I’ve been skirting round the rim of doing something
Brave, and not just standing, but jumping in
(Plain Sailing Weather ~ Frank Turner, 2013)
There will be more stories from London, about the book event and the concert, but I have to start with the best one. Of course. And it comes with a really cool photo. Down at the bottom of this post. So read on…
If you know just a little bit about me, you know that I’m not the most self-confident person. Which for instance means that I’m not very good at easily starting a casual conversation with strangers in real life. Even if we might have a lot in common like …. being fans of the same kind of music. I’m too self-conscious, too insecure, too… anything. In a wanting to let myself be inspired by Frank’s “not just standing, but jumping in” kind of way I thought that maybe I should try to meet and chat with some other fans who were in town as well. I had read online that some wanted to meet at a nearby pub before the gig. So I headed there myself, nervous, but kind of determined.
I didn’t find the place right away, because I obviously didn’t check the map properly beforehand. Once I found my bearings again I turned in the right direction and headed towards the pub on the corner. Still determined. Sort of…
Spoiler Alert: I did not casually or otherwise started chatting with another fan there.
At one point later in this story I at least went inside the already packed room, ordered a Cider, went back out, frantically texted my best friend back home, went back in, saw who else had joined the crowd by then, realized that I now definitely couldn’t stay (or even talk with any other fan), so I left again and walked over to Royal Albert Hall.
If this seems utterly insane to you, bear with me for another moment, because I did have a very good reason for being an even bigger basket case than I’m usually are. And the reason was…. the man himself. Yes, Mr. Frank Turner in midst a small group of people. Standing outside the pub door I was heading towards.
In hindsight it is probably most hilarious, that I didn’t even notice him at first. I just saw the group of people, which I would have to pass on my way to the door. I was heading towards them, head down, like I usually do in moments like these. Insecure and self-conscious, remember? From the corner of my eye, I suddenly noticed a heavily tattoed hand among all the other hands, legs, coats, whatever in my line of vision. A hand that looked quite familiar. So I raised my eyes and Bam! There he was, just an armlength away.
My mind went into overdrive that moment because OMG! What to do? How to react? “That’s your chance. He’s right there.” – “But he’s not alone, he’s got folks with him.” Fans? Friends? Family? It looked like one young couple from this small group was heading inside and the girl said something like “I recognized your mum”, who I then noticed was standing there as well. So I thought this couple might be fans as well and that they might have stopped him for some photo/chat/autograph… I don’t know.
By that time I was under the impression that Frank and his folks were heading away from the pub, back to the Albert Hall. Before the self-conscious and anxious part of my brain could interfere, courage jumped in and made me say: “Sorry, Frank, could we take a picture as well?” He agreed and I turned around looking for someone I could thrust my camera towards. I turned to the girl who was heading in and asked if she would be so nice to do it. I think at the same time Frank gestured towards his mum, like she could/should do it. Or maybe that only happened in my imagination?
Anyway, I got in position next to him and was level-headed enough to ask the girl to turn the camera and take the photo in portrait mode. Why? Because Frank is a towering 1.90m (6’3”) to my 1.69m (5’6”) and I just thought portrait mode would make the better picture. Looking back now I’m afraid I was talking more about Frank to the girl – “because he is so tall” – instead of talking to Frank himself.
She willingly did all I asked (Thanks unknown fan/friend?) and I ended up with two photos in which both of us look rather nice. I guess Frank is a pro at these photo ops, so I’m sure he usually looks nice and friendly and all. I, on the other hand don’t always like how I look in these kind of photos. It’s just always such a strange moment and I often enough look weird or nervous or visibly tense. (Or tired and exhausted, like I did after the awesome but therefore also tiring concert after which I once waited for Frank) But this time I’m really content with how I look next to him.
I said “Thanks” to the girl and to Frank (at least I sincerely hope that I thanked him). The whole encounter was over in like 60 seconds. And then I headed on into the pub. And out again and… well, you read about that earlier. It turned out Frank wasn’t heading out, but was actually on his way into the pub himself. By the time I noticed that, I was too thrown off by the whole experience that I just couldn’t stay. I know I wouldn’t have been able to *not* glance over constantly and to me it seemed like there were enough people doing that already. And as I now understandably was even more nervous than before having bumped into him, I definitely didn’t feel like just start chatting with anyone else inside. So I took my by then courage-less self out of there and off to the Albert Hall.
Even 28 hours later I still can’t quite believe this happened. By pure chance. If I had found the pub right away or had taken a tube later all I would have experienced had been to see him come into the pub or him already being there. Which both would have been kind of cool but also nerve-racking for me for all the reasons stated above. So the way this happened in kind of a blur was way better.
My only regret is that I didn’t use the opportunity for more than just taking a quick photo. That I didn’t use it to tell him face to face how much his music means to me. How much I appreciate what he is doing and the graceful way in which he is doing it. I really hope he didn’t mind being asked for a photo and that he doesn’t think I only wanted it to prove that I’ve met him or something like that. Because that wasn’t my intention, not the main one anyway.
Asking for a photo is just usually the easiest ice-breaker to start interacting with people you greatly admire. But add my social awkwardness and the fact that I thought he was heading out and that I didn’t want hold him up longer with fangirly blabbering, I didn’t really found it in me to say more.
For a short while afterwards I considered sending him a quick mail to thank him properly, explain myself, whatever. But I had already mailed him twice in the last 10 days, each time with something that I really felt like I just had to let him know. But those were mostly regarding his work, his music, his art and I’m sure he likes reading those kind of mails. Mailing him now to explain/apologize would mostly be about making me feel better about having bothered him in a semi-private moment. Not really something I should be bothering him about now afterwards as well.
So I’m putting my mind at ease with trusting that this kind of quick fan encounters are part of his life and that he is fine with it. And that he would or will let me/us know when he is not. And I’ll save my fangirly blabbering for another time (another mail *g*?). But if I ever meet him again after a gig or anywhere else I’ll maybe think of another ice-breaker. Because I don’t think I’ll ever ask for a picture again, as I don’t think I’ll ever again look so relaxed than I do in this one. Probably because it all happened so quickly and I just didn’t have time to get nervous about it…
And the next time I’m at a gig or any other event with him (hopefully on home turf in my own language) I might also take my courage a step further and try to finally start chatting with the girls and guys around me. :-)
I know, I’ve said that I usually don’t share photos of myself around here (or anywhere else online actually), but maybe this is another thing I should just be jumping in, at least here in this semi-private space.
Because if you’ve made it till the end of this post, you deserve to see what I was going on and on about. And because I really think it’s a nice photo of the two of us. And yes, because when it comes down to it: I do want to brag about it a tiny bit ;-)