An Armitage Fan at #RDC5 – FRIDAY [part 7 of the whole saga otherwise]

It’s time to come to a proper run-through of last month’s Red Dragon Con 5 in London. Kate already wrote at length about the decision process and the run-up to the con on her blog last week. I’m afraid, I didn’t have that many qualms. When the news came through that Richard was going to attend the con, I was on those tickets as fast as you can say “Dolarhyde”. Not because of Hannibal, the fannibals or any previous con experience. In fact I had never been to a con before – and if truth be told, I never really wanted to go to a con before. But after checking the con ticket prices and making sure that flights to London in February are generally slow sellers, I reckoned that it was worth investing in it – even if only to witness the potentially one and only ever con attendance of Mr Armitage. Who knew whether this kind of event would ever happen again – with RA, that is? He had been rather shy about attending cons in the past, so this could easily be a once-off. Enough reason for me to see for myself, especially as I had experienced the fannibals as a very welcoming, nice fandom back in 2015 when Hannibal was on air. However, I was rather relieved that not only one but two of my fandom friends agreed to join me in London – Kate and Hariclea.

RA is definitely my Waterloo…

What more or less passed me by was Kate’s long battle in January with a very persistent cold that almost had her cancel her participation. We did, however, lose Hariclea as a co-con companion, as sadly, Hariclea’s mum passed away a couple of days before the event and she understandably had to cancel her attendance to go home. Nevertheless, on Friday morning, I took the early morning flight to LCR to get a few hours of exhibition hopping in before I was going to meet Kate. I made my way out to Heathrow to meet Kate in the hotel she had kindly booked. Sharing a hotel room with a stranger I had only known online and barely seen a photograph of? Of course – I have only ever met nice people through my fangirling activities. Plus, she was taking the same risk *grins*. I took the Piccadilly Line out towards Heathrow, got off at Hatton Cross, hopped on a bus, got off at the edge of the Heathrow runway, walked through a rather cold, grey, wet London day and kind of chuckled when I saw the hotel was right next to a bowling alley. Well, just in case that whole con malarkey didn’t work out we at least had some alternative entertainment…

Fuck it, Dude. Let’s go bowling!

I can tell you, there was a certain amount of excitement as I made my way to room 156 where my conspirator was already waiting for me, having checked in an hour earlier. If I hadn’t stopped smoking last November, I would’ve had a couple of rollies to calm down the nerves. (cf. a previous meeting also involving a hotel way back in 2014. I see a theme developing here…) As it was, I didn’t need any rollies. Kate opened the door, I said hi, we hugged – and we launched into a very comfortable friendship right there and then. Let me tell you, the woman is tolerant, witty and easy-going, ignoring my moody nonsense and providing the funniest comparisons from here to the Antipodes and back. We seemed to be pretty much on the same wave-length with everything over the weekend – from party attendance to fannibal defending to beddie times. Kate had me in stitches with her quips, and that alone made for three of the happiest, most carefree days of my life.



So, with the basics basically out of the way, we were looking forward to the weekend, con novices that we were. The con was billed to start at 4pm on Friday with registration. Since we had opted to stay in a hotel about 15 minutes away from the con venue, we decided to head over to the Renaissance hotel for a bit of re-con – and a bite to eat – in advance of the 4pm registration. Much to our surprise, a queue had already formed when we entered the lobby of the Renaissance hotel at about 3pm. We joined the queue – an exercise that would prove to be event-defining for the rest of the weekend… At the end of the queue we registered and received our dog tags badges for the event.

Totally reconciled with the fact that Gold tickets were sold out: Regular tickets were adorned with the Armitage. ‘A beautiful rear can also endear’ etc.

Thanks to some prior research we had also a) brought lanyards (so didn’t have to buy any) and b) signed up for stewarding at the con. Except that while Kate’s application as a volunteer had been accepted, I had never heard back from them. Kate encouraged me to try and get into stewarding nonetheless – which I did and was also “ennobled” as a con steward. This proved very useful later on. In various respects.

