me + annabel capper: or, the limits of Armitage fangrrling, almost a year in

A screencap of the ridiculously beautiful Richard Armitage, chosen because of its thoughtful mood, from “The Chase,” an extra from the Spooks 7 DVDs. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

Others have been writing about the status of their interest in Armitage of late, and I still worry about my fascination for various reasons, most of which are probably obvious to you. The year anniversary of the trigger event for my Armitagemania is fast approaching with no signs that the symptoms are abating. It continues to relieve me that I’m not alone in dealing with this weird quandary. Many of you are in the same boat and I’m vitally grateful for your company. This post is provoked by a strong reaction I had recently to stuff that has surfaced lately in Armitageworld. I hated myself for being interested, but discovering it left me with a much-needed feeling of relief, albeit a bittersweet one. That’s what I’m exploring here.

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Caveat lector. I thought about publishing this piece with comments closed, but that seemed unfair to fellow sufferers who might also need to unload on this topic. So I’m keeping comments open with a certain amount of trepidation. Known commentators can post without moderation; new commentators need their first post moderated by me; you may comment with “anonymous” as your tag, but I will have to approve the comment. The last time (of which I am aware) that elements of this topic surfaced in a reputable forum, by which I mean a moderated one, something approaching a bloodbath ensued. This took place after I was exposed to Armitage and before I was blogging, and I was a bit stunned to read some of those comments. It made me understand why the moderated discussion boards all include a proviso prohibiting discussion of Mr. Armitage’s personal life. If you comment, please remember the Golden Rule — thinking of “others” as both me and your fellow commenters and Mr. Armitage and Ms. Capper. It’s fine to disagree with what I say below or even the fact that I am articulating it for a general audience — I spent a lot of time wondering whether this post in itself violates the “do unto others” rule vis-à-vis either Armitage or Capper, and it took courage for me to hit “publish.” Just keep in mind that no one involved in this discussion or concerned with this topic is evil; no one — me included — seeks to do anyone harm. It might help to think of this as a discussion not about Mr. Armitage’s personal life per se, but about our reactions to aspects of it that we glimpse.

***

And so, finally, ad rem. No, still no answers.

***

John Bateman (Richard Armitage) and Maya Lahan (Leila Rouass) in Spooks 9.8. My cap. Love the way the shadows over Mr. Armitage’s shoulders draw dark lines through the photo that accentuate the architectural qualities of his upper body. As Frenz has noted, it’s not just a pretty physique; the man uses his shoulders to act, too. Here, in his attempt to convey a sense of security to an unsettled Maya, John also performs an act of self-reassurance by enveloping her body in his bare arms, almost as if she’s a transitional object that reassures him of the validity of his notion of his past.

I admit it: I’ve now rewatched Spooks 9.8 a few times. Not because I liked the plot or found the resolution of the Lucas North / John Bateman division any more successful than I did when I saw it the first time. I watched it to see those painful but oh so remarkable performances again. And because Mr. Armitage is so beautiful, even as the villain. I watch as I’ve been watching since January 4th: to elevate my mood via a combination of factors (beauty, artistry, charisma) that I still don’t completely understand. I watch because my eyes open wider, my nostrils flare, when I see him, but because my heart and mind open, too, in response to the figure on the screen. Who doesn’t always seem quite real to me. Frankly, it would be easier if he weren’t.

Objectification? Oh boy, do I ever worry about it. Precisely because the guy seems like such a mensch on top of all of his talent. If he didn’t seem so real, I wouldn’t be worried about treating him as if he weren’t; if he were a jerk, or talentless, I could just ogle him and be done with it, but then again, if he was a jerk, or untalented, I wouldn’t be fascinated. I’ve been thinking of objectification mostly in terms of its sexual connotations and worried primarily about that — the treating of a person, and specifically his body, as if he primarily exists to fuel my sexual pleasure. That really does bother me. After I realized the extent to which I had slid, during a late summer in which I had lacked time for more careful thinking, from a relatively analytical discussion of his clothing choices at formal occasions into a level of detailed discussion of Mr. Armitage’s body that bugged me — including closeups of particularly enticing body parts — I’ve written relatively little in that direction here since the fall semester started. I wrote a little bit about the problem of beauty as an aspect of criticisms of his career trajectory, and tried to point out that it’s not his fault that he’s beautiful or that directors try to show us that, and that our reactions to his beauty are about us rather than him. Blaming him for anything about our own lack of restraint in thought, word, or deed is the practical equivalent to me of blaming rape victims for dressing provocatively. We need to take responsibility. So since the Fall I’ve been avoiding the discussion of Armitage’s body as if it were a thing, and mostly been calling him beautiful as opposed to sexy. Mostly. I still slip. So if you’ve been missing the PHWOAR here, don’t worry. I still feel it. In spades. It has a good shot at making a comeback.

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Carol Bolton (Sarah Smart) helps John Standring (Richard Armitage) disrobe before attending to his injuries in episode 3 of Sparkhouse. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

But calling Armitage beautiful instead of sexy seems like a dodge. Just like you can’t act without your body, so that it’s an obfuscation to say that we admire someone for his acting, not for his body, when acting is inter alia the successful rhetorical or poetical instrumentalization of one’s own body, beauty and sexiness are both aesthetic perceptions, both uses of and perceptions of the body. It’s just that beauty is considered more elevated than sexiness. Though the elevating aspect of beauty is something I desperately need right now. And perhaps particularly his beauty, which speaks to me well beyond the level of physical arousal. Because while I get a sexual thrill from looking at some of these pictures, that’s not all I get. They’re not just a better sort of pornography for the educated woman. And like the cap above, some of the pictures I love most are not all that pretty. Somehow the pictures symbolize something else: hard work, thoughtfulness, and struggle as values; the attainment of art; the presence of someone who is often described in ways that suggests he tries to do the right thing, of someone who’s got scruples. Most of all an inspiring, enveloping energy. A comfort at low points, a reminder of a sort of secular or quotidian redemption that results from the evaluation a job well done or a perception of light breaking through the darkness — the two most common reactions I experience in response to Armitage’s work.

I suppose one potential aspect of objectification is that you can make the object of your gaze into whatever you like without protest from him, that you can love who you want to love in whatever way you wish for whatever reason, without the disturbing wrinkles that might make someone unlovable under any other circumstance. But there’s a way here in which Armitage’s physical beauty seems to function as a placeholder for a spiritual quality, a way of being in the world that I’m trying hard to understand and, I admit, imitate even as I perhaps construct myself the thing that I admire. I know that sounds a bit inchoate. This theme is something that deserves more time, so I mark it here with plans to discuss it down the road. It’s not the point today. The point instead is that the aspects of sexiness and beauty that are oh so enticing are still central to my fascination. Noting this would be unproblematic except that lately — in light of events — I’ve sensed a surge in my perhaps faulty perception that Mr. Armitage is real. And (as Anselm of Canterbury knew of G-d) the potential that something that exists in the imagination could also exist in reality is intoxicating. In the particular case at hand here, that possibility amplifies my desire and admiration. (As well as my embarrassment about the former.)

