4pm. Two flights of stairs. Two roads to cross. A crowd of college students trying to get home. Reserved tickets on the 4:07pm train. I DID IT! Granted that I initially got the wrong platform at the train station… I mean, there is three to choose from and one only goes to Manchester. But I made the hour long train journey to Birmingham.
I want to call it slightly ‘reckless’ that I decided to go to an almost stranger city an hour away in the dark but it was such a surreal and amazing night!
And why did I venture to Birmingham on my own (no pun intended)? BECAUSE I WAS GOING TO CARRIE HOPE FLETCHER’S ON THE OTHER SIDE BOOK SIGNING. (Never start a sentence with ‘because’, kids).
Carrie Hope Fletcher, actress, singer, songwriter, author, vlogger and blogger, is an ‘honorary big sister’ and an inspiration to so many people (me, included). Her YouTube channel (ItsWayPastMyBedtime) provides advice to her viewers regarding an important range of topics from peeing in a onesie (some serious skill- a good use of alliteration there, Catherine) to becoming confident to dealing with worry alongside some ah-mazing covers featuring Celinde Schoenmaker.
On the Other Side is Carrie Hope Fletcher’s debut fictional novel and a very highly anticipated release. I absolutely LOVED the idea that when you pass, you go back to the age in which you were the happiest. It resonates with me so much and has genuinely changed my outlook on a lot of things. A review for this will follow as soon as my personal statement has been written and my UCAS application has been sent off.
So, I arrived in Birmingham around 5pm-ish not knowing which way to turn to find the Glee Club nor what I fancied for dinner (or tea as we Northerners call it). Just my luck, the maps feature on my phone stopped working so I couldn’t track where I was in relation to Hurst Street. Ugh. I went to the Bull-Ring shopping centre and connected to the Wi-Fi on my iPod, searched for the directions to the Glee Club and used my best map-reading skills (which are a lot to be desired for) to point myself in the right direction. It turned out that I walked past the massive poster advertising events at the Glee Club (which pointed to the direction of the venue, may I had) five whole times before I realised. And here I am thinking that I’m responsible enough to travel solo…
Because I am this said ‘responsible traveller’, I decided that I’d find the location before getting food so that I know where I am in relation to the venue however when I had arrived, there was already a queue of twenty people or so all with polka dot backpacks. That is how I knew I was at the right place. I bought a quick meal deal from a Tesco Express (which I didn’t upload onto Meal Deal Talk on Facebook as I didn’t even rate it myself) and thought I’d join the queue too despite being so early.
I felt strangely nervous whilst queuing up for the event. One of my actual ‘idols’ was going to be in there. I had seen Carrie in Les Mis three times and was lucky enough to meet her once after at stage door but I couldn’t utter more than ‘hi’ to her. My mum had to do all the talking for me; “She LOVES your videos. You’re always being played in the house!” – whilst I’m stood there just smiling and nodding. I get extremely starstruck. In true Carrie Hope Fletcher style, I decided to speak to the girl who also seemed to be alone next to me in queue and she was so lovely!
The event was managed extremely well as Carrie mentioned in a previous tweet that there was going to be 300 people expected. Being so early to the event, I was able to grab myself a seat in the second row so I had a perfect view of Carrie and the Waterstones representative during the Q&A session.
The question and answer session covered so many aspects of On the Other Side: the writing process, how she came up with the initial idea, why she used magical realism, her favourite character in the book (Sonny Shine! He is pretty epic, to be fair!) as well as addressing the thought process behind the characters.
Carrie explained that the idea of the book came to her whilst on tour with War of the Worlds in a dream like state. I could do with one of these dreams; my imagination has hit a new all time low. Whilst reading On the Other Side, the resemblances between Carrie and Evie Snow are almost uncanny. The reasoning for that is for the possibility it ever becomes a film, she could play the leading role.
Carrie also answered questions about her time so far with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on the UK tour which I, unfortunately, never got round to seeing. She was also asked about her time in Les Misérables and War of the Worlds. (I’ve got several reviews on this blog about her performances as Éponine- absolutely amazing).
“People sing in musicals because they can no longer express their emotions with just words.” – Carrie Hope Fletcher (para-phrased) on why she decided to use magical realism.
She also touched upon her experience of meeting Peter Capaldi whilst he was shooting for Doctor Who whilst the Chitty tour were in Cardiff. She recalled how starstruck she was and how she tried to play her cool despite internally screaming. This is how I ‘planned’ to react to Carrie.
After the Q&A session, the Waterstones team organised the signing. Luckily I was sitting second row so I didn’t need to wait too long to meet Carrie. And this is where it got a little embarrassing…
Carrie: Hi, how are you?
Me: *nearly hyperventilating* OH MY GOD CARRIE, I FEEL LIKE A SEVEN YEAR OLD ON CHRISTMAS DAY!! I AM THAT EXCITED. *Breathes to compose oneself* how are you?
Out of all the things I could have said, I came out with the most embarrassing thing. I could have said “great thank you, how are you?” but nope, I lost my cool.
She was so lovely though and it was so wonderful to meet her again.
After having a truly amazing day, I was stood at Birmingham station waiting for my train home. I thought I’d use my iPod to check which platform my train was due to arrive on when it slipped out of my hand, crashed onto the floor and turned the heads of a hundred commuters. The screen was smashed into tiny little shatters and I had to pretend nothing had happened whilst I was internally crying hysterically.
Much love xxx
Ps. Blogs will be much more regular now that I’ve settled into my second year at college.