diamond geezer

 Thursday, June 09, 2016

It's a familiar problem. How to fill the gap at the BBC Radio Theatre between getting the sticker on your ticket and the studio doors opening. There can be almost two hours inbetween, and it would be a shame to waste them.

What a lot of people do, obviously, is peer down over the BBC Newsroom for a few minutes, then buy some drinks from the Media Bar and sit at a table for the remainder of the long wait. Or they head out to dinner somewhere in Fitzrovia, because there's just about enough time to fit in a nice meal if you skip the starter, or dessert.

But I recommend going for a walk up to the top of Regent's Park and back, because that's lovely. Obviously it helps, sky-wise, if a thunderstorm has just rolled across and the sun is coming out.

Strolling up the Boardwalk in the Avenue Gardens you're tracing the precise boundary between Westminster and Camden. The fragrance of the shrubberies is divine at present, and some of the squirrels want nothing more than to be your own personal groupie.

Queen Mary's Gardens, within the Inner Circle, are a landscaping triumph with Japanese Garden, lake and cascade. Swans glide and a heron stalks, just across the formal lawns from the Open Air Theatre.

The Rose Garden is London's largest collection of roses and boasts 85 different single variety beds. Not only are they free to inspect, but these colourful blooms are at their very best in early June, which is damned convenient.

The northern half of the park is mostly sports pitches, thus full of kickers in shorts and batters in whites. The Hub looks like a flying saucer has landed, but the cafe atop the mound conceals toilets and changing facilities below.

And if you manage to make it right up to the far end, it's possible to see into some of the enclosures at London Zoo for nothing. I watched the porcupines being fed, and the camels enjoying the unseasonal heat, before turning back.

If you come next week, watch out for the fenced-off area with the marquees on Marylebone Green. Pay a small fortune to get inside for the privilege of spending even more money buying taster portions of signature dishes. ATMs will be provided.

Time your park walk right and you'll get back to Broadcasting House just before the guests of the production staff are waved through and general stickered entry begins. Others may be impressed by your flushed face and healthy tan as they throw their collection of bottles in the recycling.

And hopefully you'll enjoy the show. I enjoyed laughing along to the pilot episode of a Radio 4 sci-fi comedy about a smoking robot, a chugger and a man with a spanner up his nose. John Finnemore played a dead dog, very convincingly, and David Mitchell was clearly born to be the boss of an evil self-storage empire. We laughed a lot, which must be a good sign, and you could sense the joyful relief on the face of the lead actor, whose first radio sitcom as an author this is.

Listen out for Time Spanner on your radio sometime. Or get down to Regent's Park this month because it's gorgeous.

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