***

Datum: My post on the Old Vic Gala is currently the seventh most hit post on this blog. The post says nothing; I didn’t attend; I intended solely to bookmark some links I wanted to go back to. I assume that the comments are attracting the attention, as one commenter went to the gala and attended the dress rehearsal. If you look at that post and feel moved to comment on what she wrote, please be aware that I have the utmost respect for her decisions. I don’t want to put her on the spot, but the fact that she said it on my blog made me think. Am I objectifying Mr. Armitage in ways that hadn’t yet occurred to me? Is the very fact of this blog an objectification? Martha Nussbaum would apparently say yes — as here, I’ve explicitly turned Mr. Armitage into a thing that I make use of for my own purposes. On the other hand, all analysis does that — it seeks to resolve complexity for the purposes of explanation. No rationalizations about whom an analysis might be for can impede those imperatives. Analysis involves an I-it relationship. One defines an object of study and then studies it. And though I have written quite extensive posts on the techniques of Mr. Armitage’s acting, in the end I can’t study acting solely as an activity that occurs without a body or a spirit behind it. These things are all connected and they do at least a little to explain the desire to meet the man who stirs us so unbelievably.

The perceived desire to meet the target of our admiration has an inherent tendency to be objectifying, I think; I assume that our desires to meet Mr. Armitage have nothing to do with him. This perception raises the problem of whether one can ever have a non-objectifying relationship with someone one’s never met. Martin Buber says you can have an I-thou relationship even with a total stranger to whom you never speak. I-thou is the sort of relationship that moves artistic inspiration, for example, or engagement with the work of another thinker. I hope Buber is right. I’m trying, anyway. But in order for that to happen the blog has to move beyond analysis to talk about how I perceive my self to be in dialogue with Armitage’s work. How does the most elevated perception of his “thou” move mine? Laying aside that we can at best guess what Armitage perceives to be the point in his work when he was most in touch with his spirit — and that we maybe haven’t seen it! maybe it’s not on youtube! — that’s a really hard kind of writing to do, but it’s what has to come next, the challenge for this blog as my Armitagemania moves into its second year.

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Datum: That commentator essentially realized my theatrical fantasy, the sixth most hit post on this blog, and even went a bit beyond. And I can’t help but mention in this context that my reaction to the comments on the theatrical fantasy, Stalking Armitage?, an attempt to sort out my (non-)relationship to Mr. Armitage, is the second most hit post here. So the desire for close encounters with Mr. Armitage in real life somehow, either as fantasy or reality, is on the table and has been for some time. It — and concern over it — may flare periodically in the wake of actual encounters.

***

Datum: Another widely reported fan encounter at the aforementioned gala, in which Mr. Armitage is reported to be — after proving on stage that he is incredibly talented and incredibly willing not to take himself too seriously — not only incredibly good-looking but also incredibly normal and incredibly charming.

***

Datum: A scan of the program for the Old Vic Gala confirms Mr. Armitage’s courtesy and makes me, if you think this possible (cough), respect him even more as a man who hasn’t forgotten where he came from and isn’t afraid to admit it in public. That assessment may be especially attractive to me because academia is so full of insecure men, so after two decades in this milieu my meters for normal male behavior are skewed hopelessly. But yeah, I’m still asking myself whether he can possibly be for real. I keep looking for a turnoff that I am not finding. Maybe I’m willfully ignoring his recent revelation about his temper. I and a different commentator speculated on the potential reasons for that disclosure and about why we read little negative response to that information. At any rate, for whatever reason, I don’t feel it. [Interestingly, while I was composing this, an amusing discussion emerged in the comments to a previous post under the question of "what could you find out about Richard Armitage that would turn you off?" Just more proof that "me + richard armitage" readers are often very intuitive thinkers who grasp the direction of my thoughts before I can put them down on the screen.]

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“I just met a wonderful new man. He’s fictional, but you can’t have everything.” Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels) breaks through the fourth wall to comfort Cecelia (Mia Farrow) in one of Woody Allen’s best pictures.

Datum: A post by mulubinba (since removed) about experiences close to home regarding obsession with celebrities, which referenced a forum for sufferers of depression, with some incredibly revealing comments. Do you see yourself there? Do I? Well, this is not a serial activity for me. Armitagemania is the only syndrome like this I’ve ever experienced. And maybe I am lying to myself, but I don’t think I’m obsessive in the technical sense of the term; reading about and looking at pictures of Richard Armitage does not bring me relief from anxiety or fear about vague or specific dangers, and I do not engage in it to ward off bad or irrational feelings about my interest in Armitage himself. Without too much trouble I can stop consuming Armitage product when I have to, as on religious holidays, and I am not doing this against my own rational will. If for some reason against my own inclination I became suddenly allergic to all things Armitage I’d be sad but I’d survive.

But Armitagemania as coping mechanism for distracting me from current problems? Oh yeah. That’s been there from the very beginning. I know I’m not alone, either. Can we say “Purple Rose of Cairo“? Do you ever find yourself wishing that Mr. Armitage would just step through the screen?

***

I get a lot of messages off blog — sometimes one a day. Fewer lately, which is fine, as I have a hard time keeping up with comments. Anyway, I’ve been getting about one mail off blog per month asking for help in abating the severe recurrence of persistent thoughts of Mr. Armitage. Toward the end of August I asked for reader help on one request. A discussion of levels of Armitagemania ensued that was interesting, in which Skully raised the point of whether we have an obligation to mindfulness toward those who are really suffering. We agreed that we do, but also that we don’t know what the answer is, other than seeking support from friends, getting professional help, or going absolutely cold turkey and/or turning off the Internet. In case you were thinking of writing to me: though I am way behind at the moment, I eventually do answer all messages, but I really don’t know the answer to this question. As should have been apparent for some time.

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Datum: A tweet surfaces suggesting that Mr. Armitage will manage somehow to squeeze “The Rover” into his performance schedule for 2011. The theatrical fantasy again becomes acute in my life. Mulubinba ponders her response to the potential of seeing Mr. Armitage perform in person. She’d go if he were playing in her city but not to the stage door. If “The Rover” happens, what will Servetus do? Luckily, it seems, an actual announcement is still some way off.

***

Datum (taking deep breath): Pictures of Annabel Capper at the Old Vic Gala in the company of Mr. Armitage surface in a link posted in a thread on C19, as well as a cell phone video of him standing in line to get on the bus to the after party. RAFrenzy writes about the latter, and, as so often, describes exactly how I felt. Like her, I worried about my hypocrisy. When the video popped up on youtube, I first eagerly looked it and favorited it so I wouldn’t lose it, then felt unbelievably sorry for the poor guy, that he has to consider the possibility that he could be captured on video while walking the twenty feet from the door to the bus, and ashamed of myself for being such a voyeur, and an eager one at that. Then, I watched it again. Three of those over those more than two thousand viewings were mine. I was disturbed. So. Since Frenz admitted to her reaction to the video, I am going to write, tangentially, about the pictures of Ms. Capper. Because I had all the reactions about them I describe above — and yet another. Relief.

I stress, not for the last time, that I know next to nothing about her. The rest of the post is about my feelings about what I know about her as a way of describing my feelings about my Armitagemania. Meta enough for you? I think if I’m objectifying anyone today, it’s her. I apologize for this confession, Ms. Capper, in case you are offended by it, but you really did me a huge favor this week.

***

As the point of this post is not to generate gossip, but it may inevitably do so, I feel obligated to remind everyone that we have no idea who Annabel Capper is to Richard Armitage. Thinking quickly as I write this, I am aware of only five pieces of neutrally verifiable information that put them together: that they were in the cast of a play together in 2002 in a venue that supports the work of emerging playwrights; that they attended the Children’s BAFTAs ceremony in each other’s company in 2006 (they are pictured together at left); that a doodle for charity purposes that he attributed to himself in 2007 incorporated her name; that they were photographed together at the Carrie’s War premiere in the summer of 2009; and that they appeared together at the London gala premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai show in January 2010 (that videolink is dead, but you can now watch it here — worthwhile because she’s not dolled up to the teeth in designer clothes but rather sensibly dressed and manages a nice smile but looks quite overwhelmed by all the flashes going off — the video made me think that she was mustering her professionality but possibly dislikes the red carpet experience as much as he has reported he does). Everything else we may believe about his relationship to her is, as far as I am aware, hearsay and not confirmed with independent evidence. He’s stated repeatedly since the summer that he’s got no current romantic interest; he’s also remarked that it’s increasingly difficult for him to meet new people to go out with and that he sometimes resorts to an ex when he needs a date.

