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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‘Mensch’ Gregory

I mentioned Gregory Peck in my last Armitage challenge post and it got me thinking that it’s been ages since I saw any Gregory Peck movies (Roman Holiday excepted, I still dip into that one on occasion). So, before I wrote that challenge post, but when I was already thinking about the answers, I re-watched To Kill a Mockingbird. It is the famous story of a Southern lawyer in the 1930s defending a black man falsely accused of raping a white girl. The story is told from the point of view of Atticus’ daughter, Scout…

Gregory Peck received an Oscar for this role, he is as a true ‘Mensch’ (Yiddish for a man of decency, honesty, warmth and integrity) in this!

I love the character of Atticus and I love Gregory Peck as Atticus even though for me this so highly acclaimed film can’t quite live up to the book. The book is richer than a two-hour movie adaptation of it ever could be… Still, it is a good adaptation and Gregory is quite excellent in this! People have always said that Gregory Peck, the man, was very much like Atticus Finch, and that idea fills me with even more joy.

Next, I went on to watch one of my other favourites of his called The Big Country, which is a very different kind of Western. Peck plays a captain who comes out west to marry the daughter (Carroll Baker) of a rancher but won’t be bullied into macho ways and refuses to be drawn into a feud between his fiancée’s father and a neighbouring rancher… The daughter finds it hard to accept the ‘cowardly’ behaviour of her intended, while the schoolteacher friend (Jean Simmons) does seem to ‘get’ it and tries to help the daughter see it. Charlton Heston also stars in this movie as the right hand man of the fiancée’s dad and much more suited to her than Gregory’s character; Burl Ives plays the family’s rival rancher… I love this story of a good man staying true to himself and I love the chemistry between Gregory Peck and Jean Simmons in this (click on images to enlarge)…

Yes, Gregory is a real ‘Mensch’ in this one too!

I have also been updating my Peck collection with some movies I had never seen before. In the old days when I was a big fan it was difficult to get my hands on those movies and in later years I never really tried… until now.

So last night I found myself watching a movie of his called Captain Newman MD. I’d read good things about it but had never seen it before and I don’t think people even remember this movie anymore. Admittedly, it is a little uneven to be one of the true classics but even so, I was quite impressed with it!

Peck plays an army psychiatrist at the end of WWII, tending to men who are driven over the edge from the horrors of war. He also constantly needs to defend his patients against the prejudice of mental illness, many tend to equal that to weakness of character. He is a real Mensch for his patients and the people around him and also struggles himself, dealing with all he experiences (he even gets drunk in one quite amusing scene).

The movie is not only tragic, it is funny as well. Captain Newman has an un-orthodox way of gathering staff for his unpopular ward. Tony Curtis plays such a ‘hi-jacked’ orderly who turns out to fill his new role with gusto and is responsible for the bigger laughs of the movie. Angie Dickinson plays a nurse that Newman recruits in his unorthodox way as well. His patients include Eddie Albert (who was also the photographer in Roman Holiday), Robert Duvall in an early role (he also played Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird!) and singer Bobby Darin, who won a supporting actor Oscar nomination for this role.

In one scene Darin is drugged and tells the doctor the harrowing story of his trauma. Darin does that very well, but what totally mesmerized me was Gregory Peck just reacting to it all… He doesn’t say anything, just reacts. I think it’s one of the best acting performances I have ever seen him give!

Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (7)

He holds the soldier after the tale is told, then puts him down to bed again. The look on his face is just heartbreaking…

Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (11)Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (15)

… and then he stares wordlessly out through the shutters…

Captain Newman MD Gregory Peck (16)

Just… wow! He also questions the wisdom of patching up the men, only to send them off to war again, to destruction and possible new trauma or death… Not all the patients he treats have a happy end and I think the humour in the movie is meant to counterbalance the tragedy. The movie ends on a tragic and a happy note as well. I have to say, I really laughed when at the Christmas party at the end a group of Italian ‘POW’s perform ‘Hava Nagila’, which they think is an old American (i.e. Indian) song.

And the absolute joy on Gregory Peck’s face as he claps along to it, makes up for some of the tragedy…

I’m so glad I finally got to see this! I know I’ll be going back to it again.

