The Road To Happiness
3 rd August 2002. Michael just left us alone and empty at the stage door. At least that's how it feels. Then we did not know we had to pass 117 long days until we could see that boyish grin, those dimples and the deepest blue eyes on earth again! How should anyone cope? It's hard, but a girl's gotta do, what a girl's gotta do!
A bit too melodramatic? Okay, so let's slow things down. We write week 48 of the year 2002. Two happy bunnies spend a 26 th birthday and then a week full of washing and preparing, 'cause 48 is the lucky number! The Bunnies do England again!
Wednesday, 27 th November 2002: Bunnies are in a great mood. Still so many things to do and yes, Michael we are coming. Innocently I enter the fan club forum, to keep myself as up to date as possible to read the Little Topic of Horrors: "Michael Not In Chitty Today!" posted by the MBFC. Ooooer! Thanks a bunch, lucky stars! But well, there is almost a week to go until we are going to see him, maybe we are going to be lucky? We convince ourselves that London alone will be worth the trip (after all it's our favourite place to be!) , though seeing Michael there would not hurt, would it? Right! Anyway, however bad we wanted to see him, there was no question for either of us: He should not come back until he was fully recovered. If that meant, we would not get to see him, bad luck !
The Road To Drooling:
Time passes, it's Saturday, the 30 th , and everything is prepared. Luggage is already far too close to the magical border of 20 kilos, but who cares (well I do! Later on!). Thanks to the persuasive hairdresser I became brave and did get myself a completely new haircut, just two days before seeing Michael. Great! Me? Mad? You bet! It's almost 3 pm, when I am finally able to hug my dearest bunny and never let her go again (at least not for a week!). We get our car and .. Hooray, it DOES have a tape deck! In case you don't remember the last time we rented a car: We had it for a whole week and Julia prepared our trip to Blickling Hall very well. She did many tapes for our journey. The first thing we discovered into Peter Punto (you spend a week with the car so you want to get a bit personal and give it a name, of course.) then was: We only had a CD player! Thanks for getting us the posh economic car.. Gurrr. This time we were prepared though, Julia brought tapes and I some lovely CDs.
Our route planners told us we would be driving for around 4 to 6 hours, just to get to Hartlepool (there we were to meet with Pat who has generously offered us shelter for the weekend before our London week). So imagine our surprise, when we entered Hartlepool after only 3 hours! Okay, we had to do some searching around to find Pat's house again (uhum, half an hour actually, but then we finally made it! Ready for lots of Michael stuff!). You should know, that one of the reasons for our trip up was that we were offered to get some things from our friend Stella, who lives close to Pat. I don't want to bore you with all the details, but we had a fabulous time, seeing Harry Potter for the first time in the original version, having frozen pizza again and just enjoying ourselves with lots of Michael drooling in Stella's shrine! Did I tell you Stella is a saint? Oh there is no doubt! She is!!!!!! We did not leave her house with just some copies and newspaper snippets. Actually, we left it with tons of snippets, lots of old tour t-shirts (never worn!!!!) and two HUGE things which I am not going to specify any further, but they left us devastated, just because we did not know how to get them back to the airport from the hotel! Suddenly getting back there seemed even more horribly complicated than before! Too much luggage to carry, but you will not hear us refuse a Michael related item, never ever! So we had to do some clever thinking which was a bit difficult after a whole day in paradise (i.e. Stella's house).
The Shock Or: Why Do These Things Always Happen in England?!?
We left in the (VERY) early hours of Monday morning with a car stuffed to the roof with Michael goodies. We had to be mad!!! (What's new?) Heading south, back to London, we had a great time. Everything was perfect. Even the sun seemed to think of getting out for a moment. And then it happened! On the motorway, speed 80 mph, a stone hit our windscreen with a loud BANG! We looked at the window in complete shock, but thank god everything was okay. It took me a few minutes to get myself together again, driving a bit slower, until I came to a standstill in a traffic jam. We chatted, I phoned Mum and then we got back to driving speed. Our shock from just about an hour or so ago was forgotten and we were just laughing heavily about something, when the next big BANG gave us an even bigger shock! Would you believe it? Another stone hit the window, an even bigger one this time! Only now the screen was not intact anymore! We were staring at a huge crack in the middle of the glass! It looked like someone had tried to shoot us! I could not believe this has happened! I have been driving a car on public roads for 8 years now! I only had one accident when a lady did not see me and I hit her car. Not much happened back then. Why do these things always happen to me in England? The first time I ever drove a car there, I damaged my front tyre after only 5 minutes of driving and now this! At least I did not have to pay for this, as I got the car fully covered!