Silences, lack of any further verifiable information that puts them together, and recent denials of romance on his part notwithstanding (she’s never been quoted as herself in an interview about him, and as far as I know, I’ve only ever read one piece of “friends say” information about him), “Annabel Capper” is a frequent search term that brings readers to this blog. How frequent? It’s number 20 — and thirteen of the top ten are variations on the name of this blog or generic search terms for Mr. Armitage — i.e., more than half of the top twenty are requests for the same two things. So in terms of unique requests it’s in the top ten, though not as popular as the more generic “richard armitage girlfriend.” (Incidentally, “sopa de lima” and “wallace and gromit” are in the top twenty as well.)

When I started blogging I had planned to keep her name out of it to prevent those searchers from landing here, since I wasn’t going to provide any additional information about her, and because she mostly works on stage, it seems, her appearances (as well as those in other media) are not stored in places that make it easy for me to catch or comment on them. But that didn’t stop me from being curious about her on my own behalf. Eventually I began to think that it was hypocritical for me to be interested in her but not admit it — like saying I had (hypothetically) an illness but not conceding how severe it was. So though I didn’t ever write about her, I did mention her name, for example, in picture captions, or in the comments, which is why one can now find one’s way here using that search term. The fact that I am now writing a post about my feelings about her means that even more people who search her name will end up here. But the data above and my reaction to it sort of compel me, and I’m not ashamed any more, though perhaps I should be. Because I like Annabel Capper, or more accurately, it’s that I like the idea of her, and I have ever since I learned the little bit about her that’s available for consumption on the web — really little more than the contours of a professional life, and not dissimilar to the sort of information (mutatis mutandis) that you could find out about me if you knew my real name. Yup: like Hermione Norris, Annabel Capper has become a collateral attraction.

First, and most obvious based on the means I have for learning about her, her body appeals to me. She’s tall and not slight. If her Spotlight CV is accurate, she carries not an ounce of extra weight on a strong 5’8″ frame. Her shoulders are wide enough that it looks like she could protect herself in a fight. But it’s more than an actual physicality; her pictures suggest an energy that says “don’t tread on me.” I admire “strong,” and Ms. Capper’s arresting gaze and marked features expand on the boundaries of conventional attractiveness. Striking, I’d call her, with those intense green eyes and a heavily structured brow that gives them extra broadcast potential and magnetic power. Capable of force, an actor’s reel of her work demonstrates — and copes with a range of accents in an “assured” quality of voice. Confident! Second, though she’s not a classic lead, her CV suggests, she’s apparently talented enough to work regularly in British theatre, including in shows with very minimal casts where one suspects she must contribute a great deal of the energy of the ensemble herself. Cast at an early stage in her career in a prestigious Shakespeare audio project as Helen in Troilus and Cressida. Has not hesitated to be involved in various projects of artistic and political interest. Associates herself with creating meaningful spaces and structures for others to perform in. Has played Lincoln Center in a Sara Ruhl play, which has to have been hard work. Works repeatedly in supporting roles with the same directors, including the respected Mark Wing-Davey, which suggests that she’s a team player and a reliable artist who takes direction well. Works hard — CV suggests at least three different roles in 2010. Said to have a “haunting voice” and “vivid intelligence,” and G-d knows, Servetus loves smart — which is my third reaction. I found her listed among the visiting faculty in the 2010 and 2011 prospectuses for the University of London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, where she is described as teaching writing, another activity dear to my heart (both writing, and teaching it) — and one that demands a particular sort of intelligence that moves beyond “smart.” She gives of her talent to others who’ve been less able to identify or capitalize on their strengths, a final point of attraction for me to Ms. Capper, as demonstrated by an entry from a humanitarian project to visit prisoners and do workshop Shakespeare with them.

I’ve never met her in person and every one of us has flaws. From my perspective here, thousands of miles away from London and gathering information on the internet, however, Annabel Capper seems: striking, attractive, energetic, strong, artistically adventurous, smart, informed and aware, (multi-)talented, get-along-withable, industrious, generous. All this I can conclude reasonably without her having put any personal information out there about herself other than her resumé. So she’s probably also modest — and as we know, she’s discreet. The kind of person you’d want as a friend. Worthy of respect. Worthy of trust. Worthy of … love.

***

I’m not a very frequent C19 reader — not out of any problem with C19 but because my own Armitagemania is so prolix that it doesn’t fit well into that format — but when the reports came in about the Old Vic gala I started looking over there for more commentary and up to the minute news. (I’m grateful that people post it  and in return, I’d have been happy to discuss this reaction there, but the topic is prohibited, as noted above.) And I wasn’t disappointed; it was gratifying to read that stuff. I’m just as curious about information on the “real” Armitage as the next fangrrrl. I jumped right over to the dorktastic video when it appeared and I wrote about it; comments on that post eventually moved in the direction of how far we would go in watching “private” information and disseminating or talking about it. If you look at the comments you’ll see that I was much less solid in October about what I’d discuss or not discuss on this blog than I had been in April. And then I saw a link in the C19 thread with the provocative question “Isn’t that Annabel Capper?” My heart caught in my throat. My finger hovered over the mouse. Of course I was going to click — how could I ever stop myself? I want to know everything about him! — but I was already feeling dirty about it.

While the finger was twitching, I was already starting to hate myself. The dialogue of the warring Servetuses begins: “Can’t leave this topic alone, can you?” I asked myself. “So what if it’s Annabel Capper?” The reply: “But what if it isn’t? Don’t you want to know that, too?” Servetus: “Can’t the man spend a night alone and enjoy his success with the people who appreciate him without you googling in to observe him? Come on, take the high ground. Refuse to look.” Servetus: “Oh, come on, ignoring information doesn’t erase it. If the data there could contribute to your picture of him then you need to look at it. Plus, maybe it will be something so nasty that you’ll be shocked out of your preoccupations; wouldn’t it be positive then?” Servetus: “Oh come on, you even don’t believe that yourself. This is not about information gathering, it is unadulterated prurience. You’re just going to feel dirty and hypocritical after you see it. There’ll be one moment of excitement and then you’ll feel like dreck.” Servetus: “Oh yeah? Well you can’t stop me.” (It was fatal for me to say that to myself, since I have a very oppositional personality.) The defiant finger fell — whether it was Servetus, or Servetus, who propelled it: who can say?

CLICK.

Yeah. And it was her, in two very dimly lit, grainy photographs. Annabel Capper! Standing next to Richard Armitage at the bar of the restaurant, and then next to him while they were talking to a third person! And there was one moment of huge thrill, but I was wrong about the consequences. All of the conflict disappeared, and I felt an overwhelming, dizzying wave of relief, and no conflict at all. My knee-jerk reaction: “Oh, how wonderful that they’re there together. How great for him. How great for her.” I had wondered whether, for example, his parents or his brother might have been in the audience to witness his first steps onto a live stage in quite some time, and I was just so happy that someone who really cared about him was there for him after such a nerve-wracking reentry. My cheeks blushed and I had a physical sensation of warmth all over. Glee!

