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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.

***

+Photo by Neil Armstrong.

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UK by Train: Exterminate 45

Tim’s dad had been in the Leicestser hospital, and while his mum was driving back and forth visiting him she heard on the radio about an event at the National Space Centre called “Exterminate 45“. Since she knew we are both big Doctor Who fans (okay, I’m probably a bigger fan than Tim), she made sure she told us about it.

Unfortunately, Tim had to work that day from 2-10, so we originally planned to head out in the morning, and then he’d leave for work and I’d make my way back on the train. I posted on a Doctor Who community to see if I could find anyone to hang out with, and I met C of the Leicester Doctor Who Club, who invited me to spend the afternoon with her and the rest of the club. Unfortunately, Tim and I had to alter our plans again, as a neighbourhood kid who looks to Tim as a mentor needed his help Saturday morning, so Tim and I decided I was going to make the trip by myself by rail and bus!

The trip really wasn’t too bad, and the train was a straight journey from Lincoln to Leicester. The trip took two hours because of all the little station stops, but I’m used to that with SEPTA!

My problems began when I got to Leicester. The Space Centre’s website tells you you can take two busses from the rail station and mentions the street names where the stops are….which was fine, but they didn’t give you any directions on how to find the streets. I had foolishly assumed the two streets were streets bordering the train station (I was sort of picturing 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, where you can get to 4 different streets from within the station)…they didn’t, but I did see a sign that said “bus station”, so I started walking towards it, pulling out Tim’s copy of the Leicester A-Z map to see if I could figure out where to go.

I got lost in the marketplace area. Many city centers have a pedestrian-only section of town where all the shops are, and there are loads of side streets and alleys with shops. I’ve gotten pretty good at navigating Lincoln, but Leicester confused me. There were streets that weren’t on my map, and streets that had two different names at an intersection. Confusing, right? I finally saw a bus, and I walked up to it and asked the driver if he knew where I could find bus 54, and he directed me to the correct stop. I finally made it to the bus and paid my £1.80 for a return (US: round trip) ticket.

I was expecting to get dropped off right outside the Space Centre, but the bus actually drops you off about a half mile away. I asked the driver how to get there and he told me to “cross the street and you can’t miss it”. Well, I crossed the street and couldn’t see the Space Centre through the fog, but I DID see the top of the Abby Pumping House Tim and I had gone to in October. The Pumping House is next door to the Space Centre, so I headed in that direction.

I got in line to pay my admission, £12. The person behind the counter wasn’t quite prepared for my American debit card, so I wound up with a complimentary ticket. Not bad at all. I walked around a little bit, and then shortly after met up with C and she and I wandered around until we found the rest of the Leicester Doctor Who Club.

We had a great time goofing off and checking out all the Doctor Who stuff AND the Space Centre. About half of us rode on the “Europa Simulator”, which was a small 3-D ride to “prepare” you for being an astronaut sent to Jupiter. The ride had one of those lap bars they pull down and the guy doing it just kept slamming it down. We had to have it done several times because one of the bars wasn’t going down fully, so I kept having this bar jammed into me over and over. At one point I told C if he slammed the bar down again I might have thrown up on him, it was that jarring.

At Exterminate 45 they wanted to try to beat the world record for people dressed as Daleks, one of the monsters of Doctor Who. None of us were in costume, but we headed outside to look at all the costumes and things ranged from the incredibly accurate to small children wearing cardboard boxes carrying a whisk and a plunger (the two “arms” of a Dalek look similar to those items). We even saw a child dressed as “The Empty Child” with another kid dressed as Captain Jack!

We wandered back inside and started making our way through the exhibits – both the Space Centre exhibits and the Exterminate 45 exhibits – and kept “running into” assorted Daleks, and I even shook hands with one of them!

There was loads of other Doctor Who related things there, too. Several people had brought along versions of the TARDIS, there was at least 2 versions of K-9 (aka “the tin dog”), one that was super accurate, and a club member dressed as an Ood!

When things started to wind down, the group I was with decided to head to a pub in town for a few drinks and asked me to tag along. We boarded bus #54 and I went to hand over my return….but what’s this? It seems I rode OUT on one bus line and was riding IN on another, and they don’t take each other’s tickets….but BOTH buses were Bus #54 and went to the Space Centre and even stopped at the same place. *shakes head* So I had to hold up the line while I dug out an additional £1.50.

I forget the name of the pub we had gone to, but we found a table in a corner and chatted. One of the guys in the club, N, and I started discussing words that mean different things in the UK vs. US. I’ll have to write up a blog entry about that at some time, because it was a really fun conversation.

I left the group around 6 to get back to the station. I was told it was really easy to get back – and it was! I boarded the 1830 train, and headed back to Lincoln.

Tim kept texting me telling me where I was (on the route) and I was really confused until I realized that he could monitor my train from his signal box, though I didn’t pass the box he was working at.

We got into Lincoln at 8:30, where Tim’s mum (and dog!) picked me up since the bus to the village stops running at 6.

The Leicester Doctor Who club invited me to come out for their December meeting, and if the train schedule can be coordinated, I just might, I had such a great time with them!



view overlooking most of the displays


(Photo taken by C) Members of the Leicester Doctor Who Club (and me!)

More photos: http://photos.beccajanestclair.com/uk-trip-2008/exterminate-45/

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