It was on the 9th of January, my birthday, that I read a certain news article on the website.
In big capitals it said: BOOK SIGNING AND JINNAH SCREEN TALK. It also said: London or UK based members are in for a treat! Well, I don't live in London or the UK; I live in Holland, so I didn't think much of it,except for the fact that it would be nice to go there, if I only lived in London.
A day later, while watching a movie, a voice came into my head saying,
"Why don't you go? You have the whole week off from work the week before the event. You can probably get the other week off from work as well. England isn't far away, and you have the money for it. Just go."
With this thought my heart started beating really fast and my hands started to sweat. A plan was forming and now it was time to take action. I went online to the chat room, as I knew Colin, Vicky and other regulars from the chat room were going. I asked Colin if he could possibly get me a ticket to the event. Two days later I got a confirmation. He had arranged a ticket for me, and even better, it was in the front row! Excellent! After that it was time to work things out with my boss (this wasn't a problem, as I had expected), and make flight and sleep arrangements. The rest was waiting time...
On Monday the 26th of February, it was time for my flight to England. I don't know which event made me more nervous, the flying or actually meeting Mr. Lee? I had never flown before. When we took off I got really scared. My heart pounded so fast it almost jumped out of my chest. In the air I thought to myself, "That's it, I'm going back by boat". Flying just wasn't a thing for me. After a while though, I got used to it and 50 minutes later I landed safely at
Heathrow airport, where Juan was waiting to pick me up.
I had never been to London and I'm sure I would have been lost within 5 minutes. Thankfully, for the few days before the event I had Juan taking care of me. He showed me around London, and almost cut off my head in The London Dungeons. He had hit me for real with a mock axe for a picture. Luckily I can take a hit and justice would soon prevail! Juan got scared in the London Dungeon. There was a woman talking about the torture instruments and he didn't like that one little bit. There was also a woman with scary make-up that followed Juan. He got even more scared. This to me was very amusing and I felt satisfied, particularly after the business with the axe.
Later in the day we met Joakim from Sweden at the Cinema Store (great shop, I want to live there) and ended up in a pub. I was drinking Kronenburg beer (I hope I've spelt this correctly), and I said that this English beer wasn't bad at all. My friends, who had been to England, warned me about English beer. As it turns out, this beer was actually Danish.
The next day would be the most important one, as it was to be the day of the screening of Jinnah and my meeting Mr. Lee. Time to get nervous again.
Before the event, we (Juan, Oscar, Joakim and me) met Colin (who was grinning from ear to ear) and his family and Gregory outside the Barbican, smoking one cigarette after the other. In the Barbican we also met up with Vicky (and her brother), Rita and John Warner.
I'm sorry if I've forgotten anyone. In the foyer we could buy Jonathan Rigby's excellent new book: Christopher Lee, The Authorized Screen History. Then, it was time to see the movie Jinnah. I'm not good at writing reviews so I won't start here, but let me tell you that this was an excellent movie. Mr. Lee's performance as Mohammad Ali Jinnah is a wonderful experience and probably his best film ever. At the end of the movie everyone had a lump in their throat, or tears in their eyes. I know I did. This was the first time I saw Mr. Lee crying on screen, apparently for real, as I was told that before the screening.
After a 30-minute break we had the screen talk with Mr. Lee and Jonathan Rigby. Finally I would see Mr. Lee in person. It started with a clip from The Devil Rides Out, which led to a standing ovation when Mr. Lee and Jonathan Rigby walked down the stairs. My first thought was, it's really him, someone pinch me. The second thought, he's really that tall. My third thought, yes it's really him. Someone pinch me.
The talk between Jonathan Rigby and Mr. Lee was very funny. Jonathan Rigby couldn't get a word in. Youcanhear the recording of this screen talk session on the Multimedia page. After that session we had to stand in a queue to get the book signed. Like Gregory, Colin and Vicky, just to name a few, I was very nervous. Luckily, Vicky was right in front of me, so we could joke a bit before it was our turn. When it was my turn I felt I was in some kind of strange dream. Mr. Lee signed my copy of the book and while he was doing that, I presented him with a bottle of Aquavit. He looked at the bottle and gave me a big smile.
He asked me how I knew that this was his favorite drink. I replied that I had heard this in the chat room. I shook his hand and he thanked me for the bottle. I thanked him for all of his movies and walked, with a big smile, to the side of the table.
Most of the people, after getting their books signed, just walked away, but someof the regulars/friends from the forums and chat room stayed to the side of the table, next to Juan and Christina, who were taking pictures. When all of the people had got their books signed, Juan took my copy of Tall Dark And Gruesome and asked, on my behalf, if Mr. Lee would sign this book for me as well. Mr. Lee asked for who it was, and Juan told him it was for someone from Holland, and pointed to me. Mr. Lee looked at me, gave that smile again and signed it. Words cannot describe how I felt, or feel again right now when I type these words and think about it. In the next second Juan ordered me to stand next to Mr. Lee. No one went behind the table, as it probably wasn't allowed. But in my state of mind I would follow every order at that moment. I couldn't think anymore at that time and only reacted to my surroundings. Had I been ordered to jump out of a window I would probably have just asked, "Ok, which one?" Juan then took a picture of myself with Mr. Lee using my digital camera. Unfortunately this picture came out wrong. I had set the camera up correctly, but without flash. At least I'll always have the memory, which I truly treasure.
Soon after that we all went outside and talked about how good this evening was for all of us, and got ourselves those much needed cigarettes.
You couldn't get us any happier than we were that evening. The next day Ihad to fly back again. And again I was nervous. When the plane took off I tried to calm myself down, which surprisingly worked. I enjoyed the flight, and arrived home in the evening with only good memories (and lots of books). My thanks go out to Christina, Juan, Oscar, Joakim, Colin and all the other friends I've met at the Barbican, but the person I want to thank the most is a legend, the best actor in the world and my hero...Christopher Lee.