My latest brush with fame!

I’ve had a few brushes of contact with famous people in my life. Not many, but some!

My first brush with fame was when I was a 4 year old girl living in Jerusalem and the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, Max van der Stoel, came to visit. They wanted a small Dutch kid to present him with flowers and my parents were approached for this, I think through the mayor’s office. My dad and the mayor knew each other through the work my dad did. I actually remember this occasion! I was very excited beforehand, I remember wearing a light blue dress, but when the time came, I got too shy and my dad had to help me hand over the flowers. That’s Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek grinning in the far left of the picture, Van der Stoel with the flowers and dark-rimmed glasses, shy me with hands in my mouth and on the right my dad, grinning wildly after he helped me hand over the flowers.

Max van der Stoel

When I was 15, I briefly met German president Richard von Weizsäcker once when he visited my dad’s office in Germany in support of the work my dad did in Jewish-Christian dialogue (you can see the back of my dad on the left in this picture)…

1985 Von Weizsäcker in Buber House

Another famous man my dad worked with a lot and whom we saw on occasion was the former Archbishop of Canterbury from 1974-1980, Lord Donald Coggan. Donald Cogggan was a very special and warm man, modest, smart and funny. He used to call my younger brother and sister and me his ‘scallywags’ and there is one picture of us that I treasure…

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Another brief moment of contact with a famous person is with Gregory Peck, although I never met him personally. I had once written him a fan letter (the one and only one I have ever written) and requested an autograph from him. I never heard back, gave up on it, until two or so years later I finally received a response! I got an autographed picture, along with a note of apology. Apparently a bag of fan mail had been misplaced, which is why it had taken so long for me to get a response! That autographed picture has gotten lost in this house somewhere and I am still determined to find it, along with the note and the envelope it came in. The picture that was signed looked like this one (found this image on Ebay):Gregory Peck autographWhen I was 22, I went to a book signing in a bookstore here in The Netherlands and briefly met Peter Ustinov! He signed his book for me, which I was getting for my birthday on that day. Esje is my family’s nickname for me and I can’t remeber why I would have told Mr Ustinov that. I do remember him being very personable, maybe he asked if I had a nickname? It’s too long ago, I can’t remember…

I have of course met Richard Armitage briefly at the stage door in London in 2014 and have autographed items and a picture to help me remember that…

I have caught a glimpse of Pierce Brosnan up close and personal and he signed a picture my friend, a huge Brosnan fan, had…

I have spent an evening in the company of Michael Palin, listening to him talk about Ernest Hemingway and, a few months later, received a personally autographed book from him that my husband had gotten for me for my birthday!

And this past summer, I even briefly met and chatted with Lord Charles Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother. He also signed a book for us (but it’s also made out to my husband, so I won’t post a picture of that here, Mr Esther’s real name is not for this blog).

My greatest brush with someone famous on the internet was when actress Sara Wiseman, who plays Carolyn on A Place To Call Home, liked my retweet of her tweet on Valentine’s Day 2016 and I was stoked about that…

Sara Wiseman tweet like 14-02-2016

And now today, two and a half hours ago, I discovered my latest brush with fame: Marta Dusseldorp, lead actress playing Sarah on A Place to Call Home, actually RETWEETED my tweet of yesterday in which I gush about APTCH season 5! Holy crap, I swear my heart stopped for a moment when I saw that! I never aim to have likes, replies or god forbid, retweets of any kind, but this one certainly has me stoked! Here, a screenshot from my phone when I discovered it!

Marta Dusseldorp retweet

So, thank you Marta Dusseldorp for making my day! And may we enjoy your talents for a long, long time to come!

