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Toronto - 26th - 29th August, 2005

This was the official schedule for Friday: One free "Civilized Man" CD, free dinner (James will mingling at the tables during dinner), one limited-edition 11x14 pre-autographed photo, one personalized autograph session, the Q&A, and the private concert.
Saturday: The photo session, the Q&A session, the autograph session (not personalized) and the concert.
Sunday: The autograph session (not personalized) and the Q&A session.

As a special treat to the VIP ticket holders, James is buying everyone dinner on Friday (8/26) night. He will first perform his concert and Q&A from 6 pm to 8 pm in the convention center and then dinner and personalized autographs will be from 8 pm and onwards.
The bar at the dinner will be a cash bar. Also, James will not be doing any activities on Saturday during the time that Elijah Wood is doing his Q&A and autograph session (currently scheduled for 3 pm – 5 pm). This is to accommodate any of the fans who would like to attend Elijah's portion. Further details of the weekends schedule to follow.

Canadian National Expo, Toronto

Friday 26th August - 30th August, 2005

ok, i am finally about to get the Toronto report down in print... [Those of you who want to read only the bits with James can go down to the parts marked ** ok? - long way down!] - just remember, my dears, this report is for other friends who are not James fanatics but simply friends of moi...

All my photos are up, not that i took that many this time, what with RavenU, Lene/'Pandis' and Sami attending the Expo too - makes me kinda redundant! but you like to take a few to remind yourself that you were actually there.

Thursday 25th - First let me say i did not think i would be attending this event but thanks to my totally amazing and generous mate, Lynnie/'Mrs Tigger' who could not bear the thought of my missing this perhaps-last-for-a-while convention - i did! Such kindness is breathtaking as she not only bought my James VIP ticket to the Expo but paid my airfares as well!!! What a woman...

i caught the 0606 train Harrogate to London Kings Cross and it all went well, on time and no hitches. It rained last night and i grabbed my jacket as i went out the door being still on the cool side. The weather improved as we went south and London had a real nice day. Hellova queue for taxis at Kings Cross but eventually got to Paddington. The Heathrow Express advertises single fares at £9.50 online but charge $14 on the platform!! They also up the price on the actual train to £16!!! as i found when i came back... bloody daylight robbery... i was NOT pleased.

i tried to minimise my stress levels by arranging for Skycaps to meet me with a wheelchair and take me to the Air Canada check-in. i called them from the Heathrow Express and true to their word, they met me at Terminal 3 [don't do Terminal 4]. We got to check-on, all fine and i went up on the escalator to the security gate - next time if there is one, i will have them come with me to that point as i had to stand for quite a long time before i went through. i finally got through and made a pit stop before going to find the 'Information Desk' for Air Canada [airport staff didn't have a clue what i was asking for but one eventually pointed me towards an Air Canada desk, fortunately the right one]. They took my boarding pass and said if you sit over there, a reserved seating area, we will come and get you and take you to the boarding gate when it is announced.

i had to go find an AA battery pack for Lene's Duck and a Duty Free shop was within sight.  Don't know what they would have cost me retail but they were £7.50 for 12 there... Succumbed to some dark chocolate Toblerone [3 for 2]!! before taking a seat in the indicated area. Read my book and it seemed two minutes later that the lad turned up, calling my name. Nice lad with a speedy delivery and we galloped out to the Gate in fine time [the furthest one, miles away!] There was a lady who could not see very well and was practically voiceless who came & sat near me and then stuck like a burr - that's ok, kept an eye on her onto the plane. We sat in the Air Canada waiting area with some free magazines until we boarded and took off on time.

i was sat next to an Indian mother with two boys, a baby of 3 1/2 nd 9? - they were pretty good but i did not look forward to spending time with them... Just before we took off, the senior cabin Steward came to me and said there are empty seats behind you, would you like to move after take-off? YES, please... Seemed like a good idea, yes? well, it was a mixed blessing...

