Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Sarah Vine

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Sarah Vine

Article excerpt

Owing to the spectacular uselessness of Ticketmaster, my son missed out on his birthday treat, seats for Hamilton at the newly refurbished Victoria Palace Theatre. Our show was cancelled -- just one of a total of 16 -- and our allotted replacement date clashed with an immovable engagement. By the time the rusty wheels of Ticketmaster's nonexistent customer service had ground into action, the entire run was sold out. I asked the boy's godfather to accompany him in my place. Turns out even that's verboten. Such is the hype that tickets are non-transferable -- and require you to show a printed email confirmation, your original payment card and a photo ID on arrival at the theatre. Even with the best will in the world, I don't think Nick Boles can pass himself off as me.

What makes all this doubly irritating is that the show itself is brilliant. It takes a dusty, distant slice of history and infuses it with excitement, intellect, lightning wit and an intoxicating whiff of sexual tension. I know this because I saw it in New York two years ago, just before the EU referendum. And I was struck by the way it captured -- not always intentionally, I suspect, given the impeccable liberal credentials of the cast and writers -- the political mood in America and over here: revolution, uncertainty, unrest, the falling of old orders and rising of new. In particular, it's the inspiring story of a nation full of talent and fizzing with energy that's shackled to a greedy, unelected elite across the sea; belittled and derided by self-appointed rulers, yet willing nonetheless to take a risk in the name of freedom and self-determination. America, 1776 -- or Brexit, 2016? That said, among the standout features are the Thomas Jefferson vs Alexander Hamilton rap battles, conducted with machine-gun speed and precision. I can't help thinking the modern equivalent -- David Davis vs Michel Barnier -- might not quicken the pulse so effectively.

Hamilton is one example of a great American import; less so the tradition of eating turkey at Christmas. I don't bother doing the turkey thing anymore. We have game pie instead: cheap, organic, easy to cook. I take whatever the butcher has -- usually partridge and venison, sometimes pheasant -- brown it off in a pan, sling in a bit (OK, a lot) of vino, a dash of port, Italian pancetta, stock, veg and a variety of seasoning, and slow cook on a low heat for a few hours, before topping with a bit of trusty Jus-Rol. …

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