The Kindness of Strangers

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LFCC 2015

After the fiasco of last year – when Showmasters vastly underestimated the interest in YALC and so weren’t prepared at all for what happened – I’d pretty much decided not to bother with LFCC this year. Disorganized crowds, no air-con, loos blocked off, inability to queue for authors – all made it a nightmare last time. Not to mention getting virtual ticket 820something for Summer Glau, meaning I ended up leaving without having met her. [All this was detailed in my post at the time.] Even though it is my annual birthday treat, I just didn’t feel the hassle was worth it.

But that was before I found out Richard Dean Anderson would be attending.
I loved MacGyver. I loved Stargate. I love RDA. I have autographs from the other 3 members of SG-1. How could I NOT go to meet RDA?

So as usual, the kids bought my tickets as my birthday present. It would be late this year, but never mind. RDA!!!!

The first disappointment was that I didn’t get a ticket for a photoshoot. It was way over budget, but I was trying to find a way to make it happen. Then I had to work on the day they were released, and they’d sold out within a couple of hours according to my friend. Missed the boat there.

Still, I was looking forward to getting an autograph. And I managed to get talk tickets for RDA for Bob and me. I just hoped there wouldn’t be a repeat of the Summer Glau situation, as I knew RDA would be immensely popular.

There was no way I could afford a repeat of the first time we went to LFCC, when my mother paid £300 for a taxi there and back for Bob and me. We arrived at 7am and so were within the first 100 people in the queue. Wonderful.

These days, we have to take the train. Bob and I were joined by Bex and her boyfriend Chris – dressed as Misty and Ash with their Pokemon. We arrived just after 8am, and already the queue was right round Olympia and back to the exit from the train station.

We met a lovely mum and daughter in the queue, who told us that RDA had only signed about 70 autographs on Friday. My heart sank. Still, I was determined to try. He was, after all, the ONLY reason I’d decided to go. YALC was a bonus, of course. I wouldn’t have minded meeting some of the authors, and there was a suggestion that there might possibly be some open agent pitching sessions, so I took my picture book stories just in case, but RDA was definitely my priority.

We finally got through the doors at around quarter past nine. I asked several Showmasters personnel, in both red and blue shirts, where I had to go to get virtual tickets for RDA. I was met with blank looks and unhelpful suggestions. Finally, we found one on another virtual queue who pointed us right. Upshot of this was that when I finally got my magic green ticket, the number on it was 299.

My fears were confirmed. 299 might as well have been a thousand. I was going to have to settle for the talk. Maybe join Bex in the author zone after. We split up.

So next on the list was to find the talk venue. A huge room – promising. A quick visit to the loo, and Bob and I toured some of the stalls. Optimistically, I bought an autograph sleeve ‘just in case’ with the expectation that it would be kept for another year.

The talk was 11.15am. At around quarter to eleven, we went to check that the room wasn’t filling up already. There were quite a few people inside, so we entered, to make sure they were there for RDA. I saw a lady in a Star Wars T shirt, who told me that there was supposed to be a free Dr. Who talk first. We got chatting. She said she was a Stargate fan too.

And it changed everything!

I told her I was only there for RDA, but it looked like I’d struck out with ticket 299.
She said she and her husband had arrived really early, and had both approached the virtual queue from different sides. He’d managed to get her ticket 60. She got herself ticket 80.

Then, wonderfully, unbelievably, miraculously, she offered me her ticket 80!!!!

Thank you so, so, so very much @kt_starkiller for turning what would have been the biggest disappointment into the most wonderful day.

We chatted for a while, then her husband came back and they went off.

Bob and I decided to hang around for the Dr Who talk, so we’d be on hand for RDA. Also, the room was wonderfully cool and we got to sit down. We elected to eat our lunch early while we waited, rather than having to find a patch of floor later. Neither of us are very good at getting up once we’re down.

Time ticked by, and we were getting worried that the schedule was running very late.

Finally, Kevin Davies came onto the stage. He produced and directed 30 years in the Tardis and various other Who. He started warming the audience up, and apologised for the delay. He talked about Peter Davison as his ’12th favourite’ doctor. He was interesting, but obviously the majority were just waiting for Drs 6 and 7.

After a while the message came through that the Drs weren’t going to make it at all. ‘The Tardis is stuck in the vortex,’ he said.

He kept talking for a little while, but since most people got up and left, he gave up.

By this time a queue was forming outside for RDA. We went and asked a blue shirt, who told us we could keep our places, they would come round and check our talk tickets in a bit. So we sat down again. Then another blue shirt came over and told us we had to go out and join the queue. So instead of being right at the front by virtue of being there half an hour early, we had to go right to the back of the queue. Typical Showmasters, they all tell you something different, and nobody seems to know what is going on.

We finally got back in, and were seated halfway back. Then once everyone was in, they moved the rows forward to fill up the gaps. We ended up two rows behind where we’d been before. Not too bad.

Kevin Davies remained to introduce RDA and manage questions. Richard entered to rapturous applause and much whooping. The comment was made that the British were supposed to be reserved. Rick said he loved the UK, and talked about filming the MacGyver movie here. Davies mentioned scenes in Battersea Power Station, but Rick didn’t remember being there.

