July 20 had a much different feel to it than the previous night.
We took an earlier train to the O2 than we had on Saturday, but it seemed more crowded. I noticed a familiar-looking face in our car, about half a dozen seats away, and could swear it was Steve Coogan, who I last saw a few months before on the Academy Awards telecast. Funny who you see on the Tube…
Most of the passengers disembarked for the O2 and made their way through a light rainfall. My son and I picked up our tickets and passes and went inside, making our way to the green room. Along the way, we passed the 50-foot-long Norwegian Blue, which already had about a dozen fans queued up for photos with it. I picked up a few souvenirs, and we walked past a waiting crowd and stepped into the green room.
To our surprise, the room had been transformed from a low-key lounge and bar into a shrine to Python, complete with cages filled with dead parrots, and a pair of couches and cameras and lighting equipment at the far end. There was obviously going to be some sort of broadcast (I later found out that there was a live broadcast for British TV, hosted by and featuring a few British TV personalities). Eddie Izzard came out of the hallway with the dressing rooms; we said a quick hello and he went off to be interviewed by a roaming camera crew.
The crowd of people who had been held outside the green room were then allowed in; they were obviously background players for the broadcast. It was getting uncomfortably crowded. And then, someone who was obviously NOT a background player was wheeled into the room, accompanied by a pair of assistants. There was no mistaking Prof. Stephen Hawking; everyone respectfully deferred to him as he came to a halt near us behind the couches. A trio of girls in low-cut dresses swarmed around the good doctor for a few minutes, and my son had the chance to speak to him as well, mentioning his high school and the Nobel-Prize-winning doctor who founded it, and I snapped a picture of the two of them.
Most of the celebrities were British, and I didn’t recognize them. But I did recognize Warwick Davis and his family, who was also a center of attention. He stood near us and introduced himself to Prof. Hawking. I complimented him on his work at the Python press conference that had started the whole reunion, and we had a nice chat. And it was time to take our seats for the final show…