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Mirthfully Firthfully

While searching for something in a drawer this morning, I unexpectedly came across something else that I had printed out from the internet on August 22nd, 1996 (!!) when I was well into my first year of Colin Firth fangirling. These were the early days of internet and fan sites and in my craze to know anything and everything about Colin Firth (he had just come to fame less than a year before, with Pride and Prejudice) I frequented a website called “Friends of Firth”. The website is long gone (I can’t remember when or the circumstances surrounding the end of it), but apparently I had printed the terminology that was invented there. It was called ‘A Firthian Lexicon’ and reading it again, 20 years on, has given me great amusement! So, I thought I’d just share some of the highlights from the lexicon here; it was clearly compiled at the height of Colin-Firth-as-Mr-Darcy-mania. 🙂

In the lexicon Friends of Firth is described as: “A group of focused, erudite, conversant individuals dedicated to the discussion and appreciation of the performances of Colin Firth.” I can subscribe to that! 🙂 Without further ado, terms from that list:

Firthland – The official Firthdom with boundaries that extend world-wide.

Colinist – An inhabitant of said province entitled to all privileges thereof.

Colinaneous – A state of being when a colinist can only see “a pair of fine eyes”

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Mr Darcy admiring Elizabeth Bennet’s ‘fine eyes’ to the surprise of Miss Bingley.

Colinatopia – a place where colinists are transported to when viewing the object of their affection.

Firthaholics Anonymous – A 12-step program that is never completed because the participant eagerly jumps off the wagon on the 11th step.

Firth-a-surf-aholic – One who surfs the net in search of pleasure (Colin) instead of business.

Firth Control – The ability to wait patiently for articles, videos, books and list-mail concerning CF.

Firthfully – Loyalty to the Firthdom and the object of our affections.

Firthis Colinitis – High fever caused by not watching Colin for more than a day. Curable by repeated showings of Pride and Prejudice (uncut version).

P&P dvd cover

Firthless (in Seattle) – Not having had a Firth-fix in approximately 1-3 days.

Firthmount – Any steed or mount that has the privilege to be ridden by CF.

Firthology – The comprehensive study of Colin Firth, i.e. films, videos, moles, dimples, thighs, etc…   Not sure about the moles but here are dimples:

And I always loved Colin’s long legs in this P&P scene:

Darcy & Elizabeth Pemberley stroll

Firthopath – A colinist infected by CF, causing occasional mental instability.

Firthophile – A colinist, firthian or firthlander completely obsessed in thought, word and deed.

Firthstration – The mood when not able to access information, pictures or videos.

Firth-weary – Any spouse subjected to multiple screenings of Pride and Prejudice or the complete list of CF films.

Mirthfully Firthfully – Any laughter that bubbles over while reading fantasies submitted by the Firthland School of Creative Writing

Schizofirthic – Someone who can’t decide if they like Darcy or Colin Firth.

Ah, fandom can be so much fun! 🙂

The Brussels adventure

This past January my husband and I had the 25th anniversary of our first kiss and to celebrate a quarter of a century together (that sounds sooooo long!) he and I went away, just the two of us, to Brussels for 3 days (2 nights).  We decided to do it the unstressed way: go by train! The journey is only 2.5 hours from where we live and we only had to change trains once. The kids were looked after by friends, so there were no worries there, and we were off last Thursday morning. This is what it looked like just after we boarded the train to Brussels. Coffee for Mr Esther, tea for me, cakes and reading material… Yes, good start to our mini-break!

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We arrived in Brussels and walked to the street our hotel was in (right bang in the historical center!), had a late lunch, checked in to our hotel and then started walking… and walking… and walking… We walked by ‘Manneken Pis’ (yeah, world famous small fountain statue of a little boy peeing)…

… walked some more…

… and popped into a church where I lit a candle for my dad and which also turned out to be Heraldry-heaven for Mr Esther (the man loves medieval history and is a heraldry specialist, a fangirl of sorts, if you will)…

… we walked on and on till we got to the royal palace, which is the Belgian king’s work place…

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… walked from there back into the old town, with a lovely view as we came down…

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… we stopped for drinks then walked on to finally visit a high point: the market square with old city hall and beautiful old buildings surrounding it (click on images to enlarge)…

It’s a gorgeous square, it’s probably the best cared for part of Brussels. Our hotel was situated about a minute minute away from this location. This was our breakfast room view, by the way…

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Our feet were already getting very tried at the end of that first day. We went to the hotel room, freshened up and then went off to dinner and a movie after (Silence – slow moving Martin Scorsese movie about Portugese Jesuit monks in 17th century Japan – 3 people walked out during it, but Mr Esther and I found it totally engrossing).

