Who would have thunk it? The original cast of Oliver! by Lionel Bart! is lurking in the basement of a London theatre, waiting to go on. I point to one wrinkled old man with a long straggly beard and a number of filthy habits that I won't go into here. "Is that Nancy?" I ask.
"Cor blimey, no!" says their leader. "That's young Oliver Twist and we are a mischievous gang of pickpocketing urchins! I'm The Artful Dodger, me old china!" He points to a skeleton collapsed in the corner. "That there is Fagin!"
"I thought urchins were supposed to be young kids?" I said. "You lot must be a least blinking eighty. This is the most heinous piece of miscasting since [INSERT SUITABLE CULTURAL REFERENCE]."
"Leave it out guvnor!" says Dodger. "We're a right tasty bunch of young rascals, ain't we lads!" He starts singing and dancing again, but promptly collapses in a fit of coughing, during which his teeth fly out and skitter across the floor. "Fair enough. Listen, I don't know nothing of this 'insert suitable cultural reference' of whom you speak, but it looks like our days of playing cheeky young scamps are over. But what to do, we can't all be King Lear, can we?"
And so we built a fire and sat around it, telling sad stories. They told me about how their one and only performance was a press night, and following the bad reviews they were locked in this basement and the whole production was recast. I told them about the time I got my thumb stuck in a ticket barrier at Mornington Crescent. Then Dodger told a dirty joke and we went to sleep.