MONDAY 20 MAY 2019
ROCKETMAN UK PREMIERE
LEICESTER SQUARE IN LONDON
40 HOURS WITHOUT SLEEP, AND A PARKING FINE ... BUT NO SELFIE L
The World Premiere of Rocketman took place in Cannes on Thursday 16 May 2019. Richard Madden was in attendance, along with Taron Egerton, Bryce Dallas Howard, Kit Connor, Elton John, David Furnish, Bernie Taupin, Dexter Fletcher, Giles Martin and Adam Bohling.
It proved to be full-on, wall-to-wall publicity – a morning photo-call, pictures of Richard dressed in a bathrobe being groomed for the evening Premiere, the Premiere itself, the official after-party, the official press conference and also the Chopard party the following evening.
Richard was due to commence filming his role in 1917 shortly, but he had sufficient time to head to London for the UK Premiere before this began. In fact he flew to London by private plane on Saturday 18 May, with a number of press interviews taking place at the cast’s London hotel on Sunday and an official press conference on Monday prior to the Premiere.
How do I know about the London itinerary? Someone told me on Monday afternoon that she’d stalked him outside said hotel on Sunday afternoon and got a selfie with him. I don’t approve of stalking the stars, especially as Richard is experiencing a lot of issues with the paparazzi at present. You can see how his mood has changed since earlier in the year, when facing photographers. He used to sparkle, but no longer. Try as he might, he cannot disguise his feelings; his eyes tell the tale. It’s a sad state of affairs.
Anyway, my weekend began with a trip to the Eventim in Hammersmith with my friend Lesley to see Strictly the Professionals; it was the evening show and I enjoyed it thoroughly. So it was home late with a early start on Sunday.
Internet research informed me that, sometimes, wristbands for the crowd pens at film premieres might be handed out the previous day if a particular film was deemed to be very popular. This meant that I needed to head to London just in case this happened with Rocketman.
This being the case, I was up at 06:00 on Sunday; I drove to the station and parked my car, before catching the 08:15 train to London St Pancras. I then transferred onto the Piccadilly Line to travel to Leicester Square, arriving at 09:00.
I’d arranged to meet fellow Richard fan Ruth, and she arrived not long after. Leicester Square was already being prepared, with a platform having been constructed in the park area with sequined R O C K E T M A N letters placed upon it; these were bubble-wrapped for protection overnight. There were discussions about whether these should be placed obliquely on the platform, or straight on; we voiced our opinion as being straight on ... and this was what they decided! We overheard a lady from the organisers saying that wristbands would be handed out at 08:00 the next morning.
Anyway, despite this, we remained in the Square until early afternoon; we had a coffee early morning, visited the loo in Wetherspoons and bought J2Os there also. We went for a walk up through Chinatown and Soho, to Oxford Street, before heading around in a loop and catching the underground at Green Park to return to Leicester Square once more. We sat on the wall opposite the Odeon Luxe, consuming food from Burger King at one point.
I was in two minds as to whether I should stay or travel home to ‘rescue’ my car before returning either late on Sunday or very early on Monday. However, my emotions made the decision for me – the first time I tried to leave, I got as far as the entrance to the tube station. The second time, as far as the tube platform, before my heart refused to let me go any further! Ruth was unable to attend the following day, due to work commitments, so we hugged goodbye at this point and I headed back to the Square!
Besides, what price a parking ticket if I was successful in earning a front row position in the crowd pen and the possibility of the much desired selfie with Richard? It was no contest really!!!
Other hopefuls seemed to arrive, but there appeared to be no ‘official’ organisation, so I sat, and I wandered around a bit. At one point I was bothered by a girl who kept on asking questions to which I knew no answer, and she kept repeating herself too. I finally shook her off, although she did find me for a second time later in the evening. I took out my contact lenses too, as my eyes were getting a little dry by this point.