Behind me, i could hear some old Canadian woman grousing non-stop even before we took off, the seat wasn't to her liking and her son should have been somewhere else etc etc and the stewards were hard pressed to get a word in edgeways and say we are pretty full, Madam, not sure what we can do...

i found that by moving to the seat behind me [ giving my little Indian lady more room to have her baby stretch out and get some sleep and casting me glances of gratitude for the rest of the trip! ] - i was now next to Ancient Canadian Ma & White-Trash Middle-Aged Son, with a seat inbetween me and Son. i was trying to tune out the monotonous drone when i became aware Son was addressing me... Why, he demanded to know, had i moved seats? and it sure wasn't a friendly query... Supressing the desire to say WTF has it got to do with you, i politely replied, i was invited to... He chewed on that for a minute, repeating what i said like he was hard of hearing... He then said was he wrong to ask me? and i said no, but i didn't care for his tone of voice.  He & Ma then proceeded to give me grief about how they had both wanted aisle seats and he wanted mine [and the two seats inbetween i suppose?] - i said, hang on, honey, there were plenty of seats behind us where they could stretch out - no, he wanted mine and proceeded to ABUSE me in a muttered monotone - Don't you 'honey' me and he knew what i was, i was a cow and a bitch and so on... i could hardly believe my ears but quickly realised he was trying to get me to shift, so i got out my book and ignored them for the rest of the flight... [afterall, the seat did cramp his knees quite nicely..]  When he saw it was having no effect at all, he gave up and he and Mother moaned to each other and she at the other passengers near her for the rest of the trip... unbelievable but true. She told off one male student for sneezing to his astonishment, she complained she could hear what another was listening to on his headset and demanded he turn it down, then rabbited on for 10 minutes when he turned it off, that she hadn't told him to do that... i glanced across at that point and met the man's eyes and he looked a little bemused, i frankly grinned at him and his lips twitched as he tried not to laugh [she was still looking at him and grinding on]...

The facilities in the cabin were frankly pretty damn basic but who cares, right? well, the food was pretty much the same, some tiny little portion of meat.. something.. the smallest leaf salad i have ever seen but some balsamic dressing, the usual tiny cold bread roll & too hard butter and a two-piece caramel bar James could have eaten without guilt! We did get coffee eventually and an hour or so later - wonder of wonders, a small tub of ice cream...

Two hours from destination, i went walkabout and begged a glass of apple juice and not long after i got back to my seat, we were served a mini pizza to put us on till dinner time.   Sweet really... Decent landing...

We were met with wheelchairs [one little honey turned out to be a James fan!  Go, girl!] and then taken by BUS to the Terminal and it took ages to drive to there. Got my bag and via two more porters to a taxi - no tipping and nobody standing with their hand out, so not like USA. Taxi was Aerofleet [boasts a 'Gov't approved flat rate' that cost me C$43 and another C$48, so it slides a bit - Char got a metred cab and with tip $40, but not rushhour] - WE hit rushhour traffic as it took so long to clear the terminal. Just as well it was a flat rate - it took so long, i was beginning to think the taxi driver [Indian; they were all either Indians or Negro mostly, we did get a mad Russian tho!] was taking me the 'scenic route' but we got there eventually, eventhough it was via the CN Tower!

i was booked into the Grange Hotel & Appts - pre-paid on the Internet £43 per night - and although small, it was spotlessly clean with a new carpet and a perfectly adequate en-suite. There was a double bed and a single with a table and two chairs - And a small desk & chair too. i had a micowave and a fridge, hot plates and a fryingpan, a few dishes, glasses and coffee mugs. i had the foresight to take sachets with me, coffee, tea bags & sugar but i did buy milk, cherrios, bread, butter and some eggs the next morning [and some cookies i took back for the office].

It was now about 1830 and i was strongly aware of being late for my dinner date with Lynnie & Laura and rang the Intercontinental as soon as i dropped my bags - and said i was on my way. Changed my clothes and grabbed a cab.  After my little place, the foyer of the Intercon felt like a barn but went up and said hi - jumping up and down, more like it!!  Great to meet Laura, what a doll! and a dry sense of humour, even better, she laughed at all my jokes!  Very pretty and very talented - hope you break through that glass ceiling, babe...  i brought Lynnie a bracelet which she seemed to like and she had brought my 'Irish' gift with her, from when she visited there.  Very pretty, delicate little torque neckpiece like green leaves, cor... very sweet...

