MEETING MICHAEL CAINE
This is the story of the day I met Michael Caine. He was filming at Hereford Cathedral onWednesday 13th August 1997 making the film "Shadow Run" (which had to wait a couple of years for a release). My mate at work had a son who was in the film so I had a bit of inside information about where the filming was taking place. I went down to Hereford Cathedral about 7.30 pm and wandered around the back. A couple of people were setting up cameras. "Is Michael Caine filming here?" I asked. "Yeah, but keep it quiet" was the reply. I hung around for ten minutes or so.
Suddenly I see the main man himself walk out of the back of the Cathedral and walk along towards the playground of Hereford Cathedral School. I watch him and follow. He goes into the playground and into a small caravan parked there. I stand by the gate as I don't know if I can walk into the playground. I assume it's private property. I hang around for 10 minutes or so. Suddenly out he comes, with a polystyrene cup in his left hand and a cigar in his right. He is dressed in a black suit (playing the villain) with a red shirt and tie. There is some guy with him, an assistant I assume. Well this is it, my big chance to meet my hero, my favourite British star and I'm going to take it. I pull out of a plastic bag an original cinema poster for 'The Man That Would Be King', one of Michael Caine's best films - made in 1975 - and a blue parker pen. What do I call him, Mr. Caine or Mr. Micklewhite? I decide to go for Caine, after all I might pronounce 'Micklewhite' wrong and look a twat. He has to walk up to me as I'm standing by the gate that's the only way back to the Cathedral. He knows what's coming.
"Excuse me, Mr. Caine, but may I have your autograph?" I ask nervously. "I was hoping you would sign this poster for me".
"Fuck off" says Mr. Caine.
No he doesn't actually. It would be a better story if he did. I would not have been surprised if he had said that as I once read a story about him saying that to a waiter who recognized him. Mind you the waiter had just said "Zulus, fousands of 'em, don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes!"
"Yeah sure" is the response I get. "It's a 'Man That Would Be King' poster" I say, stating the bloody obvious, "would you sign it here (I indicate a pre-planned position) - 'To Roger'?" Michael deliberately disobeys and instead writes 'Best Wishes Roger Michael Caine', the signature is almost indecipherable. Suddenly I have an idea. I hadn't thought of it a moment before, I don't know why not. I pull out of my sad plastic bag the cheap camera I have with me. I had only brought it to get some photos of the filming. "May I have my photo taken with you?" I just give the camera to his 'minder' and say "would you mind?". "Yeah" says Michael, a man of many words, and then he puts his right arm out to lean on the metal gate of the school playground. He is still holding that polystyrene cup. I toy with the idea of asking him to put it down as it will ruin the picture and then I think better of it. I look at the cameraman and give my best smile. "For Christ's sake don't fuck it up" I think to myself. The photo is taken and I've had a minute of his time.
Time to go, don't want to piss him off after all. For me it is just a minute but for Michael it must be almost every minute he's out and I'm sensitive to that. I suddenly look around and notice for the first time that there is absolutely nobody around in Cathedral close. Here I am with one of the most famous film stars in the world. I have about 60 of his films on video. He is one of my heroes and there is nobody around to see me. If the photo doesn't come out I have no proof if nobody believes me.
Suddenly Michael is all talkative. "That's a very valuable poster you got there, that is" he says. "I know, I collect your film posters" I lie. I actually collect Steve McQueen film posters and have only got about four Michael Caine posters. I resolve to start collecting Michael Caine posters immediately to purge the guilt. I sense now is the chance to ask him anything I want to, anything in the world and he'll answer me. My mind has gone blank. I cannot think of a single thing to ask.
We shake hands. "Thank you for your time Mr. Caine" I say and we part. He walks about 20 paces away then turns and shouts, "You look after that poster now, that's a very valuable poster", "I will" I shout back. Then he's gone.
