The man stood smiling, nodding, murmuring thanks.

Thank you.

More hands reached out to deliver congratulatory slaps on the back.

Thank you so much.

He felt like a bobble-head as faces -both friendly and unrecognizable – swam in and out of his vision.  The after party’s din rose, signaling the arrival of another cast member.  A hand thrust a glass of water into his.  He took a grateful sip, cooling his parched throat.

Oh thank you.

A voice called into his ear – the red haired bloke holding up his smartphone – “So you want to hear what the critics said?”

The man blinked.  What, press reviews already? His stomach clinched at their mention.  He wasn’t ready.  No, he was but – no he wasn’t.  From all the kudos around him, things had clearly gone well, but still.  He opened his mouth to answer when another face swam into view. Who was he?

Thank you.

The bloke chuckled, launching into the many preliminary tweets. Ah yes, Twitter – no more waiting for morning after print reviews.  Above the noise, the man head “astounding,” “masterful presence,” “great performance.” His eyes grew round.  They liked him, they really liked him!  He didn’t think his face muscles could smile or his head nod any harder.  It was all good.  He’d done it!  He’d worked years to reach this night.  He’d really arrived.  He allowed himself a moment to savor it all.

But now that the verdict was in, he felt – past tired.  He must have hobnobbed with everybody in the ball room and back stage at the theatre.  Oh damn. Frowning, he rubbed his forehead.  Well, everybody but his fans who’d been waiting at the stage door.  He’d tried to get to them but the autograph hounds had pushed forward, blocking most of them.  He’d had so little time. Damn it.  He hoped they understood and forgave him.

Another hand at his shoulder.

Thank you so much.

He took a deep breath as exhaustion from the four hour play washed over him. He ached.  The faces seemed to press closer, the din grow louder.  He felt light headed and oddly unreal.  Air.   He needed some air.


He leaned against the hotel’s facade, breathing in the cool night air, the claustrophobic feeling receding.  Despite the throng of press and people inside, the Strand was peaceful and almost empty.  One or two cabs whizzed by.  Nobody stood around except for him and the doorman who’d glanced his way a few times.   The man nodded at him and looked away.  He would stay out here for a few minutes then head back in before they came looking for him.  Right now, he would just enjoy the solitude.

“Excuse me, sir.”  The doorman appeared at his side.  “Don’t mean to bother but I think those are for you.”

Long stemmed red roses lay carefully placed to the side of the steps.  The man walked over and picked one up.  What was this?  Tied around the stem was a piece of paper stating “JustGiving: £10, much love.”  He retrieved another. “JustGiving: £15, with love.”  And another – “JustGiving: £5, all our love.”  His confusion cleared.  Of course, these were from the fans!  Each rose must represent a donation to his charities.  Stooping, he quickly retrieved every one.  As his arms filled with flowers, the exhaustion fell away.  He stood, a giant smile on his face.

A perfect bouquet.

Thank you,  he whispered.


Congratulations to Richard Armitage and the cast and crew of The Crucible.


63 thoughts on “Happiness

  1. Pingback: The Man celebrates Richard Armitage’s press night at The Crucible | Me + Richard Armitage

  2. Perfect, Judi! Just beautiful …
    Congratulations to Richard, Yael, all the cast and crew!!!

  3. Pingback: From Judiang … Happiness for The Man | Well, There You Go ...

  4. Just lovely and I can easily imagine it playing out that way. <3
    Congrats to Richard and to everyone involved in the production for all their hard work . . . I am so very, very proud of all of you.
    But especially proud of The Man. 😉

    • Thank you. Yes, I can easily imagine it too. A bouquet of kindnesses. I’m sure The Man is home in bed, dreaming happy dreams. 🙂

  5. Judiang , Thank you so much for your stories felt as tho they could almost be real. So proud for The Man and all concerned in the play also that it was at the old Vic which holds a very special place in my heart. Where to from here for the man I wonder…….

    • Welcome Wendy! Thanks so much for the kind words. How is the Old Vic special to you, can you say?

