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Twelve Angry Men and One Angry Woman (well not angry really, just embarrassed)
I have been meaning to write this since the weekend; it must be the sinking feeling all this rain is giving me that has prevented me from starting, because the day, my birthday, which was such a brilliant day and which contained such brilliant experiences, was only slightly, but worryingly marred by .... so called .. UNCLE fans ..!

I'll skim over the first part of my birthday ... for all gymnites, I was in the gym at 8 going at it with Jim. No that doesn't sound right .. well you get the idea.
We set off for London straight after, collected the keys for my brother's flat where we were staying the night (it's so wonderful to have a brother with a flat in central London) and then headed off to lunch at this brilliant place in Exmouth Market (lovely bit of London near where brother lives) for lunch. After lunch, straight to the National Gallery for viewing of not one, but two pictures of Van Gogh's Sunflowers. Our one (I say 'our' meaning 'The Nation's one) and another which has been loaned from the museum at Amsterdam. For Sunflower lovers it was total joy.

Then, on to Charing Cross Road, where with superb strategic planning, the theatre proved to be only five minutes away from the National Gallery. However, we were early, so indulged in a little book buying in Blackwells and a rather lovely light dinner of Moules (Mussels) and frites (no translation necessary) before moving on to the main event of the evening.

The Garrick theatre is really the loveliest of places, very beautiful and intimate, just how a theatre should be (IMO). And we were so lucky to have seats in Row C, at almost touching distance of the stage. Everything was set up for absolute pleasure and it (and he) did not disappoint.

Twelve Angry men is an immense play, and I'm sure some of you will remember the 1957 film (well I know you probably didn't watch it in 1957 but hey ...). The action of the play is set in a room in a courthouse in New York on a fantastically hot and humid day, the weather playing an important part in setting the mood of the drama. Twelve men are given the task of deciding the fate of a young black man accused of murdering his father. Without giving you a long and detailed resume of the story, one man challenges the prejudices and pre-conceived notions of the other eleven, most of whom reveal their deep seated problems and attitudes as the play progresses. All the actors are on stage for the whole of the time, so that they have to be in role continually, a challenge for any actor I would think.

Robert Vaughn plays the pivotal role IMO of the first juror to be persuaded that the boy might not be guilty. It was fascinating to see how he sat for most of the play at the table, didn't say a huge amount, but what he said was absolutely central to persuading the others of the boy's innocence. His facial expressions and body language were fantastic. We were both so gripped by what was going on that we didn't notice that the rectangular table actually revolved at some point during the action (it must have done it very slowly) and suddenly you realised that it was sideways on etc. The other actors were also superb; most of them were British I think, but it was impossible to tell who was British and who American. It was very much a play where you went home and discussed the issues of justice, prejudice, belief, etc that it raised.

Sadly but joyously, after two wonderful hours it was over. I hadn't really thought much about what we would do afterwards, to be honest, rather than just go home. However, while I was chatting to someone near the stage door my husband pointed out to me that RV was coming out of the front of the theatre. With a slight fluttering of the heart, (only my heart of course, Stephen was calm), we stood outside the doors, along with a small group of women, who very sweetly (this is England after all) began to clap politely as he came out of the doors. I have to admit now that I am not a very accomplished fan, and have an innate fear of embarrassing myself or the person I am trying to admire. Consequently I just stood there in a state of semi petrification for a few moments. Then the unthinkable happened.

What I can only describe as a gang of men, made up I have to say of the strangest assortment of males I've seen in a long time, literally barged their way through the small, polite group of woman, and surrounded RV. As my husband observed, they had come prepared. For some reason they were all in black, brandishing what looked like clip boards to which were attached photos of Napoleon I think and also very large A4 size UNCLE badge things like you see at the beginning of the TV programme. When the theatre security people took exception to their behaviour, some pretty insulting things were said. It was horrible, and, whether he (RV) was used to this sort of thing or not, I found it extremely intimidating. Thus it proved virtually impossible to do anything except stand and stare. I actually found myself standing next to his car as he got in it eventually and then slipped away into the night.