Friday, the second day, we walked even more… We visited the cathedral (again, click to enlarge)…

… and, as we are Europeans at heart, we walked on to where the European Union administration is situated. The European Commission building is freakishly huge (these pictures don’t even begin to show that)…

… outside that building there is also a piece of the Berlin Wall with a text on the history of that eyesore and how since that was torn down European unity has grown…

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… we walked by the European Parliament buildings…

Outside the parliament building there was a tree decorated in a crocheted work of art. I have no idea what that is about but we found it amusing…

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We walked through more streets closer to the old center where our hotel also was…

… and in less touristy parts of Brussels, we also came across an occasional house painted with interesting illustrations (again, click to enlarge)…

Speaking of cartoon characters, we also came across this sign in a park, asking Pokemon character searchers to keep off the grass as the grass had just been re-planted. Apparently massive amounts of Pokemom game players had trampled the grass before…

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Of course, by the end of the day our feet were just about dead and we sat for quite a while sipping wine (me) and special beer (Mr Esther) in the old market square…

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We moved from there to a restaurant and later back to the square again for more beer. The square was beautifully lit after dark…

Saturday, our last day in Brussels, we spent at the museum, seeing an exhibition on famous Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte. Alas, his most famous works weren’t there, but he sure made some really wonderful less famous paintings too!

In the same museum we also strolled through the beautiful medieval paintings section…

Alas, we were too tired to go on to the 19th / early 20th century paintings that I had also wanted to see; we skipped that in favour of a café (and more beer and wine) before taking our train and heading back home again.

For me, hardly a trip is complete without fangirling of some sort! And I got to do some on this trip as well! There was no Richard, Colin or latest crush Lucas fangirling but there was the 1920s Magritte painting, that made me think of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries because of the black bob hairstyle (sorry for the fuzzy picture)…

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… and we came across Simon Baker of The Mentalist fame in a Longines watches ad in a jewelry store window ( I stared and smiled at that for a while before moving on, the man and his smile are beautiful)…

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Brussels also likes its comic / scifi / fantasy stores… In a store window, for instance, we saw all sorts of wands from Harry Potter characters for sale…

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… and then in another store, which was filled with so much stuff you could hardly move, I decided to search once again for a Pop Thorin figure. I always regretted not getting Pop Thorin at the time The Hobbit movies came out and now they are sold out everywhere and they’re very expensive online. Well, I didn’t find Thorin but then my husband called me over and I saw these two…

20170305_155620… Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy! Granted, not Colin Firth as Darcy but hey, he can pass for it, right? And a kick ass Elizabeth Bennet, who I did enjoy in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. So yeah, I didn’t want to regret not getting Elizabeth Bennet! I bought her first, then the next day decided I’d get Mr. Darcy as well. I want no more Pop-regrets…

And the last bit of fangirling had everything to do with Charlotte Bronte! Jane Eyre is still one of my absolute fave books ever, this coming summer we will be travelling to Haworth Parsonage in Yorkshire where she lived, and yesterday I walked in her footsteps in Brussels! Charlotte Bronte stayed in Brussels for about a year in her mid twenties, learning French at a ‘pensionnat’, a school for girls, and also teaching English there. She also fell in love with the husband of the pensionnat owner, Monsieur Heger, even though nothing ever came of that. She based two books on her Brussels experiences (‘The Professor’ and ‘Vilette’) and Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester is said to have been modelled after Monsieur Heger. The part of Brussels (between the royal palace and the older city) where she lived isn’t there anymore. Now big buildings stand on the street where the pensionnat used to be, the street itself is also gone. On one building (you really have to figure out where to find it, luckily Mr Esther is good at that stuff) there is a plaque commemorating Charlotte and her sister Emily living there…

… and there are steps there that were also there in Charlotte’s time and that she most certainly must have walked on…

When we were at the museum an hour or so later, we saw this painting…

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It’s  the painting of a school children’s parade in Brussels, all these girls are schoolgirls! It was painted quite a few years after Charlotte and Emily left Brussels but I like to imagine that these girls could have been their pupils… or maybe the teacher walking next to these girls was!

