On May 28th I went to Collectormania in Milton Keynes, UK. I got there by train and only 10 minutes after arriving at MK Central, a coach came to drive people to Collectormania free of charge. The coach stopped just outside the MK Dons Stadium where an awful lot of people were queuing up. Luckily, when the doors to the stadium opened, the queue moved quite quickly and at 9.05 a.m. I found myself in front of the Phelps twins "tent"; a sort of white canopy placed on the concrete above the lower tier.
The twins arrived a little later, smiling and saying good morning to the people waiting. Only one very young fangirl squeed a bit, the rest was very calm (and cold Ė it was freezing). Only seven people were in front of me and the twins took their time to talk to everyone and pose for pictures for whoever wanted it. Iíd chosen a black and white photo for the twins to sign and furthermore Iíd brought a photo that I took of them at the gala premiere of HP7 part 1 in Copenhagen, which they signed as well. James told me that it was one of the loudest premieres they had ever been too. Then my fellow Villan (Aston Villa FC fan) Oliver got up and gave me a hug and a kiss, as he knows me fairly well by now. He asked about me staying in Sutton Coldfield and how my trip had been so far. Itís always very nice to talk to him, like no time has expanded since last I saw him.
Iíd bought the twins wristbands from my local FC and Oliver decided that James was to get the ones in the home colours while he kept the ones in the away colours. I know, wristbands arenít as inventive as the Ned Gerblansky T-shirt I gave James a couple of years back, but to make up for it, I also gave the twins "The Slade Box", a 4 CD anthology containing Slade tunes from 1969 to 1991. Then Oliver and I talked about my friendship with Slade and me being their drummerís official biographer. I had a pic taken with both of the twins and then I got a new hug and kiss from Oliver before my five minutes were up.
Walking around the MK Dons Stadium was freezingly cold and I was surprised to see that most of the celebrity guests were placed in flimsy "tents" outside on the concrete while the dealers were inside, warm and cosy. I saw some of the other celebrity guests including the Harry Potter actors Nick Moran (Scabior), Afshan Azad (Padma Patil) and Charlotte Skeoch (Hannah Abbott), but I didnít get any autographs. To be perfectly honest, not many people came to see them. On the other hand, the queue for the Phelps twins was by far the longest at Collectormania, only challenged by the one for Robert Patrick (T-1000 in "Terminator" etc.), and the boys worked hard all day, signing autographs, posing for pictures and talking to fans. They only had one break, the lunch break that lasted less than an hour, then they had to do photo shoots.
The queue for the twinsí photo shoot was as endless as the one for their autographs and people were freezing their butts off while waiting. To make things worse, it even started raining! The photo shoot itself was hilarious, though, and the quickest I have ever attended, the bloke shooting the photos calling everyone Sir or Madam no matter if they were six or sixty. Each shot took less than five seconds, the twins almost laughing at the photographer who kept repeating, "Step up, Maím, thatís nice, Maím, youíre done, Maím, step up, Sir," etc. over and over again. Oliver sneaked in a "Hi again" and "Cheers. Thanks for coming," to me, and James accidentally squeezed my butt (!), then I was done there as well.
In the meantime the sun had come out, but because of the wind it was a lot warmer outside the stadium than inside and the place slowly emptied. Around 4 p.m. only the people waiting for photos were left and even most of the celebrity guests had gone home, except for the Phelps twins. Their photos didnít show up until 5 p.m., then their queue got even longer as everyone wanted their pics signed. Poor boys, they worked hard for the money! When finally I was able to leave, it was with mixed thoughts about Collectormania. Having such an event at a stadium, that is prone to be windy, is probably not the brightest idea and there was too little to see and do when you had to spend the whole day there waiting for pics. Yes, there were many dealers there, but most of the stuff that was on sale was the same, and when itís impossible to take pics of the celebrity guests because they are hidden inside "tents", what were we supposed to do while waiting? A chill out zone or a bar/restaurant with seats would have been nice, too, as it was very tiring to spend nine hours walking around the stadium with nowhere to sit down. You couldnít even stand still because youíd then freeze to death! To be perfectly honest, hadnít the Phelps twins been there, I would have regretted going, but as it was, the twins saved my day. Thanks, guys.
© Lise Lyng Falkenberg, 2011