I walk back to my car parked nearby. I am walking on air. Before I know it I am home and relaying the story of my meeting to Michelle. Then I'm on the phone ringing the people who I know will be interested. I ring "my mate" Steve. Steve says "you ought to get him to sign the photo". I hadn't thought of this. The seed is sown. I MUST get Michael Caine to sign the photo. Suddenly, nothing else matters.
Next day, before going into work, I take the precious film into Boots and pay for their developing films in one hour service. I elect to have large prints. Then it's into work to finish Court as soon as possible and make arrangements to have some time off in the afternoon. At lunchtime, I rush to Boots to pick up the photos. I ignore all but the one I'm looking for. It's not bad. No, it's good, a bit dark maybe but not blurred. The photo is of me and Mikey in full length whereas I was expecting a head and shoulders shot. Still I'm happy. I then continue my plan and go to another photographic shop to get the photo blown up. "We can lighten it for you as well" says the guy "come back in 20 minutes". This is much better than expected. I wasn't even sure they would do it the same day. I pop to another shop and buy a silver pen. It's expensive but worth it. I insist on practicing with the pen in the shop to make sure it's working before I buy it. Then it's time to pick up my blown up photo. It's good - and much improved by lightening.
I'm off to Hereford Cathedral again. Michael is still filming there. This time I am more determined. I will get to see Michael Caine and ask him to sign my picture or die in the effort. I walk up to the same school playground where his caravan was parked the evening before. It is still there. I stand by the gates. I am 30 feet away from the caravan. I wait 5 minutes. There is nobody around. I decide to go up to the caravan and just walk up. The door is open. A man is standing outside. "Hello, is Michael Caine here?" I ask. "Yes but he's resting at the moment". If the man had not been there I would have just gone up to the caravan door and knocked. Now I'm stuck. I can't really disturb Michael if he's resting. Even I'm not that cheeky.
I chat to the man. I show him my picture and tell him that I'm hoping Michael will sign it for me. I now have an ally. We talk for a few minutes and then a member of the film crew appears. He looks at me with a 'what are you doing here' look. I brass it out. The guy I've been talking to says that I want Michael Caine to sign my picture and can this film crew guy arrange it?. The film guy goes into the caravan. There is movement inside. I'm sure I see Michael move past the door. This is it, I think. He's going to invite me into his caravan. There is nobody else about, it'll only be a minute but he's going to do it. I will have the best anecdote to tell for years to come. "Michael Caine, yeah I've met him - in his caravan actually, we chatted for ages .....". My hopes are crushed. The film guy comes out and say "He'll be out soon, if you go and wait by the gate, he'll sign the picture for you then". Oh well, at least he's going to sign the picture.
I go out of the school playground and wait by the gate. I wait 15 minutes. I get chatting to a member of the filmcrew. It's Michael Caine's assistant, the one from last night. The guy who took the photo. I show it to him. "Do you know what he said about you?" the assistant asks me. "No", I say, all concerned. Don't tell me Michael thought I was a complete twat. "He said 'That's a true fan, that is. You can tell', he was very pleased," says the film assistant. I'm pleased too. I think it was the poster that swung it though.
A passerby comes up and starts chatting to me. I think he must know me. I don't know him but I pretend to, as he seems to know me. This passerby seems to know Michael Caine is here as well and waits with me. I want him to piss off. Eventually out comes the Cainer and walks up to the gate. The passerby shakes his hand and tells him how much he likes his films. My god, I was that sad git yesterday. It's now my turn. "Er, Mr. Caine, I was wondering if you would sign this picture of me and you". "Oh, wow," says the Cainer "did you do this yourself". "No, I had it done at a shop" I say, rather lamely. "Will you sign 'Best Wishes Roger Michael Caine'" I ask (as I want it to be the same as my poster). "Yes" says Michael "and this time he obliges, signing my picture with my silver pen. The ink flows smoothly and Michael does not smudge it. "Thank you very much I say" and I'm gone. Holding my prize carefully so it can dry. I am elated.
This IS the actual photo!
The signature on the signed one is the background to this page!
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