Nothing else happened. We were good girls and found everything as planned. We could not have been better in our time schedule when we returned our car. And until then we have come up with the brilliant idea to rent another car for our trip back to Stansted. The best we could do!
Oh and guess what? We both had at least two bags, one backpack and the huge things I won't mention and of course guess where our rooms were? Yep, on the third level of a place without any lift whatsoever. Hoooray! It was not until we laid on our beds for some time, that we realised how strange the night would be: Being in London, knowing Michael was there on stage and we were heading into the wrong direction to see the "Royal Variety Performance"! When we originally planned our England trip we saw it would be in this very week, so of course we had to take our chance!
Road To Royal Variety or: Why Did The Future King of England Keep Us Away from 007 ?
Still we were perfect in time. At least so we thought when we left the hotel just about an hour before the performance would start. The only trouble was: Our bus did not want to come and then we were caught in a traffic jam! Actually, I really could not believe it, when it was just 7.20 pm and we were there 10 minutes early. LOL, okay, not really early, but in time, weyhey! Out with the tickets, off to the ushers. With big smiles the guy told us, we could not get inside, because Prince Charles was about arriving! Well, I always fancied standing in high heels waiting for some Royals! Not! Hours, ooops, no minutes passed and finally the future King of England arrived. It was quite a sight. I don't know what I expected, minor crowds for sure, but nothing? We could even get to the barriers easily, when he was walking along the red carpet! There were hardly any "fans", almost only press! I have never seen a Michael stage door that empty! "Can we get inside now?" "No the Prince has to be seated first!" Oooooooooookay!
Innocent little me was waiting there with the bunny, looking at the watch thinking: They won't start in time, of course they won't. It was almost 7.40 pm, when we were let inside at last and guess what? Long before we entered the auditorium, we were welcomed by the sounds of some James Bond theme! We missed that completely and most of a puppet number we could only hear, because: "We have to wait until a big applause comes up to get you to your seats. There are cameras around and we would disturb them!" Sigh and thanks a lot. Looking back now, I think it's rather funny we had the chance to see the Prince coming. It was so strange when he walked past me, just a grab away. I am not really into the British Royal Family, though everyone at work seems to think I have to know everything about them just because I love England! Still it was fun to see TV becoming reality!
Remember the tyre thing I mentioned earlier? On our very first car trip? After that horrible journey we were welcome by Michael at the concert the same night with the lines: "Looks like we made it, look how far we've come my baby, might a took the long way, we knew we get there someday!". Yes we did indeed, how appropriate. LOL, but we both never thought someone else would welcome us to the "Royal Variety" with the very same words. "Ladies and Gentlemen: Shania Twain!". And well, she started to sing the only too familiar lines. The night was great. We had Kylie Minogue and Anastacia. We could make our minds up about Stomp, Bombay Dreams, Contact and Our House and we know at least what we can live without now! And we got a great inside on how Michael Ball fans have to appear to non Michael Ball fans.. Cough. We were sitting in our seats, innocently watching the show, when Enrique Iglesias was announced and before the name was finished there started a huge crying and screaming around us. Hey, there is the explanation for the extraordinary huge number of young females in the audience: FANS! I tend to think they are all the same, no matter who is their fave! Yes, we were bad, we had some good laughs.but only until we discovered that they are just like us! Drag Enrique from stage and place Michael there and .. LOL better not think about it!
I was not too impressed by the finale though. It was a selection of Elvis songs sung by different performers and sorry, but hardly anyone can pay tribute to him. So Ronan Keating did have a very tough time with me, when he tried to sing "In the Ghetto". He does not have the voice for such a song. Nevertheless, I think Royal Variety was worth the trip. We saw Pat again, yes the same Pat ;-). And for the first time we were able to meet Angela in person with her more than lovely husband Darren! Actually we got to know her after our last trip to Chitty. She was at the stage door and took photos. Julia and me happened to be on some of them, that's how it started. Strange things, huh? Lovely to see Tony Ball and Jan again during the interval!
