It took four attempts to convince the girls that I had, in fact, just had a conversation with Benedict not James, and another two retellings of the whole conversation before it finally sank in that we were all off to London to walk up the red carpet as invited guests at a major film premiere! As we were talking about it, my phone beeped. I had a text…
Sorry Lesley, forgot to say Karon will text you from this number tonight. Bx
I grinned and then told the others I had just received a text from him, to which much squealing followed. I managed to calm them down enough to get their home addresses and contact details, since I assumed that was why Karon would be texting. The conversation then turned to what in god’s name we could wear for such an important occasion…none of us owned anything remotely fitting for a red carpet. Looked like a shopping expedition would have to be factored in to the trip. This led to long conversations about what would and would not be suitable, how would we all afford it (the general consensus was that we’d sell family members if necessary!) and how excited we all were at seeing the film and meeting Ben again. This kept us more than occupied for a few hours, and then the text tone on my phone alerted me again. I told the girls I was off for a while to answer it, then picked up my phone and read the text. As I thought, it was from Karon.
Hi Lesley, it’s Karon. This might be easier if I rang you. Would that be alright?
She was right, it would be easier, so I texted back Of course. Anytime then sat back to wait. I didn’t have to wait long.
“Hello Lesley, its Karon. How are you? Gotten over the shock yet?” she laughed.
“Hi Karon. I’m fine, still can’t believe it’s happening, to be honest. And that Benedict called me. Still grinning about that.”
“You know this is all his idea, don’t you? To invite you all to the premiere. He cooked the whole thing up with James to find you all after seeing the final edit of the film. He’s quite fond of you, you know. Calls you ‘The Crew’ … You all impressed him very much. You impressed me, too. You were respectful, enthusiastic, friendly and not at all pushy or rude. In short, fans to be proud of, as Benedict says.” Karon said.
I was completely thrown. HIS idea…yet he had said the producers had wanted us to be there. This made it even more special, and I said this to Karon.
“He told me that the producer had decided we should be there. I’m even more flattered now than I was before. The girls will be thrilled by the fact he calls us that. Tell him thanks from us all, will you please Karon?”
“ Of course. Now, we’d best start making the arrangements for travelling, and booking you all into an hotel for a couple of nights. I’ll be doing all of the planning and booking, so if I give you my email address, you can send me everyone’s home addresses, and I’ll have your travel documents sent to you, along with your itinerary. We’ve got some fun stuff and some surprises planned for you, and you’ll have a fantastic time.”
Karon gave me her email address and I gave her mine, then we said goodbye. I sat and thought how unreal this all felt, then I grinned.
We were going to London, to a film premiere. And that thought had me smiling for the rest of the evening as I told the Crew about what was to happen.
Fast forward a month or so, and we were only a couple of days away from the premiere, excitedly packing for the trip. We had talked of almost nothing else for the last week, and couldn’t wait for tomorrow, to begin what was to be the trip of a lifetime. We were to be met individually by Karon, and escorted to our accommodation. In the evening we would be having dinner in an exclusive and very expensive restaurant before drinks at an exclusive club; the following morning was earmarked for shopping on Bond Street and Regent Street, before being pampered in a spa, having our hair and make-up done professionally, then back to dress and wait for our limousine to arrive for the big event.
The journey to London was uneventful, messages flying back and forth as we chatted excitedly, looking forward tom seeing each other again. It had been a while since we had all met up, and we had so much to catch up on. The sun was shining as I arrived at Kings Cross, and as I got off the train (First Class travel has much to commend it) I saw Karon behind the barrier and waved. She grinned and waved back. Within minutes, I was sitting in a sumptuous Jaguar car, being driven by a uniformed chauffeur. We headed across London, chatting all the while, until we pulled up outside a very smart house opposite Hampstead Heath. I looked quizzically at Karon, who smiled and said
“Benedict thought you’d be more comfortable here than in an hotel, so the house is yours for your time here. The same goes for Simon, your driver. If you want to go anywhere, just text him, his number is on this card, and he’ll take you wherever you want to go. Come on, I’ll show you around the house, then I’m off to meet the next one of your lot. You get to see it first, since you are the first to arrive.”
To say I was gobsmacked by the house would be an understatement. It had everything you could think of, and a few more things besides. Huge living room, perfectly and beautifully furnished, large bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a kitchen to die for and a luxury bathroom that was bigger than my whole flat. It actually had a whirlpool tub big enough for all of us at once! Once I had stopped gasping at every room, Karon handed me a set of keys, told me to go and explore once I had made myself a coffee (looked like my coffee addiction was common knowledge!) and to make myself at home. I did…I opened every cupboard, drawer and door, just to see what secrets the house held, so that by the time we were all together, lounging on the huge sofas, chairs and the deepest fluffiest rug I had ever seen, it had begun to feel like I belonged there.
Dinner was fabulous, we were treated like celebrities at the restaurant. We spent the evening giggling and celeb-spotting whilst having the most perfect meal, then we were off to the exclusive club Karon had mentioned earlier. She had neglected to mention, however, just who we were to be having drinks with! Upon arrival, a beautifully attired man showed us into a large room filled with comfortable chairs, arranged around large coffee tables. A couple of people were sat at one of these tables, and as we were ushered in, one of them turned, raised a hand in greeting, and grinned at us.
“Good evening ladies. Welcome to the Grosvenor Club. Come and join us.”
It was Benedict, looking hugely pleased with himself, and his companion turned to face us. James, his co-conspirator, who was laughing. They had planned this, too.
It was an incredible night; full of conversation, drinking, more conversation, laughing, more drinking, the occasional cigarette, and as the night wore on I kind of forgot who Benedict was. He was being completely relaxed in our company, as if we were friends who had known each other a long time, not a group of his fans. He was letting us see his true self, and I for one felt privileged and honoured by this complete trust he had in us. Now he wasn’t a huge star who graced television and cinema screens…he was just Ben. A very interesting bloke, who was good fun to be with, wasn’t afraid to take the piss out of himself, and delighted in embarrassing us with some rather risqué tales. I think I loved him more for that than anything else, and when he began to tell James about being a porn star in my story about him I almost choked on my drink, especially when he described, in extremely fine detail, one of the filthier scenes I had written.
“She writes porn, James. Porn. With me as the star! It’s very good porn, too” he laughed, winking at me. “ You should read it sometime.”
I couldn’t let him get away with that, could I? Porn, indeed!
“Excuse me! Erotic fiction, if you don’t mind!” I laughed, embarrassed but rather proud of the fact he seemed to have read it more than once, unless he had total recall of anything he read. Read it, and liked it. We all roared with laughter as he raised his middle finger at me, and in the distance Big Ben struck 3am. We all needed to get at least a few hours’ sleep as Ben regretfully said, so cars were called for, hugs were exchanged, and a still-laughing group left the club. On the steps outside, before clambering into the car with James, he said he had really enjoyed our evening, and would see us tomorrow, before blowing us all kisses and making his hands into a heart. We blew kisses back and repeated the gesture, which had him laughing as we waved goodbye. As his car pulled away, our limo pulled up and Simon opened the door for us all to climb in. The whole way back to the house we laughed about the evening we had just had, and were still laughing as we headed off to bed to grab a couple of hours much-needed sleep.
Tomorrow would be an incredible day…and none of us had any inkling just how incredible it would be!