But first of all Kate and I finally got something to eat in the bar – and had our first *real* encounter with a fannibal, a lovely woman from Germany called Johanna, who really and totally set the tone and the bar for all subsequent interactions with the Hannibal fandom. There is next to no chance that she is ever going to see this, but if you know her, please let her know: Johanna, if you are reading this – thank you for being so kind, so funny, so encouraging. You really make a fantastic figurehead for your fandom. I enjoyed meeting you, and I regret not having bumped into you again! – You would think that you can’t lose your companions in a hotel – but you can. A lot of the communication and arranging of meetings was conducted via text message and/or Twitter DM that weekend. And that includes my roomie Kate and I. Yep, there were various instances where we had to call each other on the phone to locate each other in the hotel. Mad! Luckily fellow fan armidreamer and I had also exchanged phone numbers, and so I was able to hook up with her on Friday, too, and we ended up meeting all through the weekend. The more the merrier, right?

Anyway, the queuing continued, this time for the various extras one could splash out on. Photo ops and autographs are the big draw at cons, and I suspect it is where a lot of extra money is actually being made. Coming to RDC5, I had no intention of getting anything beyond the one autograph that was included in my ticket already. When Kate said that she was going to get a photo done, I was still undecided. However, you can’t just rock up at the photo (or autograph) sessions at these cons. Rather, you buy a voucher that entitles you to a photo shoot or an autograph. And so I decided to play it safe and bought a photo voucher – just in case. More about the whole photo saga later. And believe me, it’s a saga. If I knew it would be, I wouldn’t have bothered. I am still embarrassed. Like many other people I also had huge reservations about paying hefty prices for an autograph. Especially as autographs actually do not mean that much to me *personally*. I own a few already (personalised and unpersonalised, on photos, programmes and tickets – heck, I even have a silver “RA” on my beloved Pop!Thorin – see picture right), and I never had to pay for any of them. But then I thought I’d better use the opportunity and get a couple of autographs signed for future auctions – my donation, so to speak. And I also wanted to get a souvenir for Hariclea as a tiny little consolation for missing the con… So, whoa, 85 GBP went out the window there… (1 photo + 2 autographs). Seriously, I do hope that Richard also got a cut of that! Yep, I am still reeling myself. Don’t tell Mr Guylty, or this marriage is over! However, I’d ask you all to not be judgmental about this. Not that I mind if you were judgmental to *me* about this – I used to be the same for a long time. So, serves me right. But the other fans do not deserve any derision. There is much some to be said for and about these paid photo ops and autographs, the people who provide them and the people who buy them. And I will get to that in due course. Suffice to say that, with all that queuing done, it was already time to gather in the main hall for the big event of the day – the Opening Ceremony. Were we going to get our first glimpse of Richard? 

Opening Ceremony

Remember I said it would prove useful to sign up as a volunteer at the con? Well, we realised that when we walked into the main hall for the opening ceremony. Not sure how many rows there were in total, but the first ten rows or so of the auditorium were completely occupied already, as were the last ten. No coincidence: The first few rows were reserved for Gold ticket holders! (If you were admiring those fabulous photos of Richard taken at the con – those came from Gold ticket holders who were really quite close up to him and the other guests.) Regular ticket holders had to sit at the back. There was only a small number of rows in between that still had empty seats – and they turned out to be reserved for the stewards!! So we quickly brandished our steward badges and bagged some seats half way back the auditorium. Definitely worth while volunteering – not least because it looked as if there were not enough seats for the regular ticket holders for whom extra chairs were added at the back of the hall. Anyway, this was our view:

The red and black dot on the stage is Jeremy Davies (played a character called Peter Bernadone in Hannibal). He was the first guest to be called onto the stage, and you get an idea how many people were there and how far back we were sitting – despite our privileged steward seats… After Davies, two more guests were announced, namely Aaron Abrams and Scott Thompson. They were the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of Hannibal (playing a bit of a comedic duo, crime scene investigators Brian Zeller and Jimmy Price) and absolute fan favourites. (You may also remember Scott Thompson from the Hannibal aftershows “Post Mortem”.) I very much warmed to them, too. (More about that in a later post.)

