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Memories of a Chitty Fan ~ Part 1


I left you on the parking spaces of Blickling Hall. Trust me for a moment I feared I'd had to end up there forever or at least until the next sunrise. When we were getting back to our car, I just wished I could have asked Michael and his driver just to wait for us. Honestly without any hidden thoughts. I just feared we would end up somewhere at the Norfolk coast or something after our strange explorations of the tiny Norfolk streets. How should we ever find in pitch darkness our way back? Michael heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp. Okay, as I can't take photos of the moon forever, we really had to start and take our chance as long as the lights on the parking grounds were on. Hooray, only two wrong ways, until I found the right one!!!! Should it scare me, we finally found our way back much easier than the way to Blickling Hall? Never mind, we found it and so here we were on our way back to good old missed London.

At least at some point Julia decided to switch the radio on and we had some nice hours with Tim Smith who sadly had to leave at 4 am, when we were almost in London. With a short break I guess it took us around 3,5 hours to get to London. Sigh not to mention the nice moment, when I was flashed. Horrible to have no one to share your motorway with. You just get faster and don't really feel it, until you can feel like a true star and being photographed in public without pre-notice. Sigh, here's someone feeling a speeding ticket coming her way. So will be interesting to see when and if I hear anything. Are the penalties in England high? My, better don't think about it!

We drove around London for some time and envied Michael and Cathy a bit for already being in their bed and having a nice, warm and comfortable sleep. How less we knew, they were still on their way back home! We spend the morning in Hyde Park, which was quite a bit of fun. Working some more on ones tan and just relaxing, was the best we could do before we hoped to get into our hotel early! A quick shower, a very short nap on the bed and we were off again, without any feeling of space or time. The concert already felt like ages ago and it just did not feel like 2 pm, but rather 8 pm, when we were exploring London again. Getting tickets for the London Eye and "About a boy" were on our schedule for the day. Great film and a shame it's still to be opened in Germany! Why are all good movies here so late? Just why? Anyway, not to bore you anymore, here we are doing a quick shift over to Monday and our first day at Chitty.

So Monday came up and guess what we did, after some horrible hot time on London buses? Right, we could not let this chance go bye and went to the stage door to see Michael. After all we are not lucky enough to be able to go there every now and then and so we decided to try our best to see him as often as we could. How poor that even might seem to some people. Don't ask me how long we waited, or when he did arrive. When it comes to Michael Ball I hate the waiting around stage doors, but as soon as you see him in the flesh all this is forgotten. You don't feel your hurting feet anymore or care for anything else. Is not adrenaline something really great.

There his car drove up and stopped in front of the stage door and I got over and over excited. Seemed to be ages since I had seen him the last time about three months ago. He just looked so fabulous when his quite handsome driver finally opened the door. Yes, he wore shorts, a widely open shirt and just looked as good as I had never seen him before. I was so proud I managed to take some photos and even prouder, when I managed to articulate myself and speak to him. But please everyone let me know one thing. How do you manage to get all these hugs and kisses all the time? Okay, I guess you just have to lean forward, body language. I just can't do that. Okay, certainly means I got to wait for a hug forever, but just can't do it.

I finally managed to do what I wanted to do. Thank him for the fabulous night he gave us at Blickling Hall and fabulous it really was. He smiled and said : "Yeah, it was a great night aye, wasn't it?" I can only say: Great choice of songs Michael. I spoke shortly to him about our trip. Have to say I really loved Norfolk, what a beautiful region, which is really dangerous. I am losing more and more of my prejudices I have of nearly each British region. Anyway, I was just a bit disappointed about the trip we had there. Main caught in traffic jams over and over again and of course the speeding problem. Then Michael told us, it took them about 5 hours to get back to London after the concert, which means even with our break at "Welcome Break", starting later towards London and so on we had been there much earlier than him. Poor boy!

He was close to going in, when Julia thanked him for the finale note in "Life on Mars" which was just soooooooooooo breathtaking. Well done for that Julia. He turned and gave her one of his more dirty laughs. What a great start in the Chitty week. WE managed to speak and at least I think I did not forget all the English I had learned over so many years. Not like Harrogate, when I think I even forgot my name for moments. Anyway, we were over the moon and just could not wait to get back to the theatre to see Chitty again. Hey here is talking the lady who first could not believe her ears, when she heard the definite rumours Michael will be taking the role as Caractacus and then got the movie, hated it and just lived in the hope that seeing Michael with children will pay up for the rest! I turned to really love it and that's thanks to the fabulous stage adaption. I just could not wait.