We asked the Concierge for a reasonable restaurant in Chinatown and Kal [tall, dark & handsome and quite the flirt, delightful guy] recommended the Happy Seven - and it was good too. We found the place with no trouble and had a lovely dinner [great fried rice & chicken wings!], i had been looking forward to this and we stuffed ourselves royally.. We laughed like fools and i had a great time. It was pretty cheap about $35 for the three of us and around 2200, we staggered out and i hailed us a cab.

This was when we met the mad Russian... We could barely understand a word he said and we were almost hysterical but trying not to offend him and to give us something we COULD laugh at, i started reading billboards and making jokes about them - when i got to the 'Lambs sell Condos' ad - i misread it for a second and then told the girls i read it as Lambs sell Condoms - well, i thought the girls were going to do themselves a mischief, we all laughed so hard! Lynnie said she had visions of lambswool-lined condoms and we joked about lambskins, foreskins etc. The Russian thought WE were crazy...

i decided we needed a drink and we went across the road from the Intercon to the the Texas Star and i introduced them to marguerittas - we had the original lime, peach and strawberry, and they were well received. Good price for a small stein of margueritta too, about $23 for 3 and a coke.

i was getting pretty tired and we decided to call it a night - it was about 0530 by my internal clock by then! although it can only have been about 2300. i walked them back into the Intercon and Aria was sitting talking to some ladies and we went across to say 'hi' - she didn't recognise me straight away as i didn't had my face tattoos on but as soon as i told her i would have them on in the morning, she jumped up laughing and gave me a hug!

Grabbed a cab back and just crashed. Looooooooong day. What is it about a new city, that makes you feel like a fart in a fog? you have no idea where you are... Luckily, it doesn't last long, just at night...

**Char arrived late & booked into the Intercon, courtesy of Rob, her son, and very nice too.  She had a great corner room with a view that was wasted on her unfortunately...  She still can see very little and is currently legally blind.  When she gets glasses, hopefully in December, if the laser surgery has done its work - we hope it will be a different story.**

Friday 26th August - James! at last...

The events didn't kick off until the Concert at 6pm, so no rush.   Got my groceries and had breakfast, sorted out which clothes for which days; put that day's gear into my backpack and took it with me to the Intercon.  i took Embers' bag with me for the day's small gear, worked very well - thank you, pet.

It turned out to be one hellova day...  Met with Lynnie & Laura and discussed the order of the day. We decided to get out Expo tickets and the grab some lunch maybe - i was pretty sure Char would be resting and i would check in with her when we got back.  Spicy was looking after her, after all.  So we went down and had different queues but all fine; a nice welcome from the guys on the desk for being a VIP James Ticket, thanks guys and they promptly ruined it asking me if i was Irish?!! i beg your pardon?! so sorry! i should think so! Pretty funny actually... the bigger joke was somebody on Lynnie's side asking her if she was an Australian!!

She had been down and scoped out Theatre 1 where James would be performing that evening and we were all organised. They wanted to queue for good tickets but lunch first. i wanted to see Rocky and suggested the MTS do at Jack Astors, not that we are active members anymore but we still know a few people there. Rocky 'bout had a fit when she saw me and couldn't believe i was there - nice to see you too! We caught up with Bookworm54, Yoga Lady, Scooter, Grey Sunrise, Housewife and Deepblu, Ginger came and a couple of ladies i remembered from Oaklands. Ginger came and ate with us - not very good i'm afraid but it filled a hole.   i promised to go visit Rocky on the Toronto Trek table on the 3rd floor but sadly never got the chance...  sorry, pet - when you read this, if you do, you will know why.