Richard Armitage confesses his nervousness about the Twenty-Four Hour Plays to a BBC reporter. Source: Richard Armitage Net

I am not describing this reaction to paint myself as an altruist or to suggest that my Armitagemania is innocent in any way. It’s not. All kinds of potential unpleasantness that I just may not be able to admit to consciously could lie behind that reaction. Maybe it stemmed from relief that it wasn’t someone whose picture I hadn’t seen, so that I wasn’t going to get dragged against my ability to stop it into hours of pointless fangrrlish speculation. Or relief that it was Ms. Capper, because I don’t believe that she’s his current romantic partner, and so he’s still single and notionally available to me in my daydreams, without too much disturbing data from reality like a committed lover. (I’ve sort of filed her in my mind under the surmised label of “potential ex,” and wondered whether her days at LAMDA coincided enough with his that she could be the drama school love interest who he “never felt … was the one,” in which case my respect for her grows exponentially, since I wouldn’t be able to hang out with someone who said something like that about me, even if he didn’t intend it to be published. But then Servetus has the unfortunate personality trait of holding grudges.) And the historian evaluating evidence I was trained to be also forces me to point out that her presence there proves nothing: nothing about the pictures says anything about their relationship to him or why she was there. Pictures at an after party don’t even prove she was at the performance. She could be his partner, or his ex, or just a very good friend — one must add, a very good friend indeed to put up with and draw upon herself the growing circus around him, to which I am admittedly now making a six-thousand-word contribution — or she could have been there accidentally. And yet other less probable possibilities could explain her presence that probably aren’t worth elaborating upon this late in such a long post.

But what this reaction showed me is that there is a limit to the insanity of Armitagemania. I may spend a ridiculous amount of time writing on this blog, which is in turn only a fraction of the time I spend thinking about him and his work, but I still haven’t become so much of a fangrrl that I can’t tolerate the thought of the actual Mr. Armitage in the arms of a partner in real life or that I would be happy to learn that he’d been dumped and was single again. My excesses aside, at base I am at least capable of fulfilling the laudable self-description of another commenter here of herself the Armitage fan as “a friend he’s just never met,” of being happy that he has people in his life, no matter his relationship to them, that have stable contacts with him that stretch over long periods — that he has friends and potentially romantic partners towards whom I have no consciousness of jealous feelings. In short Armitagemania is not making me betray my own convictions; maybe I am letting myself off the hook too easily, but Ms. Capper’s recorded presence at this event provided the welcome news that I am not at stage 3 or even close.

What a relief.

***

Ms. Capper, I hope that Richard Armitage loves you somehow — as a lover, as a dear friend — because in the absence of any more personal information about you than I am ever likely to have, you seem like you are worthy of any or all of that, and you are also lucky enough to know him personally, a status that tens of thousands of women envy you no matter how things stand. (I also hope that in private he’s the person he appears to be in public — ethical, thoughtful, sweet, loyal, modest — and that if you are his ex, it’s not because he has some severe personality flaw, or acted a bit of a monster to you, or that he lost his temper irretrievably or did something else that hurt you terribly. Yeah: if you’re his ex, I hope you dumped him. Is that mean of me? Or am I only loyal to my gender?) But even if he doesn’t love you, or if he’s much less nice in real life than his press suggests, I want to thank you for going to that after party weekend before last. Your presence there did that extra little bit for me that makes him real and reminds me that he isn’t just beauty or artistry, a concept that I observe and turn over in my mind to make myself feel better in bad moments — that he is a real person with real relationships, with entanglements that he also may not handle satisfactorily in every regard but that root him in a particular context. That’s bittersweet, because (as Anselm demonstrated about G-d, see above) the fact that he exists in reality and not just in the imagination makes Richard Armitage better — even as, at best, I might manage to see him live on stage. In reality, I will only ever know him in my imagination. And that’s powerful — particularly on days when my nerves are sore and my soul is exhausted. But it’s not the imagination of him, the concept of him, that really powers the energy that comes from his roles, or at least not all by itself.

You appear to be the kind of woman that I want someone who’s the kind of man Richard Armitage appears to be to fall in love with. So you, too, have become part of the fantasy — perhaps unfairly, since you didn’t sign up for it, any more than he did and indeed much less so.

But for better or for worse, you made him real, Ms. Capper, in a quiet way. It would be easier for all of us fans if he weren’t. But if he weren’t real, then he wouldn’t be half so powerful as a fantasy, either.

~ by Servetus on December 1, 2010.

185 Responses to “me + annabel capper: or, the limits of Armitage fangrrling, almost a year in”

  1. Wow.

  2. Taken against the balance of the blog and other RA blogs, no. But you’re brave to allow comments. Unless those who frequently move into protect their boy have learned not to tip their hands quite so much. Candidly, that behavior fascinates me. As you may have learned over the last year, I really like Richard Armitage. Well, just a wee bit. But I’m not quite up for trolling the web to try to defend his honor or his privacy. However, I’m fascinated by those who are. What drives them to that length? I can’t help but wonder. But then I’m cursed with questioning the dog out of everything.

    The only thing I take exception to in the piece is the implication that Twitter is chiefly for stalking. LOL! That’s the dream! Those crumbs of information so lovingly placed to lead us to someone’s altar.

    Problem is that there is a veiled contempt for the worshippers, or maybe that’s how my jaded eyes see it. I’m so convinced of this that I would never follow as much as I do as the “real me.” I’m not quite that far gone. And that, my friend, is the supreme rationalization for my indulgence in this mania.

    • Twitter: I do think in this particular case that that crumb was placed for a reason — to put the fangrrls all atwitter, so to speak– but I also know that it’s been used to stalk. I have a colleague who stalks his ex-wife this way, and has saved records of her tweets in order to take her back to court in a custody fight over their kid. So it’s not all innocent. Obviously any smart party, however, would never tweet anything of crucial importance unless he wished it to be known.

      I have not had to suppress any problematic comments. Maybe it’s that the warning at the beginning is worded so strongly that people are afraid to disagree?

      contempt for the worshippers: I think that’s interesting. I agree that that peaks through in some cases. Presumably the worshippers will notice when they are being treated contemptuously and vote with their feet?

  3. Speaking of which, should I link this on Twitter? :D

  4. I’ve had no caffeine yet. That’s what I’m blaming for leaving a key sentence out of my first comment. LOL!

    I’m soon on my way out the door to brave the snow and ice on the side of a of mountain. But if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it.

    Hope you have a great day as you test the limits of comment moderation.

  5. Servetus, meta analyser in Armitage studies, is unsurpassed in the blogging kingdom!

    Mea culpa! Parts of your post spoke directly to me. MillyMe’s tragic tale. Take heed in time and desist, dear reader! While Servetus determinedly discussed sartorial details of Armitage dress, Milly was skipping along the dizzy paths of Pwoarosophy and Thighology. Being made John Porter chair and being led gently to the Latin terms for the anatomy didn’t seem to diminish her unabashed interest in these fields. Reading about others similarly afflicted (depression and celebrity worship) has only made her aware of how tragic she is, mired in admiration of the body, as she is,and not just of the body of work!

    OK, that’s me trying to make ponderous fun of my own fascination for an actor I might never lay eyes on! That’s why your blog has been such a find. You’ve been similarly afflicted for as long as I have. I found you quite quickly after that and you have allowed me to take part in the journey of your own fascination and puzzlement as to why him? Why no end in sight yet? and where to now?!

    As a counterbalance to the tragic tales of obsession, I refer to an article by Chuck Gallozzi called Admiration of others at personal-development.com.

