Continued from here: After the competition was over, we decided to forego the party again
boring people alert and hung out in our hotel room gabbing half the night instead. What can I say? The prospect of going to bed with Guylty was more enticing than dancing with the fannibals.
Welcome to the last day of RDC5. The day where Kate had all the feelings!
I slept much better the second night and Guylty and I once again threw ourselves onto the breakfast buffet at the hotel. While I had all the time in the world with RA’s second Q&A not scheduled until one, Guylty had somewhere to be a little earlier. I’m sure she’ll enlighten you as to the where, when, why, what and how of it all in due course. So while she took off for her first appointment, I lingered over breakfast and then picked up my stuff and made my leisurely way down to the Renaissance Hotel.
I admit that left to my own devices, I stopped at all the red lights like a good German. On the way I received a text from Guylty that the early bird catches the worm was once again the motto of the day. Everyone was already queueing for the Q&A with RA and she had secured us seats in one of the stewarding rows and I should meet her there ASAP.
And that—the stewarding row stage right—is where I had my first big emotion of the day. I found the row and shortly thereafter an excited and slightly breathless armidreamer plopped down next to me, smiling like it was going out of style. She then told me that Richard had reversed course and was doing hugs today and as soon as she’d heard, she had made a mad dash to the photo voucher sales and had gotten her huggy picture. I was heartbroken. Now, it is very important to me to stress that I was jealous but in no way mad at armidreamer and the others who got hover hugs. I didn’t begrudge them their hugs. I just wanted one as well. Hover hugs for everyone! I was so sad for myself, especially since I had left it up to chance to pick my day and the open registration doc decided on my Saturday photo fate. I’m sure my face was something to behold in that moment. I was sad/angry. How dare he? You have to stick to your guns. You hug or you don’t. You can’t just change your MO halfway through. Argh!*
I was having all these feelings and he was about to go on stage for the Q&A. I was a hot mess! File this episode under FRUSTRATION No. 1.
*I don’t feel like that anymore. It was a gut reaction, born out of frustration and disbelief that this had happened to me. Or not, as the case may be. As I have said elsewhere before, I think it is to his credit that he read the room and gave a little. At least a few inches if not a mile.
I somehow managed to pull myself together and soon the Q&A got underway. He’d also made a change here and was on stage without backup, ready to take questions from the audience right away. It seemed he had gotten the hang of this con adventure to some extent. I jumped in line to ask another question, stuffing all that frustration about my photo debacle firmly down and tried to concentrate on the questions and answers happening before me and on my own question to come. And then the second emotion of the day happened.
I had decided to ask about something that had been a personal thrill for me and Guylty. Throwback to 9 November 2018, the day RA was announced as a guest at the con. As I have previously described, I initially did not have a positive reaction to the announcement and various alcoholic substances were imbibed following it. This as well as the banter and some friendly egging on in Guylty’s comment section led to me tweeting @RA (something I usually avoid like the plague) about what I/we would like to see him in next:
It was all fun and games until this happened:
I didn’t even realize who this Brian Percival was at the time. I had checked his bio real quick and realized he was in the movie business, so I answered him appreciatively (thank goodness!) but only realized he was THE Brian Percival when Guylty told me. Mr. North & South himself. Wow!
Since there is no bootleg video of day 2, I will have to rely on my own foggy memory of the event. If anyone wants to contradict me, have at it. I cannot be trusted!
Me: A little while ago we were discussing what role we would like to see you in next in our corner of the Armitage Army and what we came up with was a British production on the small screen and you speaking in your own English accent. So yahtzee on The Stranger. And to our surprise and delight Brian Percival jumped into the conversation and said “I’d be up for it,” so my question is would you be up for it as well?
And that’s where the horror began. I admit, in hindsight this was not the smartest way to ask that question. I could’ve simply said “Brian Percival expressed an interest in working with you again on Twitter recently. How do you feel about that?” Alas, I didn’t.
RA: Up for what?
Me: Well, he didn’t say exactly. I assume directing you again.
RA: Who was that?
Me: Brian Percival, you know, the director of North & South.
(Duh! Yes, he probably remembers him, Kate. Great job.)
RA: Is this period?
thinking please let the earth open up and swallow me whole, this is worse than that dream where you go into work stark naked: I don’t know. He wasn’t that specific. ‘I’d be up for it’ is really all he said.
