Bon anniversaire Richard, de Nantes

Je suis en vacances à France et hier nous avons visité Nantes. (That’s about all the French I can do, I even had to google the word for yesterday). And today Richard Armitage turns 50! So, from here, near Nantes, I wish him a very happy birthday! He has shared a fun birthday video (love the glee in his face at his own jokes)…

“Party on” he says at the end of the video…

… and that’s exacty what we’ve been doing, of sorts.

Yesterday (as I said in French above) we visited Nantes. It was a rainy, dreary day, so we didn’t get into town until late in the day (about 4pm). We wanted to be able to see at least a little bit before partying on and meeting up with a Richard Armitage fandom friend.

We couldn’t park in the garage we had wanted to as the police had closed off some roads.

We briefly spoke to a policeman who told us in French that there was a demonstration happening (we later heard the demonstration was about protesting Covid measures, we didn’t see any of the protesters ourselves). He then shrugged his shoulders and said “La France…” with a wry look on his face as if that explained everything. Cracked me up.

We found another garage, then had to wait out the worst of the rain underneath the parasol of a café next to the Chateau, and then were able to walk around Nantes for a bit, which included seeing the awesome ship sculpture Lady Butterfly had blogged about a little while ago.

Then, at 7pm, the ‘party’ began when we met up with Lady Butterfly and her partner for dinner. I don’t know Agnès, aka Lady Butterfly, well but we comment occasionally on each other’s blogs and as she lives in Nantes and I was visiting there anyway, it felt like a no-brainer to meet up. I do know she likes Richard Armitage (hence the initial connection) but, just from reading her blogs (her photography blog and her books, arts and culture blog – I admit to using Google translate a lot while reading the second) it is clear she has many other interests too.

I think we can safely say that Mr Esther, mini me and I immediately hit it off with Agnès and Monsieur Agnès, getting to know each other a little better and just having a jolly good time. Luckily their English is way better than our French, so we really were able to chat away. There was a little bit of Armitage and blog discussion but mostly we talked about all sorts of other things, getting to know each other better. We spent close to 3 hours at a delicious Indian restaurant Agnès had picked for us in the centre of Nantes and it was difficult for mini me to capture a decent picture of us through all the chatting…

I was planning to not to blog for a bit but as it is Richard’s birthday today and as I wanted to share our enthusiasm about Nantes and the people we met there yesterday, I couldn’t resist putting these words on the screen.

So: Bon Anniversaire, Richard Armitage! People in the 50+ club know how to enjoy life (these pictures of us two 50+ ladies should be proof of that), so you’ll be in good hands here. 🙂 Et à bientôt Agnès et Monsieur Agnès!

Remembering Christine

This morning, just before I headed out the door for a bit, I saw a very sad message cross my Twitter timeline…

…and I couldn’t believe it! It seemed to me that I had only just read new messages from Christine on Twitter and now she’s gone! It seems unreal. Now that I’m home again, I have time to say a little more of what is in my mind and heart.

I briefly met Christine almost three years ago during the Newcastle International Film Festival (NIFF). We were both there to see Richard Armitage in Urban and the Shed Crew. In fact, the picture in this tweet above is taken from a little video I filmed there. I didn’t know Christine very well as I am not very active on Twitter but apparently she read my blog and she reacted to me on Twitter at the time when I blogged and tweeted about going to NIFF on March 31st in 2018. She was a Geordie and, even though I didn’t know her, she was instantly kind and sharing and gave me some helpful tips about Newcastle, she even suggested we might run into each other at the festival despite us never really having spoken before. While waiting in line for the Richard Armitage Q&A event at the Mining Institute I thought I recognized her from her descriptions, waiting not far ahead of me. We chatted for a bit and then I rejoined my group as we were let in.