    “When we accept, appreciate, and admire others, welcoming them into our lives, they touch us and help make us what we are. When we embrace others, we embrace life.

    Besides being a valuable teacher, admiration is a source of happiness. For what is admiration but delight in what is? It is appreciation and gratitude for what is. A grateful heart is full of joy, while an ungrateful one is full of bitterness.”

    I appreciate how your blog also provides room for the positive aspects of our admiration of this actor!

    • more and more monumental meta, that’s me!

      This post wasn’t intended as an indictment of you, MillyMe, but as an indictment of me. Like I said, I don’t think I am done with PHWOAR, and I couldn’t get alone without the current holder of the John Porter chair.

      It’s also easy to be bawdy in the summertime, I think. Fwiw.

  6. Wow’s the word. I’m not too sure what the bloodbath was all about because I only started reading RA blogs a few months ago. Nat’s blog is in fact the first RA blog I read. I have to admit I did wince a little when I read the title because I could imagine the sort of comments a post like this would invite. Therefore, you are very brave, Servetus.

    The only thing I would say about this is I am glad he has someone to share his success with, whether she is his girlfriend or close friend. Afterall, she was there to support him as a friend through thick and thin right from the very beginning. So, if anyone gets the privilege to enjoy the afterparty with him, it should be her.

    • I don’t want to repeat slander; there really was a huge variety of sentiment, some of it positive and commending Natalie for taking on a topic that was obviously of high interest but which had been cordoned off from treatment on the discussion boards. What was troubling was (a) the appearance of personal attacks on Ms Capper or her appearance; (b) personal attacks on Mr Armitage for his undefined association with Ms Capper or for other perceived transgressions; (c) attacks on Natalie for bringing up the topic in the first place.

      Nice point — sharing a triumph with an old friend, whoever she is, is a nice thing to do.

      • See, I’ve been totally out of the loop on all this. Oh, geez. His “undefined association” with AC or other perceived transgressions? I–oh–I have to shut up or I will say something that regarding that which will get me into trouble.
        And who are we to attack AC’s appearance–middle-school girls text messaging back and forth because the hunky guy in our science class is friendly with a girl other than us? Meeee-oooowwwwww.

        Once again, I have to say I do not blame him one bit for stepping away from the craziness a bit. I really don’t. And I am sincerely sorry that Nat was attacked over this.

        • I think it’s a reflection of a weird sort of insecurity, to criticize him for not having a girlfriend that the critic thinks is prettier. But that came up. Comments on that post were also really narky about some of his clothing choices, which drove me crazy and to some extent eventually led to my decision to write the BAFTA clothing posts.

          And yeah, Natalie is pretty much the sweetest blogger in Armitageworld. She did not deserve the tsuris.

          • The poor man has said he has no fashion sense or if he did have, he’s lost it. Cut him some slack, people. Do you want him to be Richard, or some slick Hollywood clone? I think he’s been doing pretty much OK of late. Love his new coat. It think things will get better in the wardrobe dept. Maybe he’ll hire a good stylist or start seeking the advice of some fashion-savvy friend/SO.

            And yes, I would guess insecurity on the part of some fans is a big part of it. I remember being a very insecure teenager feeling that I had to discredit others in my head in order to build myself up, but thank goodness, I moved beyond that.

            And some of this nattering reminds of snarky teens, hence my middle school girls’ comment earlier.

            Good for Nat for sticking to her guns, anyway. Shame people have to be that way.

      • @servetus, those attacks do sound very troubling indeed!

        • Natalie allows anonymous comments. People get vicious when they don’t have to take responsibility for their statements, unfortunately. It’s one reason this blog requires you to take a pseudonym. I don’t mind dissent but I can’t accept cruelty.

          • The point I tried to make in a post below. I hate people not taking responsibility for what they say online. And you see it all the time.

      • When I read your post, I didn’t realize the “bloodbath” you were referring to had anything to do with my blog until I read these comments! haha. :)
        Just to let you know, I only felt attacked the first time I ever posted anything about AC, not realizing there were many in the RA fandom who thought this was a no-touch subject. I had no idea there were some fans who felt/feel overly protective about it or the reaction it would get. At first, the one or two rude comments hurt my feelings, but then I thought, “My blog… my rules!” and decided not to remove the post. I was then surprised by the outpouring of support from blog readers both by comments and private emails thanking me for discussing the subject openly. Since then, I haven’t received any mean comments about the AC subject.
        When I posted the photo of RA and AC at the Varakai event, commenters didn’t attack me, but started attacking each other because of differing opinions. It became way out of hand, so I had to disable and hide the comments. I don’t like to censor things, but out of respect for Richard, my blog and all the blog readers, I thought it was the right thing to do.

        • I may be conflating two of your posts on the topic, but I really do remember a level of unpleasantness that discouraged me.

  7. Dear Prof.,

    I can’t find your PM. Can you help me? Thanks

  8. Another fascinating post Servetus. I need to read it in more detail later and think about it some more.

    I’m probably less conflicted than others about my admiration for ALL of Richard Armitage’s considerable talents and physical attributes. He’s truly a Renaissance Man in every way. To me my fan-ship for him is a fun and lovely way of escaping the sorrows of life if even for a moment.
    I hope there’s no harm in it for him, and luckily we’re physically separated by the Atlantic Ocean. I find him incredibly sexy, and truly physically beautiful, heartbreakingly so at times. I love his interviews, especially videos of earlier interviews when he was less guarded. There are other actors I have admired and found handsome, but the more I know about Richard Armitage as a person the more loveable I find him!

    I’ve known about RA for about 5 years now, but only in the last 8 or so months have my feelings intensified to the extent I search out information about him every day. I rarely visit the forums, but religiously visit the blogs, especially yours Servetus. So knowing little about his personal life, I rather accidentally ran into a mention of Ms. Capper one day not long ago. The comments I found were along the lines of “not her again!” I then researched RA and Ms. Capper a bit further, but still know little. Now, thanks to this post, I know more. I’m also glad he has a good and loyal and long time friend in AC, and it seems to be a mutually supportive friendship.

    So, what is this all leading to you may ask. Only that I think it’s natural to be curious about his personal life because let’s face it, we are interested in him not just as an actor, but as a man. I don’t shy away from finding out more about him as a person, I seek information out, and I love talking about it with others. I will not shy away from any private information I can find or read about him. I wish I knew more, but at the same time am always a bit nervous about knowing more and having my fantasy of RA the person changed forever. But yet, at the same time, I greatly admire and respect his desire for privacy.

    This may seem like a contradiction from what I just said above (weird sentence?). I truly believe the only thing RA owes us as devoted fans is to give us the best performance he can as an actor whether on screen or on stage, or wherever. That is all he owes us for buying his DVD’s, and audiobooks, and supporting him in whatever he does. He doesn’t owe us entry into his private life.

    • I agree with you, Musa, except I don’t search for things about him every day … unless you count following a number of RA fanblogs as searching! :)

      Very well-written post as usual, Servetus. I agree with you as well – I too have a sort of reluctant interest in Ms. Capper, which is really difficult to explain, because … well, would I be interested at all if she HADN’T been seen together with RA? No. From what you’ve gathered about her, and written here, I’d say she sounds like a nice person, and we get the impression that RA is a nice person too, so sounds like they’re well-matched as friends. If there’s more to it than friendship, who knows? Does it really matter to any of us either way?