We took the train out of Brussels again yesterday at the end of the afternoon and got off at Antwerp to have dinner there before heading home. While in Antwerp station (beautiful building inside!) we sat drinking coffee and chai tea latte while waiting for our next train. This was our view…

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… and yes, it immediately reminded me of one of my favourite flash mob videos ever, which was also the first one I ever saw, I think. A flash mob The Sound of Music ad was filmed in Antwerp station some years ago and still is awesome to watch…

Yep, we had a really wonderful time! It was over all too soon…

Jobs and fangirling…

Good news first: I finally found a job! Due to budget cuts my last job ended at the end of last summer. I have been doing little bits of freelance stuff for my former employer here and there since, but nothing close to what could constitute a real and steady job. I’ve sent many applications and have had quite a few job interviews and finally that has paid off! I had a second interview at an organization I really liked yesterday for a job that will be challenging but I think also fun. They were going to let me know on Thursday but an hour after I left the office I was called and already offered the job! Next week I go in for a 3rd interview to discuss actual salary, working hours, etc. but that shouldn’t be a problem… I still have a few freelance things lined up from my former employer so I hope to start in my actual new job by mid March. Eeek! 🙂

The good thing about being out of work for a while is that I have had more time than ever to fangirl. Hence the time I had to binge-watch 5 seasons of Syfy Channel’s Haven with my new crush Lucas Bryant. Hence the time to make video clips and, yes, today even finish an actual Haven fan video (with plenty of touching and kissing in it, because the only touch Nathan can feel is Audrey’s)…

Laid back life will be over soon… I’ll be back to working 30-32 hours (which I haven’t done in a long time, my former job was 24 hours a week), I’ll continue teaching Dutch 2 hours a week to my Polish and Italian students, I might be doing some more occasional freelance stuff for my former employer, not to mention carving out time for family! I have a fear my fangirling will start to suffer somewhat… Sad in a way (because I really love fangirling!), but I do admit to being happy that I will finally have a steady work-purpose again soon! Not to mention the fact that the extra income will be very welcome again… Yes, times they are a-changing…

Trouble

I always love how watching, listening to or reading something can turn me into a fan of something completely different! A great example is Muse. I watched the Twilight movies a long time ago, which were alright, but I especially liked the music in those movies. One of the bands on the soundtrack was Muse and once I discovered them – well, the rest is history! They are my absolute favourite band now.

I have more examples like that. For instance, the reason A Place To Call Home caught my attention was because it starred Brett Climo who I had liked way back when in The Flying Doctors and now I am smitten with that series. Or the trailer of the movie The Social Network (and I still haven’t watched the actual movie, although I have had the DVD for ages and ages now!) brought my attention to a Belgian women’s choir, who sing covers of pop songs, called Scala & Kolacny Brothers; I have since seen them in concert once a few years ago!

The singer Pink I discovered through a Richard Armitage fan video that I saw in my early RA fan years back in 2007! It was gone from YouTube for a while but then returned. I quite like Pink, we play a greatest hits CD of hers regularly in our car. So, I was watching this fan video again recently for the first time in forever, it is set to Pink’s awesome song Trouble (lots of Guy in this video for the Gisbourne-lovers out there!) …

… and I figured this song would go very well for a Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries fan video as well! In fact, I think several Pink songs would be very fitting for Miss Fisher, but this one stuck in my mind. So, as I make fan videos myself now, I made one to this song!

You can also view it on Vimeo, should YouTube not work for you:

Now I have officially managed to connect my Miss Fisher fangirling to my Richard Armitage fangirling! I am quite pleased with that. 🙂