Memories of a Chitty Fan ~ Part 2

Wednesday found us striving on the paths of Harry Potter. Finally at our.. Uhm, I don't remember how often I had been to London within the last two years. Great memory , huh? Anyway, we were to meet Pat and Stella to spend the day with them and therefore we met up at Kings Cross station and could dive into the world of Harry Potter... Siiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

Stella wanted to get to the stage door, as she ha d not seen Michael since the Donmar. So far n ot even Chitty !!!! And it was like it 's usually with these things: We were early and , of course , Michael was not. When we arrived , there had already been a remarkable number of people waiting for him, but with time passing , it got more and more crowded. The doggies arrived, the children arrived and many of his co-stars could be seen in the meantime. I think even Brian Blessed already arrived or was that the day after? You see that's the shame with going each day, you just forget when things happened! It was finally already past 1 pm and the crowd gathering there was already much bigger than anything I had seen in the evenings (despite press night!). We had Gareth walking around , being on the mobile most of the times, asking questions like "Where are you now?" and looking up the street. Of course we thought he would be getting there by car, but however he got there: Suddenly he came walking down the street on his own! Guess it was too crowded on the streets. As he was really late already, he did not stay forever, but rather went straight in, giving some autographs and at least saying hi to Stella!

Did I mention the weather already these days? When I put everything together into my suitcase , I thought I had plenty of shirts and everything with me and it should not be a problem. How wrong I had been! I never expected it to be so hot and humid . Temperatures about 30 ° C. W e could not do anything. Just make one move and you felt like you badly needed a shower . With having to change twice a day, I was soon out of clothes. And now it was Wednesday and it took a turn to the worst. Of course it started to rain. Hoooray! The one day Stella and Pat are there and we have rain, grrrrr. It kept pouring, so we finally decided to go back to our hotel, where we spent the rest of the time until they had to leave again. W e later on went to the stage door (again) and the feeling was strange (again), as we were standing there, waiting for the show to end. Nothing new or too exciting to tell here.

Then Thursday finally arrived and our second visit to Chitty. Just for the records, we explored some new places, one of them: Hampton Court. What beautiful grounds . I can only imagine what a great background it has to be for concerts. Lucky yous who could see him there! Well , of course we got trapped in the London traffic (surprise). But you cannot imagine how excited we had been, when we finally got to the stage door (thanks to Julia finding some ways to sneak through London!!!). We had a mission : Helen Yeo did two crotch Caractacuses, one for Julia and one for me. As she won ' t be able (miracles welcome!!! ) to see him in the near future, not even daring to think of a photo with him, all she wanted was a photo of her Caractacus with the original. So we got our car parked and got to the stage door. We must have been quite a picture. Two adult girls walking along the street with their soft toys under their arms. You cannot imagine how disappointed we had been, when Gill and Mauree told us , Michael had already arrived at about 20 past four. GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!

But well, that's life, we couldn't help it and... why moan? Two chances were left and we still had the show coming up ! Again I wished, I could do it regularly. You try to make the most of such a trip to London (i. e. to see Michael as often as possible) . So we were back there. Today we had our seats in the upper circle. As we had no other choice at the Press night, we found out, that the view from up there is not as bad as you should imagine. In fact , I would always prefer it to the back of the stalls, where you cannot see too much of the flying Chitty , as I heard. So we had no problem when some weeks before our trip , all that was left on Ticketmaster for a Thursday performance  was Upper Circle row M! Humm row M? You might think. But actually I was pretty glad we decided to sit there! W e could not have been further away from the stage, but still the view was pretty good. Of course you dont have the facial expressions as clear as in row B in the stalls, but the advantage you get here , is the great view over the whole of the stage. The most remarkable thing of that night view- wise was certainly "Bombie Samba"! Fascinating to see the pictures the dancers drew with their formations! Many people criticised the choreography as old - fashioned. Y es I am not an expert on musical dancing, but I have to say, it was really quite impressi ve . I will never understand how people can listen to music and develop such a choreography. For my money 's worth , Gillian Lynne did a fabulous job and I have to say, sorry Michael, but Bombie Samba is really one of my favourite parts of the show. Would only Michael be dancing there as well......  LOL, but I am sure, he would be very thankful for my proposal. LOL, as well as content s -wise it would be quite interesting ! Caractacus joins Baron Bomburst, the person who kidnapped his father , to celebrate his birthday. J . Okay, I see the problem ;-)

Brian Blessed, aka Baron Bomburst, caused one of the biggest and most unwanted laughs there were. At the beginning of Act II, when Grandpa tells the Baron it was a mistake , he was not the inventor  the Baron said this was certainly a joke and was nodding like mad, just when the feather mob, that is at this stage put on his crown , fell down! We had quite a laugh and did not care much for the real action at this moment. It was far more intersting to watch the dancer who was standing the closest to him and who did not seem to be sure if he should pick it up or not. Finally , he decided to do so and tried to hide it behind his back, which of course , did not work too well. Then he handed it over to Boris, who took it o f f stage.

