The Hell Butterfly

Marvel, Music and Match.com

As y’all may have noticed, I’ve been absent for some days. I have a good reason this time, I swear. I’ve been busy, having a life for once. I know, shock horror. In a nutshell, I spent Friday night watching films at my sister’s flat, went to London Film and Comic Con on Saturday morning/afternoon and then to Leicester Square to see STOMP live (what a day that was) and have since re-evaluated the value of the Match.com service. I feel a substantial update is in order.

Thursday:

A relatively normal day, yet the prelude to one heck of a weekend. My older sister came down from her place in Wimbledon for the night. Tensions were a little high because, honestly, that’s just the aura my sister inspires. Beds to be moved, food disappearing conspicuously from fridge and cupboards alike, and an often overbearing personality to match. But it was okay. She wouldn’t be here long, so we put up.

Friday:

I wake up to find my sister at my Dad’s desk: she has elected to work at home so she can travel with me back to hers as soon as her clock says 5:30pm. All is well until suddenly, something goes wrong. If I’d have looked, or if she had’ve said something beforehand, I would’ve noticed the tension and frustration she was harbouring. As it happened, I didn’t know until she snapped at her coworker: she had waited until the last possible moment to tell my sister the code was broken, and with the demo in one hour, there was no time to fix the error. This coworker was blaming my sister as it was her part of the code that had broken, yet waited too long for her to do anything about it. Let the stress commence. Shouting, finger-pointing, name calling, and several desperate attempts to fix the coding. My sister and I have a see-saw relationship as it is, but after a day of work like this, I was walking on eggshells around her: couldn’t put a foot wrong and set her off. That would only set the tone for the entire weekend, and without a get-away method, I couldn’t let that happen.

The afternoon was spent watching The Chase, a favourite hobby of mine. I love quiz shows. By 6 o’clock we were on the road to Wimbledon. By 8, I was sitting on my sister’s bed, watching The Lion King with some pasta while my sister went out for drinks with her old work colleagues. 11 o’clock came and with it our bed-time – our morning would be an early one. And of course, when my sister is involved, sleep is hard to come by. She cannot sleep without voices. I cannot sleep with them. Being her flat, and pulling the age card, she won the toss and so I had to wait for 2 hours until the tv went off so I could sleep. Thanks to her personal space issues, I was forced to the very edge of the mattress and was still awake at 3. By the time my alarm went off at 6, I had had no more than 2 hours sleep, and I was due to be on my feet until evening. This was going to be a hard day.

Saturday:

6:00am: awake and out of bed
6:15am: dressed and breakfasted
6.25am: bag packed
6:30am: teeth-cleaned, coat on and ushered out of the door
6.35am: power-walking in the crisp morning air

I’ve never woken up and been on the move so fast in my life. That I remember anyway. Suffice to say, by the time we got to the queue at LFCC, we’d been awake a while and were well into our day.

Things began to go wrong from the off. We should have noticed. We got to the tube station and the one line we needed – the District line – was shut. What should have been a direct route from Wimbledon to Earl’s Court became a much longer journey with two changes and three different underground lines. But we made it, and so our Day of Heaven and Hell began.

We met a nice bloke and his Dr. Who mad daughter behind us in the queue and showed them the ropes as it was their first Con. For me, it was my third, and for my sister, her fourth. So we gave them some tips to survive to the event. They were nice, and even queued behind us by choice as far as the ticket booth. And here, the subtle downhill took quite a mighty drop. After upgrading ourStan_Lee entry tickets – for which we were short-changed – we went inside, headed straight for the timetable at the back of the used-to-be-aircraft hangar, and my sister reached for the tickets to compare timetables with our schedule. Bear in mind we both had tickets for a photo shoot with Stan Lee – STAN LEE – and my sister had one for Summer Glau. In total, about £130 worth of tickets. They were gone. Check the backpack check the pockets check the wallets check the backpack check the backpack. Gone.

Cue the beheading of the chickens. We ran around the building looking for somewhere we could buy more, someone who might have seen them, some possible way we could salvage something from the wreckage. Nada. Stan Lee photo shoot: SOLD OUT. Summer Glau photo shoot: SOLD OUT. This was Stan Lee’s last ever European appearance and we were going to meet him and have our photo with him and the tickets were gone. My sister had a panic attack, while I remained scarily calm and unaffected. It worries me how completely not-bothered I was about it. I don’t know why, I should have been fuming, but I wasn’t. It was weird. But the gut-wrenching disaster was not lost on me. I knew we were fucked. But in an uncharacteristic show of optimism, I managed to persuade my sister to carry on as though we were never meant to have those juliet-landautickets. She bought me a surprise photo shoot with Juliet Landau (swoon) and she recognised me from the signing table earlier which was incredible. This was the second time I’d met Juliet, and perhaps because she was on her own here, she was much chattier than before. She is amazing – chatting to us casually about the theatre in her beautiful, albeit unexpected, British accent while we held up the line. The photo-shoot was a nice attempt by my sister to make up for the lost Stan Lee ticket.

