Nine years ago (nine! blimey, how quickly time flies) my flatmate Claire and I headed to London for a trip to watch plays and meet famous people. Well, that was our plan and we were definitely going to achieve at least half of it, having bought tickets for Ewan McGregor in Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Ehle in The Philadelphia Story at the Old Vic and Neil Patrick Harris in Jonathan Larson’s Musical Tick Tick Boom! at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
Claire and I were, and actually still are, the type of people who like to get photos with famous people and will normally achieve this by going to a show then rushing around to the stage door and waiting for people to come out. Sometimes we are in a big crowd and it will be snowing, as it was when we met Queen Dench (have a care with my name, you will wear it out) other times, it would just be us, muttering to each other that perhaps we had made a mistake and were making ourselves look silly. Should we stay, should we go? But what if we go now, we’ll miss them by minutes. We usually stayed until we were likely to miss the last transport home.
So after Guys and Dolls we headed around to the stage door, expecting to see Ewan and the rest of the cast, programmes ready to be signed. Out came Jenna Russell who had been brilliant as Sarah, out came Jane Krakowski, who had made a great Adelaide. No sign of Ewan though. Of course not really, he’s a huge film star, at that point he would have been swarmed and so had snuck out to a waiting motorbike out the front. We were disappointed but it as to be expected. Besides, the next day we were going to get the autographs of Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Ehle, who was our favourite Lizzie Bennett!
When we got to the Old Vic, we discovered that we would not be meeting Kevin Spacey after all, we’d booked for the one night that week where he was off, but who would be playing his part? Adrian Lukis, who had been Wickham in the same BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. We were quite happy with that.
Now from what I remember we were pretty much the only ones at the stage door that night, I suppose the audience for the play were not really those who would go autograph hunting. I think there was one other lady but she gave up quite early on. We got the programmes signed as each person came out, but there was no sign of Jennifer Ehle. We were getting pretty disappointed, especially after the lack of Ewan McGregor the previous night. We had, however, spotted the camera near the stage door and thought maybe she was waiting for us to leave so she could go home. So we made it look like we were walking away and hid a bit along the road. I admit that this makes us sound very much like stalkers, but we were in our early 20s, the programme was one we loved and we just wanted an opportunity to tell her so. Our less than sneaky trick worked, in less than 3 minutes she was out and we asked politely if she would sign. She didn’t look greatly pleased to see us as I guess she thought the coast was clear but was very pleasant. We didn’t push it and ask for photos.
Sorry Jennifer, if you’re reading this, and thanks for indulging us, it really made our week!
We never got to meet Neil Patrick Harris as the following morning was 7th July 2005 and London was bombed. Claire and I saw the news saying there had been an electrical fault on the Underground, but since we were staying with my aunt and she was heading out to the country we went into the city anyway.
It was one of the strangest experiences of my life, on the train to Waterloo there were announcements saying we should turn back if it wasn’t an essential journey. People checked our bags as we got off the train. At this point we didn’t know we were in the midst of a terrorist attack and we had nowhere to get back to until Dad finished work and let us in the house. So we walked around the city, stopping in shops to listen to the radio broadcasts of Tony Blair addressing the country, watching a mass exodus as people tried to leave the city centre across the Thames, the police surrounding Kings Cross, the empty streets around Covent Garden… it was eerie. We didn’t feel at risk particularly. It’s odd to think that so many people were killed and injured and we were wandering around, pretty much oblivious to it all.
Now it’s 9 years later and in the years since I’ve met a number of famous people, most successfully in the year leading up to my sister’s 30th birthday when I got people to sign her birthday card – she’s got Jamie Cullum, Roger Daltrey, Vic Reeves, Ian McKellen and Queen Dench in that card, along with many others.
I’m in Sydney, as is Benedict Cumberbatch, who’s portrayal of Sherlock for the BBC has inspired the Felt Sherlock I’ve been travelling around with. I only found out he was here a couple of days ago, so I emailed his agent and the person looking after him here to see if I could arrange a meeting so he could have a photo with the felt version.
When I finish this trip I intend to put a book together of the photos and any other relevant bits and bobs of Felt Sherlock and raffle him and the book off to raise money for the Livingstone Tanzania Trust. I reckon that a picture of the two of the together would be a great opener, so I wrote a very polite email asking if it might be possible. I did get an equally polite reply saying that he is very busy, but is signing things at the meet and greet for OzComicCon, so perhaps I could buy a ticket. I couldn’t afford a ticket and although it’s been amazingly tempting to hang around on the off chance of catching him, I don’t feel that’s fair. I would always get annoyed if people went to the stage door without attending the show, as I see that as rude. Plus he’s giving up his time to meet people and sign stuff within ComicCon, so I don’t want to ambush him outside with this as a request. Which is why I emailed. but it wasn’t to be this time.
But perhaps if we can get a bit of a following for Felt Sherlock we can make a silly picture happen another time! (Please do share, tweet, whatever, the What Sherlock Did page.)
I’d really like to get a bit of money raised for the Livingstone Tanzania Trust and with your help we can.