Mark Watson

Tonight was our Valentine’s Day night out – not on the 14th as that would be pretty stupid. Who goes out on Valentine’s Day itself for a romantic evening?

First stop was Dolce Vita in Reading with excellent views of the cinema and canal. The food here is very good but the staff do seem slightly odd. We always joke that the waiter or owner talking to you in an Italian accent drops into their native Essex when they are out of earshot in the kitchens.

  • Spinach, onion and mascarpone terrine with rich mushroom sauce
  • Fried goat’s cheese, tallegio and mozzarella, caramelised onions and honey
  • Thin focaccia with rosemary, garlic, pesto, shallots and mozzarella (to share)
  • Triple cooked fries
  • Veal stuffed with mountain ham, Italian sausage meat and fontina cheese in a green peppercorn sauce, french beans and truffled mash

washed down with Pimms Royale and Peroni. I can thoroughly recommend the veal (although I am unaware of how the animal lived prior to slaughter).

I wonder how you cook a chip three times? Boiled, microwaved and deep-fried, maybe?

Next we left for the Hexagon to see Mark Watson. We had been waiting for a long time for this gig – the tickets first went on sale 15 months ago – and we had great front-row seats. A neat start (or pre-start) was Mark sitting at a laptop typing comments and greetings which appeared on a huge screen behind him; when the audience was mainly seated he went off-stage to come back on properly.

I’m glad we weren’t late – Mark set us up to laugh at a set phrase so all the people that couldn’t be bothered to leave the bar on time – and there were quite a few – weren’t in on the joke at their expense. Additionally, Mark loves jumping off the stage and chasing people that get up and leave (for a loo break, it is assumed). Or, in one case where he didn’t notice soon enough, he sat in their seat (right next to us) and waited for the woman to come back. Somebody else Tweeted him in the interval to say that they had wanted to go to the loo but had held on to avoid being chased!

After the break, we sang “Happy Birthday” for Mark in an almost coordinated fashion, as secretly arranged by his tour manager (?) in the interval. Although it was a day early, he did seem impressed.

Mark sold signed books after the show but we didn’t hang around for one – mainly because we hadn’t yet read the copy of “A Light-hearted Look at Murder” we bought off him when he played 21 South Street but also because we had a train to catch.

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