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"Da Chief's" Chronicles 99 report

Oh Gods...where do I start?

For me Chronicles started way back in June when we decided to bring M.E.L.T. over to do a gig......

If I'd known then what I know now...... actually I'd have still done it, I just need to make a couple of clones for the next time then I can be in three places at once which is what it felt like at times over the weekend!

I'll spare you all the gory details about the intervening 8 months, the last minute panics with calendars, photographs and an almost terminal dose of the flu and get right down to the juicy bits.

I started my marathon journey on Wednesday 24th with a five hour bus trip to Edinburgh including a stop to pick up the *finally* finished calendars and photographs. After a quietish evening at Alis’ and another yet another sleepless night we set off early Thursday morning to pick up the minibus we were hiring to ferry the band around for the weekend.

First major panic - we got to the hire place only to be told that we couldn’t have the minibus as you needed to be 25 to drive it and Alis is only 24.
As this was after being assured that it was fine and we only needed to pay an extra £10 for a young driver you can imagine I was not a happy bunny.
After several minutes of me in my best ‘awkward customer’ mode and a call to Germany (on their phone I may add!) we decided to take a transit van and pick up a hire car for the boys at Heathrow.

Another minor panic later (they wouldn’t accept a cheque from the MTAS account) and we were on our way, me navigating and Alis driving. Considering the she’s not driven for about three years and has never driven anything bigger than a car she did brilliantly and totally deserves her new title as "Van Driver of the Apocalypse".

We set off from Edinburgh about 10.30 and drove cross country back to my place to pick up the essential supplies for the weekend - a rucksack full of clothes, two boxes of merchandise for the MTAS table, 5 cases of beer and another bag full of pressies for various people.......OH and popcorn!

Phase two of the journey started at 2.45 and covered Gatehouse of Fleet to Tracey - Horsegirl of the Apocalypse’s place just beside Heathrow Airport. The drive was fairly uneventful apart from running out of water for the windscreen wash and being rescued by two nice men when we couldn’t fathom out how to open the bonnet, and being unable to resist the urge to right in the dust on the back doors of the van.......and what piece of literary genius graced us for the weekend?
What do you think?


of course. :-)

Actually one more things springs to mind from the drive know those nice little signs they have on the backs of lorries - "If driven carefully please call....."? Well a van passed us and in the dust on the back was "If driven carefully please call 999 - It’s stolen!"
Well *I* liked it!

We eventually arrived at Tracey’s place about 11.30 and crawled into our beds about 1am.

Friday 26th

After a relaxing start to the day watching the "Robin of Sherwood" blooper tapes we set off for Heathrow in plenty time to pick up Silvia from her 10.15 plane.
First job, park the van. Okay - head for terminal one, follow signs to short stay car park , drive up to the entrance to collect the little ticket and discover that the van is too high for the multi-storey .....ARGHHHHHH!!!!!!

The lovely helpful men (the only ones of the weekend I might add!) tell us to go to terminal three but didn’t tell us how to get there or help us reverse the van out of the entrance into the traffic that was now backed up behind us...oh well we eventually find the terminal 3 car park and the correct section of it for the van but the only space was right next to a pillar and there was no room to manoeuvre round it... enter *nice* helpful man who jumps in and parks it for us...sometimes it good to be female!! :-)

Well now all we have to do is troop halfway across the airport to terminal one and the arrivals area. It is now 11.15..... We get to the meeting point and discover that the flight from Rome has been delayed (all together now.. "Why are we not surprised?") so I wander off to check up on car hire prices and Alis calms her nerves with a cup of coffee then we settle down to a game of "guess the nationality". I think that Silvia finally arrived about 11.45 and after hugs all round we set off for a quick hunt round the terminal for Impact with the Stan Kirsch article, shampoo, films and then back to the meeting point to wait for Chrissy, Arne and Fred.

We didn’t have to wait too long before two large trolleys full of guitars and flight cases emerged closely followed by three familiar faces then it was hugs all round again, introductions to Silvia, hiring the car, (which Arne was volunteered to drive ) and then back to terminal 3 to load the van and the Great Mobile Phone Fiasco.....
(Take three mobile phones, one German, one Italian and one British all currently within six feet of each other and try to get *one* of them to ring!! FUN!!!)