RA then rescued me, thankfully, and launched into an explanation of how he is friends with both Brian and Daniel Percival (director of Strike Back) and talks to them on occasion and how nice it is to have people from the past come back to him and discuss wanting to work with him again as is now the case with Nicola Shindler who produced Sparkhouse and will work with him on the upcoming Netflix show The Stranger.
I have no idea what exactly he said. I was rooted to the spot, wanting to disappear. File this under FRUSTRATION No. 2 for the day or more accurately The Mortification of Kate.
After RA was done with his Q&A, we stayed on for the panel with Mads Mikkelsen, Aaron Abrams and Scott Thompson. This should by rights have been billed as a standup comedy act
in spite of the actors sitting down because those guys together are utterly hilarious. It was a highly enjoyable hour after which I had to report to my second shift of stewarding the autograph session for RA and Mads, so I said goodbye to Guylty once again and went in search of my shiny pink clipboard.
The team was the same as the day before and so was the fun atmosphere and witty banter. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. At one point, two people came up to me and asked what was up with the flower crowns. It turned out they were not con visitors but regular hotel guest who had ended up in my little corridor of the bizarre by mistake. I told them what was going on and they were delighted and wished all of us much continued fun. I guess we looked like we were having a blast already. 😉
The organizers had told us that us stewards would get our own autographs either at the very begininng after the special access people (people who had trouble standing for a long time due to illness etc. who would go first to avoid the queue) or whenever the opportunity presented itself. We didn’t go at the beginning because it was shaping up to be another busy day–on the first day I had checked through roughly 400 people. So we fell back into our routine. I must’ve said RA’s name about 800 times in those two days. As he was sharing a room with Mads, who was the most sought after guy, we were trying to get people through RA’s queue first and then funnel them over to Mads. I had to tell everyone “If you are getting an autograph from him, please queue for Richard first” and it wasn’t exactly a hardship. Lucky thing he has a pretty name!
Then, finally the last of the autograph seekers for Richard were through while Mads’ line was still going strong, so in order to allow RA to leave, the organizers told us if we wanted RA autographs we should please go get them now before the end of our shift. I hadn’t been prepared for this, so I ran to my Guy-inspired backpack
which matched my t-shirt of the day and started scrambling to get my things. And I had A LOT of things!
Through no fault of my own, I ended up with five things to sign which was also the maximum number of autographs allowed for each of us and each one required a different personalization. As I mentioned in my Saturday post, each con attendant only got to queue for autographs for any given guest one time when their badge number was called. I had my own autograph to get, three pictures I wanted to get signed for other people and finally a copy of Castlevania that somebody else needed signed but couldn’t as they had come into possession of it quite unexpectedly and had already had their turn with the Armitage. So I grabbed my trusty ‘horse’ envelope and rolled up to the table with a book, a DVD box, three pictures, three autograph vouchers and my autograph card. Talk about a lot of stuff. Thanks to my organizational skills, I had put big bright sticky notes on each item with the name it was to be personalized to or the message I wanted on there beforehand. Thank goodness! Otherwise, I probably would’ve lost my nerve. My stewarding colleagues were much faster organizing, so they went first and so I was the very last person that day
and at the entire con to get her autographs from the Armitage.
I had thought of all the events, the autograph would be the most uncomfortable and awkward for me. It only is slightly so when I think about what I said in hindsight. I try not to do that so much. It was definitely the most personal and relaxed interaction we had. It was also the only real ‘moment’ because the photobombing, erm photo shoot was so fast and the Q&A was pretty tense for me, especially on Sunday.
I started out pretty nervous due to the large number of items and different names I had. At first I had thought this would be great because it would take him a while to sign the lot and that would allow me to bask in his presence a little longer. Then of course my mind took a sharp U-turn and I felt like a freak as if he would think I was getting all those autographs for myself. And I also worried that it would seem like I was making a lot of work for him with all those names and quotes and what not.
I know, pathetic! On a rational level I realize that I was buying a service and not asking him for a favor, but I dare you to see it that way when faced with the man himself armed with five items, each of which requires a distinct personalization, and he is devastatingly handsome and you know for a fact that he’s signed at least 300 autographs that day directly after coming off of his Q&A because you’ve been working his room for well over two hours.
So my basic mood walking up to the table and unloading my ungodly amount of paper with his PA was embarassed and apologetic. And then he made it alright for me. He started with the ‘easy’ ones (i.e. the photos that needed to be personalized) just smiling and saying ‘Oh, you have stickers’ and even repeating one of the names as he signed the photo as if to confirm that he got it right.
