Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A tale of conventions, fandom, heroes and epic queuing

Right, first things first; I was completely blown away by the amount of support and nice comments from you lovely readers on the last piece I wrote for this blog.  I didn’t write it to prove I was strong or brave; I just hoped I could put over a viewpoint that maybe some of you hadn’t considered before.  I felt I needed to stick up for survivors of abuse and judging by a couple of texts I received, there are a few of us out there, which is upsetting because it shows how widespread abuse is.  My intention was never to upset you, but I did, it wasn’t to shock you, but I did that too.  I just couldn’t let the victim blaming and the claims that the survivors were ‘just out for money’go unchallenged.  I thank you all so much for reading my piece.

Now, enough of that.  My new blog post isn’t nearly as depressing as the last one so LET'S GO!

I’m sure by now you’ll all have gathered that David has begun doing the convention circuit in his Judge Dredd outfit, you may have picked up hints here and there

Every con or show he goes to, this exchange occurs: 
Him: “I’d love it if you were to come to one of the shows with me”
Me:  “It’s not happening.  I’m not interested.”  And so it goes, as sure as night follows day.

One day, a few weeks back, we were having the same conversation as the Entertainment and Media Show at Olympia was fast approaching and David was going along to troop with his fellow costumers.  He went on, and eventually in frustration, I said “There’s only one person who’d get me to a convention and that’s Robert Englund, now leave me be, I’m trying to have a bath”.

Well, the next day whilst I was idling at work daydreaming and drinking tea, I got a ‘phone call from D:
Him: “You know you said you’d never go to a convention unless Robert Englund was going?”
Me: “Yes. Why, what?”
Me: “No….he…has he?  Holy shit!”

It was true.  I reckon David must’ve sent him an email or something to ask him to attend, but yes Robert Englund, the man who had terrified me and made me laugh for years and years was going to be there.  Well, of course I had to go…

Summer 1986: My auntie and two cousins were over visiting from Ireland.  My mum and auntie hire out ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and hide it out of the way of me, my two older brothers and my cousins.  The grown ups were having a night out and we were left in the hands of my oldest brother who was 16.  Well, of course armed with the knowledge that a scary film was in the house, the older kids went looking for it and subsequently found it.  And we all watched it.  Cue a long standing fear of the dark and years of nightmares for me.  Even now, I hate having to nip down to the loo in the middle of the night in case Freddy Krueger is lurking in the dark, ready to chop me into bits.  And I’m 33.  That’s the impact that low budget horror flick and its terrifying protagonist had.  And I was hooked.  The character of Freddy terrified me so much that whenever he was mentioned, or Robert Englund was interviewed on TV, I would hide.  I was so scared.  My mum did her best trying to tell me that Freddy wasn’t real, and that the man who plays him was just a normal man but Freddy WAS real.  He existed in dreams and to a young kid who had incredibly vivid dreams, I saw him most nights there.

As I got older, I sought out the rest of the films in the series of which there are eight (I realise that this links to a page that says there are nine films but the remake in 2010 was RUBBISH and therefore doesnt count).  I pored over any articles I could find referring to the films or the actors.  I read the novelisations, I watched anything that Robert Englund or Heather Langenkamp (Nancy from NOES 1 and 3) were on.  I was hooked.

So, back to now, this was my chance to meet the man who scared me all those years ago.  As David was trooping, I met up with our good friend Hickman at Earls Court tube station and we walked down to Olympia.  On our approach, we were met with the sight of a girl in tears on the ‘phone, looking down at a photograph she was carrying.  She’d just met Matt Smith and couldn’t quite believe it.  Hah, I thought to myself, what a sad case…

