swings. You kick in the air and the swing goes higher and higher and you can close your eyes and laugh and feel your feet above the ground and feel like a little girl again.

And all that made me think about the type of audiences there are and the types of audiences we want our kids to be.
There is plenty of choice:

– passive
– bored or indifferent
– critical
– political
– passionate
– responsive and questioning
– curious
– snobbish
– lost
– lazy
– a sitting audience
– a standing up  audience
– on the other side of an audience…

I wonder what my kids will turn out as an audience…

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