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An Evening with Sir Patrick Stewart


A little over a month ago, my Google Alert for Patrick Stewart (shut up) went off with an interesting alert – Sir Patrick Stewart would be giving a talk during the Huddersfield Literature Festival. Tickets were £15, and I hadn’t yet seen it pop up on Twitter.

…So I blagged front row tickets. And then I waited…and waited..and waited for the day…and OH, was it worth it!

I had a bit of a panic on Thursday when I started to read the weather report for both Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Snow. But not until the wee hours, so we would likely be fine. To be on the safe side, we packed sleeping bags, extra warm clothing (hats, scarfs, fleeces), water,and snacks into the back of the car just in case the snow turned into a second Beast and we had to sleep in the car.

Our day started off with a walk through Huddersfield. There was an international food fair going on, so we checked that out and we headed to the Town Hall to make sure we knew where we would need to be and we scoped out the place we were meeting up with some friends for dinner before settling down into a local coffee shop (I’ve forgotten the name!) for a cup of Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. (Naturally.)

We met up with friends for dinner at the Zephyr. None of us were familiar with the place. The food was…ok. I had a Cajun grilled chicken burger and there was no spice at all on my chicken, which was disappointing. But the Strawberry gin was good.

We all were scattered around the auditorium, so we parted in the lobby and Tim and I headed to our seats. I still didn’t think it was real…I would actually see one of my heros live on stage? Talking? Telling us about his life and career?

When Nick introduced Sir Pat, he explained that Patrick agreed to photos during the first five minutes (and he even posed for pics), and then asked for phones/cameras to be put away and asked that it wasn’t recorded. In fact, we were told if anyone did get caught with their phone held up during the talk, they would be kicked out. I did spot one guy on the balcony out of the corner of my eye holding up a phone though, so if any footage gets posted online I’ll link it.

Patrick Stewart was brilliant. He warned us that he didn’t give short answers, so there weren’t a whole lot of questions asked, but the stories the man told…it was worth it. I’d have gladly sat there for another hour..two….three…just listening to his stories. Perhaps one day he’ll publish a memoir (and Mr Stewart, if you’re reading this, Please can I edit it?)

We even got a rare treat! Not one accent,not two, but three accents! Sir Pat imitated a local accent when he was telling us about his interview to receive a scholarship to attend the Old Vic (and apologized for it being bad, though as a non-local I couldn’t tell), and then he gave us “Space, ze final frontiere” in a French accent. I have to say, I’m quite happy Paramount didn’t make him use a French accent! His third accent was a recreation of his role in 1967 on Coronation Street, plating a Fireman from Lancashire.

We also learned his favourite episode is the Inner Light (though the questioner asked “What’s your favourite Enterprise episode, so I’m not sure if the questioner was confused over which series Sir Pat was in!). This is honestly no surprise to me as it is an incredible episode and it’s made even better by the appearance of Daniel Stewart playing his son!

Sir Patrick told us about his early days in acting, about meeting and becoming bezzies with Sir Ian McKellen, and how he felt when he was on the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are and discovered more about his father. We also learned that the two charities he is patron for are in memory of his parents – Refuge for his mother and Combat Stress for his father.

And speaking of his early days in acting – did you know he lied his way into gaining his scholarship? Naughty Patrick! But I think he paid his debt in full back to Yorkshire in the end when he became Chancellor of the Huddersfield Uni.

I’m still giggling over his (former) hair piece having been flown across the atlantic specifically for his audition for Captain Picard…and then it was never used. While he did mention he wore a hair piece in one episode (Violations, in a flashback Beverly has), he didn’t specify if it was the same one or styled the same way. Hmm. Something to ask him in the future, perhaps?

Sir Patrick said in an interview on BBC Radio Leeds on Thursday that his favourite childhood book was Treasure Island…and I really think he should record an audiobook for it, don’t you?

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All in all, it was an incredible evening. Sadly, I didn’t get to ask him my question. I wanted to ask him to give advice to those of us in the arts (Performing, writing, creating) who face criticism and how you can bounce back from it…but it wasn’t meant to be and I’ll hopefully get to see him again and ask.

It started to snow on the way home. Not a significant amount, but enough to be annoying.

Thanks Huddersfield Literature Festival for having him, and THANK YOU Sir Patrick Stewart for speaking with us!

You are, forever, O Captain my Captain.

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+Photo by Neil Armstrong.

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