Dream Come True: Meeting Jackie Chan
by Lynsey Calver
"Hey, it's Jackie Chan!" I exclaimed, seeing the advertisement for "Around the world in 80 days" on my friend's television.
The room fell silent. Always a conversation stopper, when I see anything to do with Jackie Chan, because it always results in an involuntary exclamation on my part, which, in turn, normally results in some rather funny looks being thrown my way. However, this time I wasn't as embarrassed as I could have been, as it was only my friends that I had disgraced myself in front of.
The next moment, I heard the oh-so-familiar groans from my friends.
"She's off again."
"Jackie Chan disease strikes again."
"Who is he anyway?"
Blushing bright red, I changed the subject hastily.
This had to stop. Maybe I should find something else to interest me. Martial Arts for instance. Maybe not.
* * *
I haven't been a Jackie Chan fan for very long, eighteen months or so at the most, so I can't really call myself a true fan. Not yet anyway. I first saw him in Shanghai Noon, and that was it, I was hooked. There was just something about his personality that grabbed you and it wasn't long before I rented out more of his films.
Shanghai Knights, Police Story one, The Medallion and Who am I? later, there was no going back.
I was a Jackie Chan fan.
It was actually a not-so-good-friend of mine who introduced me to the official Jackie Chan website. Charlie had been doing some kind of stick fighting for several years and once the rumour went around the Youth Club that I had started Kickboxing, he started accepting that I existed. He didn't need to know that my stance could be compared to a constipated duck. Nor did he need to know that my side-kick looked like a ballet gone horribly wrong.
It was three in the afternoon when he approached me.
"Hey there, fellow Martial Artist." He said, sitting next to me and interrupting my reading.
"Wannabe Martial Artist." I corrected irritably, snapping my book shut. Never interrupt me when I'm reading. Ever. "So, to what do I owe this acknowledgement?"
He ignored what was clearly a dig at him. At least, I hoped he ignored it, because if he missed it completely, he's much more stupid than I had previously estimated.
"So, who's your favourite Martial Artist?"
"Jackie Chan." I replied automatically. "Who's yours?"
"Bruce Lee. Have you ever been on his website?"
"Me neither 'cos whenever I go on it, the Internet crashes."
"D'you want the address of the website?"
"Yes please, if you don't mind."
I tore a page out of a notepad and handed it to him. While he took his time over writing the address, I opened my book again.
"There you go." Charlie said, interrupting my reading for the second time in the space of a few seconds. "I'd better be going now. Meeting someone."
"Ok." I replied, my attention on his lousy handwriting. "Hey Charlie!" I yelled after him, when I'd finished reading it.
He turned around and I waved the bit of paper at him.
And he hasn't spoken to me since.
* * *
I didn't have to wait long for a chance to explore the website, as a teacher didn't turn up for our IT class and I spent it flicking between writing about hardware and the Internet. Carefully, I typed the address into the search bar and waited.
And waited a bit more. Twenty minutes was the time it took for the front page to load and I eventually got bored with waiting and returned to my mind-numbingly boring IT essay. However, I was very well informed when the page had loaded, as when I had almost completed my essay, a burst of song exploded through the speakers very noisily, causing a lot of nonsense to appear on my word document when my hands slipped on the keyboard. Everyone in the room turned to look at me and I spread an unconvincing smile across my red face as I turned the volume down.
"Sorry, just Jackie Chan."
The inevitable groans fell on my ears and gradually, I was forgotten about. I entered the site, thinking to myself. I never knew that Jackie Chan could sing. It couldn't be anyone else, where is the sense in that? A silly grin was plastered all over my face as I roamed around the site. Other than the fact that it was slow to load, I thought it was great. Especially the news section. Most of my time that first time on the website was spent reading the news archives and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. When I clicked some of the links though, I was asked for my VIP ID and password and I didn't have either. Investigating further, I found out that VIP was basically a subscription to the site and it gave you access to certain areas.
My entire body jumped about a foot in the air and I turned around with a guilty expression. The IT teacher had arrived and she evidently did not share the same hero as me. Hastily, I shut the browser down and typed away at my essay.
Boring, boring, boring.
But I finished it and was excused from the detention arranged for those who had not completely it. Walking faster than I normally would, I got home in fifteen minutes and arrived on the Jackie Chan site again.
Two months of happy surfing later, I got myself a subscription.
