As some of you may know, I’ve got an addiction to the series The Walking Dead and a little bit of a crush on one of the leading characters, Daryl Dixon, played by Norman Reedus. When I first started my blog, one of my earliest and most bowel clenchingly honest posts was about me as a middle-aged woman having an inappropriate mid-life crisis crush on Norman Reedus.
In that post I ended by saying I had come through the other end of my crush and learned to grow from the experience. With great sagacity and wisdom I concluded I would see Norman as an inspiration rather than as a potential stalker victim, and of course I would never go to a convention to actually meet him. Oh no! I said, me a grown up, thoughtful and sensible strong woman, I am not a teenager in love with Bros. I would move on.
The trouble is that shortly after I wrote this I discovered Norman was actually coming to London as part of the Walker Stalker Comic Con Convention. I have never in my life been to anything like a Comic Con event. But the more I thought about it and read, the more excited I became. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced and there was so much enthusiasm on Twitter I thought why not? Why the fuck not?!
This is me finding out in DECEMBER about Walker Stalker – bear in mind the tickets were first advertised the previous March you can see how out of the loop I was.
Rob’s response was one of complete bewilderment. Apart from thinking I just wanted to run off with Norman Reedus – completely untrue of course *cough* – he didn’t understand why I would want to go. When I told him how long people said they spent queuing his response was clear: he was not going.
Happily I managed to persuade Best-Mate-Guy to go with me. Bless him. He’s always up for new experiences. To add to the experience, for my birthday in January lovely, lovely Rob agreed to buy me a photo op with Norman Reedus. So I would actually get to meet him, not just be in the same hall as him.
Things were starting to get pretty expensive. But I was so sure it would be worth it I decided to go all in.
‘I’m going to go as a walker who has been stabbed in the eye,’ I said to Rob. He smiled and nodded and went back to designing the new kitchen. I called Guy, ‘I’m going to go as a walker who has been stabbed in the eye!’
‘Cool!’ he replied, ‘can you get some gross make up for me as well?’
So I begun my research into gross make up. My first inspiration was the amazing Kiana Jones aka Freakmo. Her videos are gruesome but fascinating.
I decided to go for the missing eye with an arrow look, initially, because of my whole being blind in one eye after being shot with an arrow experience when I was young. This video was really helpful:
I thought it would be appropriate meeting Norman/Daryl, whose weapon is a crossbow on the show, to maybe use a crossbow bolt to stick into the wound? Trouble is, as Kiana points out in the video, if you fall over with a hard object glued to your eye, that object might be swiftly lodged deep into your brain. Hmm, better scrap that idea, sounded too dangerous. I decided I’d source a fake crossbow bolt and I’d just hand it to Norman to hold.
There was no way I had the skills to make a prosthetic eye the way Kiana had demonstrated in her video so I eventually ordered the following pieces from Nimba Creations
The torn face was for Guy, the eye for me. I also ordered alcohol activated paint, glue, and gelatine blender. Here is all the kit when it arrived.
These pieces were nothing without any paint on them. I toyed a bit with the paint but it was a disaster. This was well outside my skill set. Luckily, as a teacher I have access to a whole load of talented sixth formers who are great at Art. They were delighted to help and look how amazing their work was!
I added false eyelashes, a bit of mascara and we were all set. (Do you like the music I added to the video below?)
Sunday: The Day I Met Norman Reedus
Although I had a two day pass for the whole weekend of the convention, I had to work from 8.30am-11pm on Saturday (eye roll) so couldn’t get away. I had to be in London by 9.00 am so was booked onto the 7.05 train.
That morning was a complete nightmare. I woke up at five am, having had about three hours’ sleep. Rob and the children were visiting their granny so I could apply my eye undisturbed.
This took much longer than expected. The glue stuck alarmingly quickly and then stuck fast. I tried to wiggle the eye around but it was fixed firmly at a crooked angle. I squinted in the mirror for a bit and decided it worked, it just looked like I’d had a really nasty injury. This is what I sent Rob.
