Waaay back in 2014, after much carry on about how DESPERATE I was to meet my idol, author Bill Bryson, a group of my friends and family members chipped in to buy me a VIP meet and greet ticket to see him live on stage and harass him afterwards. I dare say my friends and family were driven to purchase this birthday present for me to shut me up as I constantly talked about him, his books and how desperate I was to meet him.
The first time I saw him on stage he was being interviewed by Ray Martin. I enjoyed the interview so much and the meet and greet afterwards was well worth every penny my nearest and dearest had forked out. I took my most prized possession, a huge hard cover and illustrated copy of his book “A Short History of Nearly Everything” for him to sign. He signed it with the following:
Given that he said he hoped we would meet again, when I found out he was coming back to Australia for another live tour I decided it would be rude of me to ignore his desire to ‘meet me again’ and promptly booked a ticket. As I am now 5 years older and working a lot more I bought myself the ticket without blinking an eye, safe in the knowledge that my husband would do plenty of blinking when he discovered I’d made such an elaborate purchase without consulting our financial guru (him) first.
I turned 40 earlier this year and decided to make my 40th year stretch all year long. So I have been taking a lot of liberties and claiming they are a “40th birthday present to myself”. Considering how many near death experiences I’ve had (I’ll save them for another blog post) it’s quite remarkable that I made it to 40. So a year long celebration is well deserved.
Bill Bryson started last night by saying “It is so nice to be in a room full of smart people” and I could not have agreed more. Everyone who was there obviously had a sense of humour, fascination with science and a curiosity that drives them to purchase all the books and learn about all the things Bill Bryson is curious about. It’s true. His curiosity is what makes his books so appealing. It’s the why, how and little known stories that accompany boring facts that makes his books so appealing. He can turn a dull topic into the most fascinating thing you’ve ever read by simply telling the story from the perspective of the weird, wonderful, colourful and often crazy people behind the events that produced these otherwise boring facts.
His writing style leaves the reader feeling like he has bared his soul and if you read his books enough, you begin to erroneously believe that not only do you know him, he is your life long friend. I can attest to this. I have been known in the past to email him fan letters, inviting him to dinner next time he is in Australia and sharing stories about me and my life so we can have a reciprocal relationship. He has always responded in the most polite fashion.
Last night he regaled the audience with some of his weirdest fan letters and I’m sorry to say I did not rate a mention. Obviously I was not strange enough. Never one to shy away from a challenge I have obtained his personal email address and made it my life’s mission to up the ante and rate up there with his ‘strangest’ fans. He made a comment last night that all people who write to authors are strange (this may have been to dissuade the other 500 people from writing to him as I’m sure it takes up so much of his time replying to all these weird letters) but I honestly think it’s strange that some people write to celebrities that have done nothing other than pretend to be someone else in a movie or sang a song they did not write in a skimpy outfit. Maybe everyone who writes to people they don’t know are strange…….. I certainly embrace my strangeness and would be horrifically offended to be viewed as normal.
Bill was interviewed by Julia Zemiro and I’m ashamed to say I had no clue who she was. I don’t watch tv and I save my celebrity stalking strictly for authors. This may have worked in my favour as afterwards, at the meet and greet, I was able to maintain the illusion of a relatively normal human when interacting with her. Bill on the other hand, got to experience bat-shit crazy and extremely excitable Bianca. I just hope it gave him a taste of what rock stars get to experience with their groupies, minus the sex and drugs of course.
The show, in true Bill Bryson fashion was hilarious and informative. Julia was a perfect host and quite hilarious herself. She has said that she has an upcoming tv show with Bill and I CANNOT WAIT. I am also going to add watching some of her other shows to my ‘to do’ list. This will sit firmly above all other ‘to do’ activities such as housework, Mt Washmore, following Ben’s budget advice and blog writing.