And it was this subscription that allowed me access to the message boards, which I might add; I now spend quite a bit of time browsing. As I am writing this, I have only been a VIP member for thirty-six days and it was during those thirty-six days that I discovered that the European Premiere for "Around the world in 80 days" was being held in Leicester Square London and Jackie was going to be there. My heart leapt and I expect my facial expression could have been compared to a goldfish that had rather stupidly jumped out of its bowl.
Jackie was in England. I live in England.
Unfortunately, I don't live in London. The town where I live, however, does have a very good train service to London, Liverpool Street. It was worth a try.
More than a little nervously, I got up from my computer and went into the kitchen. I approached my mum, who was doing something or other on her sewing machine. How on earth was I supposed to just casually drop into the conversation about whether it possible to go to Leicester Square tomorrow, because Jackie Chan is going to be there?
With many hesitations, and pauses to modify how I phrased things, I told my mum the situation without actually asking if we could go, and by the end of my narrative, I was blushing bright red again. You always go red at the most inconvenient moments, in my opinion.
My mum put her head to one side and my heart sank. Never a good sign, she'd just pulled her usual stunt of reading my mind.
"I don't think you'll ever get near him Lynsey." She said.
Well, I had worked that out. Tomorrow, Leicester Square would be crawling with hundreds, maybe thousand of fans and if I even managed to get to London, I'd just be another face in the crowd.
Another face in the crowd who would probably end up ten rows back if she even managed to get there.
"Yeah, I know, I'd just be thrilled if I managed to see him."
"I doubt you'd even manage to do that and it's too short notice to go to London."
"Yeah, I guess. Never mind."
I gave her a quick smile and sat myself in front of the computer again. Yeah, ok, so I was disappointed but I understood exactly where my mum was coming from, and it was very short notice. Shortly, I needed to go upstairs to fetch something and when I came back down, I caught my mum whispering something in my dad's ear. That horrible, awkward silence that always occurs when you've walked in on something you shouldn't have done spiralled around the room and I cringed. So did my mum. My dad kept his cool.
"Lynsey, you're going to Leicester Square tomorrow."
I seriously thought that I had misheard, so I asked him to repeat.
"You're going to Leicester Square tomorrow."
"But I can't!" I spluttered. "We can't just travel eighty miles just to "
My mum interrupted.
"Yes we can, I'll take you. I know how much it means to you."
"But ." My dad began and I realised that it was conditional on something. "You haven't got a hope of getting near him and you mustn't be upset when that happens because you've got an exam the morning afterwards."
Oh God yes, the exam.
I don't think I've mentioned that I am currently doing my GCSEs, which are the terminal exams in England. I only had two to go, physics in the morning, and history the morning after that. I shook my head firmly and hurriedly made it clear that I knew for myself that I hadn't got a hope in hell of getting near Jackie.
"I know that dad, seriously I do. There'll be thousands of fans there tomorrow and I'll just be one of them. I'd just like to see him. I know I've seen him in films and stuff enough times but that's different, it's not the same. If I can just see him for real tomorrow, I'll be over the moon."
My dad smiled.
"Well I think you've got a pretty good chance of doing that."
The rest of the evening passed in a blur of excitement but two questions from my mum are standing out clearly in my mind.
"Are you going to wear a Jackie Chan T-shirt?" (I can print out T-shirt transfers with my computer)
I raised an eyebrow.
"No, that's not my style."
"Are you going to sing one of his songs?"
I almost choked. I don't speak Chinese and even if I did, my singing is famously terrible.
"No, 'cos that spells out "Fan-who-can-neither-speak-Chinese-nor-sing.""
One other thing that I am remembering is calling Alison to tell her that I couldn't go to the Wine Bar with her and our friends. I felt so guilty. I was blowing her out on something that had been arranged for weeks, something I hate being done to me but she was brilliant.
"Lynsey, that's great, I hope you meet him." She said.
"You're not annoyed?"
She assured me that she wasn't. I am really lucky to have a great friend like her.
I'm going to bed now and I've got to keep my mind on Physics.
* * *
It's six in the morning and my exam starts at nine. I have a million and one things I've got to do between the end of my physics exam at 10:10am and before mum and me catch the 1:50 train to Liverpool Street, and they're all written out on a little list, courtesy of my mum.
Buy a Ham roll
and a Cheese roll. (This is my dad's lunch.)