Time was cracking on. The eye had taken so bloody long to put on I was starting to worry I would miss my train. I wanted the pose with Norman in the photo to centre around terrible eye injury; I needed a weapon to give to him to use! I had tried to find fake costume crossbow bolts but had no luck. In desperation I trawled through the children’s rooms.
Goddammit! Nothing was any good! Boy’s room is just full of trainers and electronic devices. I eyed the barbies in Daughter’s rooms for a bit… maybe use one of their legs? No, no good. I had ten minutes. Finally, in desperation, I grabbed a wooden spoon from the kitchen and dunked it in a pot of blood.
I pelted through the rain to the station and threw myself on the train. I toyed with the idea of wearing sunglasses but thought that would look even more ridiculous. The only person I spoke to on the way up was a guard to ask which platform the train left from. He looked me straight in the (normal) eye and replied, ‘platform five, love’ without a blink of surprise, shock or concern.
He didn’t even say, ‘ooh you should get that looked at.’ What has happened to the British people? Thankfully, as I got onto the second train I received a text from Rob who had just woken up and seen my picture. His text said: ‘You need to get that looked at.’ The cabbie at the other end said the same thing, so all was right with the world.
Apart from Rob and the cabbie, not one person the entire length of the journey said anything about my eye. Did they think I had genuinely hurt myself? Very odd. Maybe a testament to British politeness.
Olympia was HEAVING when I finally got to the end of the queue, through the doors and into the hall where I would be BREATHING THE SAME AIR AS NORMAN REEDUS!
Wonderful! I’ve never seen anything like it and what an incredibly diverse group of fans. I loved that there were people of all ages there. I saw a set of twins who couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7; one was dressed as King Ezekiel holding a chain attaching him to his brother who was wearing a tiger onesie playing Shiva. Another couple, dressed as a walker Bride and her Groom must have been in their 70’s. Every now and then a head-to-toe costumed walker would shuffle past. Silent as the grave and completely in character. They gave you the shivers with their dead eyes, rotting skin and cobwebbed clothes.
Guy was late, as always. Despite texting me ‘I’m leaving now I should be 30 minutes’ it was another two hours before he finally turned up so I used the time wandering around people watching and occasionally sending Rob texts like, ‘I just saw Jadis!’ or ‘Negan just walked past!’
Throughout the day I saw some awesome costumes, here is one of them. They certainly put my eye to shame…
Guy FINALLY turned up at noon and I applied his prosthetic then and there at the coffee shop table. My photo Op with Norman wasn’t until 4.30 so after a wander around we popped to Pizza Express for lunch. It was so nice to spend some quality time with him. Usually we are surrounded by partners and children and all that busyness, so it was lovely to have a proper catch up.
Much wine was consumed and I thought Guy looked very dashing in the restaurant.
The trouble was we laughed so much it started to affect my eye make up. At one point Guy told me a story about telling his pupils he was bringing in a therapy dog. One girl responded, with wonder in her eyes, ‘wow, the dog can talk!?’
The image of Guy’s little Shih Tzu, glasses on his nose, thumbing through Jung and Freud asking pupils about their relationship with their mothers, made me laugh so much I needed to use my inhaler.
It was then my eye started really stinging. I had laughed so much I had dislodged some of the prosthetic glue into my eyeball and it stung like I had a bee trapped under my eyelid. I couldn’t access the eye without ruining the make up so had to leave it, occasionally dabbing at the tears that were running out from under the prosthetic and mingling with the fake blood. This gave my eye a gooey, swollen, infected quality which Guy assured me was most effective.
The time was finally here. At ten to 4 we were back in the hall gazing at the signs to see which lane we had to join to get the photo taken.
It took hours.
There were THOUSANDS of people. We were group G, and as we got to our lane, E had just started to go through, with three lanes of lane F still to go.
The best bit, and what kept me going was that we had a great view of Norman having his picture taken, This was what we could see – note the sign saying ‘No Kissing Norman!’
It was amazing how quickly people were going through. I counted each one and I reckon each picture took about 5-8 seconds.