      I suppose that from a sense of being an ordinary woman, that he’s seen with a woman who looks REAL is the sort of self-satisfied “see? He’s a decent bloke, he wouldn’t be interested in one of those fake girls you see everywhere and especially in the glitzy world of showbiz, he wants a REAL woman! (… Like me!)” Because that’s just it, isn’t it? If he was seen with a supermodel, he would be Just Like Everyone Else – one who cares more about the appearance of someone rather than about the person they are inside, which I loathe anyway, and that would perhaps diminish a part of the attRAction [sic].

      Good grief, fangirl psychological analysis is a slippery slope. You go into it with the best of intentions and come out sounding more insane than you did going in! *cowers*

      • Thanks, Traxy. You get right down to business on two issues that plague me:

        (a) randomness — I wouldn’t have even known she existed were it not for him. So she turns out to be interesting and admirable — but I’m still reluctant because I’m not admiring her for her — I’m admiring her because of him. A not very feminist attitude, and I am an attenuated feminist.

        (b) the “real woman” issue. This is another feminist bugbear. I confess that I love it that she is tall and of medium build rather than being tiny and cute, and that she appears to be forceful. I tried to write that section really carefully because as much as I am troubled by the fascination with the supermodel female — they are also “real” women — no woman on this planet is any less real than any other. They are equally victims of these bizarre stereotypes fed to us by the celebrity machine. On the other hand, it remains the case that the fact that she’s “real,” indeed a bit gritty, makes me admire him more than if he were dating a cute blonde with a plastic surgery body and a brain that hadn’t developed much since seventh grade — for precisely the reason you state. Ms Capper seems like someone I could be friends with because in important respects she is like me — she embodies “everywoman.” So even the admiration for her is hardly innocent.

        • Absolutely. It’s a double-edged sword. Like you say, we’re all real women, and just because someone has gone down the “surgically enhanced” route doesn’t make her into a machine or anything. There’s still a living, breathing human being inside.

          I think feefa (further down) put it very well: “If RA is a fantasy object then she’s a potential rival (crudely put) – but it helps that she seems to be a good thing, by anyone’s criteria. What’s not to identify with?”

          Perhaps that’s the thing. RA is our fantasy and AC is our projected rival, of sorts. But if she’s genuinely a “decent person” and someone we can identify with, which most of us can’t when it comes to the “rich and beautiful” (even though we too may be both beautiful and rich, of course) … well then she’s not so much of a rival but more a substitute for ourselves? We can identify with her. Which then boils down to the whole issue of “if she’s a friend of his, and she’s a ‘normal person’ with half a brain, that means that by default, RA would also get along famously with me, if we ever crossed paths” – which again, sounds if not creepy, at least it’s bordering on stalkerish. Which, in turn, worries me.

          Now, how much I may gush about the guy online, I’m a (reasonably) sensible person offline, and wouldn’t dream of stalking a celebrity or get to the point of really believing that RA and I would be BFFs if only we met. Likelihood of me ever meeting him – slim. Likelihood of me ever getting to a point where he’d consider me a friend – none.

          Yet there’s still that nagging feeling of if we met and had a proper conversation, we’d have things to talk about and WOULD most likely get along quite well because we seem to have a similar approach to life in general. But, and here’s the important part, I would NEVER try to seek him out and force myself into his company and actually TRULY believe that all that stands between us and a happily ever after (as friends or otherwise) is an introduction. That’s the stuff of fantasy and romance novels, not real life, and I KNOW that. So why can’t I just shake off the “we could be such good friends” feeling, when I know that sort of thought is uncomfortably close to erotomania?

          And again, delving further into fan attitudes and behaviours does make you sound insane. Can I justify it by saying I’ve done some psychology studies at uni because I’ve always found psychology a most fascinating topic? :)

          • I have this same impulse, Traxy, to think that we’d have so much in common if we met, and I think you put your finger right on it — identifying with her enhances that fantasy. I don’t know either why I can’t shake it off. Sometimes it’s to the point of wishing he’d do something that would be a big turnoff for me. The problem is that I’m a fairly open kind of gal and whatever it was would have to be fairly extreme: like turn out to be an anti-Semite or something.

            I don’t think delving into fan attitudes makes us sound insane — as long as we own our own positions honestly. The bigger question of why we feel akin to people we don’t know is really fascinating.

            • Good point. Well, my position I hope has been made clear. :)

              The problem (if you want to call it that) with RA is that in every interview, he comes across as even more lovable. Saying things like he’s not very tidy – well, who is? Certainly not me. The repetetive food thing? Been there, done that. Beer and pizza? Make it a nice ale and yes please! (The rugby I’m not keen on, but we all have to make sacrifices.) Essentially, all the things he says to make him sound more human and flawed and and less perfect and attractive … it just has the opposite effect on me. Even the picking of the nose bit.

              Like you, I’m open, so yes, for something to have a turn-off effect would really have to be pretty extreme. Animal cruelty, there’s one I really couldn’t stand. (But I just can’t see him as being nasty to animals – he strikes me more like a person who’d crouch down and play). If he was a holocaust denier, that would also be a deterrent, because then I would just think he was stupid. (And he doesn’t strike me as being stupid.) And so on.

              Then again, he might just be really awkward to live with. Maybe he leaves the milk out, doesn’t take out the trash or clean the toilet or something. Leaving the cap off the toothpaste, or squeezing the tube the “wrong” way. Has ketchup or mayo with EVERYTHING. You know, little things that would annoy you if you lived with him, but if you didn’t, you’d never know. I bet that’s it. Which only shows he’s a perfectly normal human being like the rest of us!

              • Isn’t cruelty to animals considered a symptom of mental illness? (seem to remember that from somewhere). Holocaust denier would definitely do it for me, too. Spousal abuser. Thief. Soccer hooligan.

                I wonder if it’s just that he’s a really strong introvert. Some things he’s said point in that direction. People like that need very tolerant partners because they need a lot of alone time and are not always great at communicating their needs.

    • Musa,

      I, too, find him lovable and quite adorable. There are actors I think are attractive, sexy, talented–but none whom strike me as more generally likable and Mr. A. I would have loved to have had a brother, and he would have made a marvelous one, I think.

      And because I have such an affection for him, for the person he appears to be, I do indeed also respect him and his wish for some privacy. In this “Big Brother” world where our personal privacy seems to be increasingly trampled upon, I think we all are entitled to that, even if we are a public figure. Bless him and his friends and family as the madness likely increases.

      • I think he would be a great brother, though I must say, I already have a little brother. I’d have loved to have had a big one, though. :)

        • That’s why I wrote him as big brother to sisters in Truce. I see him as making a loving, teasing, but ultimately protective sibling. I always wanted an older brother, but of course, we’d have to age him to do that. *grin*

    • Good comment. I agree that he is not obliged to allow us into his private life. I suppose the question is are we obliged to look away from his private life?

  9. An absolutely wonderful blog post! Thank you, Servetus !!! You hit the quintessence of it all so well that there is just nothing to add.
    I normally try to avoid anything related to the private life of RA, so I, like @Riv, did not hear about the bloodbath you refer to.
    I also only had a fleeting notion of Ms. Capper. But your description of her is so admirable and wonderful, that I loved to read it.
    Also your video is so lovely, though when I think about it, I would not like RA to do that with me, as I would be unable to move or say a word. It would be the most boring and one sided conversation for him, he ever had. What experience would that be for him ;o)
    I am even not sure if I would / should attend “The Rover” (stage door visit not even under consideration) if, by any chance, it should be in the time I am in London next year. The only aspect which lets me seriously consider it is, that it would fill the theater and so with my visit I indirectly would support his career.
    But with my luck I will not have that chance to decide anyway.