I find the last entry very amusing, because now I'm going to find that very difficult.
Ok, I'd better start getting ready.
* * *
I've got an hour before my mum gets home, my bag is ready and I've done everything on the list so I'll write about OCR, the malicious exam board.
I'd got all the way through the paper without too much trouble and I hadn't thought about Jackie ONCE .
Until I reached the very last page where the question was:
"Jackie thinks option B is the best. Explain why."
Wonderful. Thank you OCR, that is very helpful.
I think my exam board is taking the mickey.
* * *
I won't talk about the train journey as it was extremely uneventful unless you count the incident where I called the train driver an insulting name when he could have waited three seconds for me and my mum to get on his train and didn't.
Anyway, we arrived in London, Liverpool Street in plenty of time to catch a 23 bus to Piccadilly Circus, and we got to Leicester Square three hours in advance and they were only just putting the barriers up around the Vue Cinema. Way above me, two enormous posters advertising "Around the world in 80 days" were attached to the front wall and excitement was building up inside me.
There was no one waiting at the barriers.
I picked my spot and stood there. Call me an obsessive, but this was a chance in a million and I wasn't giving anyone the opportunity to take my place. My mum went to get something to eat and there was a tap on my shoulder.
"Hi." I said. Two men with Asian features were grinning down at me.
"Do you know what's going on?" One asked.
"Yeah, it's the European Premiere of "Around the world in 80 days"." I said.
"Do you know who will be here?"
"Jackie Chan will be."
"Wow, Jackie Chan! What time does he arrive?"
"I don't know exactly but probably around 6:30."
"You're going to wait three hours?" He asked, consulting his watch.
I nodded, grinning sheepishly. They grinned back.
"It would have been easier if you went to see him in Hong Kong." One said.
"That's her dream." My mum had come back.
I nodded. "Always wanted to go to Hong Kong."
"Are you from Hong Kong?" My mum asked.
"No, we're from Taiwan. Anyway, good luck. I hope you see him."
I hoped I saw him too. But as I was right at the front, my chances seemed to be very good.
* * *
For the first hour, the weather was pretty good and I didn't need to put my fleece on. However, during the second hour, it began to spit and I pulled the fleece on.
I dare you. Go on, I dare you. I double dare you. I thought menacingly, glaring up at the threatening grey rain cloud.
It didn't rain and a few more people came to stand at the barriers but none many of them stayed very long. The people who did stay sounded very English and it was a real surprise when I heard a sudden American accent.
"Hey, do you know what's happening?" A girl who looked about my age was smiling at me from my left side.
I explained about the Premiere and that Jackie Chan was going to be there. Soon, me and my mum got talking to her and we learnt that she was a student from Texas who was spending three weeks in Europe with her school. She'd been to Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and she was spending the last few days in London. It became evident that she liked England very much.
Personally, I think that anyone who likes England needs their head examined. Quickly.
She didn't stay long either and with an hour to go, there were only thirty or so people standing at the barriers.
I watched several men hanging smaller versions of the poster on the barriers and I made up my mind to remove one as soon as the stars had gone in and the police had left.
Quite how I was going to get it home, I hadn't worked out but that would have to wait.
I'm not sure how many people turned up in the end but I'd say around two hundred, maybe three hundred. Definitely not a thousand but there were a lot of people behind me.
Two female Jackie Chan Fans were standing at the railings to the right of my mum. I don't know when they turned up but when I learned that they were VIP members like me, we got talking about . You've guessed it: Jackie.
They had a lot of stories to tell from VIP parties they had attended and they kept me amused for a long time. When the conversation turned to Jackie's singing, one of the ladies asked me if I had listened to any of his music. I replied that I had, but I had no official CDs of his singing because I couldn't find them. I'd tried yesasia.com, amazon.com, E-bay, everything and I couldn't find them. The songs that I had got were ones I'd downloaded from the Internet and I had burnt those onto disc.
To my surprise, one of the ladies produced a cassette of Jackie's songs from her bag and insisted that I take it, as she had three copies. I thanked her, and put it in my bag, lest anyone try to steal it.
It was a long wait but when they started attaching the red carpet to the floor, I knew it wouldn't be much longer.
Unfortunately, at the time that they put the red carpet out, it began to rain and I started getting cold. I wasn't moving though. No way.
The carpet had been out for quite a while until there was a stir at the very beginning of the barriers. A limousine was parked at the entrance and a loud unanimous cheer was heard. My heart leapt.