I started to think: I can’t believe I made Rob pay all this money when all we get is a photo of Norman, spending 5 seconds in his presence and after hours of queuing.
My feet hurt. I was holding a wooden, bloodied, spoon. My eye was stinging and melting flesh was dripping down my face. I was surrounded by ravishing young women in their 20’s with perfect bodies and stunning make up. I was shattered. The wine had hit and I wanted to go home.
Guy kindly did his best to cheer me up, but I felt awful that he was standing in this queue for so long and he didn’t really know who Norman Reedus was. (I know! Terrible isn’t it? He’s seen seasons 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead, and I have made him promise to watch the rest asap)
The conversations in the queue were hilarious – ‘Oh no! He’s got sunglasses on!’ chunter chunter.. ‘They’re off! The sunglasses are off!’ Not one person moaned about queuing. Everyone was excited and upbeat. Didn’t any of THEIR feet hurt!?
And then. Be still my beating heart! Norman walked out of the photo booth, past us and out through the fire escape, tossing bags of crisps (salt and vinegar) into the crowd as he went.
‘He’s going for a fag,’ said Guy (a smoker) sagely.
He was AGES! But, fair enough. He needed a break after taking a photo with eleven billion people.
But OH! My feet hurt so much!
I shifted my spoon from one hand to the other and wondered if I was too old to just sit on the floor like all the young folks about me were.
No. I’d get piles. Well, more piles.
Every time the fire doors opened our hearts leaped and our eyes (or eye in my case) swiveled as one body to see who it was. It was always some roadie who must have been charmed at the sight of five thousand people looking at him with huge disappointment that he wasn’t Norman Reedus.
Guy was fretting as he had just realised his fancy schmancy new iPhone X wouldn’t open as it didn’t recognise his mutilated, chunk-torn-off-face. When he finally unlocked it he turned to me and said, ‘should I try and film Norm when he comes back in?’
‘God, yes please!’ I replied.
We waited and waited, no sign of Norman. I looked over at Guy and he was scrolling through pictures of Gizmo (his Shih Tzu) before smiling at selfies he’d taken of his make up.
This, of course, was the moment Norman walked back through. Thanks to Guy’s selfie navel gazing we missed videoing him! Goddammit
Back to watching people filing through Norman’s photo booth. I simply do not know how he coped with dealing with so many people over two days. He must be inhumanly patient. Rob says it’s all about the money and I’m sure that helps, but I was really impressed with the way Norman had a smile and a word for every fan who came through. You could see, even in those few seconds, he made an effort to look the fans in the eye and give them a smile.
I lost count of the number of women who screamed their heads off as they left the booth. A couple of others had to be helped away by roadies, clearly overcome by being in the presence of the mighty Daryl Dixon.
Picture the scene: By this stage I was a complete wreck. My carefully blow-dried hair was stuck to my head with sweat. It was boiling at that end of the hall. My face was flushed red from the wine and pizza. Checking my Fitbit later I pretty much maintained a heart rate of around 150 the entire time, reflecting the effects of the heat alongside my stress and excitement. My make-up had disappeared, the false eyelashes on my good eye had detached itself at one end then reattached itself slightly higher on that side, making me look like a mad woman.
I was a slightly pissed, fat, sweaty, pink cheeked, frizzy haired middle-aged mess.
And THAT’S when the time arrived for me to go in and meet the man who inspired the first blog I ever wrote – it wasn’t the first one I published, but it was the first one I wrote. It took me a good while to find the courage to publish it!
It was odd after so many hours of waiting to be suddenly whooshing towards him on a wave of people – it reminded me of when my waters broke, weirdly.
Anyway, there we were, a few metres from Norman. The object of my middle-aged, mid-life crisis crush.
Clutching my spoon I flung all my bags at Guy who took them and placed them on the table. The Photo Op crew were yelling at me: ‘Get in the yellow square! Get in the yellow square!’ I felt really bad as they were shoving me forward but Norman was still chatting to the couple before us, talking to the guy and examining a tattoo he had on his hand. The photo Op guy pushed again so I had to force the previous couple out. I felt terrible! I ruined their hand tattoo moment!
