On a bus, heading home from the city I am greeted by an incredibly nice Russian-sounding bus driver with a smile on his face. About 4 stops later (in the valley, of course) a bogan hops on with his skanky (I assume) girlfriend. (May have been sister. May have been both.) Naturally, he does not…
So, that’s me ^^ and the handsome one is a Mr Benedict Cumberbatch. This makes me a very happy me. I love this photo, this photo is the best, but boy did we have a time getting to it.
It was at a small venue in Cheltenham, after an evening of WWI piano and poetry, where some amazing pianists performed classical music interspersed with a historian telling us about WWI, and Benedict reading WWI poetry that made us laugh and cry. I don’t have the words to describe the amount of talent that was on that stage. I was blown away. And after the 20 minute piano solo at the end, Benedict was the first one to stand up and clap, making sure the pianist did a double bow. It was lovely to see.
When we (myself and my lovely friend Hannah) walked down the stairs after the show, we saw a rather large queue. Being British, we joined said queue, hoping it would lead us to Benedict. We were not disappointed. After waiting nervously for an age, having both reverted back to year nine school girls rather than the ladies in their mid-twenties we actually are, we finally reached the front.
I went first out of the two of us, feigning nonchalance. That didn’t last. He looked up at me, actually making eye-contact! I know this doesn’t sound like much at all, this is how people interact, generally eye-contact is made, sometimes words are used, it’s called communication. But this was different. This was Benedict Cumberbatch, the object of one of my biggest crushes ever, and in that moment I inhabited the same world as him. I mattered in his life for about 30 seconds, and he looked into my eyes and saw me. It wasn’t a flippant ‘hello, what’s your name, thanks for coming, bye.’ He looks at you as if you’re the only one in the room, as if you are somebody that matters. And that was really something.
I told him my name was Bex and spelt it out. He said it back to me, this took up far more of my brain than it should have, and whilst my mind was off wondering if I’d spelt my 3-letter name right (!) and thinking how wonderful it sounded when he said it, I realised with horror that he’d said something else and I wasn’t entirely sure what it was. There was a pause. I realised it had been a question. Bearing in mind you only get about 30 seconds for these encounters before you really need to go away and let the massive queue continue, I didn’t want to waste time saying ‘pardon?’, nor did I want to risk looking stupid. I fear I may have risked that just by stepping out my front door, but I digress. I paused for a second or 2 longer than is usual in a normal conversation between adult humans, quickly trying to work out what he’d said. I surmised that it was “Did you come far for tonight?” I thought (hoped) that I could perhaps reply in a way that wouldn’t sound utterly ridiculous if that was in fact not what he’d said. So i said, in my most casual I’m-just-making-polite-conversation tone (but in a poshgirl voice not entirely my own) “I only live in Cheltenham, so it’s fairly useful.” He acted as though this was the sort of response he’d been expecting, and although he is an incredibly talented actor, I felt that I’d got away with it. Only later did I review this moment and realise that what I’d said didn’t actually make sense. ‘Useful’? What’s useful? Cheltenham? Living there? Perhaps ‘convenient’, not so much useful. The poetry evening? Ah I found it a very ‘useful’ evening…that’s not something you say about poetry.
Anywho, I’ll get on as that wasn’t even the embarrassing bit. So I said to him something like (still with the poshgirl voice) “It was really wonderful, thank you.” And he said “No, thank you for coming.” And sounded like he meant it. He wrote ‘Bex, Thank You, Benedict Cumberbatch’ on my ticket. My friend Hannah took a photo of us, and he said “Sorry I’m not standing up anymore” as they’d just told him to stop standing for photos as it was taking too long! And I said “No, no it’s fine, you’ve got a lot to get through.”
