We’re off to see the Dragon, the wonderful Dragon of RD5

Part one here
Sunday
The day began with a terrible panic as I had lost my steward’s card and didn’t think that I could do my stint at the photo shoot. Luckily someone had handed it to one of the staff (which didn’t surprise me as the attendees were proving to be generous kind people).

The queues for photos with the guests started to form. I should have mentioned before that there were signs showing the guests’ names, indicating where people should queue. Seeing ‘Richard Armitage’ on the sign increased the anticipation, before he appeared, and I made sure to hover in his area of the room for my stewarding duties. Richard arrived, dressed similarly to before, apart from substituting his hoodie for a thin grey jumper, and took his position. But, WHAT!!!! He was now giving hugs (or arm contact anyway) to everyone he was posing with. I waved to Guylty, who was in the queue, and we then spoke excitedly about her impending hug but I still felt bitterly disappointed. What a difference a day makes. Then thought, sod it. I’ve spent so much money already, what would £45 matter. Luckily we weren’t busy so I abandoned my stewarding post and flew (I’m over 50 and over-weight, but I flew) to the other side of the hotel to buy another photograph and was just in time. Red-faced and puffing I joined the queue.

We were still told not to touch him, which contradicted his behaviour. This time I made eye-contact with a gimlet stare, so that I’d remember his expression (of resignation, no doubt), obediently stayed on my mark and my dream came true: my arm briefly round his pleather-clad , I think, waist (he felt surprisingly slight) and his hand lightly on my back. Afterwards I was tearful again. Ridiculous. What is it with this man? It was a glorious moment, a memory that will stay with me for a long time.  His change of mind/heart made me wonder what more he would have given if there had been a third day of photo shoots, a tango-style clinch or even a North & South-style snog perhaps.
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Arm dream come true
I have mixed feelings about my consuming desire to touch and be touched by Richard Armitage, which overrode any consideration for his feelings – and much has been written already about Hug-Gate. Yes he is an experienced professional. He chose to do the Con, and presumably was well paid, but that doesn’t stop me feeling uneasy about participating in a paid transaction that he wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about – the beautiful reluctant ‘gigolo’ [Joke, joke, this is a joke. I’m not seriously comparing being paid to be photographed with fans to an act of prostitution, but then again – no stop.]

Richard gave another Q&A in the afternoon and he seemed more at ease. I had a couple of questions I wanted to ask and, as the queue wasn’t long, I joined it – without a qualm. This was an astonishing thing for me to do as I can be crippled by shyness and dread public-speaking.  That I felt confident enough speaks volumes for the non-judgmental, liberating, atmosphere at the Fannibal con, and it helped that no one knew me. The first question I considered seemed so convoluted (about RA getting into character of Dolarhyde during the Hobbit promo in China) that I knew I’d make a mess of it.  It turns out that I’m quite capable of making a mess of a simple question too. When my time came, I made eye-contact and asked him why, as Dolarhyde, he had signed the name John Crane in the Brooklyn Museum register. Was it his idea because he had played so many Johns before? For a moment he looked nonplussed and then said. “It was in the book, wasn’t it?”.  Someone in the audience shouted out that it was. Then RA chided, “I’ve read the book!”
Capture
Oh no, not another finger wagging!
Well I’ve read Red Dragon too and didn’t think it was John Crane, but couldn’t remember. I felt a right idiot. A wasted opportunity. When I spoke to Guylty afterwards, she said that it was Paul Crane in the book and she had been shouting this in the audience.

No rest for the Richard. After the Q&A, he and Mads had another autograph-signing session. It is obvious from comments RA has made in the past, that he believes in a strong work ethic. This was evident at the Con, in his patient, [stoical!] , non-chatty, conscientious application of his duties and considered responses to questions.

I had two items to be signed by RA: the staggeringly sexy promotional photograph, sold at the Con, of  Dolarhyde in his zipped-up black leather jacket and then Guylty’s creation, the Flat Ritchie log book, part of a wonderful fan project instigated by  her, which is travelling the world.