Then I was there. In front of Norman Reedus, Daryl Dixon himself. I did an embarrassingly loud intake of air. You know that sudden, gusty breath you do when you haven’t breathed deeply for a while? That.
I handed him the bloodied spoon and said this:
‘Would you mind posing as if you’ve just gouged my eye out with this spoon?’
Yes, that was the one and only thing I said to Norman.
He gave me a look. I held up my spoon to demonstrate. I don’t know how I got there but after saying this, the next second I was on his left and he had his arm *GASP* around my shoulders. He was holding the wooden spoon in his hand.
I turned my head to the right to look at him. This is bad, as my right side is NOT my good side. But it was the side with the eye on. He was looking dead at me. It felt like it lasted ages. I couldn’t help myself. I beamed at him with my big fat face as widely and joyfully as my skin could stretch. I literally couldn’t stop that fathead grin spreading.
There he was. More lined than I was expecting but really, really gorgeous. I mean really gorgeous. In ‘meeting a sexy bloke in a club in the 90’s seeing a band’ gorgeous. So not like meeting a movie star, but like meeting a really sexy roadie, or a good looking bad boy mechanic at a fun fair round the back of the tea cups. Do you know what I mean?
I was close enough to smell him. He smelled fantastic. Slightly musky, that sounds bad, like unwashed, but it wasn’t, it was a sexy skin smell. No aftershave.
While I was beaming inanely he studied my face. For a heady second I assumed he was taking in my stunning, sweaty beauty; but now I realise he was checking out my wounded eye prosthetic. He took his time. Great moment. I then saw him clock what I meant with the whole spoon thing.
He smiled and gave a little ‘heh’ chuckle.
He lifted his arm with the spoon in and we both turned to the camera. Bang – off went the flash and the staff started yelling at me to get out. I said, ‘thank you!’ and somehow had the spoon back in my hand and we were out the other side. Here’s the picture.
As we walked out of the booth and along the yellow line, Guy screamed his head off! Ha! He was even more giddy and dizzy than I was! We chattered like magpies all along the way to collect the photo. Guy yammering on at what amazing charisma Norman had and how meaningful he made that little five second slot.
I was over the moon with euphoria. It was so worth it; I was amazed how Norman managed to project his personality and charm into such a tiny, tiny space of time especially after two exhausting days of dealing with strangers. I suppose that’s why he’s a famous and well-paid actor. D’oh.
But whether I imagined it or not, I felt that he took the time to see me and acknowledge my inane beaming fat fan face and I suppose that’s what it’s all about. My crush remains unabated.
Was it worth the queuing, the expense, the hassle, the sore feet?
Getting home was a nightmare as they closed St Pancras because of a protest so I missed my damn train. I looked a state as I had just ripped off the eye prosthetic, but without glue remover I just had a fleshy gory mess hanging from my eye socket with dried blood running down my cheek. People avoided me as I walked towards them. Ha! I was like Moses parting the red sea.
A final embarrassment was when I tried to download the digital copy of the photograph it didn’t work so I had to fill in a form to let them know. In the form they asked for the following details:
‘Description of photo (who is in it? What are you wearing?) Required
‘My friend, Norman Reedus and me. I am wearing a red jumper and jeans with a blue jacket. My friend has a large prosthetic wound on his face. Norman Reedus is stabbing me in the eye with a wooden spoon.’
So here we are, my bessie mate and me, friends for thirty years and growing old disgracefully. We had the best time.
I hope you enjoyed my probably too long fan fuelled gushing! What about you? Have you ever disgraced yourself meeting a crush? Have you ever been overwhelmed meeting someone famous?
One of my favourite stories is of someone who met a familiar looking older woman. She was convinced she was a friend of her mother’s, or someone she knew from a past job. She quizzed the woman for ages before she finally said, ‘I’m Felicity Kendall,’ and marched off in a a huff. Ha!