Sunday, March 16th.
The sky is a clear blue, and the sun shines proudly down on us as we queue up for the first ever East-Midlands Science Fiction Convention, in Nottingham. Stormtroopers and Jedi march up and down the crowd of excited convention-goers, and from the church across the road, a priest can be seen taking photographs of the bizarre scene.
I can’t tell you how excited me and my friends were. It had been a long time coming, but finally the day of pure geekiness was upon us. There were to be autograph sessions, photographs with our heroes, and chatter with like-minded individuals. All around us, people were dressed up in some of the most convincing costumes I have ever seen (The Dark Knight and the Ghostbusters were two highlights). And as we waited (rather impatiently) for the doors to open, we kept standing on tiptoes to catch glimpses of all the guests as they arrived and entered the Royal Albert Hall.
Despite a delay of 30 minutes, once we were inside, Em-Con was ours. There was almost too much to take in. Daleks and the TARDIS, standing proudly in a corner. All of the celebrity guests sat at their tables, signing autographs. It really was a whirlwind. I can’t possibly discuss the whole day in one coherent piece, so instead, I will give you a few snapshots of what went on.
David Warner was perhaps the guest I was most looking forward to meeting. He has been in a great many films and series that I love, and I particularly enjoyed his performance as an alternate Doctor in a couple of Doctor Who audio dramas. All I can say is that David was warm and charming, and he absolutely made my day. I have a friend who knows his wife, and said friend had let Mr. Warner know, via his wife, that I was to be requesting a photograph with him holding my Sonic Screwdriver (a Doctor Who gadget). Upon meeting David, I told him that it was I who was after the picture of him with the Sonic, and he greeted me like an old friend.
“I’ve been expecting you!” one of the greatest actors in the world said to me, and I almost crumpled there and then.
He asked to look at my Sonic toy, and he asked my girlfriend to take a photograph of us behind his autograph table. I tried to remain calm, but inside I was squee-ing loudly.
I had, of course, booked a professional photoshoot with David Warner as well, and later in the day, he sidled up next to me, squeezed my arm, and asked me what time the photoshoot was. DAVID WARNER! ASKING ME A QUESTION!
The photoshoot itself was glorious. My girlfriend went first, and he knew we were together. As she made her exit from the studio, David bellowed, “Where’s Cory?”, and although I had only booked one photograph with him, he told the photographer to take two.
They say you should never meet your heroes. Whoever said that first was obviously not a fan of David Warner.
I had already met Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon in Doctor Who), twice before, and he is always a great person to chat to. We had a natter about a few of the audios he has done, and I also told him that his era of Who featured some of the best monsters.
The photoshoot was a riot, too. Me, my girlfriend, and two friends, all had individual shoots booked with him, as well as a group shot of the four of us. While we were queuing up for the shoot, Frazer pushed in front of me in the queue! He also opened up my jacket to show off my t-shirt, which he seemed to like. At one point, I also saw him jokingly pinch a bottle of beer off of an unsuspecting bloke.
I hope to meet Mr. Hines again very soon!
Me and my girlfriend, Tricia, also had the pleasure of meeting the entire Red Dwarf crew, plus Mac McDonald, who played Captain Hollister, and the two Holly’s!
The photoshoot was a very swift affair, in-and-out, although it was very exciting, and Craig Charles offered me his chair!
Later that day, I had the pleasure of meeting both Chris Barrie (Rimmer) and Norman Lovett (the first Holly). Barrie was a charming man, very warm and appreciative and completely unlike Rimmer.
Lovett was hilarious. I asked him how his day had been, and he told me how knackered he was. Hearing him moan in that Holly voice was just brilliant, and when I asked him if I could have a photo with him, he said, “Yes, ok, as long as you get on your knees and do it like a selfie. My back’s killing!”
When I told him my name, he said, “Like Corey Feldman…” and then proceeded to have one of the finest rants ever. He told me how he once did a convention in Australia, and had to sit next to Feldman during an autograph session. Apparently, Feldman had been wearing a black glove that was once Michael Jackson’s, and was completely ignoring the queue for him, instead moaning on the phone to someone. According to Lovett, it was during a time when Feldman had had some personal issues with Jackson. Norman said to me, “I know he was having a tough time with Michael Jackson, but we’ve all got problems haven’t we? You’ve just got to get over it.”
Best. Rant. Ever.
Em-Con 2014 was a day FULL of amazing memories and highlights. Here are just a few others:
Eating a burger surrounded by Ghostbusters, outside in the sunshine
Turning around and seeing the Dark Knight strolling down some stairs
Meeting some amazing friends from the online world, for the first time in the flesh
Watching Eve Myles crawl under a table
Having a lovely chat with the lovely Simon Fisher-Becker, who gave me some very wise words indeed: “Don’t get to 80 and say ‘I wish’…”
It’s incredible how much you can pack into one day. But when you go with good company, and make the most of it, anything is possibly.
Heroes were met, friends were made, and memories were forged. Memories that will last forever.
Here’s to the next one!