I was once briefly stalked by Chris Claremont.
This was way back in the 80’s when he was gaining godlike status for writing The Uncanny X-man, a comic that I was extraordinarily fond. The Dark Phoenix Saga had come to a conclusion – well, I say conclusion, it’s been rewritten and resurrected so many times it’s actually pretty much negated the emotional punch it once had – and Claremont was doing a tour of the UK. I’d never engaged in fandom of any sort at this time, but when I saw he was going to be making an appearance at the Sheffield Space Centre, had to go! The Space Centre had not long moved to it’s new home on The Wicker from the far too convenient spot in Meersbrook; convenient to me, anyway. It was directly opposite the post office I cashed my giro at. My dole money didn’t last long, but I digress.
Claremont arrived, The Space Centre was packed out and I was not exactly first in the queue, but certainly near the front. Claremont spoke. He introduced himself, sat behind a desk and then addressed his subjects. At length. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the presence of someone who was so far up himself, so arrogant and egotistical. Two hours of him telling us how fabulous he was. Tragically, the shop was so packed, there was simply no method of escape. I had to endure this appalling talk for it’s entire duration.
When he finally finished, the assembled hordes went mental; cheering, whooping and sycophancy being the order of the day. I just wanted to get out. Finally, I escaped and went on to the rehearsal space for a theatre group I was working with. It was maybe 20 mins walk and I just had to drop something off and leave. So ,45 mins later I walking past the Space Centre again and bloody Claremont is just leaving. To his credit, he didn’t have an entourage, but he recognised me. Probably because for two hours, I’d been standing in front of him with this incredulous aghast look on my face which he had clearly misinterpreted as awe.
Anyway, he decided to talk to his fan. And continued talking. Asked if I knew where his hotel was and could I give him directions and then said ‘ well take me as far as you can’. Now, other than turning round and declaring I was going in the opposite direction and thus away from my own destination, there was little I could do. So I ended up walking him into town. I made my excuses and said I had to leave now as I was meeting my friend. He asked where ; as I wasn’t, I just wanted to ditch him, I just pointed at the nearest pub. “Oh, I’ll wait with you ’til he comes” was the response. Fuck.
This is before the days of mobile phones, so I couldn’t fake a text, make a call or whatever. In those days, you waited until your friend arrived. Or until you go bored, but Claremont continued talking and telling me how fantastic he was. After an hour of waiting for my mythical friend. I got up and said I had to go. He looked really hurt.
But fuck him. I wanted to go home and rid myself of the most tedious man I’d ever met.
Still love the comics, though. Can’t say I’ve read much Claremont stuff since. The last time was his atrocious run on Exiles. I’m not a huge superhero fan anymore, but every now and again something comes along that I enjoy. In the case of Exiles, it was inexplicable. It was really soap-y nonsense but would actually make a neat TV show, but for the attendant baggage, but when Claremont took over, it became unreadable. Hey Ho.
I’m sure he’s mellowed . . .