We came back to queue and i said i will return and went up to see Char - yes, she was awake and alone, come on up..  i was surprised she was on her own.  She is sole occupancy which is nice for her.  Spicy was off somewhere but had taken Char down to get her VIP ticket earlier.  We had a good old chinwag and caught up on stuff i had brought for her and she had brought for me and so on till 'bout 1600.   i said i'd better go back and queue again, your minders will be coming for you soon and then the phone rang and it was Spicy.   After the how-are-you's, she said, 'oh, as you are there, will you bring Char downstairs with you?'

i hadn't intended to but i said ok, i guess i can do that - good, she said, i can go and have a cigarette, and we hung up.   Char got ready and we went on down.

i took her to the Theatre doors and the security guy said she can be this side of the door for safety and that was ok.   Himber, Bookie and ? [don't know her name] came and set up the merchandise table near the door and spread out the new photos.   Char said, can we go look and i said sure. The pics were the special edition ones we were being given later but the Gold & Silver ones too.   i bought one of the Gold edition ones, very nice... and Char got one & the Silver ...   While we are waiting to pay for them, Spicy appeared and came over, completely ignored me and bending down, starts hissing in Char's ear... then stands up and disappears....

Char sat there silent and i said what was that all about - it had to be about me or why whisper? Spicy apparently had been going off about me pushing the chair and usurping her place with Char - WTF?!!   She said she wasn't going to play games anymore and that was IT - What was?!!

Well, neither of us had any idea what she was talking about and we must have looked as puzzled as each other and we have no idea what set her off...  [She did this before in Coventry but apologised to me saying she was having a bad time, so i 'forgot it'].

Well, Spicy had gone off somewhere and i took us back to the queue line and found myself a chair. We were joined by Pandis and then loads more as the queue grew with time.  i took off to the loo and in the time i was gone, Spicy took the opportunity to come back and have a go at Char, reducing her to tears by accusing Char of stabbing her in the back [how or why i don't know] and me of using Char to get into the front line & going to talk to Himber!!   Char tried in vain to find out what she was talking about and pointed out i was entitled to be there in my own right anyway, but it had not the slightest effect on Spicy who just mouthed off for a while and then took off again...   i didn't know this had happened until i got back and found FrenchDaria consoling Char and digging out tissues for her.. thank you, cherie.  To say i was speechless would be the understatment of the week but i couldn't work out for the life of me what the hell Spicy was raving about [Char didn't tell me all of what she said then or later but i just know there was more] - i got mad that she made Char cry... i didn't want to make things worse and/or make a scene and embarrass Char - we both sorta expected Spicy to come back and take over again - not on your fuckin' life...

We were close to concert time, so we shelved all that and i took Char in with the other wheelchair, Niki and Linda, her Mum - Hi guys! very nice people - and we got centre seats but set back against a pillar in the middle [you had to see it to explain].   Steve Himber came in and outlined the evening's timetable - concert, then Q&A session and at 8pm, we would all go down to Joe Badalis' for dinner - except it was at the Overdraught - oh, ok.

** Then it was JAMES - He bounced out full of beans and a huge smile - wearing the suede Tatallgia shirt and a light silver chain, usual blue jeans and those black fluorescent sneakers!  His hair seemed shorter to start with, then i realised it had been straightened some and was sleeked back...  it had also been dyed, more reddish brown for Smallville...  But damn! he looked good!!  Big Happy smiles for the ones he knew and lots of eye contact and lots of smiles for new ones too, nobody went away not acknowledged....

He looked marvellous, healthy, happy and fit.  He is in the process of filming Brainiac for 'Smallville' and he said at the Q&A, he is loving it.  The Concert was good and he was on key and playing well. His set list was the Civilised Man CD, with the usual additions and the new one 'Lou' - about Louise who drove them everywhere on the 'Live in Five' Tour - she had also been a steward at Halloween and helped out with our Disabled steward Ken, so we knew her. The song is rocky and funny and we laughed a lot, in all the right places.   It is a good song and i hope she loves it, i know i do and would if it was about me.

He was looking the crowd over and took time to greet us and say thank you for supporting me for the past few years, he was recognising many familiar faces now.   During the songs, even i got some serious eye contact and delightful smiles and he finished on 'Finer than Gold' - yes, i cried...  i always do.