The second half of the evening we went to the Biscuit Factory to see the screening of Urban and the Shed Crew. There were drinks beforehand with Richard briefly present as well and there was another Q&A and a meet and greet afterwards. I ran into Christine again there. Christine had gone up to Richard and had asked him to film a message for her friend Jane, another fellow fan, who was ill and not able to come to Newcastle and Christine asked me to film that message with my phone. I gladly did. She was so kind and selfless, she didn’t want to ‘spoil’ the video with herself in it but Richard would luckily have none of that, he asked her to come and be in the video with him. Jane was of course extremely happy when Christine sent her that video and I was struck by how sweet she was to have organized this for her friend. Christine shared that video on Twitter herself several times (the last time here, back in July this year), so I feel comfortable enough to share it here as well…

Here are some lovely pictures of Christine from that evening with Richard Armitage (click to enlarge). I know she especially cherished the memory of Richard’s arm on her shoulder and also the kindness he showed that evening. Her heart opened up his heart to the camera and I have always loved this little video because of all the warmth it exudes.

After Newcastle Christine remained an online friend, reacting on occasion to my blog posts on Twitter and I’d react to her Twitter posts on occasion. She was always gracious, funny, kind, smart and warm. I was always struck by how open her heart was and how quickly she treated everyone like they were her good friend or next door neighbour, whether she was reacting to famous people on Twitter or just us normal, mortal fellow Armitage fans. She was sometimes outspoken (in a good way) in her political and social views and always seemed to speak from the heart, with empathy and attention for the more vulnerable amongst us in society.

I knew she had health problems but I had no idea her situation was so tricky for her to suddenly (to me, anyway) pass away. For me, her memory will always be tied to that special, lovely video we made in Newcastle and I will miss her humour and warmth and kindness online in the fandom. Her memory will truly be a blessing, may she rest in peace.

Modified to add that Nell has also paid a lovely tribute to Christine over on her blog Nellindreams (in German).

The end of an era

I read in a blog post on More Than Thornton that the C19 message board is closing! I logged in to C19 and sure enough, there was the announcement from a month ago. Oh man, that truly is the end of an era.

When North & South first aired in the fall of 2004, the BBC message boards famously crashed because of an overwhelming desire of fans to talk about that adaptation and, more specifically, about who the hell that man was who had played John Thornton!

When I first watched North & South myself in the spring of 2006, I too quickly developed a thirst for knowledge about all things Richard Armitage. In my online search I soon came across C19, requested and was granted membership, and my quenching of that thirst could begin, with all the wealth of information right there. I just checked, I registered at C19 back in April of 2006 (under a pseudonym)…

I was mostly a lurker at first, then did comment some, but always stayed in the background in the Richard Armitage sections. I did become more active in other sections for a little while, apparently I have 519 comments/posts to my name, but in time it all just ebbed away and I stopped going there, finding other places and sources of information and, more importantly, I started my own little bubble with this blog.

Over the years, I would on occasion go back to lurk and read up on news and see how people reacted to certain projects. In recent years I have maybe logged in 2-3 times a year and while I hardly ever popped in anymore, it was always nice knowing that C19 was there. Of all the message boards I frequented (there were a few) this one has always been my go-to one. And now it is closing down on November 2nd…

Even though I am sorry for the small community that still goes there, I do understand the decision and I am grateful to those who have put in the hard work of keeping it going all these years. May everyone stay safe, well and happy and continue the fangirling in other places. Thank you for the good times, C19!

Guess I really am part of the AA

My name is Esther and I’m a Richard Armitage fan. I should say well-wisher, by decree of Mr. A himself once long ago, but I won’t. So, I’m a fan but only in a semi-public capacity. I don’t gush daily about him (I am over the really gushy stage and have been for years), I don’t tweet that much about him or even write that much about him, I don’t participate in Richard message boards or social media banter and I keep away from fandom drama as much as I can (in fact, I’m quite obtuse and barely notice a lot of it). Privately, I don’t constantly pour over his pictures, or read articles and fanfic, or watch fan videos, or scour the internet for more info and I don’t re-watch his work that much anymore either. I completely skip the audiobooks and it nowadays also takes me quite a long time to actually watch some of his other newer projects (they are not always for me, although, for what it is, I did quite like The Stranger and found My Zoe alright as well, but I have not seen The Lodge and Castlevania seasons 2 and 3 yet).