And finally, finally… Look at the picture above again. See the screen on the right? And further right to that, the double doors? That’s where the guests were ushered in, and wow, like at every other event I have ever seen RA live at, it gave me a total jolt to the stomach when I spotted RA there, beside the stage, waiting to be called… He couldn’t help but mess around before he was introduced and made funny shadow shapes behind the screen… Don’t you just have to love him…? I really dislike the word dork, but he really is a messer! You’ve already seen some of my pictures of the event, so I’ll put a slide show in here with the whole, unedited shebang – sorry, really not great, but just for the record.

The Complete and Unedited Pictures of RA at the Opening Ceremony

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This whole solo appearance lasted for the tiny eternity of 2 minutes, btw! As the second billed guest RA received a lot of cheering and clapping – he was the eponymous Red Dragon, after all – but not as much as Mads Mikkelsen, understandably. He looked absolutely gorgeous on stage though, not least because he was casually dressed all in black with tighty black jeans, a comfy hoodie and a leather jacket. All of the guests had directed a few words at the audience, but RA really made a nice little welcome speech that seemed a bit longer. “Some of you travelled far and braved the weather, congratulations. I didn’t have to because this is my home.” etc. He also could not resist a comment about the flower crowns referring to them as “flower heads” (although one of the previous guests – Aaron? – had used the term before), no comment 😁. His toned down facial shrubbery that was more like a slightly neglected lawn of wild flowers than a full-blown hayfield, looked rather good from far away. And from closer up, even more so, I suppose…

(See the edited pics of the opening ceremony in bigger version in part 2 of my RDC5 series.)

I have to say that I thought RA looked and sounded like a complete pro in those two minutes he had on stage. His ex tempore speech was just perfect for the occasion – welcoming people, referring to the actual day (by way of weather – so English *haha*), throwing in a little personal admission (“I’m at home”) and spreading a bit of fun with his gentle teasing re. flower heads. So yeah, I thought he came across as a confident and self-assured, a bit curious and wide-eyed about the whole event he was finding himself at, but willing to go on the journey. Again, I felt as if he really set the tone there, opening up and signalling that he was here to experience this and that he was willing to have fun. Thumbs up. Finding out that his appearance on stage only lasted 2 minutes, really surprised me. At the time, it felt much longer. But yeah, maybe time stands still whenever the master himself turns up in RL *hehe*…

Anyway, RA was then followed by the star of the con, Mads Mikkelsen. Again, he also made a lovely little intro speech, and I have to say I was very much impressed by the resounding and warm applause that he was welcomed with. You could tell that the fannibals were absolutely ecstatic to have Mads at the con. They didn’t hold back, and those kind of open admissions of love and admiration were something I really, really loved seeing all through the weekend. – After Mads had been introduced, all guests returned to the stage again. As part of the whole group, Richard looked slightly shy and awkward on stage, I thought. Not quite in his element. He was definitely the tallest of all guests, yet even as it was happening and I hadn’t even yet seen any photos of the event, it occurred to me that he looked as if he wanted to blend into the background. Up to his usual modesty, I guess, he was kind of standing one step behind all the others, kind of slouching a bit, with his hands in his pockets and his head all the way down to his shoulders. I haven’t really got any pictures of my own showing all of the guests standing there on stage, but yeah, my heart broke a little bit there – whether it was for a gorgeous guy making himself small and invisible, or for a gorgeous guy being modest and humble, it definitely added to his attraction. However, it also added to the danger of succumbing to APM…

Anyway, believe it or not, it was all a good start to the whole experience. Nice fannibals, nice fellow fans, nice roomie, nice guests, nice RA. The opening ceremony was just half an hour long or so, then the guests were all whisked away and the room emptied. We were basically done for the day. For the Gold ticket holders, it was only just getting interested though: They actually had a meet & greet with the guests – which Richard apparently was a great hit at, according to the tweets that I saw. Ourselves, Kate and I kind of hung around, thinking we might have a look at the promised party. But then we both kind of folded at about 9pm and decided to go back to our hotel instead. It had been a long, exhausting day – with both of us travelling from a different country, finding our way to our hotel, meeting each other, negotiating our way around the event – and dealing with the accelerated heart rate of being in the vicinity of the OOA… No wonder we thought we needed to lie down.