Eventually we got everything sorted out and Silvia and Alis set off in the van with instructions to head for the M40 and to stop at the first service station they find and the boys and I head off to pick up the hire car........Grrrrrrrrr!! The little man at the desk told us to catch the courtesy bus at stop number 4, then ran after us to say it was 9...ok so we eventually find stop number 9 and wait and wait then we go back to the desk and yell at the guy who escorts us to the door and shows us where we should have been ....stand number 20!!

Well we eventually get onto the bus and drive what feels like 17 miles to the pick up point to have the driver stop next a row of cars and say "there you are" while pointing to an empty space! Hmmmm......why am I not surprised? Five minutes later and we’re settled into our nice little blue Punto heading for the M40 and our link up with Alis and Silvia.

It was at this point that Alis had her first ever phone call from Marcus AND DIDN’T RECOGNISE HIS VOICE!! Can you say DOH?!

After a brief stop for food, an exchange of navigator and a quick call to Marcus to calm his nerves, (poor boy!) and assure him that we are on our way we head off towards Birmingham.

We didn’t make bad time on the road and even managed to find our way into the centre of town without *too* many problem. One minor detour at a *really* weird junction and we found the boys hotel, dropped their stuff of and I started to check them in while Alis went off to park the van. Yup you guessed was too tall for the multi-storey again. The nice girl at the hotel rang round a few places and eventually found us a space with 24 hour security so we went and dropped it off and began the task of getting our luggage from the boys hotel to our! Eventually we loaded one taxi with all the bags, the beer and me and Alis and Silvia followed in another.
Of course when we got to the Grand there was no porter, no trolleys and no help but as always wonderful friends in the form of the Horsegirls, Ben, Rob, Alison, John the Goth, Gervaise and many others came to our rescue and eventually we got everything up to our room. It was now 7:45, the MTAS party was due to start at 8, I desperately needed to shower and freshen up and I *still* hadn’t seen Marcus although everyone I’d seen told me he was looking for me. Once more Alison and John the Goth came to my rescue and volunteered to set up the party and when I arrived at 8:30 everyone seemed to be getting along fine watching Nocturnal promo videos (Well I’ll watch anything if I get to see Angel half naked and sweaty!!) and nibbling popcorn and chocolates.

I *finally* got my birthday kiss about 9.00 when Marcus arrived and the party seemed to up a gear. We put Cyberstalking into the video so he could see himself on screen and had a few beers before some people arrived and said they had booked the room from ten. I had been told that the room was free until midnight but never mind, we decided to relocate with the ‘core members’ to our room and continue there for a little while. It was a bit cramped even though it was a four berth room and Marcus and I ended up in the bathroom looking at the photographs and the calendars which he hadn’t yet seen. I’m sure it looked a bit odd but it was perfectly innocent. I also think it was the only point over the entire weekend that we managed to have less than seventeen different things to do at the same time!

Marcus left earlyish as he had a heavy weekend ahead of him and he wanted to get an early night. Arne, Chrissy and Fred had arrived just before we moved and they were feeling a little uneasy in a room full of people who so obviously knew each other so after a little while we slipped out and headed down to the bar for a while. Again I think that this was the last time we managed to relax together until after the gig on Sunday.

I think I finally crashed into my bed at about 1am and managed to get about two hours sleep before my mind started to plan how to manage to do the 15000 things I had to do on Saturday!

Saturday 27th

I finally managed to doze back off as dawn was breaking and was woken up not long after by the world’s most apologetic alarm clock! It belongs to Alis and after several experiences of flying across the room it now cowers in the corner and beeps as inconspicuously as it can!

Clan Denial Europe at breakfast

Alis and Silvia eventually disappeared off to breakfast while I set up the MTAS table in the dealers room in advance of opening at 11 (the dealers room opened at 10 but I wasn’t missing Marcus’ Q+A with Valentine for ANYTHING!)

To be totally honest I can’t remember much of the opening ceremony or any of the Q+A’s (apart from the Four Horseman one which I videoed so that the rest of the guys could see it) but certain things do stick in my mind.

