The gathering of hundreds of fans started fairly early in the afternoon. By the time the group of us who were meeting up all joined forces we'd already seen the Victorian Lady Doctors (they're a group of women who dress as all of the Doctors from Dr. Who, but all kind of Victorian-y), we'd hung out by the fire pit outside the Red Balloon Bookshop, and we - or at least I - had realized that there were a LOT of people showing up at the book signing.
We eventually got pulled into the store, in order of when we had each purchased our books. I was somewhere in the late 100s. If I remember correctly my two books put me in place 189 and 190, or something like that. We all kind of paired up so that we would have someone to snap pictures while the other went through the line, but then found out that the shop had put someone on camera duty, as well. (They were really amazingly organized for the crazy big crowd.)
And I can already tell this is going to get quite long, but I have to share a couple of "stories from the line" (there will be pictures at the end, so it will be worth it):
I watched John (it seems odd to keep calling him "John Barrowman" over and over, so I'm going for the familiarity at least for this posting) sign a small girl's t-shirt. I watched him sign a probably-thirteen-year-old boy's coat collar - a coat much like that worn by Barrowman's character on Dr. Who/Torchwood - and imagined what it would have been like to be 13 and have that happen.
I watched John and Carole banter and cajole and charm every single person in that line, writing things like "Keep reading" and "Keep imagining" in every kid's book.
I watched the hugs and the smiles and the photos, and I fully admit that although I'd already thought that John was an interesting person, I was totally impressed by his "bookside" manner. I've read his autobiographical books, and I was kind of afraid there could be some diva action (which he kind of alludes to about himself in his books) - especially when they'd already been signing books for almost 2 hours by the time I got to the front of the line. But, then...
This kid - and by "kid" I mean someone who was probably in his early 20s - was about 10 people ahead of me in line. He was cute, not gorgeous, but cute - probably someone who was going to grow into his looks, if he could just get past the shy stages. And I watched him, trying to be all cool, kind of bouncing up to look over the bookshelves as he got closer. When he got to John, there was a short exchange which we couldn't hear, and the kid kind of leaned in to say something which, from body language, looked to be important. John flashed a million-watt smile and said, loudly, "Oh, please. I could tell that from all the way across the room."
I fully admit that I am assuming the conversation - I wasn't within earshot of the kid - but I am pretty certain that he had just come out to the Barrowmans. And the kid was kind of shocked and embarrassed, but John leaned forward and said something else we couldn't hear, followed by "I made you turn red. You're completely red. Turn around and show everyone how red you are!" (The kid did, with a sheepish grin.) And - remember, this was almost 2 hours into what was obviously a long day of promotions - they continued to have a conversation after that. I heard them talk about how great it is to have an older sister to take care of you (the kid's sister had brought him to the signing, and was standing to the side practically glowing). They smiled for the camera, they chatted a bit more, and then the kid moved on.
My visit to the front of the line... Well... It wasn't quite so spectacular. Someone came up to ask them about their dinner plans just as I was at the table, so they were a bit distracted. Carole shook my hand when I told them I had all of the books they'd written (she commented on it when she saw the stack I handed her), and John very politely signed a card I asked them to sign for Christopher, since he was home sick.
I admit that I'd have loved to have gotten the flirtatious cajoling that the kid got, but twenty-some years on, I'm happy that we had a laugh over "gay signatures," instead. (Oddly, thinking on it now, I don't remember that many men in the crowd who seemed to be there for the Barrowmans in a non-Dr.-Who sort of way, which may have played in my favor.)
In short (finally, right?) they were charming, outrageous, and utterly surpassed expectations. And, yes, he is *so* much better looking in person than on TV - I suspect it's because there isn't "charisma-vision" so you lose a little something in translation.
And now, the photo-essay of the inauspicious meeting (the captions... well... they may have been a tad fabricated...):
|getting closer, as he rolls up his sleeves to get to work|
|Book signing - serious business...|
|Carole: You came from all the way back there?|
|Staffer: When do you want dinner?|
John: How many people are left in line?
Me: From the numbers I heard outside, there are at least 75 people behind me.
|Carole: Are all of these yours?|
Me: Yep. I own them all.
Carole: I need to shake your hand. (she did)
(I think this was about when she signed all of them to me - including the one that was supposed to stay without a listed name on it... Oh, well.)
|John: What do you want me to do with this?|
Me: Could you sign it for my partner who is home sick?
John: Oh, sure.
Me: That would be great. Thanks for wearing the "Vote NO" t-shirt, by the way.
|Smiling for the camera, while no one else is looking up.|
|Actually, this may be when the second copy of "Hollow Earth" got inscribed to me.|
I hung around while all of the others in my group went through the line and snapped some more pictures, but none were that great. (I think my favorite, really, is the laughing one, above.)
Full disclosure: I haven't started reading the book, yet. But if you've been paying attention, you know that the past couple of weeks have been pretty crazy. I hope to get to it, soon - maybe over some of the upcoming holidays. I'll let you know how it is.