This was originally posted at Rina’s Beyond the Blade website, but as she’s taken the site down, I decided it was high time that I *finally* included my little report at Gisburne’s NASTY Knight Page since it is RoS-related, etc. So, for better or worse, here’s the tale of how I met Mr. Mark Ryan...
On Friday June 23, 2000, a group of very lucky Torontonians had the chance to dine with Mark Ryan! He was in Toronto with the Monty Python tour and gave up the chance to see a Blue Jays game to join us for a meal at Fionn MacCool’s, an Irish pub on the Esplanade.
Patti, the mastermind behind this brilliant plan, was kind enough to pick me up at Victoria Park Station so, after spending a couple of hours at her place, I drove with her to the Cambridge Suites Hotel to pick up Mark. Patti had said that she would pick him up between 7:00 and 7:15. However, neither one of us realized that today was also the day that William Shatner and Martin Short were to be inducted into the Canadian Walk of Fame at the nearby Hummingbird Centre. We feared that the traffic would be brutal around Mark’s hotel and that we would be late for sure! Fortunately, Patti fought her way through the traffic and we arrived with a couple of minutes to spare. Mark was the one who was late! In fact, Patti couldn’t find him!
She looked in the lobby and the bar, then called his room but there was no answer! She returned to the car and decided to wait, hoping he was just travelling from his room to reception...Then, suddenly, she spotted him! He had gone to Roots (a Canadian clothing chain) and was just returning to the hotel. They hugged and then Mark excused himself to change. After a few minutes, he came down wearing jeans and a white polo shirt. I had asked Patti if I should move to the back when we arrived at the hotel, but she said no and that she believed it was better not to show him any special treatment. Ergo, he was forced to sit in the back! He didn't seem to mind. He climbed in the back, Patti introduced us and I shook his hand. Then he proceeded to talk about the free clothes the Python gang had received from Roots.
They were allowed to have a free sweatshirt and a hat. However, Mark didn't want the hat and had managed to negotiate for another shirt instead, paying the difference in price, which was $8. He seemed quite happy that he had managed to buy two great shirts for that price! Patti asked him about the theatre schedule and he admitted that it was gruelling. Then he mentioned how they had had a hotel really close to the theatre in San Francisco, but that it had been in a really bad area of town! They had to walk past dozens of homeless people who yelled abuse at them when they passed... :-(
There wasn't really much more time for conversation because we quickly arrived at the Esplanade and found a parking lot. We had barely been out of the car 20 seconds when Mark spotted a man with the same kind of cell phone he had. Mark immediately walked up to him and started asking questions. I quickly realized that Mark is just that kind of guy. He's very outgoing and will engage in a conversation with anyone! :-)
I don't know if it was because we were with a wolfshead, but we tried to leave the parking lot without paying! It would have been better if we had because the attendant charged $5 per person! As we grumbled about the price, I commented that this is Canada and Mark actually started to sing "Oh, Canada"!
As we reached the pub, I was so dazed by everything that was happening, that I practically walked past Allen (Puck) without seeing him! Once inside, Mark shook Allen's hand and hugged Sar, who he had met two nights before.
Once we arrived at our table, we proceeded to order drinks and study the menu. Mark asked us if we really had met online, etc. He also asked when Allen had interviewed him for his Robin Hood site and they talked a bit about that. Then Aislinn arrived and said she probably couldn't stay long because she had family problems. Well, Mark insisted on hearing all about it and then wanted to know about her shop, The Beaded Amazon.
I can’t remember how the subject came up, but Mark mentioned Robert Addie. Everyone looked at me and laughed while I put my head in my hands. Mark looked at me questioningly and I told him that I had just met Robert Addie at Silver Arrow 2000. Then, Allen, who had just returned the photos he had scanned for me, opened his big mouth and told Mark that I had pictures from the con! I don't know what possessed me, but I volunteered to let him see a picture. He laughed and said, “I came all the way to Toronto to see a picture of Robert Addie?!”