He said he was missing his nicotine patches but one of the girls gave him one and he put it on straight away.   We went straight into the Q&A and it was a good one. There is a trasncript or two circulating and i won't duplicate here...  i just loved looking at him, all happy and on his toes, doing what he loves - fielding questions and interacting with his fans.   He's very happy about doing 'Smallville' and they have made him feel very welcome there.  He SO wanted to tell us all about it but he was sworn to secrecy, but bubbly and so happy about it all.   i have a big smile on my face just writing about it!   Then it was done and he said 'let's go get some dinner, see you there'.

i was still in my t-shirt and pants and had to run upstairs to get changed - so asked Scooter to babysit while i hoofed it...   i had some of my stuff in Char's room and some in the girls' room - went up and Carmilla was there.  Changed quickly but realised my shoes were in Char's room - dashed down and got Char's key and dashed up again!  But the frickin' key didn't work!!  Belted back down to Reception and asked for another - realising as i said it and he asked my name, that i was asking for a key to a room that wasn't mine... [and i wasn't even staying there].   i explained quickly and he went and got the Security guy, who remembered me and my friend in the wheelchair - thank you, Goddess...   Rushing barefoot back over to the elevators..!!!  Up to Char's room and found my shoes and in my haste, left the picture Lene had taken of James smiling at me at the Cavern, that i wanted him to personalise...  i was more concerned with Carmilla waiting for me in her room....   Dashed down to her and she had picked up my VIP Badge etc and was standing waiting to leave...  We both hoofed it down and we joined Char & Scooter and set off down to the restaurant - or so we thought...

When we got there, a couple of rude shocks awaited us.   First, the restaurant was a BAR/pub - second there was a flight of steps [6 or 7] DOWNSTAIRS to it...  Scooter [bless her] ran down to find the manager.   While we were waiting, two ladies came up for a smoke and told us how the bar was and how there were hardly any tables and fuckall chairs to sit on [oh joy]...  James was sitting at a small table near the door and a line was forming to get the promised personalised autograph with him....    Char and i just stared at each other....  approx 125 of us queuing in close proximity and hot sweaty conditions...  again...  some 'Dinner' with James mingling...

As we stood there absorbing all this loveliness, Sami finally turned up, lugging her suitcase, having come straight from the airport.  She was showing me the bruises on her cold arms, from putting up the storm shutters before she left Florida, and preparing to go downstairs, when the Manager arrived.   Full of apologies, the service elevator wasn't working but if it was ok with us, he would get four strong men and carry Char down the stairs, wheelchair and all.   And damn me, he did just that - my hat off to him!   i wondered later what happened to Niki & Linda?  [They had taken one look at the place and decided to call it a night, to my horror - did Niki get her personalised pic later?  i never got to ask her].

We got downstairs and there was James, signing away like a good 'un...  i went to find somewhere to 'be' - a table? with a place for Char and a chair for me?  not on your fuckin' life...   i had a look around and set my jaw, and frankly muscled in on the end of a table where most of the girls had gone to get their pics signed or get food and drink...  i played musical chair for the rest of the night with few apologies i am not pleased to admit but where were we supposed to go?  All the able-bodied had time before us and got themselves somewhere to sit and to hell with us....  well. fuck. that.   Char simply shut down and refused to talk to anyone, including me...  so i had a top night, thanks a lot...  i spent it getting us drinks and a bite for Char, getting to sit down whenever and wherever i could for a few minutes and deciding i wasn't going to fight my way up the queue for me or Char...   so i went to look for Himber.

**He was sitting next to James, writing down the names for him to sign on the pics.   James in full charm mode, giving us the moments we crave...   i moved up to Himber's back and put my hand on his arm...  i asked if James could come back to us, when he was finished with all this and sign for us.  We would be at the last table at the back, when he was ready.   Give Himber his due, he simply replied, immediately, 'Sure, no problem'. **

So we hung out until James had finished the line.   i managed to to have a few words with GreenLady and see the wonderful book she had brought; i got to speak to Deepblu, VioletSpike, Kimber, Housewife [damn, that woman has a laugh like a maniac!], dear Scooter who bought me a drink [bless you!] and the wonderful Ravenu [good to see you again, babe]   Lene wanted to stand on the stairs near where i had arranged for Char to sit and take some pictures - she did - i love you, babe - i asked if i could sit Char next to a booth and when James came back there, sit him down on the end of the seat.  As you can imagine, the girls did not say no and promised to behave!

i turned round when i heard James' voice - he had walked down behind me, with Himber following him.  He spoke to girls on the long table where we sat for a while - i faced him and touched his arm and made sure he saw where Char was, saying quietly in his ear, will you sit so she can see you?  He moved close to her and took her hand.  Then he sat and talked to her for a while and then signed the Grave Peril cover she had brought - he was real sweet to her and admired her sunglasses, telling her she looked 'cool' - this cheered her up immediately.    i was standing next to her, leaning on my stick and then it was my turn.   He made sure he had the spelling right, signed the picture [i had substituted the one i bought of the Gold ticket holders, having discovered by then the missing picture as it was] - and i thought that's it.

