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  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
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How was Palin in NZ? by JAC on 4 February 2003 4:45pm
Hi Di and Ellen, well it is the 4th here in Perth so it must be the 4th, all be it late in NZ and I was wondering how your visit with the man was? I hope you had a good night.
Note to peripatetically
Happy belated birthday, have not been on the site for a week my how much has been posted. In answer to your question about Gooseberry Hill I live about 18km away ( as the crow flies) less than an hour depending on traffic, the area is beautiful it is in the hills near water catchment areas and lots of natural bush, it is hilly and the views are breathtaking when atop the hills, your friend is lucky.
I hope that all is well in Palinite land with all of our friends and I hope to talk to you all on the 11th as our web master has suggested.
(Keep smiling it makes people wonder what you have done!!)
Re: How was Palin in NZ? by Piglet2 on 4 February 2003 6:55pm
Ok do tell - dying to hear all about [email protected]@@!

Was Michael everything you expected and more?

Dear Peripatetically (always reminds of the words very pathetically for some reason! nothing personal) get in touch re Russell.


Re: How was Palin in NZ? by Dianne on 5 February 2003 6:42am
I only got back from Wellington 2 hours ago, so I will make it very brief and tease you all. :-) First Ellen and I will post what happened, we promise, but please be patient. I want to write down what is buzzing around in my head as notes and then make sense of it. However I will say this to Lyn's question. Yes, Michael was everything we expected and more! He is exactly as I imagined he would be. Just the way he is on the travel shows and the interview's you may hear, read and see on TV. He is well . . . there is no other word . . . . LOVELY!!

(From a very exhausted Dianne who is still on a Michael Palin high)
Re: How was Palin in NZ? by Rusted on 5 February 2003 8:38am
Okay, Ellen and Dianne, we're waiting, dang it all!

*mary impatiently drums her fingers on the computer desk*

Re: How was Palin in NZ? by Piglet2 on 5 February 2003 11:27am
I have worn a hole in the carpet from pacing up and down in anticipation - this is like expecting a baby to arrive and dont forget we have been with you all the way on this one!! right from conception -- I mean the start!!


Re: How was Palin in NZ? by JAC on 5 February 2003 12:29pm
I am glad that you had a great time in Wellington with Michael and I look forward to hearing all the details. I am glad to know that I am not the only one interested in how your night was. I get my turn on Monday afternoon at a book signing, who knows I might ask Michael if he will be joining us on the live chat line on the 11th!!
Re: How was Palin in NZ? by ellenpc on 5 February 2003 4:17pm
Hi there everyone, you lovely bunch! :-}}}

Our flight home got in just after midday, then it's been an non-stop rush, picking up the girl's gear from the grandparents, picking up the girls from school, grabbing my flute, music and stand and girls and rushing to the wedding run through at the venue, then rushing back, getting changed, rushing over to a pre-wedding dinner and finally rushing home eager to tell you all how amazing our Michael/Dianne experience has been.



I'll just get my breath back so I can give you a blow by blow account of our trip...........

Right, ready, here goes.......

We flew in early to Wellington yesterday morning (4th) and phoned Dianne as soon as we got to our hotel, she then hopped on the train and arranged for us to meet at the station kiosk. John and I set off on foot to the railway station, recalling from previous trips to the capital that it wasn't too far and we could walk it in the 1/2 hour. You can guess what happened, memory is such a fickle friend at times and we realised ten minutes into the tramp that we were going to have to power walk about 2 kilometers through the middle of Wellington in order to make it on time!! Believe or not we actually made it, though we were very breathless and needing water immediately. To think that Michael had walked through the Sahara in very trying conditions and I was knackered from walking through Wellington!! :-{{
John spotted Dianne at the kiosk before me as I was looking for bottled water sellers!! As soon as I saw her we had a lovely welcome hug, I bought some bottled water, drank it and then started chatting. Dianne is great with a beautful smile and twinkly eyes not unlike someone else we all know! :-}}