We really enjoyed the show so much. The only downer were our seats, but not due to the view, but to other things. As you really are completely in the back, you have to fully concentrate on the show . O therwise you will witness live everyone who is coming late! ( H ow much I loved the fact that no late-comers were admitted to the Donmar show, though it meant that Cathy McGowan could not see the complete last performance of Michael 's !). And did I say what the other problem was? We sat directly in front of the ladies loos! Yes, you did not misread. Directly behind us, there was the door to the ladies loo. And if you ever wondered how many people have the idea of going to the loo during a performance: A LOT!!!! What I really hated was their attitude. You can get used to having light on your back every now and then, but I dont understand, why they could not close the doors quietly, but always had to "slam" them !  Dont get the impression that we did not enjoy the show! Oh we did, it was fab! In fact we decided then to get tickets for the next night as well, if we could.

We could. After doing a round in the London Eye , we went to the box office and asked for three tickets. We were lucky, we were offered Royal Circle seats . The only three connected seats they had. And when everyone would have been happy to get them, we wanted to get Upper Circle again. Of course we could only get single seats, all in the centre block in three different rows. Can only repeat myself ;-).

You remember our task for Helen Yeo? The Caractacus Twins had been around quite a lot. They were with us the whole day and enjoyed seeing London from the top. And happily they greated all their London friends at Hamley's. A shop, where each Chitty child seems to spend their hard earned cash before they do the shows . Quite a high percentage of the children were carrying their Hamley bags when they arrived at the stage door! However, we finally got to the stage door in time. And talking about being in time we had been there at four pm! I don'd have to emphasize ´, do I?,  what happens when you are in time and what happens when you are much too early? A) you can read on Thursday, B) happened today! Yes , you guessed, he was rather late.

Finally , a now well-known car stopped in front of the stage door. Michael got out and took his time. He was so nice when a lady gave him some flowers and asked for a photo with him. Her son was about to take it. The only problem was the camera. Michael stood there gladly posing for some time, but they couldn't work out the camera and so after a while he proposed to do it later on and went on. Next was me being brave, as he came closer to me. I pulled myself together and started the sentence , I had repeated so often in mind. Michael was so cute !!! He was standing in front of me and: Great god, I cannot explain, what a fab feeling it is when you have him there. Standing only inches away from you and he is really listening to what you say. I swear my heart stopped for a moment, when he finally listened to me, pulling his glasses up and saying: " H ey, a Caractacus!". Oh yes! So bravely ..... despite those wonderful blue eyes looking at "Carrie" and me , I managed to finish my sentence , (you see miracles do happen!). Without any hesitating he took Carrie, held it to his cheek and smiled broadly! Now I wish he was so excited about something I did, but unfortunately I am very poor when it comes hand i crafts. Anyway, I felt so poor for one reason. I looked through the camera, took the photo and was just 100 % sure that the camera had not adjust ed itself! I was so sure Michael was sharp (well on the photo at least, he was quite hot in any other sense ;-)). So I asked a bit ashamed if I could take another photo as I was not sure, and he was nice enough to do it! Nevertheless , it was such a fantastic memory and I shall never forget it! Nice to hear afterwards, that Mr. Chity was standing close to Michael, while I did the photos. Thanks to Julias camcorder , we now have an idea on who Mr. Chitty is. Thanks for that hint Mr. C ;-). Anyway, Michael took his time for everyone and was only slowly approaching the stage door. But finally he was really gone and I felt great, we had fullfilled our task . YES!!!! And a great show was coming up once more.

Michael seemed on top form ( only later we found out why ;-)). He really gave everything. What was remarkable about this night? Imagine what happened again at the beginning of the second act? Yes, you are right. Brian Blessed lost his feathers. And he was even more nodding than yesterday. LOL, cute how one little mishap is so well-received that it gets included in the show. However, it was quite a bit of fun! Especially as we could get together during the second Act. Two seats at Sylvis side stayed empty, so we joined her for the time being.

Michael was perfect once again during the whole show. Having to say that I really started to look at him all through the show. Cannot believe it took me until Thursday btw. t o see his fatherly concern , when Boris and Goran were hovering around, during the picknick scene . And I just love the few accompanying steps he does while Truly and the children are singing Truly Scrumptious!