As he looked at the rest of the pictures, he asked a couple of questions. It was really nice because he said the photos really brought it all back. He seemed most taken with the photos of Leigh Woods and Wells Cathedral since they were film locations for him. He mentioned how they had gotten in trouble for filming that devil-worshipping scene from “The Swords of Wayland” at Wells Cathedral and how it had originally been broadcast later in the evening because of the kiddies. He also mentioned how they had had trouble with some religious groups because of the show! Oh, here’s a bit of trivia. Do you know that Mark still has one of Nasir's throwing knives? He also had two people using the Nasir swords during a fight scene in The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne!
When Mark’s seafood sampler arrived, he insisted on sharing it even though he hadn't eaten all day. As I didn't want the guy to feel bad, I plucked out a breaded shrimp and dipped it into some seafood sauce. Allen and Aislinn couldn't because they're vegetarians, but I think Allen may have had a couple of fries. Then our main courses arrived.
As we ate, Mark and Sar continued a discussion they had had the previous evening about Canadian politics. Then we began to discuss the Quebec separatist movement, and Aislinn could jump in easily because she's French Canadian. Mark just couldn't understand why all this was happening and none of us could really enlighten him! He then asked Sar how this would affect Newfoundland and whether they would support Quebec. We also discussed the new moose statues in Toronto and whether they were worth the money, especially since people keep stealing the antlers! Mark is extremely knowledgeable. He seems to know something about every subject!
After supper, I asked him to sign a picture for Rina. Umm...he wrote on it three or four times! You see, he couldn't get the permanent marker I brought to show up, so Aislinn started to lend him all these pens she had brought! One colour shows up quite well, but the other attempts are harder to see...Allen brought a copy of Green Arrow and told me to get Mark to sign it for myself since he already had an autographed copy. Thanks, Allen! :-) Mark also posed for several photographs!
I took one of him, Patti and Aislinn. Then Allen took one of me and Mark. Next thing you know, everyone is taking a turn posing with Mark. In fact, Mark grabbed the camera and started taking pictures of all of us!
We decided to move our table when the Irish band began to warm up. Our table was right beside them and it seemed prudent...Then, after a couple of songs, we moved altogether. The music was very loud, so we moved to a table farther away. It was pretty small and only had two bar stools. However, it was one of those tall tables you could prop your elbows at, so we took turns sitting and standing around it.
It was almost impossible to hear anything, so I'm afraid I probably missed quite a bit. I know Mark told a story about taking his sister's kids to Sherwood and filling their heads with these stories about a moose! Small world, eh? Anyway, he had them putting their hands against their heads (like we had during our little photo session) and making this really funny noise: Awooooooo! Anyway, his sister called him after their expedition and asked him why her kids thought there was this moose in Sherwood! I think they even made a return trip and his nephew asked a question about the moose, so he made up even more material. Then, I believe his sister called him again and...You know the drill!
He insisted that we each ask him a question about RoS. I blanked when it was my turn, so I asked him Rina’s question about why he had so many silent roles. He then talked about the origins of Nasir – how it wasn't supposed to be a permanent role and how he was going to be killed off. Then he commented on how many speaking roles he had had, so I'm not sure if I really got an answer...
What were the other questions...? Oh, Allen asked about pranks on the set! Mark mentioned the cream bun fights. One of them would sniff a bun and make a face: “Ewww! This smells funny! I think it's gone bad. What do you think?” Then one of them – let’s say Mark – would put the bun under the other person's nose and, as they sniffed it, shove it in their face. This would lead to the launching of several cream buns. In one case, a member of the crew was plastered in them and all you could see on him was the cream...
Around this time Sar's friend, Heather, joined us. She had never seen RoS and she had no idea who Mark Ryan was! However, Mark still insisted that she ask a question so, with some prompting from Sar, she asked: “Who are you?” I think he just smiled. Next she asked what Robin of Sherwood was. Mark’s response was something like this: "For some it's a TV show; for others it's a way of life.Then I think he said that for others, still, it was a three-year drinking fest! I know his answer involved drinking anyway!
Sar and Aislinn asked him about his favourite books, movies and music. I know his favourite movie is The Lion in Winter, which delighted Allen! Ian Fleming is his favourite author. I remember that later in the evening, he said that he really liked Sting and Genesis, I think. He said that he really liked songs that had good lyrics, which Sting provides. Supposedly they grooved to Sting on the set of RoS! He and Clive Mantle really liked The Police!