    Thank you for this wonderful post. Once again I will have to print it out and read through it again and again to get all the brilliant aspects of it.

    • You’re always so kind, CDoart.

      I think everyone has to decide for herself what responsible behaviors are w/r/t fangrrling — but at the same time not everything is ok. Calexora’s experiences made me think a lot about where the lines would be for me.

      • I think my statement for my own struggles came over a bit like a criticism. It was not meant that way!
        On the contrary, I very much admire your drawing the line of fandom so exactly and taking all aspects into account while treating all participants with the utmost respect. I really admire that in all your posts. Your appreciation of the worth and honor of other persons shines through.
        It gives me so much to think about and lets me test my own behaviour and feelings, if I always treat the people around me like that.
        What always astonishes me is that your drawing the line always remains in my comfort zone, though I would not be able to express or find the frontier-line in such an explicit and clear way.

        • No, not at all — I didn’t understand it as a criticism at all. Maybe we share the value of valuing other people?

          • Value people, love people; use things. Sometimes we get it the other way around.

          • Thank you! Yes, you are completely right.
            Sometimes I think it would be easier to walk through life and just see one’s own worth. But I would not like to change anything and missing out on all the colourful diversity of life.

            • I really feel that trying to empathize with the position of others helps us understand ourselves as humans better. Even when this is difficult.

      • Should we each simply ask how we would like to be treated if in the object of our affection’s large shoes? And try to act accordingly, perhaps?

        I do wish we could all get along.

        • If I were in his shoes I’d like someone to buy me smaller shoes :)

          • LOL!!!

          • Servetus, your comment caused me to fall off my chair with laughter ;o)

          • ROFTL!

            Seriously, I think that’s a good option, to treat him the way we would like to be treated if we were the ‘superstars’.

            Servetus, I know you write these posts to understand yourself, but oh how you make me think about myself and my thoughts/feelings towards Mr. Armitage.
            I finished reading it and suddenly Richard Armitage felt more real, because my feelings changed from jealousy for the ‘virtual’ rival to identification with her. To think of him the way I think any of my friends and as you said, the fact that he has relationships, friends make him less a fantasy (I became conscious to what degree my image of Mr.Armitage has touches of fantasy). I think this leads me to control (a bit :P) the squee-ing, the admiration for the person he seems to be and the talent he has to create those complex characters I love so much is still there, in the end he is a person that lives in another country, I might never meet and sometimes I will succumb to squee-ing and fangrrling but I know the base of those is real.

            The change into identification makes me see his reaction in that Old Vic vid in a different light. If Ms Capper is waiting for him at the bus, at the end of that line of fans taking pics, if I were him that sheepish smile would be due to the embarrassment of a close friend and fellow actress watching this madness that I have barely got used to. I can imagine her with an amused smile, LOL!

            OML (Sorry for going off topic)

            • @OML, I loved this.

            • OML, this is really a sweet post and you offer a reaction that I hadn’t thought of — that writing about Ms Capper can help us to identify with her. I am going to have to think about this some more.

        • I absolutely agree with you. If we all would act under this premise, the world would be a much better place.
          My struggles with my fandom come a bit from the for me unexpected event of being a fan. I never was before and am unsure, with what behaviour of fans RA would feel comfortable with. I cannot really compare him to me and my likely feelings, because I would not feel comfortable on a stage to begin with.
          Also a main part for me is what would help him in the eyes of publicity, the press, potential employers, to further support his career as an actor.

          • I want to support his career, too, and hope this blog helps at least in a small way, or at the very least is not harmful.

            • I really think you do that in a big way!
              You show the world what a thoughtful, open minded and supportive group of fans this very special actor has. (Not just crazy fangirls.) You also show in a great way, how very special and talented he is.
              I really think he and his agents should engage you for his promotions and negotiations with producers ;o)
              And I would love to hear an interview with RA lead by you.
              You see, I have some major wishes for Christmas and the New Year ;o)

  10. I often wonder where the line is from super fan to creepy fan. This is something I often ponder, even being on fan sites, am I crossing the line somehow? For me, I work from home, so in a sense this is the water cooler conversation I would have at work, it is just focused on one person. Your site does provide relief from the stresses of life. I say well, it is healthier than drinking, but how much I am not sure. But in some senses that is me making excuses a bit and trying to be funny.

    I am a bit conflicted about all of this, but at least I am in really good company and I feel like if I am going to have a fan gurl crush on someone, he is prob one of the better people, if not the best.

    The other thing, I wanted to touch on was the fame factor. I think what many of us are struggling with is it’s like discovering U2 before they were U2 or REM, they were really good underground bands, then they hit it big. It’s like having this cool obscure secret and secret community that ain’t so secert anymore.

    As for his love life, I truly hope that he has someone special in his life. And from what you described, she sounds like a pretty amazing woman teaching Shakespeare to inmates!!! The thing that would turn me off would be if he turned up with a super slick starlet. Again, I refer to Hugh Jackman who has been married for many years to a woman who knew him when.

    • Do I ever hear you, @Rob. Is writing six thousand words on this topic super or creepy? Especially when it keeps me up writing till late in the morning.

      I think you’re exactly right about the revelation of the cool secret. I think that’s a huge dynamic in this particular fandom. I feel that way too and I’ve only been a fan for about a year now.

      No matter who she is, she really reflects well on him. I’m sure he has friends who are not quite this stellar — but she makes him look good IMO.

      • I like your take on it. She is the only person from his real life we “know” (apart from what he told about his parents and that is all good as well) and his friendship with her seem to indicate that he indeed has “depth” (for the lack of a better word) apart from being nice and a pretty face.

        • I wonder what would happen if we found he had a questionable friend. Would we admire him for his tolerance? :)

  11. As a happily married woman with an incredible crush on this Renaissance man, who also wants said man to have happiness in his personal life as well as success in his professional life, I can truly say I’m glad Annabel is still part of his life. She’s someone who’s known him long-term, through the ups and downs; she seems a truly nice person beyond the talent and intelligence (I would love to hear that “haunting voice”) and even if their romantic relationship didn’t work out for whatever reason (I’ve wondered if his hectic work schedule and long periods working away from London in Hungary and South Africa weren’t an issue for her), it seems they still have a friendship, a bond. And surely that is a good thing. We need those relationships.

    Agree with above comment, if he started showing up with the latest trout-pouted starlet on his arm everywhere, then I would be bothered. Because I have a high estimation of Mr. A, and Annabel seems to give it validity.

    I like him, I admire him, and I want him to be happy and fulfilled in every avenue of his life, much as I do a beloved single co-worker of mine who is something of a Renaissance Man himself (I love ya, Michael). Whether it’s Annabel or someone else who can bring that into Richard’s life, then bring it on.

    • It’s hard to know how to feel about “starlets,” insofar as I tend to agree with you that they make men less rather than more attractive to me, but also because they are people, too, and they also suffer for their attractiveness.

      • When I referred to trout-pouted starlets, I was thinking of the sort of actress who is seemingly more concerned with her outward appearance and tinkering with it via plastic surgery (the fad being those awful puffy lips these days)rather than working on her craft. I feel sorry for those young woman, because there has to be a terribly insecurity and like body image issues (and it is such a fickle business, let’s face it) to keep re-inventing their looks.

        for whatever reason, I just can’t quite see Richard with someone like that. A intelligent, talented young “starlet” (who probably wouldn’t want to be called a starlet in the first place) who is confident in herself–fine.

        • “terrible insecurity” and “likely body image issues”
          Sigh. My first day back working in the office and I am tired and starting to ache. Sorry.

