Lose hope all ye enter Eltham

I’ll give the Bob Hope Theatre this: it’s well named.

Everywhere you look, you see him. From the huge photo next to the box office, to the bust near the door, to the portrait glaring at you through the front windows. He’s everywhere.

After my crash course in the horror that is Great Northern Rail on Wednesday, I was determined not to suffer the vagaries of the rail networks again. Leaving the office a full two hours before kick-off time, I found myself enjoying the most stressfully drama-free journey south of the river I have managed to undertake since beginning this marathon. No crowds. No cancellations. Not even a hint of a delay. I even managed to get a nice photo of the Shard while I lazily hung around on the platform at London Bridge for my train that disconcertingly arrived exactly on time. It was most disconcerting.

As this meant that I arrived in Eltham a tiny bit early. Forty-five minutes worth of early.

No matter, I thought. I was in Eltham. A new, exotic, local for me. I could explore! Buy myself a little snack perhaps. The rain-sogged air practically fizzed with possibilities.

As I made my way up from the train station, fighting with, and inevitably giving up on, my umbrella, the fizz dissipated like a forgotten can of Fanta.

Everything was closed. The intriguing looking Wiccan shop had its shutters firmly down. As did every cafe that I passed. Even the police station was dark.

I was beginning to get worried. I really didn’t want to spend the next three-quarters of an hour standing around in the blustery rain.

I pressed on.

Finally, up ahead, I spotted something.


What a relief. Maccy Ds never close. Not until all the drunks have cleared out anyhow.

“We’re closed,” said a lady blocking the doorway as a man tried to get in.

“But-“ he started.

She shook her head. “Nope. We’re closed.”

I hung back, marvelling at the exchange. What was this place where a MacDonalds closes at 7pm?

I turned the corner, trudging in the opposite direction to the theatre, desperate to find anywhere were I could get something warm to drink before diving into the frantic world of amdram theatre.

Closed. Closed. Closed. Everything was closed.

Except. There. Just ahead. A Costa. And open until 7.30pm. Thanks the theatre gods, I was saved. Thirty minutes later, an overpriced hot chocolate warming my belly, I retraced my steps, back towards the theatre.

Eltham really is a sleepy little town. Permanently sleepy by the looks of it. I passed two funeral homes on the short work to the theatre.

Which might go some way to explaining this architectural memorial to a dead comedian. When considering their highly specific decorative themes, the Bob Hope can only truly be matched by the Pinter for shrine-like dedication.


I gave my name.

She looked through the ticket envelopes. It didn't take long. There were only two of them.

Did you get an e-ticket 

Now, I never select an e-ticket by choose.




I looked at the list. "It's Maxine," I said, indicating my name. But there was an Emma just below me. Emma Smillie. My god. There were two of us.


Are they still giving tickets out

Yeah, if you come here, they give you one. 

So that's the truck.


What is it with these small local theatres and tea? Do these people, when they go to the west end, march up to the bar and demand a cuppa?


Chairs and weird boards everywhere, membership, the young theatre group, Bob hopes involvement


Very high stage. I wouldn't recommend sitting in the front row 


Yeah, a real stage 


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