After Mark's show at the Riverside Studios on Saturday evening, a group of five of us (me, Emma, Aislinn, her sister and Simone) waited in the hope of saying hello to Mark. As Aislinn has already mentioned in her blog, a helpful theatre chap showed us the correct door, because we were waiting in the wrong place. When Mark came out, he saw me first (cos I was standing nearest the door) and immediately asked 'Are you Heather?' He had seen my photo in my ipod challenge blogs, hence he recognised me - and Aislinn and I had both tweeted him that we would be there, and were hoping to meet him afterwards, so he knew to look out for us. He also recognised Aislinn.
I'm not quite sure, but I think Aislinn & I mentioned having seen him at the Rhod Gilbert recording the previous week at this point(he hadn't been able to stay to say hello at the end that time) I must have mentioned my 20 year old son - because he was with me that night and had also loved Mark's set (I had previously tweeted this to Mark) cos it led to Mark saying (and I know it sounds cheesy, but it was really lovely and a real boost for me!) 'You don't look old enough to have a 20 year old son - no, seriously, you don't!'
I think, as Aislinn has mentioned, that Mark must have been the first to mention us all going to the bar for a drink, but I hadn't heard him say that, so I tentatively asked if he had time to have a drink with us, and was delighted when he said yes. When we got to the bar, I asked if I could get him a drink. He said 'Are you sure that's alright?' I assured him that it was (I was very pleased indeed to be able to buy him a drink) and even before I asked what he'd like, I could've guessed it would be a glass of red wine - and indeed it was.
I really enjoyed the chat, although I was sorry that we ended up talking about Tim Minchin for a while early on - I honestly don't know how that happened - I certainly didn't introduce the subject: probably Mark did, cos he knows I am a TIm fan, cos I'd included Tim in the ipod challenge. Much that I love Tim, I didn't want to talk about him then: I wanted the focus to be fully on Mark, not his Arena-filling flamboyant friend. It also led to a sticky-wicket bit in the conversation when Mark (possibly forgetting that, with a 20 year old son, I am one of those older ladies who is only 3 years away from turning 50) characterised some of the slightly sad older - in their late 40s/50s - obsessive (& oddly dressed) Tim fans/stalkers, not meaning to include me, but it was borderline....
Anyway, the conversation moved on, and we chatted about many things - touring, Kit, his novels, the possibility of including some singing in future shows, his earliest TV appearances (and strange clothes!), Tom Basden, the Watsonian picnic, the ipod challenge, TYSIC - and its pronunciation, etc, etc (I became a bit self-conscious that I was hogging most of the chatting for a period, which wasn't intentional - maybe just cos I was fairly relaxed around him, and just the geography of where we were each standing)
As the level of wine left in Mark's glass diminished, we moved from conversation to conventional fan requests for book signings and photographs. Emma had brought Crap at the Environment, I had brought A Lighthearted Look at Murder (my favourite of his 3 books, all of which I have). Aislinn, ofcourse, had her lovely sketch signed.
We all got lovely photos with Mark, although he looks a bit self-conscious in all of them, bless him. I was glad to be able to remove the red-eye from my photo, which improved it greatly!
After the photos, we were all standing in different places, which made it easier for Mark and Aislinn to have a good chat. They talked about her long sponsored walk, to raise money for MND, and Patrick Joyce, the inspiration for that. Also the odd coincidence at the Rhod Gilbert show, where she hadn't know Mark was performing when she wrote about wanting to befriend him on her audience participation sheet.
Several other people came up to Mark while we were in the bar, to congratulate him or to ask for an autograph. I liked seeing him get this validation from others.
Just before he left, I gave him a small box of Belgian chocolates to share with Emily - he said she loved belgian chocs, so I was glad I'd brought them.
I really wanted to give him a hug, but couldn't quite break the inhibition to do so. Ah well, maybe next time.
When Mark left, we hung back for a while, even though we would be needing to head in the same direction - cos we didn't want to look like we were following him!
As several of us have said, we all felt it was particularly nice of Mark to stay for such a long time that evening, despite being so tired, and with a poorly baby at home.
His mini-blog on the way home revealed his uncertainty about how the show had gone that night. Looking back on his reactions in the bar any time one of us said something complimentary about the show, it's clear in retrospect that he was unconvinced.
Poor tired, overly-perfectionist, loveable boy! To know him is to love him.
PS Aislinn's blog about meeting Mark can be found at http://fuckyeahnothingmuch.blogspot.com/2010/07/very-long-blog-about-mark-watson.html