It delighted this recipient very much to hear that her name had been spoken aloud by the Armitage and that in turn made me very happy. I like making people smile. I told him the autographs were for friends of mine in the States who couldn’t be there. See, they’re not all mine. I swear!! So far, so good. Those three pics out of the way, he was handed my personal item.
Now, the people who knew about this item before (including Louise and Mr. Kate) were aware that I was worried he wouldn’t get the joke. I’m not saying he isn’t perceptive, but I just found it impossible to gauge how important a one-off phrase from a show he had done one episode of more than a decade ago would be and if it would have stuck with him. So I had prepared myself for the—in my eyes—very real possibility that he simply wouldn’t get it.
I know, I know. I will never doubt him again, I promise. Instead, he went and made my day for the first time that afternoon.
He took the book and laughed. I knew right then that he had gotten it.
RA: “Is this real?”
I wasn’t sure if he meant was I for real as in “Are you actually having me sign this?” or “Is this the real book and not a mock-up made for this occasion” so I opted for the second meaning and said:
“Yes, it is. Have you read it?”
My inner cringing is beginning. Deep breaths!
RA: “Erm, no.”
Aha!! Another book he’s not read. I see a pattern here, Mr. A.
Me: “I read it on the plane. It’s quite good for a pony book for girls.”
Cringing continues. He really didn’t need to know either of that.
So he looked at the sticky note and said, “Ah, for Kate” and I said
“Yes, and can you please put Dibley forever“ and thereby cheated myself out of love by RA. (cf. all the other personalized autographs)
He looked up at that and I steeled myself and looked him straight in the eyes because I had promised myself that I wouldn’t be stupid like during the photo session. I really, really wanted to answer that question about his eyes for myself and for others. They really are that blue and also incredibly clear and luminous and I may have forgotten to breathe for a second or ten. #HolyMoly
Then, instead of handing the book back to me like he’d done with the photos before, he said something that sounded like “I’ll have to send this to xxxx.” So he held on to it, transferred the sharpie to his left hand, reached into the inside coat pocket with his right and brought out the trusty iPhone.
It might have been because despite that rich, deep voice he has a really quiet, calm way of speaking—not necessarily so you can’t hear him, but definitely on the quiet side—or simply because my brain still lacked oxygen from looking him in the eyes, but I didn’t get the part I marked with the xxxx‘s. And for a tiny moment my brain went over the possibilities of what he might have said, came up blank and suggested I just let it go. However, I didn’t. I don’t know where it came from, but I was seized by a bout of courage and actually asked him what he had said.
Me: “Excuse me, you’ll have to send this to whom?”
RA: “Dawn. She’ll find this so funny.”
To quote Rob Biddulph: “Her tummy flips, her belly flops as finally the penny drops.” He was talking about Dawn French. Now, this was wonderful and in my mind I thought that he would email it to her and they would have a laugh and the thought made me smile. I would’ve been perfectly, blissfully happy with that. What followed a while later was beyond anything I could have ever dared hope for or dream of. Not even my wildest fantasies about this con excursion included something so extraordinary.
So he juggled with the book, the pen and the phone and I tried to remember to breathe and not to stare at him too obviously. I wanted to make the most of my chance of being near him, but also not seem like a bedlamite. It’s a slippery slope, my friends. It’s hard to look at a person and want to catalog every detail of their being while at the same time trying not to stare.
When he had taken care of his little photo op with Jill
totally with touching btw 😉 he passed the book on to me and then grabbed my final item–a box set of Castlevania.
RA: “This show is doing so well. When they first brought it to me, I wasn’t sure about it because it’s animation and I hadn’t really done that before but it’s really great and so much fun.”
Me: “Yes, my husband binge-watched season 2 without me, if you can believe it.”
See Mr. Kate, I mentioned you. I’m not trying to pretend I’m single in front of the beautiful man!
RA: “Oh, it’s a great one to binge, the episodes are only 30 minutes and it’s really entertaining.”
Me: “It is fun. And has lots of great swearing.”
Yup, you just told the guy you like it when he says Fuck! on television. Way to go Kate.
He didn’t comment on that, gentleman that he is, and handed me my last item. I thanked him for his time and floated over to my backpack, to store my stuff and then resume my clipboard.
After that, even the queue for Mads eventually petered out and we closed the room. I decided to get in line with my stewarding colleague for an autograph from Mads, not so much because I wanted one for myself but simply because he had been so great and was so lovely to the fans that I wanted to experience him up close. I gabbed with the other people in line and although there weren’t that many people in front of me, queueing still took another 25 minutes or so. I got my autograph, Mads was lovely and smiling and shook my hand
as he had done with EVERY SINGLE PERSON on both days! and I finally grabbed my belongings and stumbled out into the lobby, not a little dazed from three hours of work and my experiences during the autographs.
I couldn’t find Guylty right away because the lobby was crowded and I didn’t know where she would be, but I ran into armidreamer and she was the one that broke the news. The man, the myth, the Armitage had not emailed Dawn French as I had assumed. He had tweeted her. I was in shock! I’m sure J. can enlighten you as to my state much better than I can. She pointed me in the direction of Guylty and I plopped down heavily on a couch in the lobby. At least I think I did. It was surreal. It was wonderful. It was indecribable. I also have no recollection of this time. I know that I found her and at some point we decided to go get autographs from the other guys, but my mind is blank. The Armitage pulling a tweet on you can do that. So that was the second time that day he had made my day. I had all but forgotten about my hug debacle.
We then decided to get in line to get our autographs from Scott Thompson and Aaron Abrams (simply because they were so funny on stage), handed in our stewarding badges, picked up our special photo thanks and found some couches in the lobby to wait for the closing ceremony. There, someone overheard us talking (Germans were out in force at this event) and asked if a) I was the one with the book [yes, I was] and b) if Guylty was THE famous Guylty [guylty as charged–höhö], so we chatted with her a bit in the final queue of this con and then took a seat at the closing ceremony. RA made a wonderful closing speech and after all was said and done Guylty and I retired to our hotel, sat in the bistro with its library aesthetic and ate some pizza, talking, taking notes about the events, drafting blog posts and tweeting, downloading photos and generally coming down off that high this event had turned out to be.
One more fun thing regarding Jill happened quite a while later. I had, of course, bought a used copy of this ‘tome’ and had ordered a specific one for various reasons. Most of all because the cover was much more attractive than what I ended up getting. However, as is often the case with these used book sellers [interesting aside, mine was called Peach Books] they send you what they have and I received A instead of B.
This annoyed me as did the fact that a previous owner had writter her name and address on every surface imaginable: The pastedown, the fly leaf, the title page. Where on earth was I gonna have RA sign now that the dark cover page really didn’t lend itself to such beautification as I had planned with the original edition. I sent Guylty a photo of this egregious behavior and she spotted a saving grace. The person with a penchant for leaving her name everywhere was named Sian Clifford. Now the name didn’t tell me anything but it rang a bell for G and she informed me that Sian Clifford was in fact an actress repped by United Artist, same as our movie boyfriend. So she suggested I should tweet @SC to see if it was her book. Wouldn’t that be the cherry on my ice cream sundae? Well, I did this 1 1/2 weeks before the con and never heard back. No surprise, why would she take time to answer. So the con came and went and then, almost five weeks later the Sian Clifford replied that alas, she wasn’t the previous owner of my pony book.
No matter. The book is so special now, it would’ve thrown the earth of its axis had we involved another movie star in the thing. In any case, this little book can now boast Twitter mentions from Richard Armitage, Dawn French and Sian Clifford and will certainly soon seek representation with United Artist itself.
My last night at the hotel was good albeit too short like all our nights and I had to get up early to hoof it to the bus and back to LHR. I bid Guylty a fond goodbye in the early morning of 4 February, slogged it to the bus in the rain, made it home in one piece and collapsed.
One thing is for sure: I will never ever forget that weekend in early February 2019 where I lost my con virginity and had the time of my life!
My thanks to Richard Armitage, for deciding to give this convention business a try and for all he gave while he was there. To Starfury, for their excellent organization and the great atmosphere they created. To the team, especially Helen and Dean, who made stewarding part of the fun and one of the highlights of the weekend. To the fannibals who never once made me feel unwelcome even when I admitted I had no idea about the show and was only there for RA. To TPTB for letting me get well in the nick of time. To this crazy fandom that made me fall in love with flower crowns. To my darling Louise, who convinced me to disregard my misgivings and just go and who cheered me on from early November through every last insignificant decision about what to wear, what to have him sign and who talked me off the ledge a hundred times when I felt the cold from hell was never gonna go away in time. And last, but most definitely not least, to my partner in crime Guylty, who made this weekend ten times as good as it would’ve been without her! xx