I think it was when Mark was trying to ask Aislinn if there was any drumming involved in her rituals that we decided to move to another location. She couldn't hear a word he was saying and they had to mime to each other! It was such a relief to step outside and have the sensation return to my ears!
We walked over to another pub called The Scotland Yard, which was much more quiet and less crowded! We moved a couple of tables together, ordered some more drinks and continued talking. He told a story about meeting James Doohan (Scotty from Star Trek) at a con and going out for drinks with him. The bartender was really excited when he saw him because they had a drink called a “Beam Me Up, Scotty!” Doohan agreed to try it and it turned out that the drink was made up of all these different layers of alcohol! I don't know how to explain it, but the bartender was able to put all these different layers on top of each other! Mark also told a story about James Doohan in World War II, but it would probably take me forever to retell it!
Because I started talking to Sar and Heather, I didn't hear a couple of his stories. I know he was demonstrating the different kinds of bows at one point because Sar started to get really nervous. His hand almost hit her face a few times as he mimed the action of pulling the string on the bow! She pushed her chair away and he finally understood!
Mark also started to talk about the filming of that scene in the desert during The Sheriff of Nottingham. He had demanded another question from Heather, and Aislinn had prompted her to ask just what the deal was with Nasir and Sarak! He smiled and asked her if she had come up with that question herself! Then he started to talk about the filming of that flashback. They used a beach at Weston-super-Mare! I believe they had to film it before the tide went out because some modern buildings would show up otherwise! He also said that the camels were horrible! They kept spitting!
Another question Heather asked was: Do you have a tattoo and, if you do, where? Mark doesn't have any tattoos, but he said that if he got one it would probably be on the upper arm or shoulder and that it might be a Green Man. Then we went around the table talking about what tattoos we would get and where! Patti said she would get a dragon or wolf and that she would probably choose the ankle. Sar already had a tattoo of a maple leaf on her ankle. That was pretty funny because she told us that she got it when the US appealed the WTO (World Trade Organization) ruling regarding the foreign importation of magazines in Canada and won. This meant (boiled down to its simplest terms) that American magazines could seize control of the market and edge out the Canadian competition. She decided that with the tattoo there would be at least one part of her that the Americans could never own. Mark basically just raised his eyebrows and stared at her as if she was a crazy person! I think you have to be Canadian to understand!
Unfortunately, he insisted on knowing what I would have as a tattoo. As I never plan to get a tattoo, I totally blanked! However, he was insistent!
Someone suggested a tiger, so I said, "Yeah, that would be good. I'm a cat person.”
Then Mark gave me almost the same look he had given Sar: "Cat! Cat?!"
"A big cat. A big cat with claws and sharp teeth...Uh...Yeah, a tiger would be good."
"Uh...I guess my shoulder."
Then he smiled and said something about me being daring and that it was always the quiet ones. I probably should have just gone along with it, but I admitted that I chose the shoulder because there's more flesh there and that it would probably be less painful!
After the tattoo discussion, we disbanded for the night. It was 1:15 am and we had to get home before the subways stopped running! Outside, Mark hugged everybody except Allen (though I'm sure he was tempted) and we just had a bit of a hug-fest in general. Then we went our separate ways. Sar, Heather, Allen and Aislinn walked to the subway station, and I travelled to the car with Patti and Mark.
This time I let Mark go in the front (I told him it was his turn) and we dropped him off at the hotel. Patti told me to move back to the front, and Mark hugged us both. Then two people from the show showed up. One was a guy who plays a condom and the other was the wardrobe person. Patti complimented her on her work, as she had created some very interesting outfits for Mark to wear! We talked for a bit and then they went into the hotel. Mark hugged us again and said he had had a wonderful evening and that it was nice to meet me. I said something similar in return, and then Mark walked into the hotel...
As I live in Scarborough [or did when I wrote this report], Patti was sweet enough to drive me home in case I missed the last bus. We talked about the evening and decided that it had been a big success. :-)