I pulled my copy of Jackie's autobiography out of my bag. I'd brought it on the craziest off chance. I took the pen out of my fleece pocket.
This was it.
"Stick your hand out!" I heard one of the woman say and I obeyed with the hand that wasn't holding the book and the pen. The next thing I knew, Jackie's hand had brushed against mine and he was now shooting down the other side of the barriers. Next to me, my mum was clicking away on the camera.
No matter how hard I try, I'm never going to be able to write the thoughts that rushed through my head when I saw Jackie face to face for the first time, so I'm not going to try. I'll just say that for one split second there, I thought I was asleep and dreaming and about to receive a cruel awakening.
The next event stamped on that theory.
Jackie was walking back up the carpet and when he saw my book, I thought I saw him hesitate.
No way. I thought, hardly daring to hope. No way!
Yes way. Jackie made a beckoning motion and approached the fence. I handed him the pen and the book and he signed it.
He signed it.
Smiling that familiar smile at me, he handed it back and all I could say was "Thank you" over and over again.
I couldn't believe it. Jackie Chan had just signed my book. I had just met Jackie Chan.
It was only when he had disappeared into the cinema that I realised that my face wasn't only wet with rain.
* * *
Later, I would feel such an idiot for crying because that just doesn't happen with me. I'm not an emotional sort of person but when Jackie signed my book. I cried.
When Jackie had gone into the cinema, I got Steven Fry's autograph, or rather my mum got it for me, as I was too terrified to let go of the book in case someone tried to snatch it.
My mum had got a few pictures on the Digital camera but I didn't want to let go of my book long enough to look at them. Between Jackie's signature on my copy of his autobiography and the photos, I'd keep the signature any day.
And I was still crying.
"Was it an anticlimax?" One of the ladies asked sympathetically.
Anticlimax?! I didn't think so somehow!
"No, not that, I just can't believe that " I never finished because I was crying too much. Stupid me. I think she understood though.
When everyone had gone in, a black car reversed up the carpet and stopped outside the doors. We were all very curious as to who was in it, someone who didn't want to get their hair wet I thought.
However, one of the ladies said that it was probably going to take Jackie back to wherever he was going, as that is what happened last time.
Whether that was correct or not, I never found out, as me and mum decided that we ought to be getting back to Liverpool Street and I agreed. I had a history exam in the morning.
Though how on earth I was meant to concentrate on Public Health it after Jackie signed my book was anyone's guess.
I said goodbye to the ladies and a boy next to me helped me to detach one of the posters. On very wobbly legs, I followed my mum to a bus stop and it wasn't long before we were back at Liverpool Street.
We got some hot chocolate, which was unnecessarily disgusting and I succeeded in burning my tongue.
However, nothing could put me in a bad mood and I had a permanent grin attached to my face. The book was safe in my bag, the poster up on a luggage rack. (And woe betide anyone who tried to take it.)
I did still go to Alison's for a while and everyone was so happy for me. My mum had told me that Jackie had only signed a few autographs out of the hundreds of people searching for them and when I told them this, just how lucky I'd been hit me like a ton of bricks and I cried again.
Sally gave me a big hug and jokingly expressed pride at being touched by a hand that had been touched by Jackie Chan. I patted her on the head jokingly and she laughed.
Sally wants to start Martial Arts again and for a while, me and her had attended a class. However, she dropped out pretty quickly. When I discovered that the teacher was nothing but a show off waving a broadsword around like it was the secret to eternal life, I left pretty quickly too with a rather offensive opinion about the broadsword and what it's owner should do with it.
Recently, we have been wanting to take up Martial Arts again and I needed no convincing after I met Jackie.
Ok, so I'm completely lousy at Martial Arts, but I guess I'll enjoy trying and it'll keep me from piling on weight.
I went home, still bouncing off the walls and occasionally opening the book to see if Jackie's signature was still there. And it was.
I did feel a little bit guilty actually. There must be thousands of fans out there who have been fans for years but haven't met Jackie. Yet I had been a fan for eighteen months and I'd met him!
Well, I couldn't help it.
I'll never forget meeting Jackie. Standing in the rain in Leicester Square, on Tuesday, the 22nd of June, a dream came true. Just by seeing him, the dream became reality but when he signed my book . Well, I'd died and gone to heaven.