Well, I turned 33 on Thursday. So that was nice. But it was Friday I was really looking forward to.
Up fairly early (for me) Friday morning (Time for an Audioboo*). Having already packed our overnight bag with clothes the night before, I couldn't put all my medication in the bag 'til after I'd had my morning dose (I have four types of tablets, treating my epilepsy and other conditions, plus two different types of insulin for my diabetes...yawn), so once all the important stuff was away, and we'd got stuff to eat on the journey, we were ready to set off.
I'd got tickets for my sister Grace and myself, and we were looking forward to this, really quite a lot.
We got to the station and, after taking our seats in the wrong half of the train, we set off on our two hour trip to London.
My epilepsy can sometimes be a little exacerbated by stress or panic, so we did wonder how the transfers from St Pancras to Vauxhall (via the Tube), then onto Kempton Park, where we got off and walked the five minutes or so to our hotel (big up for the Sunbury Travelodge!) would effect me. Luckily, no rushing about and no panic, so no problem there.
After getting changed (I'd bought a brand new Starbug t-shirt for the occasion, and, while not official Red Dwarf merchandise, it is rather beautiful), we were back on the train down to Shepperton station, and from there to the pub, to meet the Ganymede & Titan crowd.
Around 5pm, we left the pub to make our way to Shepperton Studios. Where the magic happens.
We made our way down to the back entrance which has lain the welcome mat for Red Dwarf fans for the past month, and made our way down the dark, muddy path towards the actual studio buildings. We held onto our tickets, and were ushered into a cage, sorry shown into a holding area, where we were given numbers, could grab a drink and a chocolate bar, and pop to the loo before we went to the hangar of a studio which is home to Red Dwarf X.
We were called in groups (hence the numbers) and were led to the studio. My overriding memory is standing at the door of the studio, seeing half of one of the main sets, and my jaw just dropping - these sets are just outstanding.
We took our seats, and (speaking personally) just stared in wonder at the beautiful sets until the wonderful Ray Peacock, our warm-up/compere for the night said hello and started to, well, warm us up. He announced the cast one by one, who each came out to whoops, cheers and rapturous applause. Co-creator/Writer/Director Doug Naylor said a few words, reiterating the need for the internet to stay spoiler-free until RDX airs (that may have been before the cast appeared, actually. Can't remember. Sorry.). Then Phones were turned off and we got going. A lovely scene on the far set, another on the set on our half of the studio, a pre-VT, then back on the far set.
Doug then took to the floor to explain that the middle section of the episode wouldn't be being recorded tonight, but we would be shifting forward until after these missing ten minutes or so had happened, and gave us a brief explanation as to what may have occurred in those ten minutes. We then saw the end of the episode recorded, and a couple of pick-ups from earlier episodes.
Perhaps in acknowledgement that our evening had perhaps been a little shorter than expected (we'd still been in our seats for just under three hours, so no short shrift here), we were then treated to a rough edit of the first episode of the series, recorded some five weeks earlier, which was great.
Then it was finished. The cast were treated to more applause, and we began to shuffle out.
Grace and I hung around with the fellow fans - nay, friends - I know from online.
Still, I had supper to grab, tablets to take, needles to stick in my flab, and we left with a friendly "Fuck off" from our dear friend Ian, who we bumped into once again in the chippy (Jack's Fish and Chips, certainly the best chips I've had in a long time. Honestly, they were lovely, although a bit more salt wouldn't've gone amiss).
So, we ordered a taxi back to the Travelodge (Robert Llewellyn had retweeted the phone number of a local taxi firm a few weeks ago, and we'd made a note), and sat and watched TV for a while before we said goodnight and Grace trotted off to her room. I, meanwhile, summed my day up, then turned in for the night.
Next morning, and following a late breakfast (around 10.20am - the staff were beginning to tidy up around us), we got our stuff together and set off.
The journey back was much the same as the journey down, to be honest, so I won't go through it in any real detail, apart from recounting my spectacular trip outside Sheffield Station, as I made my way to the crossing, tripped on a step, took a flying dive, and landed with a whack, flat on my stomach. Okay, so my stomach is far from flat, but you know what I mean. "Are you alright?" Grace asked. "Yes," I wheezed pathetically. "I just need to sit down a minute, I'm a bit winded."
We were on the bus and home just after half past five.
So. Red Dwarf X. It's funny - very funny - and though I'm the sort of Red Dwarf fan who loves the show somewhat unconditionally - it is better than VII, VIII and Back to Earth. I can't wait til September to watch it on TV. I've been a Red Dwarf fan since I was nine. Now I'm 33. An evening over Twenty years in the making.
A day and a half later, I'm still on a bit of a high.
*Audioboo is a website which allows you to record messages, stories etc using the magic medium of sound, usually in chunks of three minutes or less. I'm new to this, but decided to record a few Boos during the day (at least one of which isn't great sound quality...), all of which are linked to in this Blog post.