In the end, we actually ended up chatting until after midnight. The amount of processing to be done when seeing RA in the flesh *haha*… And that was only after half a day of con life… We had no idea what was going to hit us the next day…

59 thoughts on “An Armitage Fan at #RDC5 – FRIDAY [part 7 of the whole saga otherwise]

    • No, I don’t think they vetted anyone. And by the look of things, there weren’t that many volunteers there, either. We simply signed up and they then told us to where we would be deployed. I have to say it was great fun and I really do not regret doing it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well it had its perks by your description and you are a people person so I think right up your alley! I thought perhaps because you and Kate are multi lingual that they were looking for professionals to help out. Do you have any estimate how many fannibals were in attendance?


        • No, I don’t really think that the languages really made any difference. The con language was English, and even though plenty of other nationalities were represented, I don’t really think that there were any official allowances made in terms of translation etc.
          As for attendance – around 600 people, I think.

          Liked by 1 person

          • wow! That room looked kinda small by some of those pics!! Stage didn’t look all that big either. Very intimate setting no doubt! You did get great pics by the way from the looks of your other blog posts (1-6) either/and with little red corvette and/or marky mark so bravo to you from all of us..


    • Ah, I don’t know Rachel. I seriously don’t. I find it very hard to gauge what he thought. It was a bit of a wobbly start (not the Friday, but the Saturday *coughs*), but by the end of it he looked as if he had gotten into the swing of it. True, I don’t really think the whole con concept is something that meshes particularly well with his slightly more reserved (introvert?) personality. But he said he wanted to make an effort to meet his fans, and this the way to do it? But yeah, I am not sure…

      Liked by 2 people

      • i thought it might appeal to him as it’s an organized way to ‘meet fans’ but it’s not really meeting fans as such-is it? (i’m in a pessimistic mood tonight tbh-very tired and feeling queasy)


        • I’m sure Guylty will get into this on her day two and three posts, but I liked and and I feel I did get my moment with him. It may sound a bit underwhelming because it’s hard (for me) to put these feelings into words, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

          Liked by 1 person

        • No, it’s not really ‘meeting fans’. But I actually suspect that he might like this kind of ‘fan meeting’ better than a proper fan-on-star occasion… *coughs* And I am saying that with all due respect and not in a polemic, nasty way. I just don’t get the impression from RA that he is ready to engage with fans on a non-committal, relaxed and carefree level.

          Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. I think it’s hard to judge how he experienced the whole thing.
        I don’t think he’s scarred for life though. He genuinely seemed to enjoy the Q&As—especially when realizing that people were actually asking him intelligent, well thought out questions about his art. He was quite engaging during the autograph sessions and his farewell speech made it seem like he had a good experience overall. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Jill, Steward, Richard, Dawn, Guylty and I (Part 2) – My dearest Louise…

  2. Well, this was wonderful and made me blush a little (alle Komplimente ganz genau so zurück an dich—es war wunderbar mit dir!) and it absolutely looks like I just copied large junks of your post for mine. There’ll be a plagiarism scandal in the blogosphere.
    It just goes to show that we’re not lying when we say we really meshed.


  3. Love, love, love reading your RDC5 accounts, and this one is no exception, it brought back wonderful memories of the Popcorn Taxi event nearly six (eek!) years ago. I’m so glad you had the chance to met up with Kate, it’s much more fun sharing experiences like this with fellow fans, and I’m very sorry that Hari couldn’t make it, especially given the sad circumstances. I’m not sure if I have passed on my condolences on her loss in another post’s comments, but I’d like do so now, just in case I missed the opportunity at another time.
    “Total jolt to the stomach”………I know exactly what you mean 😉 My first sight of him in the flesh literally took my breath away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, is it six years???? I can’t believe it is that long ago. (oh gosh, RA was just so absolutely irresistible back then…) And even if I sometimes feel I *can* resist him now, the initial strike of lightning is still there…
      Any of these events – whether it is SD, plays, premieres, cons – are always so much more fun when you can share them with kindred spirits. It’s the best part of the whole fangirling experience, no doubt.