Into the events hall itself and to a convention virgin, it was pretty overwhelming.  There were several Doctor Whos (from 1 to 11), loads of Ghostbusters, Wolverine, Batman, some Anime types and of course Judge Dredd (although to give him his correct title, Judge Court).  David had managed to get me a signing ticket for Robert Englund.  I was ticket Number 1.  I ran down to queue up but was told that he was going to do some photos and to come back later.  So I ran to join the photo queue which was massive and already snaking around the hall.  Then I noticed I didn’t have a signing pass so had to go and get a pass.  Crestfallen, I went to the pass stand and began queuing.  AGAIN.  There were various people around me whinging cos such and such had dropped out.  I purchased my pass and ran back to rejoin the queue for my photo.  Hickman had joined me by then and as we moved in line in the queue we were people watching, noting that one chap in the queue ahead of us seemed to have dressed up as Guy Garvey.  It hadn’t hit me really until I got right near the front, had my ticket taken and could actually see the man who in my eyes was an utter horror legend.  And then I got a little nervous.  I’m notorious for hating most photographs taken of me, and I was sure this one would be no exception.  The lads having their pictures taken were posing with him as victims, the girls seemed to smile or pout (which I didn’t really get).  It was my turn, I said ‘Hi, would it be okay if you like GOT me?’ and he obliged.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was here with one of my heroes, having my picture taken.  As I walked out, I said thanks and the photographer and Robert’s wife Nancy both looked at the photo and smiled, ‘That’s a good one’ Nancy said.  I walked out and saw David and Hickman, and I did a little dance.  I went to collect my bags and what can be described as the greatest photograph ever taken of me.  Looking behind me, there was a girl who was inconsolable when she came out of the room.  Again, like the previous girl who’d met Matt Smith, I shrugged and thought ‘Christ, get a LIFE’.

We wandered about, if I’m honest, there wasn’t much there I wanted to see.  The three of us had our photos taken on the Game of Thrones throne (clearly my previous awesome photo used up all my good photo for that day and subsequently my pic from that is a bit rubbish).  The sight of Judge Court on the Game of Thrones throne is pretty cool though. 

I uploaded my awesome photo to Facebook and continued wandering.  I saw Robert’s signing queue had opened up again after a while, and so went to join only to be told to come back later.  It was the same girl who’d turned me away before but she did ask what number ticket I was.  When I told her I was ticket number 1, she let me join the queue which was great because it meant I didn’t have to break anything. 

The queue was enormous as it had been earlier on when I’d attempted to join.  I’d overheard from one of the staff members that this was because Robert loved his fans and loved chatting to them.  I did know this, he actually really thinks a lot of his fans and would spend all day chatting to them if he could.  Also, if a fan brings something of interest or some fan art that he particularly likes, he will offer to buy it to add to his NOES collection.

I was nearing the front of the queue, David and Hickman were watching me from afar and they both said that I looked like an excited little kid (which I was, effectively).  Then there was only one person in front of me.  Great, I thought, I’ve got five minutes to decide what I’m going to say’.  But I didn’t.  The guy in front rocked up for an autograph and just fucked off.  So I was thrust into meeting my hero with no opening…what do I do? 

I handed over my ticket and the poster I wanted him to sign and he looked at it quizzically for a moment and then a massive smile of realisation spread across his face: “Have you watched this?” – I’d brought a poster from a documentary I have which is about NOES series of films, spin offs, etc. a four and a bit hour epic.  I told him I had watched it and wanted to say how wonderful it was but he interrupted telling me he and his wife watched the whole thing in one go and how it was a massive labour of love, very much a product of its time….it was true, he LOVES to chat.  I could tell, though, from the moment he looked at it, that he hadn’t signed anything quite so uncommon that day, people seemed to be getting the pics they’d had taken with him earlier, or pics of him as Freddy or pics of him as Willie from V but nothing like what I’d brought.

I told him about why I’d gone to the convention (without sounding like TOO much of a psycho) and said that my husband who was dressed as Judge Dredd was to blame for me being there.  Nancy, Robert’s wife, had commented that she’d seen David walking around.  And then Robert said that he really loves coming to the UK and his Valentine and love letter to the UK had just finished filming the previous evening; Hallowe’en special Come Dine With Me.  He shook my hand and it was time to go… and you know those girls I mentioned who had been crying because they’d met their heroes?  You can add me in.  I was left reeling from meeting one of the biggest heroes I had (after having to bump Morrissey off and then losing an actual true life hero).  I met up with David and Hickman and I was CRYING, and shaking and had a massive grin across my face that couldn’t be moved.

I was walking on air for the rest of the day, as I left David at Olympia and went in search of ukuleles with Hickman on Denmark Street, I don’t think the smile ever left my face.

Going for terrified, seems to be more OH EM GEE...

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