Queuing up for his signature, we were given pens to write our names on our autograph cards so that the guests presumably wouldn’t have difficulty spelling names etc. I toyed with the idea of writing ‘I love you’ after my name, in the hope that Richard would write it automatically without noticing (perhaps I should have written Paul Crane, ho ho).  He did anyway write an approximation of ‘Love’ for many of his autographs that weekend – it looks like ‘Lol.’ (Laugh out loud?). Presumably it’s illegible to avoid him being sued multiple times for breach of marriage promise.

Richard’s signature in the log-book seems to end in an ice-cream flourish

Beforehand, Kate and Guylty and I had discussed the best place for RA to sign the log. Kate sensibly suggested asking him to sign the back page as it was flat. I’ve just noticed that he signed the opposite page, avoiding the pretty patterned page.

I have alluded to the Wizard of Oz in the heading but I did feel like the Cowardly Lion approaching Oz, except that this wizard was a 6ft+ hunk not a wee man. I still tugged my forelock afterwards.

When my turned came, I passed the photo and log-book to RA’s minder for approval, expecting him to whip out a thick black marker pen and redact certain passages in the log. He passed the photo of Dolarhyde to Richard and I blurted out, “Please don’t write on your face,” my stupid sense of humour, which he sensibly but thrillingly (masochist me) ignored.  The following account was included in Guylty’s blog but, for the sake of completion, this is what happened when I asked RA to sign the log:

I wish I could recount an articulate and fascinating conversation with him. The truth is that, flustered as usual, I garbled something incoherent like “This is Flat Ritchie, he’s travelling round the world in a box. He’s been to the States twice and round Europe and we’re putting gifts in and taking them out’. He said “Ah, impressive” and then asked if he should address it to an individual or in general and I stammered, “An individual – no, in general”. I wish I had been collected enough to suggest a message. He was poker-faced,  eyes down, but when I said “It would mean the world to us if you signed it” (which he was doing anyway) he looked up and my heart stopped.

I was a bogus Fannibal at the Con. My reason for attending was solely to meet Richard so I didn’t seek out photo opportunities with the other Hannibal guests or attend many Q&As, but I did get Mads Mikkelsen’s autograph. He is a fine actor, fabulous as Hannibal, and I now admire him as a person. Watching him interacting with fans, his eyes and smile would stay on a person – even after they were walking away – and didn’t switch quickly to the next in line. The affection he showed to attendees was truly touching and he was such a good sport. When he was autographing my card, I was flustered with him too and muttered something like “You are so lovely and warm with the fans” (this wasn’t a  jibe at RA’s reserve) and Mads misheard and said “Yes, they are great” and shook my hand.

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Mad’s autograph
My last sighting of Richard was at the closing ceremony. He was sitting, a picture of awkward handsomeness, not apart on a stage but at a table with the other guests, in a very crowded but happy room of Fannibals and Armitage-loving Hannibal imposters. Each guest gave a brief farewell speech. RA spoke of people coming together from all over the world, of the camaraderie, and how he was also a misfit. He gave a shout-out to an attendee dressed as the Vicar of Dibley and two jokers who had used hotel sheets to dress as ghosts, on his suggestion for a costume. Jeremy Knight had also praised the lateral-nature of the Fannibals. And he was right. They are a lovely, inclusive, warm and generous group.  I never for a moment felt too old, too awkward, too self-conscious (except in His presence). I met two lovely fellow fans Guylty and Kate, the latter I was able to witness literally walking on air after presenting a delighted RA with Jill’s Gymkhana to sign, and I made a new friend, Debbie, a fellow steward, bogus Fannibal, and long-time Armitage fan.

Whatever RA’s reasons for attending, he gave a wonderful generous gift of closer contact with fans (which I doubt was his most relaxing experience) and I’m so grateful. If this is a facetious, even carping, account of  three memorable days in February, it is because I am unable to master or channel my intense feelings, on seeing him in the flesh, and put them into sensible words. If Richard does appear at more conventions and you are tempted to go, can afford it and are able to travel there, don’t hesitate – and I highly recommend volunteering as a steward. It was an amazing experience, a rare opportunity to be near to and observe an Object of Desire for a prolonged time. I don’t regret a second of the adventure and am still in a state of bliss.