WE got something to drink as it was still boiling hot. Horrible actually. I drank a sip and just when I put the bottle back into my rucksack I was thirsty again. My mouth never stayed wet for more than a minute. But why complain, it was dry elsewhere! So that's most important!

For the first time we had seats in the dress circle. Wow! What a view you get from there. And row C center is just brilliant. Now I know why they are supposed to be the best seats of the house! We were rather late and I think everyone around us was already seated, only three seats in front of us stayed empty and did so until half past seven. We looked around and suddenly we saw simultaneously three people standing on the aisles watching out for their seats. They were aiming at row B. I just could not believe my eyes. There was a lady with blond long hair, a guy and another lady. Dark brown long hair and a very familiar face. Actually I don't know how often I looked around searching for another three seats, but these were really the only ones. In fact I was even searching that known face for little signs I had been wrong, but I did not get them. There she was: Cathy McGowan was approaching to sit directly in front of us! Julia and me looked at each other in disbelief. Okay, here we were and we'd better prepare to be well-behaved. Well we are, but maybe we should not cheer too enthusiastically after Michael's Bamboo and other remarkable performances? This good wish did not last long, but we actually didn't have to bother too much with Mrs. McGowan or her friends. Actually we didn't cheer frantically until they started wooing at Michael's first dance steps during Toot Sweets. All I can say is: Cathy just seems to be one of us. I don't know how often she must have seen the show. I gather rather a lot. But she was enjoying herself, just having a fun time. I think she is just so proud of him. I would have loved to say hi, but well. First of all I think it would have been a bit over the top itself, and then as she hasn't been alone, you just don't do such things. So we just sat there, enjoyed the show, got some short impressions of Cathy McGowan cheering to her other half and some impressions of people who were seeing the show the first time.

What can I say about the show? I haven't seen it since the opening night. So it would be interesting to see how much everyone has settled into their roles in the meantime. Now as everything should have been a bit more relaxed. We were told on notes hanging everywhere that the Toymaker was not going to be played by Edward Petherbridge, but by Brent Jones. Okay admittedly I only found out after the show! While I think he did a great job I still missed Mr. Petherbridge. I really can't say why, but I liked him in that part much more. Vi was being played by someone else as well, but then that is not really the biggest part in the show.

And it really was better than during the opening night which I already loved to bits. Everyone seemed to have settled so much into their roles. Everything was working, Chitty was flying, the chemistry between Michael and Emma was just brilliant and watching him sometimes when he was not usually in the center of attention was just so much fun! Especially when he does slightly dance along to Truly and the children singing "Truly Scrumptious". Should I say I never before had realized how protective Michael appears as Caractacus Potts during the beach scene when Goran and Boris appear? There were many first times of things I did not see before and it should stay the whole week like this. I still could not understand what Grandpa was saying while the model toilet flew over the audience, and as well not what everyone was saying while the toy car drove along the stage. But I should have three more chances that week!

When the show was over we got to the stage door. WE didn't want much, only in the hope for some nice shots of Michael and if possible say goodnight. What I did not expect was another nice view of Freddie that evening. Obviously the driver had been dogsitting him. Lucky doggy! He was lying on the passenger seat, while the drivers window was open and the driver, I think someone said his name was Scott was chucking him under the chin and just lovely to him. Did I say lucky dog? And please let me point out how impressed I had been, when Freddie should get into the back and really stayed there! I still can't make my dog stay in the back of our car if no one else is there and she is several months older than Freddie!

Cathy came out not much later and I was again impressed to see that Freddie did not jump on her lap. Maybe I should have asked Michael for the secrets in educating a Tibetan Terrier. Okay, maybe I should rather have asked Cathy! Michael followed her soon and of course he was gone rather quick, still taking his time for the waiting children to pose for photos and give some autographs. Then he was gone. We talked till late into the night about this day until we fell finally happily asleep still with five days and three performances to go :-D.