Bills upcoming book “Observations on Life and the Human Body” is set for release early October and he spent much of the show talking about the book. He teased us with a few facts he discovered whilst writing the book and they are absolutely mind boggling. I won’t fill you in on them because I really think you should book to see the show in either Brisbane, on Wednesday 11th September, or skip on over to Auckland for his show on the 14th September. At the very least you should buy the book yourself.
If you can, definitely do the meet and greet. Bill Bryson and Julia Zemiro had time for everyone. They patiently posed for selfies with me and seemed interested when I told them about my blog. I wasn’t intending to shamelessly promote my blog in this setting (although I probably would have if I had of had the foresight to do so – I may have even printed business cards) but I felt compelled to regale Bill (and everyone else) with the story about the time I almost choked to death, in the middle of nowhere, on a sweet potato crisp whilst reading his book on William Shakespeare. This ranks in my top 3 “near death experiences” and I wrote a blog post all about it. I gave Bill the link to the blog and he promised to read it. I have been anxiously checking my blog stats every 5 minutes but the post itself is still sitting strongly with just 1 view for today. That view was me, frantically checking that there were no critical grammatical errors that could lead to embarrassment. I gave up bothering to check for errors about two seconds in, figuring I’d embarrassed myself plenty already so an incorrect usage of a common word would surely be forgiven, if not expected.
For those of you who have forgotten the post in question here it is:
Even if you do remember reading it, click on the link anyway to increase my stats. That way I can convince myself that one of those clicks was Bill Bryson, and that he has read something I have written, other than a crazy fan letter (but not crazy enough to rate a mention in his talk on the strangest letters he has ever received sadly).
Lateral Events are the people who organised to bring Bill to Australia both times and I can’t thank them enough. I began pestering them last night to bring Temple Grandin to Australia, as she is also on my list of people I would like to meet. I’d also like to meet HRH Catherine Cambridge but I’m not sure she is within their reach. If you’d also like to meet Temple Grandin you can help my cause by messaging them (Lateral Events) on FB and adding to the pester power.
When I began my strategic ‘casual suggestion’ of bringing her to Australia NO ONE in the room had heard of her. I was shocked!! I’m sure there are a LOT of people out there who admire Temple as much as I do!!
On as side note Bill mentioned in his talk last night about how talented his parents were at writing but how they never made it big. This consoled me no end. My lack of ability to produce a blog or any writing that can be deemed successful will propel my children to avenge my lack of acknowledgment/ laziness and become successful instead. Kylah will be a successful singer out of sheer vengeance that no one appreciated my vocal skills in this life time. Jazzy will be a successful sewer in retribution to all the mockery I have faced during my lifetime for my creative pursuits (i.e. doing creative things badly then claiming that I find beauty in imperfection). Rohan will end up a wildly successful billionaire entrepreneur to prove to everyone that I was right all along. It is possible to become rich and successful without hard work and diligence (two things both Rohan and I lack interest in). Isabelle I have pegged to marry Prince George. I really wanted to marry Prince William (sorry Ben) but Catherine Middleton swept that glory right out from under my feet. Isabelle has said she either wants to be a princess or a cleaner, so I’m pushing for the first.
Bill, if it’s any consolation, I deem my children’s accomplishments as more spectacular than my own because I MADE THEM (mostly). If they grow up to be half as wonderful as you are I will be the proudest mum on Earth. I’m sure your dad would concur. I’m fairly certain that he would be happy with his decision to live a quiet, happy life and raise a brilliant man who encouraged literally MILLIONS of scientifically inept people (i.e. me) to take an interest in the sciences and be curious about the world around them.
You make me laugh, you make me want to learn more about our world and it’s weird history, you inspire curiosity but most importantly, you write back to each and every crazy fan. For this I can’t thank you enough!!!
From your self proclaimed biggest fan/ favourite stalker,
P.S. It would not be a proper blog post if I did not sign off with ‘Thanks for reading!!’. My apologies to everyone who thinks this is a lame ending but I’m all about lameness. Xxx