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36 thoughts on “We’re off to see the Dragon, the wonderful Dragon of RD5

  1. Jane this is such a beautiful, funny, sweet, and detailed account of your time with Him and at RDC I was beaming the entire read thru. What is a gimlet stare? So happy you also got an autograph w Mads. The pics I’ve seen on line he just seems a dream and so down to earth w fans. Thank you for your fantastic description taking us readers along w you on this marvelous adventure! 😘❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well Jane I’m not a fan of the particular vegan I was referencing and not for her veganism(is that a word) but her Twitter attitude. It is nice if he has some females influencing his jacket material! 😆💜👍👏

        Liked by 1 person

  2. what a lovely account 😀 made me giggle
    my OH keeps telling me i should be a fan of Mads instead of Richard because he’s ‘cooler’ lol! (you can’t help who makes you feel giddy though, can you!)
    i like that RA maybe now slightly aware of Flat Richie-i’m sure it’s of little consequence to him, but still it’s a nice thought and so kind of you to have him sign the log book (i promise not to drool on it when it arrives!)
    and i love the joking about the gigolo-tbh it’s like any other service-people pay money for you to do things-people pay me money to stick my fingers in their mouths! lol
    dreaming of the day i may be in the near vicinity of this an! lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha Ha , RA has his own coolness and far better looking IMO, and Mads is very handsome. LOL Must stop thinking about sticking fingers in RA’s mouth and vice-versa. Hope your dream comes true very soon Rachel!

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  3. I will have to revisit this again, I‘m sure, but for now I just need to say how absolutely lovely it is to see it through your eyes and I am very emotional at the moment for many reasons. I haven‘t finished my own account of Sunday yet, but it was so nice to meet you in person and I‘m glad we all threw our initial reluctance overboard and came together to celebrate the man, the myth, the Armitage! *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing, what a lovely account. I’m still giggling over your idea of writing ” I love you” on the off-chance he would automatically include it when he signed. 😆😆 As a future recipient of Flat Richie, I can’t wait to hold that journal in my hands, just as he did – thank you so much for doing that for us.
    As for being tearful, I can totally understand. After the Popcorn Taxi interview in Sydney I cried buckets, overcome by the sheer emotion of the whole experience – the buildup to the actual event, seeing and listening to that wonderful, gorgeous man, and sharing it with fellow RA friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mezz, I hope you don’t have to wait too long for FR. Popcorn Taxi, that must have been so exciting and, you’re right, it’s partly release from the build-up of anticipation

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  5. “I’m over 50 and over-weight, but I flew”
    OMG I am cackling so hard. And I totally understand, as I’m in both of those categories, too.

    “What is it with this man?”
    No kidding, right?

    “John Crane” was in the book? That’s too funny! Great question, because I’ve been wondering for years, too. I thought that was an Easter egg he threw in for “us,” sigh. (I may go on believing that, because why not? None of this is real. It’s all what we want it to be, right?) But Guylty says “Paul?” I think we can chew this over for a while. Maybe “John” slipped out of RA’s subconscious because he’s so used to being called John, ha ha.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I hope one day we may find out about John Crane. I wish I’d been more prepared to correct him, although RA doesn’t seem to remember it well. Sparkling Teeth on twitter publish a great detailed report of the con and has include a pic of the book, proving it was Paul Crane! Yep we do project our fantasises on to poor RA, I think mine
      seem to includee him chastising me!

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  6. Thank you for this lovely report, I was really taken back to the event, and I immensely enjoy your sense of humour.

    As for your question: Just like with the mark, I had a similar experience. (Peculiar, isn’t it?) I asked why Francis wolfed down the pie as opposed to eating ‘normally’, and he couldn’t remember, then promptly asked if that wasn’t in the book. I’d read it more than once, but not shortly before the Con. But I’d re-watched the series twice and found the scene fascinating. I was really embarrassed about asking what now felt like a superfluous question. I’d thought he’d come up with this and might have had some really fascinating deeper reason for that. Oh, drat. As if going out there and looking him in the eye asking him a question wasn’t nerve-wrecking enough. (And I had to manage it in a foreign language, too, which made me even more nervous.) I’m taking it with a sense of humour now, but back then I was really embarrassed and very flustered.