2nd part:

Monday had been so perfect, was there any chance to top this day? I really highly doubted it, Michael-wise at least. But well there were so many days yet to come. We would not be going back before Sunday afternoon and we only had Tuesday morning and some more shows to watch, though the next (Thursday ) seemed to be ages away!. The question asked by many people in my surroundings, family, friends, colleagues and so on was partly answered this Tuesday: Is there any hope for them and will they ever see something else in England despite stage doors? HEY!!! I'd moan, of course we have seen so many other things than just stage doors! (Though I know each stage door of each venue I have ever been to, but that's another story!). Tuesday, the chance to meet Michael at the stage door again, but, nay! Let's go to the beach, we thought and we did. We left London in the early hours and went down to the south-coast, paying our tributes in the likes of visits to some nice towns on our way. On the sad part: Yes we didn't end up at some new coastal town, but decided for Bournemouth. One of the five concert venues, we had seen Michael in on our first tour with him through England. But to get sincere for a second: I always liked England to a certain degree and London was always a city I wanted to see. Never had I been brave enough to do so, until I discovered Michael. Never would I have thought I would see more of England than London, and for sure I'd never thought I would ever be driving on the wrong side of the street. I had my prejudices for many regions of England and finally had to see, that even Liverpool was just such a beautiful place. We already know now, where our main problem for the time coming will lie. How to decide where to go? We love the south coast with Bournemouth and Brighton, we loved the concerts at the Albert Hall and in Cardiff, the white spot on our map still is Scotland, and of course we'd just love to go north to meet up with Pat and Stella again. And then there are still all the English towns we had never seen, but would love to. So, where to go next time, Michael will be doing a tour? Hopefully in 2003? What to do? Honestly, those of you, who don't live in Great Britain and have never been there, you just have to. As it was always Julia and me, the weather was 95 % cold, rainy and mostly even stormy. 15 ° in July? We had it!

This weather we had in Bournemouth and it was still such a beautiful region, we just had to get back. This weather we had being in the Lake District and I'd seldomly seen a more beautiful place! And you always know, you will have something to laugh, or others can laugh at you. Legendary, was our trip to the Lake District. When Pat suddenly stopped the car without any reason. Or s o we thought just to find a horse slowly crossing the street. Julia and me g e t so overly excited (Germans who are used to have fences just everywhere J ) while Pat and Stella exchange bewildered glances and don't get what all the fuss is about.

So to cut a long story short : Yes, I love the fact that Michael made me explore so many places in Great Britain so far and I cannot wait to see more. Especially now with having the beautiful Norfolk on my list! So Tuesday was our attempt to show: We are detached and don't have to be at the stage door all the time. This little side trip was really worth the hassle and I certainly cannot wait for my next walk around Bournemouth's coast.

But yes I am sure you are not that deeply interested in all our trips around, huh? So let's get back to the main reason of our trip: Michael Ball. We got back to London and drove down Picadilly to search for a space to park the car. After a horrendous stop and go, we ended up on Pall Mall. Checking over and over again, if we were really allowed to leave our car there for an hour. It did not help to walk up Regent Street and find some poor cars wh ich were going that were hauled off. A s we had learned by then: Parking your car in a "permit holders only" area, if you are not a permit holder - Well that seems to come very close to murder in London. N o miracle, as we are speaking about a place, where parking your car for a day costs more than to get yourself somewhere to sleep! So would Fab Fiesta still be there when we g e t back? We hoped so!

Anyway , I have to say it was quite a strange feeling to get to the stage door , waiting for The Man to come out just to see him. Nothing else did we want at this moment. The first time I had been at the stage door  without having seen the show before. A s we were waiting , his driver arrived and did not have to wait long until one of those traffic guys made him move the car. He didn't care much that Michael Ball w ould be leaving the theatre soon. Actually we learned that a zig zag line seems to be even worse than permit holders sign . Judging form the police guy´s face we got the impression that Michael´s driver was in for the death penalty..at least! However , his driver is still alive and actually really left . I guess to round the theatre once or twice. Not too long afterwards the doors opened and people left the theatre. It got more and more crowded, as the children of the show were leaving and meeting their parents there.

And finally, only about ten minutes after the show had ended , Michael left the theatre. And although he was about leaving soon he took his time to pose with children and give autographs to them. We had a laugh when Michael was posing with a little girl who was smiling all over her face, lucky her. Anyway, suddenly Michael advised her father, who was taking the photo , to take his hand from the flash. Did not hear, what her father was saying, but Michael went: " No, you still have your hand there ", smiling all over his face. Then that guy must have finally realised how to hold the camera best and thanked Michael, who replied : " Well , I've done it once or twice. " In fact, I think Michael should be able to work literally all cameras that exist J . Another cute thing that happened that night . I was told by Julia: A tiny boy , who stood  close to her, was completely amazed when he saw Michael and asked, really impressed: "Was that Mr. Potts? !? " LOL, yes my dear that was Mr. Potts!

~ A Summer Chitty - 2nd Part ~

04/09/2004 14:32

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