Next up: re-watching Gentleman’s Agreement, a movie Peck made in 1947 about a journalist posing as a Jewish man so he can learn about anti-Semitism! I remember it being quite good, an early Mensch-Gregory example, but it has been years and years since I’ve seen it. I wonder how it will hold up for me when I see it again…

For me right now it seems that Gregory Peck is filling a certain “Mensch-void” that I see around me when I look at certain public figures in the world today. Looking at him in his Mensch-roles makes me feel a little better in these divisive times. I just hope there are still enough like him out there in the world today…

The RA Challenge, part 4

And it’s the final part too (following on from parts 1, 2 and 3) of Guylty’s RA Challenge! Questions 25 to 31…

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#25 Favourite Object/Prop in Context with a Character

The only object/prop that has prompted its own blog post on here was Daniel Miller’s bike on Berlin Station! Loved seeing Richard speed around on that bike. I felt it wasn’t featured enough on the show…

#26 Favourite Costume worn by RA

While researching this, I came to the conclusion that I like Richard to look grungy and scruffy in his roles! I first thought I’d answer Thorin Oakenshield here…

Thorin Oakenshield

…because I find that, although he looks fierce and magnificent, there is a huggable quality there as well! But in researching pictures of Richard in different roles (oh the chore!), I find that the costume that does something to my insides is Richard as John Proctor! I love him in that black coat with the collar standing up…

…or when he is seen without coat but with the linen shirt…

…or with no shirt at all (I even like the boots!)…

armitage proctor @washbasin

I also really liked him in civilian clothes as John Porter in Strike Back, especially in the first two episodes where he wore a scarf as well…

… and when his jacket came off, he then showed himself quite nicely in just jeans and a dirty, grungy t-shirt. The flimsy t-shirt shows off his physique and arms very well…

#27 Favourite Quote by a Character or RA

I don’t think I have a favourite Richard-quote, I’m not really one to remember quotes off the top of my head. Having said that, a few do spring to mind: “Look back at me”, or “You’ll not guess where I have been”, or “You don’t need Henry to explain”, or “You coming home with me?”, all of them from North and South. Yeah, I may have watched it too often…

Another quote that springs to mind is something he was quoted as saying in an interview once: “I was a beanpole with a nose I hadn’t grown into.”

#28 Favourite Climax (i.e. series finale, battle, conclusion of a subplot, etc.)

Well, I guess I just referenced it in the previous question. There are many climaxes that I liked that hit home with me, like the ending of The Crucible or Thorin dying in The Hobbit, John Porter rescuing the journalist in Strike Back or Harry proposing to Geraldine on The Vicar of Dibley. However, the climax I have watched most, hands down, is that train station finale of North and South. I really can’t count how often I have seen that, more than anything else in my life, I think! And it never gets old!

#29 A Moment That Made You Question Whether You Could Continue Fangirling For RA.

I was on a high when I discovered Richard in North and South and soon after I became very aware him, he also did Dibley and The Impressionists. I was Richard-obsessed at the time! But then he also did Guy of Gisborne on Robin Hood and Lucas North in Spooks and those characters really couldn’t entice me! I saw bits to start with but didn’t enjoy the shows and bailed. I postponed watching them for the longest time (even longer than I postponed watching the last 4 episodes of Berlin Station). I did later see things in Guy and Lucas that I found appealing, bits of Richard shining through, perhaps, but in those years (2008-2010 or so) I thought my Richard-obsessed days might be over. He was my fave (I’d still watch every interview and read every article and Christmas message) but not more or less so than my other fave Colin Firth. Then he did Strike Back and my attention was back into full-blown force. So much so, that he overtook Firth in my attention yet again and he has remained firmly in first place ever since!

#30 Will Anything Ever Replace RA in your Admiration?

When I was 15 I thought no one could surpass Gregory Peck…

When I was 30, I thought no one could surpass Colin Firth…

Now in my mid-forties, I think no one can surpass Richard Armitage!

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But who knows what the future may bring? Never say never, but I can’t imagine surpassing feeling this level of involvement that I feel with Richard.

#31 What Would You Like to Say to RA Right Now?

I saw your latest tweet…

Armitage Farber tweets

Does this mean the London stage Oedipus and Antigone is happening at the beginning of 2018? I’ll so be there!

The End!

This challenge certainly deserved its name, finding answers to the questions was not always easy but it was always fun. Thanks Guylty! 🙂

More fangirling in London!

Well, not only fangirling, we mostly did touristy stuff… As I already blogged about in my previous post, my 15 year old son and I were in London this past weekend and what a lovely time we had!

We went inside Tower Bridge and walked on the glass floor there, looking down!

My son was fearless about that and while I did do it briefly, I found it scary. But I did it – yay me! We also saw the engine room…

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… and when we finished our tour, we were greeted by a cannon salute across the river!

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OK, so the salute wasn’t for us but for the Queen’s 91st birthday. Still, we felt honoured. 🙂

We passed through Westminster…

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… and went on to Portobello Road in Notting Hill…

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… which was also a bit of fangirling for me as it reminded me of the lovely movie Notting Hill. The Notthing Hill thing was a spontaneous idea; if I had thought of it sooner, I would have researched it better and would have fangirled my way to Hugh Grant’s front door from that movie.