With all this, you may wonder if I even would still call myself a fan and the answer is, yes, I would. I still love the man from afar, he remains my favourite even if I’m not always vocal about it and I can still get excited about something like winning a Richard Armitage shrine (to add to the few fan items I already have and really cherish) or finding a new interview. Something in his acting and in the way he comes across (warts and all) really connects with me and I am always interested in what he has to say and what he’ll be doing next. His pictures cross my Twitter timeline daily, I am thankful to more active fans who keep up with news so well, I read some Armitage blogs (but even my fave RA blogs don’t blog about him all the time, which I like, as there is more to life than just Richard) and I will on occasion even travel to see him live.

In short, I do my fangirling in my own way (sometimes detached, sometimes immersed) and in my own little bubble here on blog. I also engage a teeny tiny bit on Twitter so that I can stay up to speed with news and that’s it. So, I don’t think my profile is that large or noticeable and until today I think I have stayed under the radar well enough and was never targeted as an Armitage fan by fake Richard Armitage accounts before. But here you have it: today, during my lunch break, I saw that “Richard Armitage” has finally deemed it time to follow me on Twitter!

I have reported the account as fake but oh my goodness, does this mean that after having fangirled over Richard for 14 years, I am now officially part of the ‘Armitage Army’? I’m always wary of being labeled as one thing and I certainly don’t want to be part of an army! I love the man but he is not my ‘commander in chief’ – I fear I’ll be a disobedient soldier because he can’t command me to do anything (no one can, not even my most beloved husband) and I certainly won’t take everything he says or does as gospel to be followed. This Twitter follow makes me realize that I am more part of a wider fan group than I saw myself to be. The Armitage bots (or whoever makes these fake accounts) have finally found me!

So, all this to say – I guess I am now recognized more widely online as an Armitage fan, ‘Richard’ followed me and I have reported him. 🙂 Does this make the Richard-Esther connection more real now? I’m not sure how I feel about that.

(Yes, this is the ringtone that plays every time my phone rings)

(Been typing at this blog post off and on, in between work, since lunch. This means I need to work later than I usually do to catch up again. See? I’m fan enough that Richard Armitage can distract me from work.)

RA Blog reunion day & hugs

Natazukii, over on Twitter, has organized a Richard Armitage blog reunion day for May 29th! That’s a cool idea, thank you for that, Nat. 🙂 It just became May 29th here in The Netherlands an hour ago, so off I go with my post before I head to bed.

Natazukii’s blog was one of the blogs I used to frequent way back when because I loved all her “Stick-figure Richard” drawings. At that time I didn’t interact or react on message boards or blogs but I did really enjoy reading them. I became an Armitage fan back in 2006 but I was a ‘loner fan’, lurking on the C19 message board, where a lot of Richard discussion was happening, on websites, a few other message boards as the fandom split into more factions, and later on blogs as they popped up. Those blogs inspired me to start writing my own blog around 6 years ago. Mine is not solely dedicated to Richard, never has been, but he still pops up a lot and still remains my favourite actor.

So, if you ask, what I’ve been up to, all I can say is that I’m still happily married, the kids are getting big (18 and 16 now), I’m still working (albeit from home during this Corona crisis) and I’ve also been happily blogging. I’m still an Armitage fan but I also love very many other things that I blog about. I’m a late bloomer, always have been, so when I did finally start to blog, many of the Armitage bloggers I’d been reading were starting to slow down or stop. I don’t devour as obsessively anymore as I used to but I’m still pretty caught up with all the Armitage news and I’m still keeping out of fandom bust ups when they do happen (and they’ve been happening since the early days).

So, with nothing really interesting to report, I thought I’d just send out some lovely Richard Armitage hugs instead. Here goes…

… and then look forward to reading the blogs today during this reunion thing. I’ll be working, but hopefully in the afternoon/evening will have time to catch up. Here’s to the good old days and to all the wonderful Richard Armitage bloggers out there who made me want to become a blogger too. Thank you!