  4. Thank you for sharing again! I’m glad you had a friend with you, and you were able to volunteer. Helping out at cons can really be exhausting, but it’s fulfilling after seeing happy attendees. It’s so cute RCA was in his element at the opening 😀 (though I do wish he doesn’t have to feel to make himself small when he’s with the other actors)


    • I take it you have done some volunteering at cons yourself then, Nix? It really was great fun – and it wasn’t even what I would call work. I was helping out while chatting with fellow fans. And the people I worked with were really nice. They did a couple of things that were totally unexpected.
      And yes, that’s why my heart broke a little. I do like that he is not someone who pushes himself forward at all cost. But I really do not like the idea that he thinks he has to give others precedence… Ah well, we’ve discussed it all to death. There’s no point to telling someone they are gorgeous when they do not want to believe it… I so so hope he did realise that a lot of the applause was for him, too.


      • Yup! Helped organize anime cons for our college org then. It’s super tiring and it does take a lot (we plan for about 6-8 months, or roughly a semester) before holding the event. But it’s so great to see attendees enjoying the program and booths we’ve set up, and regular con-goers become long lasting friends!

        I do hope he does ease up or let himself be comfortable in these kinds of events, but he’ll probably take his time with that 🙂


        • I can imagine that it is a really gratifying sort of thing to do. I already felt good just helping out at the photo collection, seeing fans happy when they saw themselves on their pictures.
          Yep, I reckon too that he’ll need to try a couple more times before he gets really comfortable with the idea of a con. It’s just such a pity that he never attended a Hobbit con where all his Kiwi dwarf pals were regulars. I suspect he would’ve enjoyed it more if he had had a few good pals to hang out with at such an event… and especially so if they are such a laid back bunch as the Kiwi contingent…


    • Lovely detailed account, thank you Guylty. It was great hearing all the tiny little features of your first day.

      It brought back memories of my own adventures in another fandom – the bit about always volunteering to be a steward especially. Duties in my day were pretty mundane – mainly making sure no one brought beer or wine glasses and plates of food into the convention rooms! A stint on registration was another, and if you were lucky there was a bit of light gofering for the committee. I once even got to fetch a pint of orange juice for a guest!

      Happy days!


  5. I’m so glad you had so much fun! How great to be rooming with such a lovely congenial lady. Hope I can meet you one day, Kate! Of course I’m wishing I had joined you now, Guylty… 😉


    • Ah well, Helen. It was great, of course, but it’s not as if we had 56 hours of uninterrupted RA there… and apart from the 5 seconds in front of the camera and the 15 at the autograph table, the encounter was not much different from a premiere or a SD…


  6. I have to admit I was a bit surprised that RA actually signed up to do the con in the first place (although I’m very glad he did). Do you think he wanted to “interact” with his fans, to get a measure of the fandom or to discuss his “art” ? Interesting that he looked a bit awkward in the group scenario when the others came on stage; maybe he felt a bit of an “odd man out” not being a series regular?
    Anyhow, I really enjoyed reading your account of the Friday….Looking forward to the next instalment and reading more about Richard, and the magnificent Mads (another one of my guilty pleasures…!! )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I was surprised too. But in hindsight it really fit his resolution for 2019, to encounter the fans a bit closer. I think that was basically what this thing was. I suspect he did not expect that he would discuss his art with the fans. He probably thought it was going to be the usual crap – from circus to Armitaaaaaaj. Pah!
      Interact with his fans – if I am really honest, I don’t think he really wanted (or wants) to do that. I suspect he is a bit stand-offish when it comes to fans, and likes to keep his distance. I also suspect that he may actually have a few prejudices about fans in general. (Possibly that’s behind the “no hugs, no flower crowns” thing at the photo shoots… ) I also don’t believe that he really wants to get involved in fandom matters (a wise decision – the less he reacts to fandom issues, the better imo). Maybe he realised that he needed to create a bit of buzz about himself again, especially after the debacle of Berlin Station. And I am also wondering whether he had actually enjoyed Newcastle so much that he decided to create another opportunity for fan encounters… I was not in Newcastle myself, but in hindsight I thought it was remarkable how approachable he appeared there, especially as he was having a tough time in his private life at the same time. Maybe he realised that such occasions are actually a great way to receive validation, feedback and lots of positive energy and thus thought he might try it again.
      Mads really was magnificent. I really, really liked him. I am not quite as irrationally love-struck with him (as I am with RA), but I think he is a fantastic actor, and I very much like and respect him as a person.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Guylty from the little bit of stuff I’ve perused, Mads, Jeremy, Scott, and Aaron seemed the life of the party! They seemed to embrace the fans and really get their groove on! Maybe they are used to it. Maybe events like this come more naturally to them. Hannibal from what I’ve seen besides Richard’s episodes is Mads show. He just lives and breathes that character so well. So for you as a Richard fan to also be able to see these guys was no doubt a huge treat and an extra cherry on top!!