Of course, as soon as he came out, phones started flashing. Rick got out his own and put it on video, panning across the audience. We did a Mexican wave. Then he turned it on himself. ‘These are all my fans’. Davies said we could now all say we’d been directed by RDA.

The talk was great. It lasted about 45 minutes, including a couple of pauses for public service announcements over the tannoy that drowned everything else out. RDA was charming. He told a funny story about his competition with Chris Judge for the title of King of Flatulence. He talked about his famous long distance bike ride and how it changed his life. ‘If this were Oprah, we’d be telling you “there’s a 10 speed bike under your seat”’ he joked. He talked with great affection about the short lived series LEGEND. He was wearing a ‘Grrr Arghhh’ T shirt, so I asked him if he’d have liked a role in Buffy, and if so, what sort of part he’d have liked to play. He confessed that he didn’t even realise the shirt was from Buffy and didn’t really know what the series was about. He quipped, ‘I’d play Buffy, because the star always gets paid the most.’ Several times, he alluded to his failing memory, and the audience prompted him with episode titles etc as he talked. When he talked about Shanks and A Tapps getting all the technobabble because he didn’t want to have to learn it, so he gave the simple explanations, someone at the back yelled “Magnets!” which many of us echoed. He kept asking us to repeat what we were saying, but couldn’t make it out. “My tits? Is that what you said?”

He was asked if there was a point where he felt ‘I’ve made it,’ and if, in retrospect, that had indeed been the point. He said, not really, except when his business manager told him he already had enough money to put Wylie through college.

The talk finished around noon. We left and headed straight for the signing queue. Bob left me there to explore the stalls. Just as well I got there when I did. With usual Showmaster inefficiency, the queue controller was new, and had allowed a longer queue than she should have (bless her). Another red shirt came along and cut the queue off about 8 people after me. She tried to persuade a lot of the rest of us to go away until after lunch, but I wasn’t budging. The queue moved slowly. RDA was giving generously of his time. Finally, I got to the photo desk. There was a choice of 3 MacGyver or five Stargate pictures, all gorgeous. There was also a great sign about Rick not being able to sign ‘fabrics, or rolls of duct tape’. LOL I picked a photo of Jack in front of the Gate. Since I have the rest of the team, I wanted them to match. But I cheekily asked if I could nab a MacGyver pic if I promised not to try to sneak an extra sig. She let me – thank you.

At this point, RDA’s minder had words with the blue shirt – it was about 12.48 and he was getting ready to have lunch. They looked at the remaining queue and she suggested he asked Rick to speed up a bit. Typical.

When I was nearly there, I was greeted by a good looking chap with a grey beard. I’m ashamed to say I probably should have known who he was, but didn’t. He engaged with me and when I said I had autographs from the rest of the team he asked if I had Don S Davis. I said unfortunately not. He said he’d worked closely with Don, and they’d been planning to release an exhibition of Don’s artwork when he sadly passed away. They were hoping to organise it soon in his memory. I hadn’t realised that he was an artist too. Such a tragic loss. I’d have loved to have met him.

Then it was my turn at last. I gave Richard a copy of my fanfic short, ’N is for Name’, at the bottom of which I’d written him a short message. I told him I’d written it in case I got tongue-tied. He apologised but said that he couldn’t read it without his glasses. I told him he was my birthday present and the only reason I was there. He seemed flattered. I told him about my birthday kiss from Chris Judge and he asked ‘was it a proper kiss?’ I just said it was lovely. He wished me happy birthday as he signed, and I shook his hand.

Worth it? TOTALLY!

When I came down from cloud nine, I called Bex. She was third in line for an author. I said I’d come up and meet her on level 3. Well, that was the plan. I walked all around level 2 [huge] twice and couldn’t find the stairs to go up, only the stairs to go down. The lift near the talk stage was not allowing anyone on. The lifts on the other side had queues of about 50 people waiting to get on. So I gave up. I called Bob and he said he was looking at the stalls downstairs, but I decided I couldn’t be bothered to push my way down to search him out. I wandered around the middle level stalls. I bought myself a Sea Shepherd bag with my birthday money from Diane [sister-in-law] and got David a Transformer Armada comic dated 2 Aug [our anniversary]. Then I found the Genki T shirt stall. By this time the others called to say they were ready to join me, so we rendezvoused there. I bought Bob two T shirts for his birthday – another annual tradition.

It was only something after two, but we were all hot and tired. There weren’t any other authors for Bex except Holly Smale, and she wasn’t going to be available until 3.30pm. We elected not to wait.

Heading out for the train, I spotted Jodie outside in her Stargate gear, and we had a quick chat. I got Bob to take our picture. I just wished I’d got him to take one of me with @kt_starkiller. I always forget about the pictures until the event is over.

Overall, it was a mixed experience. I’m not sure I’ll go next year. Unless there’s a big name like Nathan Fillion. I’d go for him. But thanks to a chance encounter with a lovely lady, a miracle of good luck the like of which I very rarely see, this year wasn’t a total bust. It was a dream come true.

RDA videos audience

No sign duct tape

blurry Ash & Misty

Too far back

RDA signing

Misty & Ash coming home

Helen n Jodie