It was sad, when we had to part again from all our friends, especially as we knew it was the last time we would see them all (for this time at least). But hey, one of the best parts was still to come: We had not seen Michael yet!
We went to bed with some British TV until I finally dosed off, on one of the three beds! Yeah luxury, we booked a double room and got a three-bedded room :-D. Why do I tell you this exciting piece of information? Well, in the middle of the night I woke up. It took me some time to realise that my feet felt cold and wet. Hang on! Wet? Okay, I was going mad! Why on earth should my feet be wet? Drip, drip. DRIP? OH my, did I have some bottle on the bed and it's leaking now? I felt over the duvet and something was dripping on my hand. OH no! It rained down on my bed!!!!! I was still half asleep and so just got myself a towel and laid it on the bed. Whyever! All I knew was: I did not want to wake up Julia! I just put my feet somewhere else in the huge bed, got the pillow over my ears, because the dripping was nerve-wrecking and dosed off again! Stupid behaviour? Yes! Definitely. When I slowly woke up the next morning, I was not really sure, if all this had really happened, or was it just a dream? Carefully I let my feet explore undercover. Gah, everything was dry! Okay, now I've lost it! I have not seen Michael so far and now I am mad!
Could I tell Julia? Would she believe me, when not even I did? At least the towel was there, dry as well. Hoooray. So I told Julia. She knows my worst sides, so why should not she know I was going mad? [ Note of the Julia bunny: Of course I believed her! Who would invent such a story?;-)]
Let's think about the madness later on and get to London for our first real day in town. I felt like home again. We made our way to TKTS, the half price ticket booth. Stupid as we were, we did not have any tickets for tonight. LOL, can you imagine we thought we could be as detached not to go to Chitty each night we were in town?! Actually, that was correct! After all, we had been to the Royal Variety, but one night is enough, ey? Yeah! Should say, that we read while being with Pat that he had been back on stage back on Saturday already, but you never know. Were two shows too much for a start? Would he have been away today as well? Not that we paid attention to it. We were so excited getting to the ticket booth, that we got half price tickets for the front row centre! Only, when we held them in our hands we realised we had no clue, if he was there that night! Would it have been a good idea to go and enquire at the Palladium before buying expensive tickets? Well, good ideas are not what we are famous for. So crossing fingers tightly was the most important task of the day. Besides shopping for shoes that is. Brilliant little me forgot shoes for each night at the theatre. After a successful shopping trip we got to the stage door some time after 5 pm.
Just at the moment when we recognised many familiar faces (Hi to Pat C, Sue G and the others), a guy came over to us, looking quite interested at the crowd of people gathering at the stage door and asked us whom or what we were all waiting for. What started with a simple question ended up in a long chat (like one full hour!) about Michael, Chitty and so many other things. Grant, as he later introduced himself, was an actor who played in several movies like Fever Pitch and Billy Elliot and actually we had a great time telling him about Michael (and trying to laugh off his pity at our madness) and talking about this and that. In the meantime we also said hi to Gill and Maureen. Nice to have seen you two again. Can't wait for the next time!
With Grant talking to us we almost missed the moment Michael got out of his car! It did not exactly help that he had a different car than usual. He changed his Mercedes van to a Mercedes S-class and there was no sign of Scott whatsoever. We just enjoyed to see Michael again and taking some photos/filming him. What a brilliant feeling to have him back again that close! He took some time, signed things, posed for photos as he does, when we finally saw Rose-Marie again. A great surprise as I did not know she was there!
When Michael was in and our friends gone, we spoke again to Grant for some time until we said our goodbyes and realised: It was much too late to get back to our hotel, get changed for the night and be back in time. Hooray. We had about one hour left! No chance. So time for a premiere! Going to the theatre in the clothes you wore all day, with hardly any make up left on your face and no posh frock for the night. Did I mention we were in the front row? OOOOER!