I never expected to see either Robert Vaughn or David McCallum at all, and so to be honest, the play was such an unexpected and memorable event in my life, and was enough. However, that incident has left an unpleasant taste in my mouth of how fans can overstep the mark, particularly since he is now quite an old man (but soooo sweet and lovely). Perhaps someone can explain to me who these people are and what on earth they are doing to bring the whole MFU fan group into such discredit.

I apologise for not providing pictures - only just recovering from the trauma, and hey, you know what he looks like .. lovely.

I'm glad you mostly had a nice birthday.

I suspects that the men in black might be professional autograph hunters, there's quite a lot of money in that isnt there and things get rather heated. It's like the Paps [who tend to go in all black too] who, and I know you dont like me swearing so I wont, are the biggest bunch plonkers ever and routinely block my way to work. I can barely contain my disdain sometimes. The lure of money and celebrities is not a good mix.

It was a great birthday, and I must try not to let that stupid incident spoil it. I felt sorry for RV most of all.

What an unfortunate end to your evening--and his! Sounds like the guys were pros who wanted autographs, which they would then sell or auction. I'm very glad no one was hurt.

I never thought about them being professionals. They were so rude. But Robert Vaughn was totally gentlemanly. He looked pretty exhausted.

I agree that they were probably professional hunters, probably building up stuff to sell on ebay.

I've got the iconic picture of the two of them in the crimson smoke signed by them both, but after it arrived I realised it was not a crinkled original 40-year-old photo, but a modern print, which meant that someone had cold-bloodedly got the two signatures to sell it.

Ringo Starr announced last week that he would not be autographing anything again ever.

It is sad that that happened to RV - you see from Niki Solo's postings how kind and friendly he was with her. It would be hellish if he thinks the men in black were real fans.

Unlike me he's probably used to them and can tell the difference between a nasty old blood sucking pro and a genuine overawed fan.

Or they might have been from Thrush.

Of course! I obviously failed in my Section 3 protection duties. Back to the typing pool for me ....

You surely didn't go to the theatre unarmed?
Did you not have a knife like Miss Diketon's tucked under your skirt ready to defend a man in distress?

Damn! I knew I'd left something important behind! I could have willingly loved them to death!

There's stupid gits no matter where you go. Shame they ruined a magic moment for you. were 'that' far from him. Sigh. Glad your birthday was wonderful. Stay dry.

As time passes the memory of their silly antics fades and the glory of his performance in a great play remains. It was but a small hiccup in a great day!

Stuff like this happens all the time at baseball games - I remember I was at a White Sox game and there's a guy whose been on the Sox for years and years named Paul Konerko, a real legend. Usually before the game, kids stand near the field and ask players for autographs, and sometimes adult fans, too, but then you get the Autograph Hound.

The Autograph Hound is the loser who brings a clipboard and/or books filled with cards and glossy 8x10s, sometimes helmets and bats, and yells at the player in an annoying and frankly disrespectful way.

At the White Sox game, these Autograph Hounds, who were grown men who obviously weren't fans, were screaming. "PAULIE! HEY PAULIE! COME HERE PAULIE!" and knocking children out of the way in search of their prey.

I'm not surprised that these disgusting men did this to RV, since I see it at every single baseball game I attend. I'm always too shy to ask for autographs from the players. If I were to actually get one, especially from a living legend, I wouldn't sell it for the world.

It ruins things for people who really love the players/actors/musicians, you know?

My thoughts exactly. I had never experienced it first hand and also, like a maiden aunt, I was worried about the old boy!

I imagine that after a lifetime in the entertainment industry, poor Robert probably isn't shocked by anyone's behavior around him anymore. My first impulse seems to mirror everyone else's -- that these were "pros" wanting any actor's signature to sell on eBay or just sell.

Their behavior was ABHORRENT.

Try to remember the joy of watching Robert's performance and try to remember HIS joy at being on the stage again.

Definitely. He's probably a lot tougher than I take him for! It was a glorious evening none the less and he so looked as if he was enjoying every minute of it. We were so near the stage we could practically see every gorgeous muscle twitch!


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