    As for your question: I just looked it up and it’s Paul Crane in the book. So your question was definitely better than mine. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Owlet. IYes very similar experience! remember your question and I think it was a great one to ask. I’ve always wanted to know why he wolved that pie.. Even if it was in the book it was interesting to hear his take on it. Thanks for finding Paul Crane proof. Now we just have to get Richard to see the evidence. Perhaps if he does another con he could be given that page to sign!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So sorry to be so late in finally commenting here, dreamer. What a lovely story, especially your encounter there at the photo op. Imagine me genuflecting in front of you – I would’ve NEVER had the courage to a) look him in the eye and b) put my arm around him. Well done. It makes for a special photo and an even more special memory.
    As for your question – as you know, I wanted to ask the same thing, so let me repeat: It was NOT a stupid question at all. To back up my question, I had looked it up in the book prior to going to the con, so I was 100% sure that “John Crane” was not original. The fact that he kind of disputed that – well, can I say that I am a tiny little bit disappointed that “Mr Literal” seems to forget his artistic research and choices pretty quickly…
    BTW – I think there is a kernel of truth in the whole issue of “selling photo ops for money”… Sure, prostitution is not quite the word, but we are also talking about selling something personal, individual and intangible to strangers… The comparison is obvious. (Hehe, I am actually not against prostitution btw…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Guylty. RA did have quite noticeable lapses in memory (Saturn Award, Raul Esparza, Paul Crane etc) perhaps it was jet-lag, age!!, his cold, nerves, or maybe it’s just meeting so many people, all the events, scripts. No, I’m not against prostitution either in a moral sense, just the exploitation it brings (but that goes without saying). It’s funny, I was thinking about the hover hug earlier, in that context. Once he decided on some contact, it’s as though he was allowing us to touch him but he wasn’t prepared to give that part of himself, to keep something back – fair enough – or maybe he was just respecting our boundaries. Saying that he did actually touch my back but that might be accidental after I’d shoved myself on him! Hope the cat therapy is still working

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jane so I’m a bit confused or more than I usually am. Did you go in for a full on hug on Sunday’s photo shoot or you edged close to him and hugged his mid section?

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      2. The latter more – it wasn’t face to face! Hug is probably not the right word but I can’t think of an alternative. It wasn’t most of these thesaurus synonyms for hug: – embrace, cuddle, squeeze, clasp, clutch, cling to, hold someone close, hold someone tight, take someone in one’s arms, enfold someone in one’s arms, clasp/press someone to one’s bosom. – Clasp or clutch maybe? What happened was that we walked towards him. He held out his arm and, if you were like me, eagerly almost ran towards him (in case he changed his mind). I put my arm around his waist and he put his arm round my back and touched my shoulder.

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      3. Well that is a nice quasi cuddle in my book! I would have run and jumped in his arms (no kidding unless I had a bottle of Pinot Noir in me then I’d have grabbed you and Rachel and sprinted toward him!) to have those arms and hands anywhere near your body must have been heaven so bravo to you. Did he smell good? Does he have a nice manly touch? gentle but firm? light as a feather? I’m hungry for details here, sorry!!

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      4. Ha ha – oh Michelle, heaven help poor RA if he is ever in the same room with us and a bottle of wine each! Yes I think we should settle for the description ‘quasi-cuddle’. It was all really fast, probably no more than three seconds. There was no time to linger, savour the moment, take in details. I can’t remember his smell, it wasn’t distinctive, perhaps I should have sniffed his armpit! That wouldn’t have been at all weird! His touch was light as a feather. My main memory of it was that he felt quite slight, not solid and muscular, but I wasn’t squeezing him tight either or standing too close.

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  8. Jane I’m really happy that you got to be in the same space as him even those observations were marvelous. Sniffing the armpit not weird at all! I’d been an emotional wreck w/out some pinot noir and I would have gladly offered him a glass!!

    Liked by 1 person

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