Eventually I noticed that there seemed to be a group forming close to the entrance to the Odeon; a numbered list was being created. I headed over and was given the number 13 ... hopefully it wouldn’t be unlucky. Apart from Graeme who was creating the list following an instruction by security, everyone between 2 to 12 went home again intending to return the next day. A number of people arrived after me, and they also went home for the night. There appeared to be a number of opinions as to the time when the wristbands would be handed out – 07:00, 08:00, or 10:00.
So it was just Graeme and me who faced the night out on the pavement, outside the Odeon. I lost count of the number of times my companion sang ‘Rocketman’ and, at one point, we decided to do a ‘Countdown’ type of game using the letters to see how many other words we could create; Taron was one of those words!!! We also walked around the Square at regular intervals ... it was surprising that a number of places seemed to stay open throughout the night; McDonalds remained open for most of it!
I sat down on the pavement two or three times, but still didn’t get any sleep. Surprisingly I didn’t feel the cold once, although Graeme did! More people arrived or returned as dawn approached. Regular attendees seemed annoyed that a list had already been started. “We always go to McDonalds at 05:00 to start the list” ... not on this occasion matey!!! The professional autograph hunters were the worst offenders and were not happy at the situation.
Anyway, we held firm as more people arrived, heading to McDonalds at one point, for breakfast. Someone arrived with a copy of the Metro; there was an advert stating that the first 100 people to arrive with a copy of the paper would get a place in a crowd pen, along with a ticket to view the film at the Imax cinema across the way. With this news, another lady and myself headed off to the underground station to raid their supply of freebie newspapers!
When lorries arrived to set up additional barriers, etc, we were asked to head back around to the area in front of McDonalds to await the man with the wristbands. These arrived at 08:00 and were placed on our wrists in number order ... some people hadn’t returned despite being on the list and I was now number 8 ... my lucky number allegedly! At this point we weren’t briefed regarding the tickets for the Imax viewing.
It was time for me to head home to rescue my car from the car park; the time limit on my ticket was 04:00 so I’d overstayed and would incur a fee of £60, if I paid within 14 days of receipt. I also had to buy another train ticket, because I’d returned to St Albans using Monday’s anytime travel card and it expired as soon as I passed through the barriers at the station despite me using it for just a return journey.
I’d worn jeggings, a thermal vest, a fleece and teal-coloured jacket on Sunday and wanted to change into something clean and attractive. I got home at 09:10; it was a sunny day and my eyes were being hypersensitive to the sun. My eyes don’t run, but I have to squint.
I’d encountered an issue following the Easter break, whereby there were flashing lights followed by a net-like floater in my left eye. I’d gone to the opticians immediately and they’d checked it out, putting drops in my eyes to dilate the pupils. I’d returned to work, with the promise of a hospital appointment just to double-check there is nothing wrong ... eventually an appointment would come through ... for November! However, my eyes have been sensitive since that time, with the screen glare a problem, along with the overhead lighting. I often wear sunglasses now, when working on my PC.
I had considered getting around an hour’s sleep but, in the event, I decided to get ready straight away, following a shower and hair-wash ... and food! I was ready to go by 12:30. I wore a grey tweed skirt, my favourite cross-over top, a blue cardigan, and mauve (or is it pink?) per una jacket; plus heels ... which I’d live to regret!
Anyway, I caught the fast train to St Pancras and arrived back in Leicester Square by around 13:30. I popped into Wetherspoons for a drink and to go to the loo ... always advisable when one is to be locked into a crowd pen for a number of hours. Latterly, I met up with Graeme again and we headed around to the area close to McDonalds to form the queue, in number order, for crowd pen entry.
It transpired that some of the queuers had two wristbands, a blue one like mine and a yellow one; not until later would it become apparent that the yellow one would permit entry to the Imax to see Rocketman. One of the girls behind me in the queue admitted that she’d loitered outside Richard’s hotel the previous day to be rewarded with a selfie (as referred to above). It was also complemented on my eye make-up and the fact that I looked around ten years younger than I am!!!