        • All of them have attended cons before, so they knew what was going to happen. Despite having been to ComicCon and Wonder Con, I don’t think RA experienced a smaller, thematically more focussed convention – including the one-man Q&As and the photos and autographs… So he was at a disadvantage to the other guys… especially as he doesn’t seem to be a “happy-go-lucky” type of guy who just goes with the flow… Mads – oh, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand 😂. As did the other guys. I mean, I didn’t know that much about them, but in the end I queued for an hour just to get their autographs too – because they were such great guys.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Guylty, good for you!! I saw some of the pics that they took on line with fannibals and they were darling, delightful and dreamy with arms and hands and hugs and smiles and joking, look positively wonderful!!


              • Guylty if I can ask are you going to show pics of Mads autograph here? Just curious. did you get a pic w him as well or just Richard? If you’ve already mentioned this in pt 1-6, I apologize for the redundant question..


                • No need to apologise, Michele – the saga is so long, even *I* have trouble remembering what I mentioned where…
                  I’ll show Mads autograph (as well as RA’s and the other guests’), too. And no, I didn’t get a picture with Mads (although I almost did… hehe, but that’s another story…) because as I always say – personally it just really doesn’t mean anything to me to have a picture taken with someone to whom the picture doesn’t mean anything. And definitely not if I have to pay for it. 45 Pounds were just a little bit too steep for a just-for-fun photo…

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Guylty, I don’t blame you one bit for the 45 pounds. I couldn’t go b/c of the three day event, flight, accommodations and jetlag issues. What I love about your blogging on this event is that you write about the ENTIRE event, who you saw, other people you meet stewarding. It is seen from the lens of an observer, photographer and story teller. So for myself and your other readers who could not go, you allow us to be there with you through this blog! Looking forward to pt 8 soon!!


  7. As someone who has never attended a Con before, I really appreciate the detailed accounts that you and Kate have shared describing your experiences at RDC5. You give such a warm personal glimpse into the excitement of the event and the extra special bonus of sharing it with a new found friend -someone that you connected with instantly, to boot. I can’t help but wonder if one reason he signed up for this event had something to do with knowing how much the disappointment of his exit from BS would be felt by his fans. With new projects in the works it makes sense he would be open to connecting with fans as a gesture of good will. It seems like the Q&A was more in his comfort zone of interaction with fans- but the pictures and autographs not so much. I mean just the thought of taking pictures and signing your name hundreds of times for hours has to be a bit overwhelming…and hard work. On the plus side he got an awful lot of great exposure with all the happy (mostly) fan reactions on Twitter. Thanks again for sharing your 1st day and I’m looking forward to the next installment (sorry for the long winded comment)😬


    • Thanks D, and glad that you are enjoying the long, drawn-out report 😉
      That’s a very interesting idea re. RA deciding to go to a con in order to console his fans over the BS debacle. I definitely think that his renewed desire to meet his fans is a gesture of goodwill. Maybe also because he has seen that his fans are actually very loyal and very happy to support the causes he is championing. I don’t think he would ever try to take advantage of that, and at the con he very much gave the impression that he is not interested in crowd-funding at all, but maybe he has learnt that it is valuable in other ways to be supported by the audience…
      You know, autographs and photo shoots are definitely work. (Not sure about hard, but definitely work.) And he really made an effort there. I have a lot to say about that – and will try and do so today in a blog post (if I don’t get work coming in…)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Richard Armitage tangentially related | Me + Richard Armitage

Let me know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.