During the opening session they ran through the ‘slash’ questions (thankfully after last years embarrassment caused by a certain American woman), no personal questions and the ‘please switch off your mobile phones’ speech. I turned to Alis and laughed as I *knew* that if anyone's phone was going to go during a Q+A it was going to be Marcus’ - asking that man to be separated from his phone is like asking him to chew his own leg off!

The first Q+A was Marcus and Valentine. Most of the questions were directed towards Valentine who told us all about his new baby and the joys of fatherhood.
Before the con several of the MTAS members had come up with a few questions in case things died down. We could talk to him for hours but we realise that he’s still pretty much an ‘unknown quantity’ to many people, well needless to say I’d suggested a couple that I already knew the answers to but thought that other people might enjoy too so.........after hearing about his success in his paramedic exams and how he about to start working in the rescue helicopter Alison stood up and asked if he’d ever had an ‘interesting’ experiences while working. I swear the man tried to kill me with the glower he gave me but he proceeded to tell everyone about his encounter with a 90 year old woman in Austria as a 19 year old doing his national service! One of these days I’ll get him to write it down but lets just say it involves something along the lines of "I’m very old ...........I’m very’re very cute.........."

After the Q+A it was a mad dash upstairs to open the table for business. As well as photos, CD’s, T-shirts and calendars for sale we also had the concert tickets to deal with along with the Mothers Torch stuff and the official Stan Kirsch photos so things were pretty busy.

Just after midday Fred, Arne and Chrissy appeared and Alison and I set off with them to pick up the rest, namely Ralph, Rainer, Katarina and Elisabeth, from the airport. Alison got the *terrible* job of sitting between Fred and Chrissy while I navigated our way back through Birmingham to pick up the van. The actual trip out to the airport was fairly uneventful apart from loosing Arne a couple of times at traffic lights and having to wait for him to catch up and Alison and I getting side-tracked by a guy in leathers with *the* most incredible arse getting onto his motorbike just beside a pedestrian crossing and totally missing the fact that the lights had changed!......OOPS?!?!

After picking up the rest of the guys and loading up the van we set off back to their hotel. Arne, Ralph, Rainer and the girls in the Punto and me and Alison in the front of the van with Chrissy and Fred in the back with the luggage.

Hmmmm......lets just say that Alison was still getting the feel of the brakes and there are rather a lot of sets of lights along that road......I can still hear the litany of ‘slither.......thump..... "Sorry Fred!" however I don’t think we broke him....not permanently at least.

Next it’s empty the van, park the Punto, check in the rest of the guys, switch passengers and set off to the music store to pick up the drum kit we were hiring...a small detour later after missing the shop at the roundabout (Fred on the floor in the back saw it but we didn’t!) and that too was added to the "European Instrument Mountain" that seemed to have taken root in their hotel...I hate to think what their rooms looked like with all of that gear in there!

After parking the van Alison and I headed back to the hotel and managed to get back in time for me to watch Marcus’ Q+A with the invisible Richard Ridings....

It wasn’t long after it had started that there came a strange ringing noise from the hall (we were on the balcony again) and a rather red faced Marcus reached inside his jacket and pulled out his phone and hurriedly turned it off looking sheepish with a "Ja Mamma, No Mamma, Bye Mamma" Of course by this time Alis and I were collapsed over the railing trying not to have hysterics.

I honestly can’t remember much of the session itself, several people asked about the music side of things, I *think* it was around here that he thanked MTAS for organising it which was really nice of him, (he also thanked my by name so I just had to take a bow from the balcony...then he wonders why everyone knows me!) and also about the film he’d done that had just been shown in America (which he’d forgotten the name of and had to ask the handy reference library (aka MTAS!) and then Alis decide it was time for *her* question...... something had been said during the opening ceremony about him being the man with the ever changing hairstyle so she just asked him if he’d ever thought about taking the beard off....... I’m sure there was no need for the daggers that flew my way- I mean *I* didn’t ask it did I? Anyway he had the audience in stitches telling about his ‘little’ accidents early in the morning and how no-one recognises him at work without it. He also claimed that he has a very baby face without it (which he does!) and he thinks he’ll keep it for a while. It is hard to imagine Max without his beard.......even when you’ve seen the pictures!

