Tuesday, February 06, 2007

When I met Paul Darrow

To set the scene, there are a few bits of info that are quite important to the story.
At the time (1999) Paul Darrow was cast as Captain Vimes in Geoffrey Cush's adaptation of Guards! Guards!, and as a result he was to be a guest of honour at the forthcoming Discworld Convention.
Also at the time, I was playing Angua in a production of Men at Arms at the Questors Theatre in Ealing.
A couple of years previously, I had met Terry Pratchett whilst in my Angua uniform, and received Terry's seal of approval as The Genuine Werewolf in the flesh!*
That meeting led to my getting the deal to do the recipes for Nanny Ogg's Cook Book, which was due to be released shortly after the upcoming convention.
With me so far? Jolly good!
So. Being ardent Discworld fans, some friends and I set off to see Guards! Guards! in Reading, and afterwards went backstage to try and meet Avon Paul. We got lucky, and after waiting paitiently for him to get to talk to me, I asked him if he could sign my ticket. He asked who to sign it to, and on the spur of the moment, I replied 'Angua'.
His eyebrows shot up as he recognized the name, and I explained that I knew Terry too, and that he called me Angua, and that I was looking forward to seeing Paul at the convention and I'd be there because of the book coming out, and also because I was a huge fan.
After Paul gave us each a kiss goodbye, we headed back to London, with me clutching my freshly signed ticket, and sighing from the kiss...
Did I mention that I'd had a huge crush on Avon? Well I had, and it seemed that many others had as well. And not just the character, but Paul himself, and after meeting him I could understand why. Even years after squeezing himself into leather on a regular basis to delight us, the man has that sort of charm that makes women thoughtful, and men worried.
Anyhoo, at long last it was time for the convention. My friends and I were having a lovely time of not enough spleep and too much excitement, and one evening found me wombling around trying to find Colin Smythe, Terry's agent as I had something to ask him. Finally I spotted him and scurried over, and just as I got to him I spotted Paul walking over to talk to him as well.
Mr Darrow fixed his eyes on me, smiled, and said "Ah, Angua! We meet again".My knees went weak, my brain went numb, and all I could think of to reply was
Fortunately, I recovered and managed a semi-coherent conversation, during which Colin brought up the production of Men at Arms, and Paul began asking me about it.
During this time, a few fans had started taking photos of Paul, so I asked if he'd mind someone taking a piccy of me and him together, so that I could show another friend, who was also a massive Avon fan.
He agreed, and we posed for my camera and some others, and chatted as we did.
Geoffrey Cush walked over, and we found ourselves in an impromtu fan-chat, being asked questions about the plays, and the book.
Paul then asked me about being Angua.
"So when you turn into a werewolf, doesn't it make things awkward?" he smiled.
"Oh no" I replied. "It's turning back into human form that makes things difficult"
"Really? Why's that then" he asked.
At this point, a few of the fans began to giggle.
"Well what happens is this" I explained. "Turning into a wolf is fine, as the only thing you need to wear is yourself, but there's always the problem of having to try and hide your clothes for when you change back. In Ankh Morpork, if you leave anything lying around for more than a minute, you can bet it's going to get stolen, so when returning to human form, you find yourself with nothing to wear".
Paul then looked me up and down, turned to Geoffrey, and called out,
"Hey Geoffrey, any chance we can write her into the play?"
Paul Darrow & me.
It took me about a week to get back down to earth I was floating so high.

*Scaring the sh*t out of Stephen Briggs by growling at him helped me pull that one off.