Sunday, 29 April 2018

The happiness of being a fan

I am a fan. A proper, fully-fledged, deeply uncool and overenthusiastic fan.
I get all excited  - during the trailer for the new Mary Poppins film I actually squealed out loud in the cinema because I saw Lin-Manuel Miranda.  I have release dates for telly shows and books in my calendar. I fall in love with things at the drop of a hat.

Mark is not a fan. He likes stuff - sometimes he loves stuff. He has books, games, films and bands he really enjoys. He is measured in his enthusiasm, doesn't wig out in exuberant excitement.  This can make it awfully hard to buy him presents - who knows what he'd really like? - but it definitely makes him easy to live with. He's much steadier than I am.

But I do feel all non-fan people are missing out. There's something about that pure joy, throwing yourself into something and utterly loving it. Surrendering to the uncool, being the antithesis of cynical, being a bit absurd and really not minding at all.

My principle fangirl obsession at the moment is the work of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Since I first watched Moana, the glorious song You're Welcome (as performed by the most enthusiastic human on the planet, The Rock) has been one of my favourites. It's lyrically adept, full of charm, self-delusion, cheekiness and fun. In our house it's The Mum Summoner - Luke put it on YouTube loudly in the living room when I was messing about in the kitchen and he wanted my attention and as predicted I dropped everything and rushed into the room. Now they all do it.
I can't help it, You're Welcome makes me very happy. And it sure beats someone bellowing MUUUUUUUM to attract my attention.

Some months later my Very Excellent Mate Alison mentioned they had pre-registered for Hamilton tickets because her kids were obsessed with it. I was bemused - to me Hamilton is a declining steel city in Ontario and not exactly the thing shows are made of. (Except maybe a Canuck Full Monty, I guess.)  However, Alison's gang have outstanding taste and have introduced me to good things over the years so I thought I'd have a listen.  I didn't realise it was by the person who wrote The Mum Summoner. I knew nothing of the historical figure. That was 14 months ago.

"How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman..." I was hooked from the opening line.

Not a week goes by that I don't play it.  (OK, it's nearly daily.)  Zach knows every single word of the 2.5 hour set, bless his ace self, and I know a hell of a lot.  I never get bored of it. I find new nuances, call-backs, witticisms, and clever touches each time. I still cry. I think Daveed Diggs is brilliant, Thomas Jefferson was a Grade-A asshole, Lin himself is clearly a genius and I'm with Angelica, I want Women in the sequel (Work!)
I have to actively remind myself to play other stuff because I know the rest of the house wants a bit of variety. Tom Petty and the Hamilton soundtrack is pretty much all I need. I'm almost afraid of seeing it live in October because I know and love the Broadway recording so well. But I'm also incredibly excited that we ARE seeing it eventually. 

I am also a massive fan of Springwatch. To the frustration of my offspring - who would rather watch paint dry - I watch every single second of every series. Sometimes I watch twice because there was a cool bit. I follow what else the presenters are up to, mark the transmission dates in my calendar so I don't miss anything.
I look up the places they visit.  It was Iolo waxing lyrical about the Farne Islands that had me desperate to go.  Seeing the nesting puffins and terns was so brilliant I still bounce on my toes when I think of our trip last June - absolutely glorious. 

Other telly I am a big fan of: The Wire and Game of Thrones, both of which I have watched all the way through numerous times. It's the complexity of the stories, I'm transfixed.  Because I go to the beginning each time a new series comes out I can nearly do Season 1 of GOT by heart. I am still angry that one of my very favourite characters didn't even exist in the books, making them even more turgid to read. Roz is AWESOME, damn it.

Then there's the Regency novels of Georgette Heyer which I re-read several times a year. I'm VERY good on obscure trivia from the Heyer world. I love the period language, the daft habit of naming people after towns, that the heroes having grey eyes and the heroines frequently wear celestial blue gowns with silver spider-gauze. I love that Lady of Quality and Black Sheep are basically the same novel and I enjoy both versions anyway.  I love that I'm on my third copy of Frederica because the earlier ones have fallen apart.

Being a fan, however you express it, is a force for good.  Conventions where you hang out with other fans, online discussion groups, reading and re-reading, watching and re-watching, singing at the top of your voice whether or not you're any good, allowing the stories to sweep you away or the music to become the soundtrack of your life - to hell with a cynical, bitter and depressing world. I fully recommend opening our arms and hearts to something that makes us properly happy. 

You're welcome.

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