Eventually we were taken around to the blue carpet (not red in this instance), to be loaded 20 persons at a time. Our bags were checked, along with a sniffer dog also checking us out. Our pen was second from the end, directly in front of the Odeon doors; the other pen beyond was the meet and greet one. And I was on the front row too. J The Portuguese lady next to me had been a fan of Richard’s for 10 years, since Sirens. Obviously we were both hopeful of a selfie.
I didn’t seem too long before people began to arrive; we also had an official sing-along to a number of Elton John’s songs. I understand the fans within the green space itself, were those of Elton John; they had purple wristbands.
We were given a few minutes warning that the stars of the show were on their way; they arrived at 17:50 and it was Richard’s turn to be the first to alight. Our first view was upon the big screen installed on the front of the Odeon. He signed a number of autographs and took selfies with fans in the park area, before posing for official photographs too. He did a number of chats with the media opposite before heading back across to do some further autographs and selfies. Then more media interviews.
This was followed by a visit inside the Odeon, before he reappeared and took selfies and photos with the people to my left, including Graeme, also the meet and greeters; he headed off again, before returning to do the remainder ... but he headed straight to the people a couple of places down from me, to my right. In fact the group which included the girl who’d already got a selfie with him the previous day. And he wouldn’t come back in my direction ... I was gutted ...
Richard then undertook an interview on the podium to my left, speaking to the people attending the simultaneous Premiere in Glasgow too. This was broadcast on the big screen above the podium. He greeted Taron, who had been the next to arrive, very warmly; I just love their bromance.
By this stage I was feeling tearful, and didn’t want a selfie if it wasn’t with Richard. Bryce Dallas Howard arrived, as did David Furnish and Elton John on a tarted-up golf buggy-type vehicle! I recall seeing Leigh Francis (aka Keith Lemon), David Walliams, Stanley Tucci, and Lulu. There must have been many more, but I was no longer interested.
We were left in the crowd pen until everyone was inside. I noticed Richard, along with his parents Pat and Richard Senior, in the bar area overlooking the Odeon entrance. We shouted to him, he heard, and he waved to us.
Some of the blue carpet viewers seemed to still be expecting a ticket to see the film at the Imax ... but I was told by one of the girls I’d chatted to earlier in the day, that all of the tickets had gone. Great. It was now that I realised what the yellow wristbands were for. Why hadn’t the people at the front of the crowd pens queue been told about this earlier in the day?
Shortly afterwards the stars of the film, including Richard, exited the cinema and were escorted over to the Imax by security; they were introduced on stage to the attendees. I quickly made my escape, heading through the park, hoping to get a glimpse as they returned. I did, but it was impossible to get a selfie at this point due to the security guards and time constraints. Damn.
I watched Richard until he disappeared from sight on his walk back to the Odeon. My day had been going brilliantly, like clockwork, until I’d fallen at the final hurdle. There was to be no selfie; my dearest wish had been thwarted by circumstance.
My feet were killing me by this stage so, after a final tour of Leicester Square, I exited via Irving Street to reach the underground station. I was feeling tearful as I continued my journey upon the Piccadilly Line to St Pancras. I caught a Thameslink train back to St Albans; I was very upset that my hopes had been dashed despite the effort I’d put in. I was worn out by this stage, so caught a bus for the final leg of my journey home.
I cried myself to sleep, and was still upset the following morning. It was a consolation that many of my photographs had turned out to be nice; although none really close-up as I’d been too busy admiring the view and also concentrating on my mobile phone in what would be forlorn hope of a selfie.
So that was 40 hours without sleep, having spent Sunday night in Leicester Square, plus an expected parking ticket ... oh well, my quest continues ... although it feels that if I was younger, and shorter, I’d stand a better chance of success. L
Y Y Y Y Y
But, in reflection, I spent time close to Richard, and for that I am very thankful. He’s such a lovely man, so beautiful, and I adore him with all of my heart.