      I think The Man has to do some press junkets soon. His life is so busy! 😉

      • Yes I can say. I 1st went to the old Vic on a school excursion with my Grammar School years ago. I saw Sir Laurence Olivier, can’t remember the play though. Have been a premium friend for about 25 years and usually return to London every 12 to 18 months too see either theatre or opera. This year I will be going to see the Crucible 3 times as well,as some other plays. Last year I saw Vanessa Redgrave and Earl Jones in Much Ado About nothing. It was superb. I have enjoyed Kevin Spacey’s tenure as Director and saw him in Richard 3rd some years back. I also met my 1st husband in the box office queue alas the marriage didn’t last but my love of the Old Vic did. That’s my story with the Old Vic.

        • Wow, that’s an amazing story, Wendy. No wonder it’s a special place for you! Thank you for sharing.
          BTW, at the mention of Sir Laurence (my mother’s crush), I can hear my mom squeeing in my head. 🙂

          • I will think of your Mum when I speak about Sir L. i like to link people and thoughts together.

            I will mention this to my RA bestie who I have supper with each Wednesday. RA has brought so much happiness to all these last 10 days and for that after years.

            Thank you.

  6. You deserve to have a rose bouquet or two tossed at your feet for that sweet story. Here, catch!

  7. This is just beautiful, and I can so see this happening. What a lovely piece, and a lovely tribute to Mr. A.

  8. I really enjoyed that! Fab writing. I like the concept of being an Anti-Fangirl, though not exactly sure what it means. You should send him a copy!

  9. Such a lovely story! I could really see this in my minds eye. I wonder how he would react if he was actually handed a bouquet of real long stemmed red roses? I also wonder if everyone will receive bouquets on the last night? I think if I was to witness such a thing I’d be overcome with emotion. It will doubtless be an emotional night for all concerned.

    • I don’t know, are men given bouquets or just a single rose on the last night? I could see him acquiring a bouquet in this fashion and being very pleased indeed. Wonder just how sentimental a guy he is. 🙂

      • I have seen soloists, male and female, being given bouquets after symphony concerts, but one of the men, I recall, turned and gave it to the the concertmaster (first violin) who was a woman. Maybe he felt awkward receiving it?

        As for Richard, I’d like to think he *is* rather sentimental. 😉

  10. There is hardly anything left to ad. The ladies before me have expressed it so aptly. All the due praises are said. I knew it would be a lovely story, so I kept it for a bit later to savour it… (It’s all about anticipation!) 😀
    Somehow good for him to be so busy these days, otherwise I would fear for him how he would handle his feelings, after “climbing the top of such a high mountain”, and reaching the aim he so long aspired…..
    Beautiful read, Judi!

    • Thanks so much Linda! Glad it didn’t disappoint. 🙂
      I’ll doubt he’ll run out of mountains to climb and goals to reach. It seems he sets his sights a little higher each time.

      • (…oh, this should be “add”… ahemm)
        You’re right. Judi. He seems to be so focussed all the time. Anyhow I could do with a bit more of this feature…
        Last but not least there always remains Mt Everest to climb!! 😉

  11. Dear Judiang,
    I always enjoy and appreciate The Man posts. Keep them coming, please. There is a sense of an actor’s ambivalence and his appreciation of audience/fan response, which is most likely true. There is much ambivalence, which you capture in brief portrayals. And not all aspects apply to every actor – but that is neither here nor there. 🙂

    • Thanks Fitzy, I’ve really appreciated your support over the years. I enjoy writing these stories, although I wonder if I”ve been using The Man too much. Must get back to essay writing too.

  12. Could I suggest – spread wings a wee bit and do essays interspersed with The Man, as inclination/inspiration is present?
    I have truly appreciated the essays. (And I don’t subscribe to Twitter – 🙂 )

    • Yes, I’ve been trying to think of a few topics. Is there anything you’d like me to discuss? I really wasn’t going to write another the Man story again so soon, but the press night was too good to be true.

  13. The press night cried for The Man; cry was answered.
    I’m on shaky ground here,
    but, um:
    John Proctor the man. Ways an actor approaches the character.
    Abigail? your imagination/analysis and reading.
    All based on reading critic reports (not into world of twittering – generation gap.)
    Progression of acting expertise from Thornton through Gisborne. (with side comments on the “smouldering” and D’Arcy comments on said. 🙂
    Contact off-line, if you wish, to know more about what I think, in 2014. As you, I was not in a position to fly over, to attend, nor to combine a holiday. So, we have only what we read to “interpret’ and write. As such, my tentative suggestions are more based on what I might like to see, rather than where you would care to adapt. Only preliminary suggestions.

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