Last week I asked you to come with me on a whirlwind trip to Birmingham, England. What in heaven's name would Astronauts, Nasser, James Bond films and the Eternal Twilight movies have in common? This seems to be a rather strange combination of desperate genres! This is out of the box marketing!
But you know what they have in common? F A N S!
They were gathering from all over the world to get autographs of all the SMALL starlets (not even sure we could be called that, just small parts we had — except for the Astronauts and — some of the Vampires of Twilight Series) to meet us, greet us and get our autographs! This could be heady stuff — if one's feet are not planted firmly on the ground. And to my GREAT disappointment, I heard that Sean Connery the FIRST and BEST James Bond would NOT be there!
Many years ago (50 to be exact) on October 5 Dr NO, the first of the James Bond films was released. When I was asked to be in that film, I did not even believe the director (who I was checking in at the First Class Counter for BOAC — see how long ago that was — this airline was not yet called British Airways), was serious. Now is not the time to go into exactly what my rather hilarious conversation (another time the real story) was with this tall good-looking silver-haired director called Terrance Young. But what I do know is that he told me that he was going to "make" a series that would become the most popular in the whole world! The James Bond series. And it has been. I cannot believe that this is now 50 years old. It has been the longest series of movies in the history of film. The Astronauts landed on the moon in 1969, but Dr No took off in 1962. The Twilight Series as movies started just about 4 years ago.
I was, therefore, very honoured when I was asked to visit Birmingham in the UK to be the guest for Autographica a convention for fans to meet those in these three genres. I was doubly honoured because I was the only person there from not only the Jamaican side but in fact anyone from Dr No (I am wondering if all others unfortunately have passed away). I suppose they felt that since I was really the FIRST EVIL woman Bond ever met and I was still alive and kicking, "let the fans meet her!"
So join me on DAY ONE:
It is 9 a.m. I have landed after not a very restful night (remember I was seated beside a rather grumpy passenger) and was met by a gentleman with a sign (in my maiden name), who kindly waited after I breathlessly asked if I could shop for one item only at that marvellous chemist store Boots. The one item I wanted was that wonder skin serum called NO 7 "To protect and preserve". Look, I had not been to London for five years, and I knew that this was the only time I had to shop because — the Hilton Birmingham Metropole is "in the middle" of nowhere (as a kind receptionist told me) when I landed, because it is about 20 pounds to go by taxi to Birmingham, so Boots at the airport was great and I found my No 7! I had no other shopping to do because you have to have VERY deep pockets to shop in the UK.
It is a beautiful, sunny day with only a hint of fluffy clouds as we speed on the 136 miles to Birmingham from Gatwick. We are driving on the M23, then the M25, and then onto the M40 and then finally the M42 that takes us to my hotel. We pass fields of harvested wheat and the trees are now getting into their autumn colours and because there has been so much rain over the summer, the reds and golds are not as intense as I have seen in say New Hampshire.
I am very, very tired so I take a little nap every now and then because it is a two and a half hour drive and I know there is a function that evening and would definitely have to use my No 7 to perk up my face! I felt very safe because though the traffic started to get heavy everyone is keeping in their lanes — on these three-lane highways — and everyone is using their indicators to change lanes. There were obviously no Trini or Jamaican drivers on these roads. The driver had thoughtfully provided me with bottled water (what I really needed was coffee), for which I am thankful.
The reception at the hotel is excellent except for the fact that my room is not ready! Horrors! When I tell them that I just may collapse they speed up the whole process and I am finally in my room just in time to unpack, try to close my eyes and TRY to look presentable for drinks in a huge ballroom. I am trying to toss up what to wear, what to wear? I have two rather glamorous outfits from our great designer Heather Jones, but I decide to go with a simple (old) black crochet dress and lay on the glamour on Saturday evening.
I only know the names of the organisers like Laurence Wreford (a most efficient and charming guy) and Steve Oxenrider, a very warm and again efficient American who had first contacted me online and for whom I did an interview about Dr No for a magazine called Cinema Retro, which is now in publication. I do not know them but will they somehow know me? Yes, they do, and so we all met!
I look around me and recognise some faces from other James Bond films and the director of five James Bond (Roger Moore) films is pointed out to me and we met. Everyone is warm and friendly and so in this column you will see some of the Bond "Girls" who were there (we are all girls no longer), and next week join me to hear about the unbelievable fans and see how we "girls" now look!
This is VERY exciting and I am looking forward to tomorrow, when I will meet the FANS! I hope you are looking forward to my next column with many more pictures.