I had originally planned to write this rather backwards, starting with the Moot and then going back, but as I sat down to write all of this, it just seemed easier to start from the beginning. I hope to get parts out every few days, depending on whether I need to run it by HBO to make sure any details I post are okay to share or not. But this first post is, I think, unobjectionable since it covers the time from my arrival in Belfast to my time prior to reaching Paint Hall.
I went to Belfast with only a great deal of luck, and a certain amount of help. The idea of my visiting the set had first been brought up when I was speaking to someone at HBO about George’s visit to Dublin for Octocon, and it took a good while—a couple of months—before everything had been sorted out. Many thanks to HBO, to the executive producers David and Dan, to George and Parris, and everyone else involved in the process of getting my visit arranged! Of course, a procrastinator to the first degree, I had very nearly botched sorting out everything I needed to let me to go. How lucky I was that I managed to get everything sorted out! At the 11th hour, matters resolved themselves… and I was off!
Before we get to my visit to the Paint Hall, though, I should mention that when I arrived late that evening (I was settled into my hotel at about 10PM), I got a hold of Parris who told me to hurry up, “Mark” was still at the bar in their hotel, chatting away. “Mark?” I asked. “Mark Addy” she said. I hightailed it. And I saw him ... exiting the bar as I entered.
Doh! I smiled at him, but couldn’t bring myself to take his time just then, but it was great. I went in and there were George and Parris having a drink and chatting. They greeted me warmly—both were pleased I was able to make it—and we chatted about my trip, about how Linda was doing, and other such things. When I mentioned I saw Mark leaving, they said that had I been there half an hour earlier, I would have met a number of the younger actors; it seems I was sitting in the chair Eugene Simon (Lancel) had been sitting in not long before.
Representatives from HBO then joined us briefly, along with a French journalist who was there as part of an international press tour. There was also, funnily enough, a Swedish reporter who was part of this group, who I’d briefly chat with the next day. The French journaist was very pleasant, and very game when he learned how terribly muddy Magheramorne (where he and I would be going the next day) was. He looked to his handsome leather shoes and then said those were the only shoes he had with him, but it was okay. Heh. There was some other discussion, including a bit of dishing about HBO’s other programs (I learned they had renewed two of their comedies, Eastbound and Down and Bored to Death, this way) and creators, plans for the eventual U.S. press events nearer the time of airing, and so on before we all broke for the evening. I was going to join George and Parris for breakfast at 8 AM sharp the next morning, before we went on to Paint Hall.
So, next morning, my phone died in the night and I woke up about 20 minutes later than I intended. Cue a mad rush to get ready, plus praying I could get enough charge into the phone to last me the day because it was doubling as my camera. Fortunately, my hotel was within a 5 minute walk of George’s, and so I was there just a little bit late. And in any case, I was there a minute or two before George and Parris got down. Parris looked very tired indeed, and she and George joked about her being a vampire-zombie. We went up to the breakfast room at the hotel and sorted out what we were ordering. There was one funny bit that has some relevance to the series: George ordered bacon and specifically asked that it be very well-done, almost burned. It put me in mind of the fact that Tyrion prefers his bacon “burned until it turns black”. I commented on this, and he didn’t deny the connection, but added that Europeans didn’t fry their bacon as crisply as Americans tend to do. Which is quite true from my own experience, but was not something I’d ever really thought of. Or maybe I did, years ago, but I’ve been here a long time…
It was a fun conversation as we ate, and I picked up a thing or three about ADwD and the following book ... but oh, hey, who’s that coming by to say hello to George? ;)
Continued in Part 2.