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May 20th, 2005
By Helen


Meeting Dean Stockwell (Rodette version)

It all started a few months ago, during a conversation on msn with Janine, whom I got to know through Al’s place – the best Quantum Leap community online!

She told me she was going to meet Dean at a science fiction fair in London. I told her I was jealous, asked her for all the details after the event, and thought no more about it.

Then we were casually chatting again a while later, and she told me the venue and date had changed, and that Dean would be in Milton Keynes in May!

Now I turned really green with envy. Dean Stockwell - less than 25 miles from where I live. So near and yet so far! I never dreamed it would be possible for me to go. I know my husband thinks these things are a waste of time and money, and not worth pushing through crowds for.

Yet, wonderfully, incredibly, he said he didn’t mind if I went.

Oh joy, oh thrills, oh boy!

So there and then the excitement and the plans began. I was like a kid looking forward to Christmas.

I figured that Dean must get sick of signing endless photos of himself, especially since he was to be at the fair on all four days, so I set-to to finish a story I began over 10 years ago. (I could have just picked one of my completed Quantum Leap fanfic stories, but this one has a very Al-centered subplot). I don’t usually like writing to deadlines, but it seemed far enough in the future, and the story was already 2/3rds done. So I worked on it every night. With three weeks to go, I just had the final touches to do, about half a page to tie it all up. No sweat. Plenty of time to finish up and edit it, and then get it printed out and bound with laminated covers.

Another temptation was thrust into my path about a week before, when I learned that two of the main actors from Stargate SG1 had been forced to pull out, and that Dean would now take part in the Saturday afternoon talk they had been scheduled to give. Could I push my luck and get to that too? I didn’t think so. My husband had no objection to my attending, provided I could arrange my own transport. I oscillated between no hope and high hopes as two or three friends told me they were going, and may be able to get me a lift. I decided that a second trip would probably be beyond reasonable expectation. So I left it in the hands of fate, rather than setting my heart on it, even though there were a number of questions I would have loved the chance to put to him in the q and a session promised at the end of the talk.

As it turned out, it was indeed an impossible dream, an unreachable star, (pun intended!).

My primary plan went somewhat awry when family problems and poor health put me about two weeks behind schedule. Yet somehow, burning the midnight oil and prevailing on my mother to act as proof reader, I got two copies ready in the nick of time. Phew. Still, I was nervous. In the past it seems that whenever I have looked forward to something this much, some fly in the ointment has come along to spoil it for me.

A quick chat with my old friend Emma and mobile numbers exchanged, we were going to meet up Sunday morning. She is an old hand at these events, whereas I am a complete novice. So she kindly offered to get my ticket for me when she arrived, since she would get there well before me.

The system is a very good one, called ‘Virtual queuing.’ You get a ticket with a number, much like the old meat queue in the supermarket, or when you go for a blood test at the hospital. They call the numbers in batches, and when your batch comes up, you join the queue for the star of your choice. It also means you can ‘simultaneously’ queue for more than one star at a time. That way, if the wait is a long one, you don’t spend hours in the line, but can look around while you wait. Less congestion, less frustration, and more chance for the stalls to make money!

Saturday night found me sleepless. How much was a result of childish eagerness, and how much the fault of the violent thunderstorms staging a noisy concert outside my window I can’t say for sure.

I got up early on Sunday morning, and made breakfast in bed for the family.

A quick check – briefcase packed with printouts, camera checked with fresh new Duracell batteries installed, mobile phone fully charged, the money I’d been saving carefully put into a zip pocket. All ready to go, straight after Church, luckily this is in the right direction.

The traffic was not exactly light, but we made reasonable time, and there were plenty of parking spaces when we got there, much to my surprise. A call to Emma, and ten minutes later we met up outside John Lewis’. The crowds were already building up, and I almost didn’t recognize Em – we haven’t met up in a couple of years, and she has lost weight, which unfortunately I can’t say for me!

Emma had got me ticket number 138, and Dean was already on number 50, so I shouldn’t have too long to wait. The family took off to look around the stalls, and Emma showed me where to get new Quantum Leap T-shirts on a ‘buy one get one free’ offer.

There was a lot to see, as usual, but hard to get near anything for all the people trying to get a bargain and meeting up with old friends who shared their passion for whichever program had brought them. I didn’t care. I wasn’t interested in the stalls this time. I just wanted to be sure I didn’t miss my turn.

So most of the waiting time was spent hovering on the sidelines. Emma met several friends from other conventions and we talked Quantum Leap, from previous meetings with Scott and Dean (which I had no experience of) to our hopes and fears regarding the rumored new movie and spin-off series.

The consensus seems to be that most fans want to see Scott make a guest appearance, and get Sam home, but that they realize new fans will want a younger cast, hence the suggestions that the proposed series will feature Sam’s daughter searching for him in time. One of Emma’s friends had the best take on this that I have heard to date.

"All I want is a good story getting Sam home, and then they can have their "Stallion’s Gate 90210" to keep the youth element happy."

I dipped out of the conversations periodically to check the notice board for Dean’s ticket status. At about 11.10am, the batch was ‘up to 150’. My turn had come at last!

Once in the queue for real, you pay for your autograph and choose a photo. I paid 30 for two, since my best friend Sue was unable to get to the event herself.

Before I had a chance to gather my thoughts, I was there – at the front of the line.

The chap in front was getting an autograph for his sister, whose car had broken down on the way.

I got out my story, both copies, and scribbled hastily in one. With hindsight, I really should have done that at home first, since my hand was shaking so badly it came out very scruffy, but I wanted the impact to go with my comment:

"This is one of my QL fanfic stories. I’m signing a copy for you, would you please sign one for me?"

Yes, I know it is corny, but it made him smile as I hoped.

I passed him both copies. In mine I put "To Dean, whom I admire both as an actor and an individual" and then my signature.

He flicked through his copy, and I told him "I’ve printed it on recycled paper (unwanted printouts from work with one side still usable) because I know you are a keen conservationist."

"How wonderful" Dean replied.

"Where would you like me to sign it?" he asked.

"Anywhere." I stammered.

"I don’t think it will hold on this," he commented, opening up the laminated front cover.

"No," I agreed, "anywhere." I repeated stupidly, as he hovered over the front page. The old dragon that rules the Independent Learning Centre at work with a rod of iron had gone to mush.

He then signed my copy and returned it to me, and I got a photo signed for Sue.

He thanked me for my story, which he patted and pushed only slightly to one side on the table. I told him something like it was an honor to meet him.

I could feel the crowd fidgeting behind me, so I stuffed my prizes back in my briefcase and hastily drew out my camera, which I had used minutes before to take a picture of Emma.

I moved to one side to take my shot – disaster!

The camera was flashing ‘date and time’ and then fizzled.

Despite new batteries the night before, it had died on me.

Dean had paused to look at the lens before moving on to the next person, but I had to mutter a "Sorry, batteries gone," and beat an embarrassed retreat.

The whole encounter probably took less than a minute.

Was I disappointed? A little - especially in my unreliable equipment.

Was it worth it?

You bet!

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