We decided to give Michael a gift each to thank him for the amazing website and Sahara of course. I'd already bought a copy of Capt. James Cooks travel journals around NZ, Australia and the Pacific Islands to give to him (another well travelled Yorkshireman) from John and I. Dianne looked and bought a gift for him while we were in Wellington, but I'll let her tell you abut that! :-}
Then we decided to buy Michael a bottle of one of his favourite NZ wines (Cloudy Bay) to enjoy with his dinner after the event/booksigning. After a bit of searching up and down, we found a bottle and got a nice bottle gift bag to put it in.

The event started at 6pm and the tickets had no seat number allocations on them so it was a case of first in, best seat. We arranged to meet there after going back to hotel and getting dressed up a bit.

As we were just crossing the road along from the venue building, I happened to notice a Taxi pulled up beside us waiting for us to cross and who should be in the front seat??? No not Dianne, Michael!!!! I could see him from the fringe down and what caught my eye were these amazingly animated eyebrows as he talked to the taxi driver. WELL!! I turned to John and said "well, I've just seen him I think, I hope it was him!" Very exciting.

We got up to the venue at 5:15pm and I got chatting with the woman checking tickets at the door. As we were the first people there and had travelled a long way to be there (Christchurch) she let us in early. Apart from the front row which was reserved for the press photographer and special guests we had the choice of any seat we wanted!!!! We chose ailse seats in the second row that would have the best view of Michael speaking and the best camera angles for John. Dianne arrived soon afterwards and I had the greatest pleasure telling her where our seats were. We were feeling excited and nervous and I kept getting up and walking about to get more cups of water and use up some energy. I think if you'd connected Di and I up to the power grid we could have generated enough of a charge to light a city block!! All those not in the IDLS will be pleased to know I'd brought my tin of Spam in my handbag, I think I was the only one there who had as the rest of the audience looked very sensible and not likely to dally with tinned protein. We have photographic proof! Though, in respect to Dianne's politcal leanings, I held the tin well away from her and didn't start unwinding the opener key to make her jump!! :-}} Sorry Mary, she hasn't converted me to the IDLS :-{ But I haven't managed to lure her over to the ILS so technically we're 'even stevens'. Status Quo (the state Lyn :-} , not the band! :-}) and all that...

Finally the moment came and Michael walked up through the audience with his hosts to the stage and the event began. Di and I looked at each other gleefully.

His talk was sort of a run through of the events in the Sahara trip with lots of Python quotes and hilarious side stories by way of explanation of his adventures. He would slip easily from being a 'hermit' from the python sketch to imitating two goats who were standing in one of the cars of the two mile long Iron Ore Train , on top of the iron ore! One saying to the other " I'm black see, no problem, but you're white, no good, no good at all. You'll get covered with smudges and they'll show you know. Dear , dear, all black smudges, tsk, tsk!" or something like that!? Di'll tell you... :-}} It was very funny as he even looked like a goat when he did it!

There was a question and answer session and then Michael retired to the foyer, pen at the ready to do battle with the mountains of books. The audience were requested to stay in their seats until Michael had safely left the room with no unseemly stampedes towards him. I for one was very dissapointed as stampedeing Michael would 've been one of the highlights!! A vision of Michael running for his life, pen still tightly clutched ( Pamploma bull style) with a throng of mainly mature ( the average age would've been at least fifty!) frenzied pensioners would have to have been seen to be believed!! Considering Di, John amd my relative youthfulness, we may have stood a chance!!

