Thursday, 28 November 2013

On (still) being a fan

Exactly two years ago today I met my favourite band. That short time of chatting to them was a huge milestone in my life. The bottom picture of me with them is still my facebook profile picture. I'm off to see them again when they play in the UK next week. I love them very much.
The body of this post was first posted on 4/7/2012

There is always going to be something of a struggle if you a fairly sensible person and you are a fan.

Whether it's being a fan of a particular football team, actor, musician or film, when your happiness and joy is closely linked to the object of your obsession, it becomes a bit unreal.
You know logically that it really doesn't matter one bit to your team if you don't happen to wear your lucky pants but any football fan worth their salt wouldn't dare take that chance when their team has a big match.
You are completely aware that your tattoo of your favourite actor marks you out as slightly odd but you don't regret it for a second.
I know that the members of my favourite band; a band which  I have loved with the power of a thousand fiery suns since I was a wide-eyed 12 year old, a band on whom I have spent an unknown amount of money (probably totalling several thousand pounds) going to see are not suddenly going to become my best friends.
 Somewhere wedged  in between logic and fantasy comes reality.
Your team wins the cup, your favourite actor plays in your local theatre, the next book in the series comes out.

What I'm trying to say is that being a fan is half a fantasy of what could be, and, if you are at least mostly sane, the crushing awareness that the reality will never quite match the dream.

Except sometimes it does. The stars align, Karma pays you back, God gives you a present and for one perfect, shining moment it's exactly what you dreamed it would be.

My name is Helen Stoker and I am a Hanson fan.
Last November Hanson played 5 gigs around the UK. I went to 4 of them.
This chalked up my Hanson seeing experiences to 25.
They also happened to give a lecture at Oxford Union. My cousin was the then editor of the Oxstu, the student newspaper. I begged her to see if I could, firstly get into the lecture and also possibly to interview them. She worked magic and arranged, between the facebook message I sent her at 2am and the lecture at 8pm that I could do both.
I spent the 1 and a half hour train journey from Birmingham where they'd played the previous night and where I'd been seeing family, down to Oxford consciously telling myself to calm down.
Their talk was great; funny, insightful, a closer look at the music industry that we mostly take for granted, an updated version of a similar talk I'd seen them give at North Western University in 2005.

Then we went upstairs.
There is something startling about being in the same room as people whose image you had on your childhood bedroom wall 100 fold, a slight buzzing, as if your nerve endings can suddenly generate electricity. 
We met, shook hands and sat down to chat. It was perfect.

When I was younger I did definitely want to marry a specific Hanson brother. While I was commending my 12 year old self for having really excellent taste, I am now older and they are all already married to people who are not me and what I really wanted was for them to be lovely. For them to be deserving in some way of my adoration. To have a nice chat and for them to be interested in talking to me.

I walked out of the room half an hour later feeling amazing.
My main thought as I left the building was that it had been worth it. That I hadn't been wrong or deceived in any way to have devoted so much time and thought to them.
Now several months later I play back parts of the conversation in my head, thinking about things I could've said differently that might have had a slightly different outcome, a greater chance of them remembering me . But when I walked down the stairs and away from them leaving them still in the room, it felt perfect.
I remember sincerely thinking this is it. I can stop now.


  1. I did enjoy reading your post. My first job was working for the Hanson fanclub in 1998 - it was during the summer between GCSEs and A Levels. One of my jobs was reading their fanmail and sending it onto the US - one of the most bizarre tasks ever! x

    1. Wow! that sounds amazing and so perculiar! Did you find any weird things they'd been sent?

    2. I simply drowned in cuddly toys everytime we had a delivery but there was some odd stuff:
      Lots of underwear and I'm really sure that at that age they probably weren't that impressed!
      Gameboys and other computery stuff
      Pictures of girls wearing very little
      I grew up very quickly after this experience! x

  2. Aw, Hanson! This brings back memories. Good times.

  3. Aww, I love Hanson too! I definitely wouldn't say that I was a huge fan like yourself, but I have their albums on my iTunes and always found I got a lot of drawing done while I was listening to their music. I was a Taylor fan back in the day, but I must say that Issac is looking for good in his later years!