Dee’s Report

posted on 30 August 2012

I came across Spooks, or MI5 as it is known in the US, whilst researching the works of Keeley Hawes. I had seen her in Ashes to Ashes on BBC America and decided to check out Spooks. However, as soon as Ruth Evershed stumbled into that conference room in Series 2, dropping files all over the place, which brought on that joke from Harry Pearce, I was hooked and soon forgot all about Zoe/Keeley. I was completed enthralled by the Harry and Ruth story arc and fell madly in love with both actors. When I heard that Peter Firth was invited to the Long Island Spy Museum in May 2012, I immediately made arrangements to be there in order to try and meet Peter. I was very disappointed when his appearance was cancelled at the last minute because the Museum had other plans.

Then came news that Nicola Walker was going to be part of the ensemble cast in a stage adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time at the National Theatre in London. That book has a special place in my heart. Let me explain.

After spending many years as a reporter and editor in the publishing trade, I wanted a change in careers. I wanted to do something that would make a difference in someone’s life. So I went back to school and earned a Masters degree in Special Education. With that qualification, I am now a teacher to students who require assistance from learning specialists. Sometimes we teach academics in how to deal with such students. All those things described in Mark Haddon’s book : A mother who can’t hug her child, a family torn apart by stress, kids who do not understand certain levels of conversation, I’ve seen it all in real life. Christopher not knowing how to use the London Tube system? I’ve had to each students life skills such as figuring out train time tables and how to make it to train stations. We have to teach some students simple skills like how to handle their money, or how to fix a simple meal. It all depends on the students’ ability level. I can never leave my job at school at the end of the day, because I am always trying to figure out how to make life better for the students you work with, whether they have just a learning disability or a more severe disability. I have even taught my students by using the book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, as a teaching aid. So you see, if they are going to put on a stage adaptation of this book and feature one of my favorite actresses, I just had to be in London, don’t I?

I also had several other reasons why I needed to be in London. In September 2011, Bonkers but Brilliant [Ed : this fansite] asked fans to submit questions which would be put to Nicola to compile a Q and A. I had read that Dolly Parton is one of Nicola’s favorite singers. She’s also one of my favorites. So One of my questions was :

Q : I have a Dolly Parton autograph somewhere and would gladly trade it for yours, interested?
A : Yes, I have given [the Editor] mine [to be passed on to you], you send me Dolly.

[Ed : We posted Nicola’s autographed photo to Dee from London on 1 October 2011. You can read the 2011 Q & A HERE]

I was very happy when I received that photo and tore through the house in search of the Dolly Parton autograph. I found it and sent it to Nicola care of her agents. I included what I can only describe as my first fan letter to anyone famous. I noted how I literally stumbled across her work. I compared her to actresses three generations back that have long outstanding theatrical careers along with movie and television success. I told Nicola that I probably wouldn’t make it to London before the summer of 2013 as I didn’t want to battle the Olympic crowds and most of her plays are done in winter when I must teach. I thanked her for the wonderful escapism of Spooks even though the writers constantly bashed my country.

But I had no way of knowing whether or not she actually received Dolly. I asked for confirmation about this from several sources, but no one could tell me for certain. That autograph was a treasured possession of mine, and I had visions of it languishing in some post office or worse still, sitting in somebody’s in-tray and not getting to Nicola. I didn’t want Nicola to think that I did not honor my part of the bargain. I was worried. I had to find out what happened to that item.

I was also unimpressed with how Spooks ended [in October 2011], especially how they dealt with the character of Ruth Evershed. Actually, “unimpressed” might be a bit of an understatement. I wanted to tell Nicola what I thought about this subject. I thought that if I ran into anyone from Kudos (the producers of Spooks) whilst in London, I could really give them a piece of my mind!

I asked some of my fellow American Spooks fans whom I’ve met on Twitter and on some of the fan forums whether any one wanted to go to London with me. The timing of the play wasn’t great. I couldn’t go during July because it was still the Olympics. By August, school would have started again and I shouldn’t really be away. The US economy hasn’t been doing so well, so many of my friends found it hard to justify incurring the expenses of going to London even though they were interested.

I asked my friend, Wayne, if he would accompany my to London. He has never been impressed by my devotion to everything relating to Harry and Ruth. He half expected that if I ran into Peter Firth in London, I might run away with him and never come home. Wayne decided that he didn’t want to go to London with me. He was only half joking when he tried to dissuade me by saying, “A single woman in London? You’re likely to be murdered by someone.”

I wouldn’t, and didn’t, give up. I found a long weekend somewhere in August where I can be away from school for a few days without being missed by my students. So I bought a ticket to the play, a plane ticket and made hotel arrangements. This would be the first time that I was going to London. In fact, this would be the first time that I would travel outside the States, all by my lonesome. The last I checked, I’m a grown woman, but the prospects of this trip still left me feeling both scared and excited.

On the advice of friends, I booked myself into a hotel on the Southbank which is close to the National Theatre. They say that to get over jetlag, you should plug right into the time zone of your destination. In other words, if its daylight outside, don’t go to sleep because your body clock says you should. So after I settled into my room, I decided to walk around the Southbank and made my way towards the National Theatre, just to get my bearings. I turned up a street and who should I see but Ruth Evershed herself, hurrying along like a woman on a mission. I thought to myself, “no way!”

I stopped. I was in shock. The timing was so uncanny. Nicola didn’t see me. She wouldn’t have known who I was. I quickly decided that I wasn’t going to try and speak to her right there and then. I was seriously sleep deprived after 8 hours on a plane and felt that I looked like a zombie. That would not have been the best impression to make on the actress I have travelled all this way to see. So I let her pass.

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