That evening my son and I went to see The Lion King musical, which we both very much enjoyed (we had a good view from the front row of the Grand Circle)…

While we were walking to the theatre, we passed by Covent Garden and walked by a street artist/comedian getting ready to do his thing. The street artist looked straight at my son and in his microphone announced “Ah, there we have Justin Bieber”! I had to laugh and the whole crowd turned to look at my son as we scurried along and my son turned beet-red! He has been compared to a younger Justin Bieber before and he hates it… I know I’m probably an awful mother but I have ribbed him about this incident regularly and in hindsight he now also has started seeing some of the humour in it.  He still insists he looks nothing like Bieber, though. 🙂

We shopped a bit in Oxford Street and also met up with fellow Richard Armitage fan Hariclea from the Opera is Magic blog on Saturday afternoon! We met at “Fortnum and Mason” and had ice cream ‘coupes’ at the ice cream parlour on the first floor! Beautiful, delicious, filled our stomachs right up! So much so, that my son felt a little sick there for a moment! Luckily he recovered quickly. It’s always a delight to see Hari and it was so much fun that I forgot to take pictures of our beautiful ice cream creations! The only picture I took was of two teacups priced at £145,- while waiting for Hari…

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Hari and I may have mentioned Richard Armitage a few times in passing but didn’t get too carried away in the presence of my son. That evening, as Hari went off to the theatre, my son and I went to see the Scarlett Johannson scifi movie Ghost in the Shell in a Leicester Square theatre with a truly huge screen. The movie was not the greatest scifi movie I’d ever seen, but it was quite fun and had nice visual effects.

We spent our Sunday on Hampstead Heath. We walked there for a bit, my son even climbed a tree…

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… we got up to Kenwood House (also a Notting Hill film location, by the way!)…

… and treated ourselves to some delicious scones (this had been something my son had particularly wished for).

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Later that afternoon we made our way back to the airport and flew home again. But I didn’t leave London without some specific fangirl items!

I’ve bought a DVD of a Gregory Peck movie I came across that I have always wanted to see but have never been able to…

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I’m not that much into Westerns but, come on, it’s Gregory Peck, my first real teenage fangirl crush!

At Kenwood House I bought the book Belle that accompanies the excellent movie of the same name, about a black young lady who lived as a lady and not as a servant in Kenwood House in the 18th century. She was also featured in a painting that was painted at the time but alas that painting is not at Kenwood anymore and is now somewhere in Scotland. I had seen the film, I now saw the book and grabbed it for myself…

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And, I did some more Jane Eyre fangirling when, in a bookstore, I happend upon a book with this title…

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I immediately recognized it as the first sentence from the last chapter of Jane Eyre and just had to have it, especially considering we will be visiting writer Charlotte Brontë’s house this coming summer.

Last but not least, there was Audrey Hepburn fangirling as well! I came across this POP doll of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s  and just couldn’t let it go…

So, yes, London is a great place to fangirl; it makes me feel greedy when I see all these goodies together even though they all didn’t cost that much. London is also a great place to spend time with my son! He picked out pretty much all our activities (Portobello Road and meeing Hari were my picks, the rest were his) and I loved that one-on-one time with him. I think that, except for my snoring at night, he enjoyed his time with me as well. We’ll definitely be back!

I love glasses!

I wear glasses, have worn them ever since I was 11. I always refused to get lenses, that always looked like too much trouble and work, and glasses are easy. You wipe them clean and put them on your nose and you’re done. Yeah, there are down sides, like when you go to a swimming pool, or when you bike in the rain, but mostly I like them… no… I actually love a nice pair of glasses on a woman or a man! For me personally I feel bare and less attractive without glasses than with them. I have always refused to accept that anyone could be deemed less attractive just because they wear glasses. I hate these makeover movies where a girl with glasses gets made over without glasses and suddenly she is beautiful. One of the reasons why I liked one of my fave Hallmark movies Cloudy with a Chance of Love is that the heroine starts out with glasses, gets made over without glasses to look ‘more beautiful’ but in the end returns back to glasses again and that the guy actually prefers her that way!

I have multifocals now and two years ago my husband started wearing glasses as well… we’re in our forties, it happens. He doesn’t need his all the time but wears them often enough and I just love it.

So, with my soft spot for glasses, I was thrilled when earlier this week somewhat blurry pictures appeared of Richard Armitage wearing them too! He too is in his forties and for him too this happens. I’ve loved seeing him wear glasses on The Vicar of Dibley, even though it was only briefly…

… I didn’t really like Into the Storm that much but I admit to watching the beginning of the movie over and over again when he briefly wears glasses as well…

Of course we have seen Richard in sunglasses often enough…

… but to know that he needs them (for reading at least) in real life really thrills me in a way! I find it sexy. Alas the pictures of him wearing them at the Berlin Station read-through aren’t that clear (I cropped the pictures here)…

… so I am hoping that in the future we will get more and better Richard Armitage wearing glasses pictures! Maybe he can re-enact this cool one of Gregory Peck… yeah, these are not ‘real’ glasses but sunglasses, but still I just love this picture!

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