By the end of the day I had collected a photo and autograph from Juliet Landau, two new comic books signed by the writers, 2 Bleach posters courtesy of my sister, and a lot of back and knee pain. (FYI: my hips, thighs, calves, shoulder and back are all still in so much pain today. Always stretch at Comic Con). I think my sister had an okay time in the end. Of course that was a big disappointment, but she was able to get an autograph by Summer Glau for her, one for her boyfriSummer_Glauend as a birthday surprise, and a lovely (secret) photo of her at the signing table (not that one <<<). She had said no posed photos, and eventually no photos at all, but after hearing the story of the ticket fiasco, she felt bad that the Con had not done more to help us out, so allowed a photo to be taken – a very rare, but incredibly sweet gesture. I wasn’t there for that. I was in the other building watching gamers play Street Fighter, FIFA and Sacred 3, chatting to a Welshman about his Soviet Russia comic book (which he then signed my copy of), and getting mistaken for staff. This last would happen a further 5 times before I rejoined my sister.

And so 4 o’clock came, and we had finished. Merchandise had been bought, celebrities were as met as they would ever be, and we were ready to leave. The only big downside was that we never got to meet Stan Lee, not even for autographs. We collected ticket numbers 1603 and 1604, but they closed his signing table at 450. I think his age is catching up to him, and it had been a long day. We never stood a chance. At least this way it feels like he was never there, so the loss feels less. We left the manga, Transformers vehicles and many many incredible costume-clad fans behind us and headed out to St James Park.

Here, we met up with our Mum, Dad, other sister, uncle, and his fiance. The weather was fabulous, and we sat at the fountain, walked in the sun, and regaled our tale to them all as we found a place for dinner. For me, I felt something change as soon as we met up with the family. I didn’t notice it straight away, but looking back I can tell this was where things personally went downhill. Where I had been unaffected by the loss of the tickets, now something was different. I got irritable, and as much as I want to blame it on the heat and the fact I hadn’t eaten since 6am, I’m not sure. But there was a definite problem at the restaurant. My older sister has never understood my issues with food. I cannot eat in public. I can’t eat in front of people, period – with the exception of my immediate family – but it’s worse in public places. That’s why I could only manage three small pieces of bread torn off the roll we’d packed for lunch. In the restaurant, we were handed menus and I couldn’t even look at it. So when it came to ordering and everyone (7 pairs of eyes) turned to me for my order, and I shook my head no, I couldn’t even look anyone in the eye. Out of my peripherals I saw my older sister shake her head with a look of disgust on her face. She made a speech about needing to eat and how if I passed out it would be my own fault and all I could do was repeat “I know” in a whisper and fight off the panic attack building in my throat. I was almost hyperventilating, shaking, and nearly didn’t fight off tears. She doesn’t get it, but I was under so much pressure and I just couldn’t do it. She’d tried to force me to eat lunch, and that had set me back. Dinner was so much worse. So I sat in silence all through dinner, with nothing but an Appletiser, and just thankful that no-one had brought it up again.

Finally, we were done, and it was off to the theatre for the percussion meets dance production STOMP. The Ambassador Theatre to be precise. A nice, cosy little place. We were in row C, two rows away from the stage. Perfect seats, well worth the price we paid for them. I was STOMPworried I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the show with the foul mood I’d found myself in. I was wrong. Wow. I mean, WOW. What. a. show. It was beyond incredible. Several times throughout the show I caught eye contact with the musicians and was secretly pleased at the smile that spread on their faces from the joy I felt plastered on my own. I was having a great time, and was one of the only people in the room who could clap at the right time. It was a nice feeling to know that the grins on their faces were in part due to the undiluted awe they must have seen when they made eye contact with me.

I’ve seen STOMP on the tv before and it was hilarious, heart-pounding, and ear-gasmic. That was what made me want to see it live. My family all agreed and so we went and it’s the best decision I’ve made all year. It’s even better live, feeling the drumming in your chest, laughing audibly at the visual humour, and knowing that it was their 5000th show that night. We were splashed during the sink scene, and were close enough to see their shoulders shaking as even the actors found it hard to contain their laughter. At the end of the show they celebrated with a synchronised beer opening, two of which were handed from the stage to my Dad and uncle. My family started the standing ovation and we met three of the cast members after the show. And yes, photos were taken. I’m sure they won’t mind my putting it up here. The two men in the middle are the main actors. They’re the nicest guys.

STOMP and the familyDespite being so tired and food-deprived that I almost passed out on the platform back at Basingstoke, it was an unbelievable day. We had tears, sweat, laughs, celebrities, sweat, excitement, disaster and more sweat .. but I don’t regret it. I was dizzy, so I ate. I felt disgusting from the heat, so I showered at 11.30 at night. I was tired, so I was the first to bed. Yet it was worth it. I don’t know if I was able to tell my face, and in turn my family, but I know I enjoyed myself. And I slept great last night.

As exciting and the day was though, I don’t think I’ll have myself another big adventure too soon. I’m now watching the World Cup Final, rooting for Germany. When it is over, I’ll probably have some ice-cream while I catch up with the tv I missed this week, then go to bed to rest my muscles. They won’t forgive me for a while.

I am living proof that when disaster strikes, and tragedy appears, some hope and joy can be salvaged. From the ashes of our Stan Lee tickets arose a Juliet Landau photo shoot and a half-decent Con. And after the fiasco over dinner, I heartily enjoyed the show. Go and see it while it’s still showing. You will not regret it.

Finally, Match.com. My update here is that, having received an email from another member and not being able to read it with my free account, I have decided it is a load of crap. I shall not be continuing my membership, nor my Match Dot Com posts. I was looking forward to doing some posts on the subject though so I guess Plenty of Fish is my next destination. For now, however, I conclude that Match.com sucks.

My essay is over, and regular broadcasting will now commence.

Peace out.

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