Well I almost didn't go as I rather foolishly sat up watching Underworld until 03:00, so when I woke up at 07:00 after only four hours sleep, I really wasn't in the mood.
But I persevered, and summoning as much energy as I could muster, battled my way through the biting wind to get to the station where, standing shoulder to shoulder with all the other lost souls cluching their cups of coffee and copies of the Metro, I observed that we must have looked for all the world as though we were standing in the queue for the firing squad.
I have worked for the railways for six years (praise the company), and being fully aware of its deficiencies I avoid the peak times like the plague, so let me tell you travelling to Charing Cross station during the morning rush was a real eye-opener and not an experience I intend repeating any time soon!
So following a short walk from the station forecourt I arrived at the Stamp Centre, where I was much relieved to find myself joining a queue of only twenty or so fans, although our number soon swelled. With the wind ripping down the Strand and my spirits sinking rapidly, I told myself that should it begin to rain I would be forced to abandon the signing in favour of the warm inviting looking coffee bar next door, at least that was until a larger than life Tom arrived for a quick chat with the fans before disappearing into the warmth of the shop.
My mood having been lifted by Tom's arrival, I chatted to some of my fellow fans for around thirty five minutes before being ushered into the shop to make my purchases. I bought three very nice artwork prints of The Planet of Evil (for Prentis Hanckock to sign), The Talons of Weng Chiang (for Tom and Louise to sign), and The Next Doctor (for Velile Tshabalala to sign).
Fifteen or so minutes later I was having my print signed by the gorgeous Velile Tshabalala, who is as down to earth as they come and has an absolutely infectious laugh. Next up was the turtle neck sweater loving Prentis Hancock, looking a far cry from the his shouty camp looking alter-ego Controller Salamar. But as the tradition goes: save the best for last, and if like me you've never met Louise Jameson, let me tell you she's an absolute fox and so sweet. She also very kindly signed my hardback copy of The Sunmakers which she described as "the best story ever" and told me that she had recently recorded a commentary for the DVD release. Looking forward to that one!
As one would expect Tom is absolutely magnificent, keeping the fans entertained with a stream of gags and amusing anecdotes, one of which I cannot repeat here! When he talks to you, his gaze is almost hypnotic and his velvety tones are so mesmerising that he could be reading out the product specifications of a microwave oven and you wouldn't be able to stop yourself from listening.
I was so excited at having met Tom and Louise and so enthralled by his story about Michael Keating, that I completely forgot to thank him for setting up this website and forum, so if you're reading this Tom, thank you, and it was lovely to have finally met you!