Alan Flyng

Alan Flyng

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

STARMANIA 2010, SWANSEA. 25th and 26th September.


It is now apparent that Barry Rees, the organiser of this event, has bounced cheques on at least six of us guests, as well as the backers, the caterers and the marquee company. This matter is now in the hands of the law.

I am prefacing this blog entry with my words written in the lead-up to this event, as I think they bear reading, in the light of events as they actually occurred..... A write-up by an attending journalist follows the description of the reality that was Starmania 2010 at the end of this entry.......

In the lead-up to this event - probably the largest Sci-fi convention in Wales, as the organisers describe it - there have been a lot of hiccups! But, finally, it is nearly upon us and the list of signers remains impressive, though large!

The new final venue announced is The National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, SA1 3RD. Of the three venues announced through the year, this has to be the best option, as it is near the city-centre and easily accessible by train and plane, as well as by car!

The advertised list of guest signers is as follows:
  1. Dave Prowse
  2. Kenny Baker - Saturday only
  3. Brian Muir
  4. Peter Mayhew -CANCELLED
  5. Richard LeParmentier
  6. Peter Burroughs
  7. Jerome Blake
  8. Alan Flyng
  9. Derek Lyons
  10. Jeremy Bulloch - CANCELLED
  11. Alan Harris
  12. Chris Parsons
  13. Catherine Munro
  14. Pam Rose
  15. Little Kiran
  16. Toby Philpott
  17. John Chapman
  18. Stephanie English
  19. Chris Muncke
  20. Mike Edmonds
  21. Garrick Hagon - CANCELLED
  22. Peter Roy
  23. Shane Rimmer
  24. Ian Whyte
  25. Stephen MD Chang - CANCELLED
  26. Laurie Goode
  27. Ted Western
Hopefully, enough people will come and meet us and the traders to make this worth repeating on an annual basis...that depends on the public. But it is clear that a Con of this scope has been sadly lacking from the roster of events for the Principality and this could attract many much-needed visitors! I do, however, have reservations about the number of guests booked - we could all be twiddling our thumbs if it is lightly attended!!! Time will tell...

After selling out of photos at Bayern Park, in Germany, I have re-ordered! I will also try a few new things too, to see if they are attractive to the public. First up will be simple laminated bookmarks.

                                                     A banner I did for Facebook to draw attention to the event.

Finally, the accommodation is set and we have just to wait on the travel day prior to the event!

Pre-orders for Swansea are being handled by Mark Cookson, who handled the same for London Film and Comic Con and Jason Griffiths is assisting us - the signers - with getting all we need to be ready on the day. Barring any more changes, the next report will be of the event itself, as I will blog both days from the hotel.

Well, the travel day to Wales arrived and I picked up Derek Lyons and Pam Rose and set off on the M4 for Wales. We stopped off halfway to rendezvous with Stephanie English, Rick Stanley and Dave Louis Oldbury at a salubrious service station, known as Leigh Delamere. The name is the most attractive thing about it, of course, and soon we were off and approaching the Severn Bridge. I could see flashes in my rear-view mirror, thinking Steph was flashing me for my attention. It was, in fact, Rick photographing the approaching bridge! LOL.

Arriving in Port Talbot, we reached the familiar edifice of wrack and ruin known as The Grand Hotel! My oh my!!! What a misnomer!!! The organiser finally turned up after all of the signers had arrived. We were finally offered a fish and chip supper rapidly unwrapped by the organiser's wife and daughter - decidedly unappealing - and then off to bed.

Friday night is fish and chip night in old Port Talbot Town!

My room had twin 2'6" beds (I am 2'3" wide!!! LOL), a bathroom larger than the bedroom with a shower lacking a pipe to connect the taps to the shower head, a washbasin with the hot tap sheared off...... and a night of discomfort and cold ensued - and a carpet beetle caught making it's way to my case! Deceased! RIP!!!.

The chearful welcome sign on the door to the hotel!!! And oh, how tempting!!!

Next morning, I did my impression of a walrus stuck in a bucket as I tried to take a bath ( a daily occurrence in this hotel, naturally) and, after a decidedly bargain basement breakfast, we set out in a flotilla of cars to go to the advertised venue, which turned out not to be the National Waterfront Museum........ but a tent!!! A draughty wind tunnel of a tent on the grass to the side of the museum! As the day progressed, the damp, which had risen from the earth overnight, condensed onto the roof and support poles. A battle, which lasted the two days began, to keep the constant drips from above ruining our photos.

The day was lightly attended and those signers, who had not succeeded in finding a table on which to set up in the tent, but were accommodated within the museum, had a very much more successful day. Entry into the tent cost £5 and the National Waterfront Museum of Wales is free entry, with constantly arriving visitors attending!!! No brainer!!!

Dave Prowse, Ted Western and Peter Roy await the thronging crowds...insert the rolling tumbleweed here!

Pam Rose seated with Dave Louis Oldbury  - and an empty tent!
We did manage a laugh, in spite of it all, as always happens when a band of unruly and loud actors congregate.

Shane Rimmer, Alan Harris, Lindsay Muir and Rick Stanley ... and an empty tent!
That laugh evaporated rapidly as lunch passed us by and a sporadic cup of tea remained all that was offered to keep us going. Finally, at about 3 pm we were offered something to eat! Pig in a bun or cow in a bun! I have to tell you, as a diabetic on a strict regimen of pills, this was a disaster! I settled on the pig! It arrived looking as if it was semi-digested, having been hacked into tiny bits and mixed around with sweet sugary apple sauce to bind it together! Big, big mistake!!! The vegetarian option day one was a dry bun - period!!! The tent lay 100 meters from the museum entrance and the conveniences another 50 meters inside, through a myriad of costumers and displays. I was ill twice and being brutally honest found the distance too far for comfort otherwise! I leave that remark to your imaginations to complete!!! Absolutely awful and embarrassing!!!

The day crawled to a premature end, as we were sitting twiddling our thumbs for the most part, watching Dave Prowse mop up all the sales. The event had been laid out with all the toy stalls just inside the tent and then us. Dave took over two tables facing the incoming guests at the head of the table in a U-shape layout. After parents had spent on their children to buy figures, magic tricks, lightsabres etc, little money remained, and so they headed straight for Vader and that was that! The organiser had been warned in the friendliest of fashions by me from an early date to stop booking more and more guests, as this was going to be the inevitable result! 


In addition, many of the signers were determined not to stay for the second day, but we jointly agreed to give it a try. Certain guests did elect to go and were not missed at all, in spite of being advertised as principal guests!

That evening, we were all invited by the backer's wife, Morgan, to a meal on them at the Indian restaurant local to the 'Grunge' Hotel. This proved to be a triumph of PR, as it lifted all out spirits and we all enjoyed a fantastic meal of the highest standard! Naturally, conversation did include talk of our organiser and his uninspired efforts, matched by realities adrift from promises! Nevertheless, all of us, veterans not only of Star Wars films but also international careers with extensive experience of conventions, decided to make the most of the second day.

Fed guests are happy guests - lesson one!
We should never have bothered! A half-marathon started close to our position and onlookers, gathering to watch it start, had no idea what we were there for, as little to no advertising had made the event known to the public! I have to take my hat off to the Ewoks, Galactic Knights and the Milton Keynes Garrison members trooping the event, as, without their efforts, most of this fortunate resource of potential attendees might have passed us by!!! I am very proud of and grateful for the award of Honorary Memberships to both the MK Garrison as well as the Galactic Knights! Thank you so much all! Unfortunately, with all their good efforts we were more of a curiosity than an attraction and little to no sales were made.

Milton Keynes Garrison Honorary Membership.

Galactic Knights Honorary Membership.

Richard LeParmentier finds time to read the small print of his paper - again!

I would so like to say that I expect this same event to make a welcome appearance on the roster of conventions next year, but I would be lying! It will take place again, but not under this management - of that I'm pretty sure. The constant barrage of lies and half-truths, used to keep us on-side, have permanently prejudiced any further involvement with him!

This second night was supposed to be the end-of-con party at the local casino - a peculiar venue to say the least! Actors were annoyed to find themselves being obliged to show ID, credit cards and fill out forms for membership, in order to access the 'party'! I had been there before and knew what to expect, having been dragged down a few weeks previously, only to sit in this same venue, mistaken, along with Stephanie English, for auctioneers! Another story altogether. The highlight of that abortive trip had been a terrible karaoke singer belting out Tom Jones songs to the ceiling at great volume, oblivious to his audience. I purloined his audience as I burst out laughing uncontrollably - sounding like Muttley, as I am known around the world - and forced the audience and table players to listen and watch me. No film of it exists, but there is a recording of the singing in the background drowned out by Muttley! LOL The Laugh!!!

Having experienced every sensory discomfort already, we were cringingly embarrassed by an order barked out by the casino manager (at the behest of the convention organiser), that all non-actors were to leave the table and the finger buffet to the actors, masquerading as the only decent meal of the day. I failed to say earlier that this second day I received a salad bap - my meal for the whole day!!! Of course, some of the costumers present made to leave and did, before Pam Rose and the rest of us protested the situation and the remainder were asked to join us. Too late, of course, to rectify this gross error of judgement!

Here is a link to an article written by an attending journalist, without the benefit of knowing the behind-the-scenes story....

So my dear friends, there it is. An adventure, certainly! A fun time with old friends -  for the most-part, yes! But a successful convention and to be recommended - NO!

And to top it all, at least eight cheques from the organiser are now bouncing like . . . . B>A>L>L>S!!!!!!!!!!!!! Watch this space for updates!!!!!!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Charity Con, Hastings, Minnesota. 24th September 2010.


The Poster for Keith Garrick's Charity Con on the 24th September, 2010.

I had been looking forward to seeing this event succeed, due to the sterling efforts of it's organiser, Keith Garrick, and the hardship that occasioned the change of date.

I had become acquainted with Keith and his lovely daughter Emily over the last six or seven months or so, as I had been invited to join his informative and fun forum, hosted on the Ning networks via his site,

As this second date approached, it became obvious it was going to clash with another convention I was appearing at in Wales, called Starmania 2010. But we both decided to see if we could overcome that by using the online voice-over-internet application called Skype, which gave us also the option of having live video coverage. I also downloaded the program called VodBurner, which would alow me to record a bit of the interview and Q & A live with camera output from both ends.

I sat up on the night until 1.45 am the 25th September, which was 7.45 pm on the 24th and made the call. Below are links to the result, edited and divided into two parts for ease of upload to YouTube. I am sorry for the overall quality - I was on WiFi in my Welsh hotel as was the convention in Hastings, Minnesota, USA! Derek Lyons knocked on my door just before going live and so he too is included in the broadcast Q & A.

looked forward to also seeing members of the Central Garrison of the 501st trooping at the event and hoped that attendance would be enthusiastic, which is why I sat up half the night to support him and the event in general. I had also contributed, along with other Star Wars actors and collectors, memorabilia and autographs, which we hoped would attract some interest.

Part One:

Part Two:

In the event, Keith reported back the following:
"Thanks so much for your support Alan !!! I couldn't have done it without you and your encouragement. Thanks for being such a good friend !!! May the Force be with you,,, Always....
Charity Con was a success !!! Thanks to all the fans and sponsors of the show!!! Together we rasied enough to purchase almost 4,000 pounds of food for the local food shelf !!! Special thanks to Alan Flyng, Derek Lyons and Rick Stanley and Shadow Trooper, The 501st, and Rebel Legion.
It came out to be $495.00 and over 4,000 pounds of food... Also a private donor has added a percentage onto that !!!"

Congratulations to Keith and his support crew and I hope next year to see a bigger and even better event!

The badge and logo of the Central Garrison, 501st Legion.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

A Private Signing with Jamie DuPont (and a car journey into the unknown.....)

I had arranged to drive to meet a Star Wars fan and friend, Jamie DuPont, at his home in the company of Derek Lyons, in order to do a private signing. Address and postcode written down, how could anything go wrong????

Now, it is important at this early juncture to explain, that Jamie's home lies no more than 40 miles due South of my own home and, even picking up Derek from his home first, we ought to have been there in about an hour! Oh ye of little faith!!! That is an estimate not counting in the little gremlins who reside in my Tom Tom sat-nav.......

With the knowledge that a postcode usually refers to no more than three or four houses in a particular street anywhere in Britain, I felt sure that we would be there in quick time and be sat drinking a nice cup of tea and having a good laugh very soon. Think again! :o)

We started off from Derek's house at about 11.30 AM and started a veritable rally tour of South East England. As we drove along, chatting and laughing about all sorts of things, we neither of us took note that time was going by, as we both occasionally shut up to listen to the directions....turn left, turn right, do a back flip - whatever! LOL. What we didn't do was pay attention to where we were going! Come 1 o'clock and  grumbling bellies, we realised we were in the middle of nowhere! Country lanes and single track roads and still that insistent voice kept droning on - keep left, keep left - with hedges touching the car on either side! And all of a sudden, we were there - or at least as far as 'that woman' in the Tom Tom was concerned!!!

Derek got out of the car to check that the house we had arrived at was the right one - the only one in a private single-track lane with sleeping policemen on the road - to be met by a rather posh lady, who assured him that none of the houses thereabouts were 'numbered', but were instead 'all named'! With that a rather aggrieved Labrador came bounding out barking at the intruder - Derek - and so off we went again! Reaching a main road (sort of), we pulled over and phoned Jamie to assure him we were near and would be there in no time if he would care to give us a pub or landmark to look out for. He did - and we couldn't see anything. So, this time we put in the full address. We were not only nowhere near, but in the wrong county!!! =o/

So, off we went again, still listening to the wretched sat-nav woman and we headed for the right county. Now, you might imagine that this is the end of it - a comfortable, if protracted drive, to reach an address just a hop, skip and a jump from my own home, with a diversion caused by who knows what, to a location God knows where!?!

As we passed through one particular town for the third time, from different directions each time, we realised we were 'off on one' again! Now, those of you who know me well, know what a peculiar sense of humour I truly have and may have heard my hysterical laughter, when I can no longer control the rising hysteria!!! We had reached that point by now and Mutley was laughing again - at full force!!! Derek's laugh can be just as outrageous and we were in danger of not being able to drive. Another phone call and more directions, with Derek unable to clearly hear Jamie, causing a very strange conversation of misheard names and uncontrollable laughter! Surely this time.....

Another hour later (3 in total) and we were there!!! Jamie stepped out of his house to welcome us and we crept out of the car like two 90 year olds - aching and clutching our stomachs and grinning sheepishly at our patient host!!!

Inside - a cup of tea - a bit of general chat - and we started with the poster we had come to sign and a couple of books. Derek and I had also brought a few photos as presents for Jamie and so we signed them too, with Jamie and Derek photographing the whole process! We were still slightly giggly from the ludicrous drive and it soon led to the signing descending into something akin to a Goon Show skit. Jamie was great fun and I don't suppose he imagined that having the two of us come to his house would turn into a 3-ring Barnum and Bailey circus - but he handled it and us well!

Hours later, and home came Jamie's partner and fiancee to find three giggling men, no doubt confirming her opinion of men in general, and we started to make a move. 6 o'clock!!! Where had the day gone? At least, the drive home would be straight forward???

This time 'the bitch' in the Tom Tom was leading us home in the right direction, but she hauled us kicking and screaming onto the M23 and a traffic jam of monumental dimensions, starting south of Gatwick and seeming to have no end until London. I was starting to run low on petrol and hysteria set into two middle-aged, ravenously hungry and tired men.

I think it was about 8.30 PM when I finally fell through the door and inhaled a steak and kidney pie and a handful of pills.

Genuinely cross-eyed by now, I sat down to read my post and check in on Facebook. I had received some lovely drawings from a young Star Wars fan in Stockholm, called Robin Arvidsson, who had used some of the photos found on Facebook as reference. I am genuinely very touched by the thought that went into them, and so, I reproduce them here with Robin's permission for you to enjoy too, prefaced with some photos from the signing session!