Here they were again. The funny " Chu chi face ", the more than yummy Bombie Samba, Teamwork again freed Vulgaria from  the C hildcatcher and the Bombursts, when Caractacus, Truly, G randpa, Jeremy and Jemima got into Chitty and took off to good old England. Everything went fine, until suddenly Chitty did not do a twist it really should do. Hoooray! Yes, we just witnesse d Chitty being stuck. Everyone sang on happily and I am sure that hardly anyone , who did not see the show before , noticed something was wrong. Michael was smiling and I got the impression he was looking at a certain person in the Royal Circle, but for sure I had been wrong. He did helpless gestures. The problem really was: Chitty was stuck in front of the curtain, so they could not get the curtain down. In the darkness you could see stage workers hovering around the corners, but they could not do anything. Only very , very slowly the car went back, still being held in midair. I did not look at my watch, but I guess it was around five minutes until t he car was in a position to lower the curtains . Only moments later an announcement was being made that due to obvious problems the curtain call was delayed by some minutes, but they would proceed as soon as possible! We were quite bewildered to see that many people already started to leave . A t least after the announcement some came back and others just kept staying in the aisles. About ten minutes later, we got the curtain call and especially the poor trapped people got an additional excited cheering and applause! Chitty though was punished and did not get her usual bow today.

I have to say, despite Michael, Emma, Anton and the children who were trapped there and always are in my thoughts when I hear about the problems, my pity goes to the technicians. So often it's forgotten that they have quite a tough job to do. We will certainly  never know how long they have to stay during those nights just to get Chitty running again for the next show. I should mention what Mr. Chitty wrote on MBFC forum some time ago : Just the week after we got back Chitty got into trouble on Wednesday n ight. It stopped, just like it did with us, only this time it misbehaved already at the end of the first act. Michael and the others had to be taken down over the windmill and technicians tried to make it going again for an hour I think. Then the whole second act had to be cancelled! As we heard then, they thought the problem was water in Chitty ' s systems. I did not trust my eyes, when I read that there are puddles at the sides of the stage when it keeps raining, as the roof of the Palladium seems to be damaged. Excuse me , puddles? We have dancers there who have to run on stage all of the time during certain songs, and then there are puddles? Even the second biggest theatre in the West End? Sorry, but I think Lord Lloyd Webber should have enough money to ensure the performers in his theatres don't risk their health , because of puddles!?!

Did I say that we were awaiting the second act while the guy in front of us suddenly held a Chitty CD in his hands that had the writing "Original London cast" on it ? Excuse me !?! Just the day before one of the ladies selling merchandise , told a customer the CD would not be out before next week. Now he held his CD in his hands ! But hey great, who complains? Of course the first thing we got the next day was the CD!!!! J

Being at the stage door later on I overheard someone pitying Emma for being stuck there. And again I was a bit shocked how cool she said: Well, we got used to it in the meantime! Hooray! Y ou are still waiting for Michaels reason to do his best? And you would like to know if there really was a person Michael was looking at at the end of the show? There was: Just when we were standing there, waiting for Michael, suddenly a well-known face popped up. Cathy McGowan wearing a gorgeous white suite, looking just breathtaking, left through the stage door and got into the car. Shortly afterwards being joined by Michael!

Saturday and our last day with Michael : Last time at the stage door before the show. Sigh, this can not have been a week , surly? We were early again and ended up talking to a lady, who said it was her birthday. She said, she wanted to have a photo with Michael, her third in nine years. She asked me to take the photo for her . We had a great time chatting and finally discovered we knew each other from the fan club forum. In fact we were talking to Susie Q! Later on Cherie and Dee joined the group as well and it was soon again rather crowded. Luckily it had stayed dry so far! And it was still when Michael arrived. He got out and just looked so fantastic, though I have to mention: No shorts for the first time this week, but still he looked fabulous in his jeans, checked shirt and pin-striped jacket. God, what a beautiful man he is! Susie stopped him and asked for a photo. There I was. I had this expensive reflex camera hanging around my neck, ( really , really expensive !) . And at the same time I held this simple camera Susie gave me in my hand s . Michael posed with her, she stood there smiling broadly and I got the camera to my eye and hit the button. GAH Nothing happened! Ooer, shock, what was going wrong? I looked at the camera and realised: I did not switch it on!!!! Looking like a pro , behaving like a complete idiot! In the meantime a friend send me a photo of this moment , and yes: Michael had been laugh ing at me. Okay, he was just smiling, but you can see how much of fun he had, oooer. Did not help that Susie asked for another photo as she did not trust the first one worked. (For the record: They both worked and Susie Q now has some adorable photos with our man ) . Michael was nice again and took his time, although he was rather late.

So this was it: Our last night at Chitty, our last show, our last B ombie Samba, our last.... well everything for a long time!!! And the first time we sat in the stalls on the right wing directly on the aisles. Great seats!!!! Really! And one of the most funniest shows ever. We had a fabulous view on the facial expressions this time as well. There can be worse things happening than having Michael close at your last show. This was the main reason for us to take those seats on our last performance.