A little while later there was another lull and I decided to risk asking a question. Perfectly innocent....was there any particular role that he really wanted to play on stage. He answered with Mephisto so I just innocently added that we kind of thought he’d be pretty good as Frankenfurter in Rocky Horror....there were a lot of indrawn breaths from the floor and a lot of "Oh YES!!!"’s and various other sounds of agreement. He just grinned and said well maybe we’d find out over the weekend! OH MY!!

After Marcus had finished I went back upstairs to the dealers room for a little while and then managed to sneak into the Q+A with Stan, Peter and Valentine for a little while before setting up for the Autograph session which was due to start at 6.30.

I signed my first Autograph for Caspian - Horsegirl of the Apocalypse and then it was back to work.

Before we started Marcus and I looked at the queue and at the number of photos we had and worried about selling out.........yeah right! I would say 5 people out of every 6 had the "Four Horsemen" picture from the Highlander store........I really like that picture but after about 250 copies of it I was getting a bit sick of it I can tell you!

Lots of people also had copies of "the Watchers Guide" by Maureen Russell which they wanted signing........well of course Marcus had to correct the piece about him which had everyone in stitches. For those of you how *don’t* know it makes mention of "Marcus Destory" playing "Silas". Hmmmmmm..... you’d have thought someone would have spotted that wouldn’t you?

I had a *great* time during the session, signed several more autographs for various MTAS member which Marcus thought was hilarious...he doesn’t realise that I’m famous.....or should that be infamous?
At one point Misha handed my her con booklet and asked me to sign it so, of course, I did with 'Andi...... "Da Chief"' across the top of the inside front cover. She then passed it onto Marcus who looked at the booklet, then at me then back to the book and wrote "OBEY!!!!!" in big gold letters underneath and then signed it himself - I should probably mention that I was sporting a badge which tells everyone I am "She who must be obeyed" and I’d been bossing Marcus around all weekend......oh it's a *terrible* job but someones got to do it!

By half past nine we were both dead and the queue was still huge so it was a relief to be told by the stewards that they were closing it down for the night. they’d given everyone left in the queue tickets so that they could go to the front of the queue on Sunday but they were still lined up. Marcus seemed a bit confused as to what to do until I virtually bullied him into leaving....I think he knew better than to argue with me by this time!
It was when I stood up to pack away the photos that I suddenly realised that I’d had nothing to eat since nibbling a few chocolates the previous evening.
This time it was Marcus' turn to yell at me and I obediently went off to get some food before getting ready for the costume party.

I think it was about 10.30 before I’d finally tied myself into *that* outfit and headed downstairs in search of the rest of the gang. I found them seated round a table just inside the main hall and after a couple of minutes Silvia and I went off in search of a drink. We eventually ended up in the downstairs bar where Fred, Arne et al were sitting talking to Tori and Jemma.
I SOOOOOO wish I’d had a camera with me to capture the look on Ralph’s face when he saw *that* outfit for the first time. The "Patented Homeland Double Take" had *nothing* on it!! He ended up handcuffing himself to me and then reached across the table for his drink and I ended up cleavage first in his face which caused much hilarity.
We spent about ten minutes with them and then headed back upstairs to rejoin the party - after all MTAS do have the reputation of being "the party people".

I don't think Ben thought much of this one!!

The disco was quite good apart from the fact that the sprung floor tended to make the CD's jump when people got too enthusiastic and it kind of made you feel a bit seasick if you were siting down. It closed down at 1.30 with the now traditional "Who want’s to live forever" and then everyone else headed downstairs to the bar. I wimped out and went upstairs to die to be followed shortly after by Alis and Silvia.

I thought I would sleep like a log but I think I’d gone beyond tired and out the other side. As soon as I lay down and closed my eyes all I could hear was dozens of voices in a variety of accents calling "Andi!" "Andi?" in that tone of voice that says ‘we need you to do something’.

One of the funniest things all day was when Silvia emerged from the bathroom and I heard her whisper to Alis "she’s smiling" and I was....lying there with this huge stupid grin on my face...but then again I knew something they didn’t..........

To be continued......