Now for the embarrassing bit. As Hannah stood with him and I took her photo, I looked back at the one she’d taken:
I gasped in horror. “Oh no! It’s all blurry!” I said. Benedict, the god, said to me “don’t worry, come and have another one.” What a gentleman. I said thank you lots and gave the camera back to Hannah. As soon as I settled into position for another photo, I saw the problem. Hannah’s hands were shaking uncontrolably. I knew this wasn’t going to go well. She took another and said “Oh Bex, that one’s blurry too. I can’t stop shaking!” She really couldn’t:
It was a marked improvement to be sure, but I just didn’t think Benedict had the time to wait for Hannah to stop shaking enough to take a photo where his head didn’t look like concept art. So I said in a tone of rising panic, “can someone else please take the photo?” Luckily one of the festival volunteers who I knew vaguely stepped up. She took the photo. It was perfect. But my phone confused her a bit and she thought she hadn’t got it and took another. I looked at Benedict with a pained expression. “Thank you so much, I’m so sorry!” I said. He said “don’t worry at all, thanks for coming Bex.” Which is why we all love him. What a lovely lovely perfect guy. He even remembered my name for the whole 2 minutes I was in his life for. WOW.
When we got outside, I went to check the photo. I found I’d completely lost the use of my brain and hands. I couldn’t remember how my phone worked, or how to access the pictures. Then I dropped it. Then I took a photo of the floor. Then I found the pictures (though not through the simple route of clicking on the ‘photo gallery’ button, but through going back into the camera and sliding back through the photos which I didn’t even know was possible). Me and Hannah laughed maniacally all the way home…after driving for 10 mintues in the wrong direction…in my hometown…
Now I’ve regained control over my faculties, (I’m very proud I didn’t burst into tears or shit myself) I can say that, although an embarrassing night, it was amazing. I never thought I would meet Benedict, and it’s such a wonderful thing when you meet your heroes and they can remain such afterwards. He was nicer, even more beautiful, smilier and kinder than I ever expected.
Thanks Benedict. Sorry I’m such a tit.
Benedict Cumberbatch reading WW1 poetry at the Cheltenham Music Festival - July 12th 2012
I can’t even begin to explain how perfect today was and it’s nearly 3am so excuse any incoherence :)
So after Bekki and I take our seats and the audience settle down, a man comes on stage to ask us not to take photos or record anything (boo). Although expected it was kind of suckish and I was trying to work out how I could sneak a snap of Benny for Tumblr when the man goes on to explain that Benedict has offered to wait around after the show to make up for this (score!)
The actual show was beautiful, on one side of the stage sat Benedict, his hair black and gelled back, but getting long if the stray curls were anything to go by (perhaps we will see some Sherlock filming soon…?) looking smart in his black suit and tight shirt (nom). In the middle of the stage were two pianos and pianists and then a historian on the right hand side of the stage. Benny did an amazing job at reading out the poetry, he did the accents perfectly, showing off his Scottish and Cockney accents and even his female voice (ehehe) - some of the pieces were amusing, getting us all to laugh slightly at the jokes, whilst others were heartbreakingly tragic; when Benedict ended the first half with dulce decorum est, I got goosebumps <3
He was charming, when he messed up a line he corrected himself with a “I beg your pardon” and was the first to clap the pianist after a 20 minute solo before making the pianists bow again and ensuring the historian got up and bowed too.
After the show finished we all rushed downstairs to the bar bit where Benedict was going to do his impromptu meet and greet, there was a very British approach as we all queued up and took it in turns to meet him, and bless him the queue basically consisted of the entire audience - but he was very sweet about it.
When I met him, he asked for my name and signed my ticket, he asked if I enjoyed the show and when I replied that it was amazing and beautiful he smiled (and I had to try and stop myself melting into the floor) before thanking me for coming and when I asked for a photo he told me it was no problem. He’s even more beautiful in real life and his voice is…asdfghjk <3 <3 <3 He was so charming and sweet and didn’t even get annoyed when a girl had to re-take her photo 3 times because her friend’s hands were shaking too much :P
All in all it was an amazing day and I’m so happy.
Yep, I was that girl who had to have 3 photos taken cus of my friend shaking. One of the most embarrassing moments of my life, but he was SUCH a nice guy about it. Was lovely to meet you Beth :-)
Fuck to the yeah. I met Benedict Cumberbatch tonight. I’m sure I made a right prat of myself, but I don’t even care. He’s such a gentleman, and it was really something to meet him :-) More on this tomorrow. But for now, bed.