I had quite a laugh, when for the first time within 6 performances we saw that many people who were at the funfair were coming down the aisles through the audience. Then suddenly , a police man came down the aisle and stopped at our side. He (we are still wondering if it was Peter Bishop)  tipped the guy in front of us , who was sitting quite relaxed in his seat, on the shoulder and asked something like he just wanted to check, if he was still awake. God we had fun! Michael was fabulous again! Only people who had seen the show before could knew that it did not happen on purpose that Michael drop üed his h at at the beginning of " M e ol' Bamboo". He just could not grab it completely, but it really seemed as if it was intended . He kept smiling all the time, though I am sure he hates it , when these things happen to him. Especially as he lost his bamboo later on, but again, it could as well have been part of the show.

This all was forgotten later on.... you can imagine when? Yes , the beginning of Act II. The feathers should fall once more, but they did not. LOL, well they did not completely! They just slipped down a bit and ended up hanging directly in front of Brian Blesseds eyes, causing lots of laughter. And again, we had many people standing around on stage and none of them daring to do anything about it . Not even Brian Blessed himself! A s long as he could still see where to go .... ;-). It was finally Nichola McAuliffe who pulled the feathers down under the laughter of the audience!  God what a brill night it was. Still there was a highlight to come. Baron and Baronness Bomburst left, as we already knew , through the audience. Only that I never realised Nichola McAuliffe was going down the aisle animating us to clap. "Clap, clap, clap ! " , she went! If you have the chance, these seats really are fab, and I am sure I will be sitting there again, some time in the future!

But of course the night was over too soon . Sigh. And as we got out of the theatre through the exit that's direct l y at the stage door we stood in the pouring rain. Mad as we are, we waited nevertheless . The main reason being (aprat from barking madness) : It was our last night and we at least wanted to say bye to Michael. As we stood there , Cherie arrived not much later and offered to share her umbrella (to Chitty insiders  known as bumbershoe) with us. We gladly accepted this offer , before we got completely soaked! There have not been many people there, some other Michael fans, but not too many and a nice lady with her little daughter. While we were waiting , w e saw Richard O'Brien coming and going several times. Poor little girl was always told by her mum that this was the childcatcher. Nice, LOL, would I have been her age, I would have been petrified by this ! Shortly afterwards Nichola McAuliffe left as well and then we had Gareth getting out of the theatre. Poor guy, had his hands full with enormous flower bouquets and bags he had to get to Michael ' s car and no umbrella to safe him from the pouring rain! Well , it's not always a great job !! (Still, we would be happily to take over any minute Gareth!) Just minutes later Michael left and , of course , he did not stay long, gave some autographs and left. I managed to thank him for the week , while he was walking past us. He turned and was just so nice smiling and wishing us a good journey back! He got into the car and that was it . Our week was over!

The only thing we still had to do was something completely non- Michael related. Julia and me saw a photo some months back of the Albert Bridge at night. It looked so great that we had to g o there and see it in all its glory . We got home, changed, and then got back into the car. It was pouring down so heavily that I could not see properly through the windows! We had to be mad (what's new?!?) , but we had an aim! Julia got us to the bridge, wh i le we were listening to our new Chitty CD. Hey, at least now we knew why we had a CD player in the car! ( You just have to get it. The reco r ding is fantasmagorical! ) Anyway, back to the Bridge. We saw it and were just so happy, it looked great. What's so special about a bridge, we hear you wonder! It's decorated with hundreds and thousands of lights and looks just impressive by night. We drove over the bridge and despite the rain , I parked the car, we got out (did I mention the pouring rain ? ), turned... Uhm, sorry?, where is the bridge? Don't fear. It's still there, only that (believe me or not) within the one minute from leaving the bridge to getting out of the car , the lights on the bridge were switched off . Great God! What a timing. Nevertheless , we got on the bridge and while we were there, guess what? Rain got even heavier, GAHHHH.

What a way to end a great London trip. So I guess we still have something to do the next time we are in town ! ;-) At least it was still raining, when we left the country, and when I got home and touched down in Dusseldorf we had bright sunshine and hot temperatures. You wonder why this is good? You just feel much better when the country seems to regret you are leavin and your home country seems to be happy to get you back ;-). That's just like your holiday should finish , eh ? Thanks again to everyone whom we met in England. We had a gret time !! Thanks as well to Sylvi , we had a lot of fun, did not we? And an extra special thanks to my special Bunny Julia. Not to forget Cathy. I still wish we could have said something and would not have been so shy . And then , of course , not to forget the main Man. Michael, you always give us the best of times! Thank you so much for being you!


04/09/2004 14:32

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