Then i heard Lynnie's voice saying, "Show him the Tattoo, love!"  and i called to her, "Come here, girl, i can't tell it without you" - and i told James about the Sisterhood of James and the toast at Halloween - then how Lynnie had translated it into Tolkien's Elvish and how i loved it and wanted it as a tattoo.  i apologised for pulling my dress down at the neckline and bared enough breast to show him my tattoo - and then the same one on Lynnie's arm.  He was impressed, loved them and told us so - we apparently blew Himber out of the water!  "Serious fans!" was how it was told to me..  made me laugh - Well, yeah... 

Anyway, Lynnie told James how Bex, her daughter, has an Elvish verse tattooed on her wrist and not to be outdone, Char told him she wanted the Sisterhood tattoo on the back of her neck - he was concerned it would hurt and she said the butterfly on her upper breast and shoulder didn't hurt that much and showed it to him....   He was surrounded by tats and had a big smile on his face.  He said he would love one but he was an actor and would problems covering them up with makeup.   He loved the Elvish and said he was a fan and was very impressed with Tolkien who had written and made up more languages than anyone he knew - 24 i think he said...   i was unaware of that many frankly, i may have to check that out later...   Anyway the conversation widened to include the girls sitting so quietly and sweetly at the table next to him - pretty girls all and James sure did appreciate that too!!  

All too soon Himber came to take him away to get some rest and Lynnie & i offered to come and tuck him in...  Himber said HE didn't do that!  we laughed at him for that and i said i told good bedtime stories...  we got a Look for that!!  what a laugh!!  Anyhow, James got to his feet and said goodnight to all, he had to go get some rest so he could look good for us at the photo session the next day...     Night, baby...

James said goodnight to all as he left and was real nice...  

Char and i said goodnight to the girls and i thanked Lene, who came and told me she had taken some pictures and would get them to me when she got back - some of them are really nice and in one or two, i look pretty fuckin' awful but i don't care.  i sent for the manager again and he rounded up another four strong guys, who carried Char back up the steps....  We went back to the Hotel and i helped her to bed.   i went down and hung out with Lynnie & Laura for a while and then cabbed it back to the Grange.    And crashed about 2am

Saturday in Part II, this is turning into a bloody marathon...  </ljcut>



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 9th, 2005 07:07 am (UTC)
wow! you hada pretty traumatic time of it, and that qualifies as the flight from hell!! As to the Char stuff an extreme WTF!!! but it sounds like you managed to enjoy yourself nonetheless. Thanks for the report, looking forward to part two .
Sep. 9th, 2005 08:45 pm (UTC)
actually once i got over my irritation and surprise, the Odd Couple didn't really bother me and left me alone for the rest of the flight...
The Char stuff got weirder... but nothing comes between me and my James... Part Two up soon
Thanks for reading
kissy kissy
Sep. 10th, 2005 05:07 am (UTC)
Hi lovejames, thanks so much for letting me come in to read your report! Only just finished the friday night part but wow what a great read! I love how detailed your account of the trip is; great for those who didn't go as it makes you feel like you're right there with you, I love how you write about everything as it really does feel like I'm there on the trip myself! And although it must have been a dissappointment r.e. the dinner, your interaction with James later on in the evening sounded wonderful! Can't wait to go and read part two now! Soul Purpose :-)
Sep. 10th, 2005 06:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Wow!
you're welcome - people either love the detail or simply hate it, very little inbetween... glad you like it!
i write as i speak pretty much... bit more restrained in public, less so here and completely unrestrained with friends! so i have held back a bit here on some of my opinions, mostly so i can't be done for libel... other wise most of the fuckin' bitches who piss me off, can go fry... but i love my friends, they are the most important part of my life.
take care pet
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )