I was so not worthy of this! Who did I think I was, taking a chair from a real fan? And what a chair it was! Front row at the Monastery in Manchester. (Gorton, actually, so it required some travelling, but not as much as the fans who came from all over the country. For a book event. Seems I’m not the only crazy person around.)
With the fantastic – but not exactly central – Monastery as the venue for John Green’s event, I had pondered how his teenage fans would get there. On the same bus as me, in fact. I lost count of the number of girls who got on, buying a ticket for the Monastery. And it was my second event in two days running where people simply ‘love ice cream.’
So there we were, for the cult event of the year, the real fans, and me. Around a thousand of us? I don’t know. It’s a big church and it was sold out and it was packed. Not to the rafters, but that’s only because the rafters were pretty high up in this case. All candle lit. Some fans had arrived hours before the event began.
John is very much a cult star, totally unheard of by the rest of us. He and his brother Hank are in Britain for several sold out events, to publicise his new book The Fault In Our Stars, about a teenager dying of cancer. (I know.) I had barely begun reading it, wanting to come to the event cold, to see what I thought.
Arriving on stage accompanied by more noise than your average popstar, John promised us he would slap his brother before the evening was out. Or vice versa. He borrowed someone’s copy of the book and read to us from the first chapter.
Then this former ‘bad chaplain’ advocated dropping out of school, talked about his nerdfighters (no, I don’t know, either) before inviting Hank to sing. The audience knew every word of every song! Which was lucky, considering how often he lost track of where he was. He sang some Harry Potter songs, and then John was back explaining about manic pixie dream girls. They don’t exist, apparently.
While Hank had been entertaining us, John picked out the best of the questions fans had written for him, and the good thing about fervent fans is the high quality of their questions. He doesn’t know anything about the film. The title of the book is too long for the New York Times bestseller list, and he himself doesn’t think his books are good. (Obviously John is on the NYT list – no. 1 – and the books are OK too.)
After John and Hank had twerked a bit (cross between twitching and jerking, maybe?) they invited Olympic star Jennifer Pinches to ask them questions against the clock (to determine who would get to slap whom), and they swiftly covered zombies, hair softness, marmite (no, it’s not food), drunken rugby fans on the tube, burning down the Monastery, and whether they thought Jesus might fall down on them where they were. As in right underneath.
John failed completely at saying Förr eller senare exploderar jag, which is something I could have assisted with. It’s the Swedish title for The Fault In Our Stars, and by happy coincidence I came upon that very phrase as soon as I continued reading on the way home.
Before Hank slapped him, John took off his glasses.
Hank sang a My Little Pony Song. He seemed quite knowledgeable, for a 31-year-old boy.
This kind of huge event means there isn’t time for normal signing or posing for photos. The signing was as ‘for cattle, only faster’ and John and Hank posed for photos on the stage, leaving room for you to photoshop yourself next to them. The signing queue was possibly made shorter by John having signed all the books (included in the ticket price) in advance, in blue and red, to cover all tastes of soccer affiliation.
Telling us we didn’t actually have to stay, they said they were very grateful to us for coming, and then offered a last song about fish sex. Because this was not your average or even vaguely normal book event, we got another final song, where even John sang. A little.
After that encore, the cattle was herded out for the booksigning queue, which I joined on account of being fifth in line. When he asked, I told John I was fine. Then he moved on to the next cow.
At that point I decided that a brisk walk to a further away bus stop meant I wouldn’t have to share a bus with five hundred other heads of cattle. So I did. On my subsequent train, I peered at what the girl in front of me was reading. Another of John’s books. This cult person will be mainstream before he knows what hit him. Hank. We know.
(If you need to learn about the Green brothers, try their famous vlogs. Like all online successes they began six years ago. Cough.)
While you do that, I’m going to see if I can learn to photoshop…