Our turn in the booksigning queue arrived and we finally got to speak to Michael. He was very friendly and relaxed and signed our books and Sahara DVD cover. I then introduced us and explained to him who we were from the site and how we were 'regulars' there and had been lucky enough to have his Christmas message forwarded to our own mailboxes by the Webmaster at Christmas. How we loved the site and all the amazing people there ie. you lot, and thanking him. :-}} His face lit up and said "Oh right, Hello, I understand who you are, great, nice to meet you. It's all the boys at OIL who do all the work you know, they're the ones who make it look so good. (Big PAT ON THE BACK Webmaster :-}}} ) We then presented him with our gifts, he we was touchingly surprised, lifted the wine bottle up so he could read the label, saw it was 'Cloudy Bay' and said "ooo, thats my favourite" and we said yes we'd done some homework to find that out. We then asked if we could take a picture and he happily obliged, with Di and I on either side with our arms on his shoulders. John, bless him didn't mind not being in the pic, preferring to make sure he took a good one of us and Michael of course. How selfless is that!!!! (Love you hubby :-})

Afterwards, we hung about watching the rest of the signing, hearing Michael greeting everyone and talking happily to them all. You could see he genuinely worked to connect with each person, chatting away and thanking them sincerely for coming. A truly wonderful man.

Near the end of the signing a man approached John and asked him (John DID wear his suit by the way :-}) whether he was a press photographer? He explained his brother had been very ill and was a great Palin/Python fan. His parents, also there, were visiting from Yorkshire and were going to get their book dedicated by Michael to his sick brother. (I hope I got this right. Di, please jump in and correct me if not. :-}) Unfortionately they didn't have a camera with them, so would John mind taking a photo of them with Michael. We of course said we'd be delighted to and could 'burn' the pic data onto a disk and send it to them as they had no e-mail addy. When it was their turn with Michael we approached the signing table ready to take the pic for them. Michael was naturally slightly baffled as to why we'd popped up again. I explained that the people had no camera and could we take the shot instead. He of course happily agreed and we got a few lovely shots to send to these people. Just as we were walking away he thanked us most sincerely again for coming and had an amazing way of looking straight into your eyes while he said it, holding the gaze for a long moment, giving a little twinkley smile and only then looking away. It was truly amazing and I'll never forget it.

All three of us would have loved to have pulled up a chair and chatted with him for hours. He makes you feel like, if there wasn't a book queue waiting he'd be delighted. We heard him throughout the signing happily sharing info about his family to people, you know little conversational comments and intimacies that you wouldn't expect someone in his position to be so open and generous with. But this really sums up my impression of the man. He loves entertaining and connecting with an audience and believe me he's a master, we laughed till we ached! But has no use for the "star, ego, arrogant behaviour' act. He doesn't want to be that distanced from people and lets face it, most 'Big Stars' in the end can be as lonely as hell! Michael will never be lonely because he makes himself accesible and hangs on to his 'normality', welcoming people into his world.

Just as we were walking away from the venue, across the street we happened to look back and saw Michael leaving with the publishers. It was all we could do to stop ourselves calling out to him and saying goodbye, yet again (this would be the third, possibly fourth time by now) just so we could let him know how much we admired him and to experience a little bit more of his 'magic'.

A postscript:
As we sat waiting for Michael to arrive and be introduced at the show, I turned to Dianne and said you know what, I can feel, Lyn ,Mary, Jen, Kelley, Rich, Helen, Eloise, Lou, Trixi, Karen, Judy and all you amazing Palinites sitting with us.......

Love you all....

Di you were brilliant, it was such a pleasure to have done this together. x

Thankyou Michael x

Ellen x

P.S. Pics to follow very soon at Kelley's Palinite site. :-}
Re: How was Palin in NZ? by Helen on 5 February 2003 4:57pm
Thanks for the great detailed account! I savored each word!
We were all with you in spirit... how wonderful!
Can't wait for the pics...
Re: How was Palin in NZ? by peripatetically on 5 February 2003 5:07pm
USA: Julie, I found your original post about Gooseberry. Thanks again and thanks for the belated wishes for my birthday.
Re: How was Palin in NZ? by Louise on 5 February 2003 8:54pm
Ellen and Dianne ... so pleased you had a fantastic time on Tuesday - I knew you would!!
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