          • hang in there. Been a long day here, too — there’s got to be a more humane way to earn one’s daily bread.

            • I need to become a novelist . . . I need to become a novelist . . . husband’s dropping hints again . . . “You know, people DO pay to read stuff other people have written, dear . . ”
              “Ah, but I need things like insurance, darling . . . the meds are not cheap . . .”

              By the time I get through two parades, an open house and two bazaars on Saturday in three different towns (and see Santa in every place), I’ll be wanting to work on that novel posthaste.

              • There should be some theological statement on the transsubstantiation of Santa — he is more ubiquitous than Jesus Christ (theological joke)

                • And for a county with no larger population than ours, old Saint Nick is making mega appearances, particularly this Saturday. Come to think of it, he’s also going to be in Luverne in the neighboring county in their parade at the same time he’s in McKenzie. And I’ve often felt like I was going to meet myself on busy days–poor Santa!

                  My dad was Santa when I was growing up. He would visit the homes of family friends and deliver candy canes and encouragement to behave. Our druggist said his children firmly believed because they had talked with the big man himself. Daddy loved every minute of it, bless his heart.

        • Believing what I happen to believe about him, I’d hope that if he did appear with someone like that, that that wouldn’t be the defining issue for him. That such a woman would also have an intelligence or humor or ethic that attracted him — and that it was my prejudice that made me see her as just a “trout pouted starlet” with some sort of body dysmorphic syndrome. That said, of course, if he went out with someone like Paris Hilton we’d be entitled to doubt his sanity.

          • Paris Hilton . . . oh, dear. Of, course, she is sort of last year’s news these days. It would have to be one of the Kardashian sisters. Who are famous for only God knows why.

            Yeah, I would assume if he were with someone who was more plastic than flesh, it would be due to other worthwhile and worthy qualities he saw in her. He doesn’t seem like the type to be drawn to someone who’s had a lot of “work.” Then again, that may be my prejudice.

            • “Superficial”–that’s the word I was looking for earlier and it popped into my head on the drive home. I don’t envision Richard with a highly superficial, shallow person because he doesn’t appear to be one himself.
              He’s “depthy,” and I would somehow assume he’d want a partner who was the same.

              But hey, if he wants to date Kim AND Paris and Ke$hs (people who spell their names with a dollar sign worry me) for that matter, it’s his business. Not mine.

  12. Well now, where to start?

    First, I am a little confused about the angst (less here in your blog than in some others I’ve read) about “violating his privacy” at the after-party. Good Lord people! It was an event open to the public, to anyone who could afford the ticket and the time to go! This was not a private, invitation-only event where privacy and confidentiality might be expected. I find it difficult to believe that an actor attending the after-party would think (unless perhaps if half in a vodka bottle and totally knackered)that this was the place to find a stranger (a member of the public or an actor they’ve never met before) and bear one’s soul. This was a work event!

    2) Annabel: When the pictures first came out I thought that was her. I think that if it is, good for her and good for him! I am happy that he would have had someone who, at the very least, must be a long-time friend, to connect with at this event, even if just to chat with. Being alone at social things is something I dislike intensely- no matter how much of a butterfly I am I need to land in “safe” territory periodically through the night.
    And it must be good for her career too to mix with the gala crowd (maybe easier since she does more theatre).
    So blessings to both of them whatever their relationship. I simply pray for him not to be lonely.
    And servetus no matter how wonderful someone is, chemistry is important, it may not be anyone’s fault if it doesn’t work out.

    3) servetus, a liken your analysis of my lovely Mr. Armitage’s work, with its focus on his body and voice, to an in-depth literary analysis wherein every aspect is combed through to find meaning and symbolism. The body and voice are the tools he uses and they exist for his use and manipulation outside of the quality of a script. I am amazed at how expressive his eyes are and I can’t get enough of comparing his use of that expressiveness among his various roles. I see no reason for guilt, angst or self-doubt. And its ok to say, “He’s really pretty and looking at him brightens my day.” God gives all sorts of ways to cope, beauty is beauty, avail ourselves of it while it exists.

    Yes, he is the friend I’ve just never met, I wish him love and success which means I’ll be keeping tabs as much as I can to see how he’s doing. I would seriously think about a trip to the stage door to see for myself the blue of those eyes, the velvet of that voice instead of relying on others descriptions. firsthand observation is very important in research! Someday!

    BTW; Can I apply for the Sir Guy of Gisborne chair? Now that I’ve let him out of his box he’s very demanding! :)

    • Ann Marie,

      Sometimes–and this is just my view–I think some fans get a little too possessive of/obsessive about Mr. A and begin to see themselves as his ever-vigilant defenders in every bloomin’ aspect of his life. And that seems like too much to me. They are so very SERIOUS. And that’s just not my personality.

      The event clearly was a public one and I don’t think his personal privacy was invaded by photos taken or even the video at the bus stop, although I agree the flashes going off in his face had to be annoying–but I guess it’s one more thing he has to get used to. Now, if they had followed him into the bathroom or someone had secretly taped his conversations at the after-party, OK, now that’s too much!!
      I don’t go to C19 (or RAC or AA, for that matter–see, I am clearly NOT as crazed as some of you are LOL I am kidding, kidding!!) and never would have realized that even was Annabel in his presence if I hadn’t stumbled upon it here.

      I think it was at RAnet that I first saw her photo with RA a while back, and while curious about a possible significant other for RA, I haven’t made any exhaustive search trying to find out more. I am a nosy reporter type, but I also know when and where to draw the line, I think.

      Frenz,
      I see where you are coming from in terms of empathizing with her; I guess such situations can never be easy. BTW Didn’t Richard once say in an interview he would never marry an actress?

      • I envy your maturity! :)

        • Bahh, it’s just that I’m an old married lady and have been for half my life now and I’ve been through a lot. If you’d heard us doing imitations of Vincent D’Inofrio’s character in “Men in Black” earlier, you wouldn’t think me so mature, I assure you!
          And now I must dash off into the cold to shoot photos of a living nativity scene.

          • “and the ox and ass before him stood, Jesus our brother, kind and good.” Hope you had fun.

            • Cold but fun. Not a living nativity as it turned out, but one painted by one of the older members, with life-sized figures of all the characters from the story, including the camel, donkey, sheep and even a drummer boy. The congregation gathered around with candles and sang “Silent Night.” It was quite lovely with the lights of the park glowing in the background. My camera didn’t love the cold so my photos weren’t as good as I would have liked . . . but I am glad I got what I got.

    • Angst: it’s more about what it says about me than about his privacy, or rather, thinking about whether this is a private occasion points out to me all of the really problematic moments of my fandom. Like seriously, he doesn’t have a cleaner for his house which is “organized mess” — is that because he needs to make sure no one has access to his stuff? Well, if so, people like me are the reason for that. I don’t know if that’s paranoia on his part, but if so, I’m the audience for the product that makes him paranoid. Troubling.

      Agree that the party was “work” rather than a totally private event.

      The ad for the Gisborne chair will be out soon. :)

      • Didn’t he say he didn’t have a cleaner because of concern about scripts for Spooks getting leaked?

        I would consider applying for the Gisborne chair but I really think I have too many irons in the fire as it is. I will simply remain Giz’s most faithful and trustworthy admirer. ( ;
        Those things are important to the dear lad.

        • scripts: yes. I read it as a subset of a larger problem — how to get a cleaner who wouldn’t betray important info.

          • Yeah, we all know there are plenty of sources willing to pay a pretty penny for that kind of info. How would you know you could trust this person not to take advantage of that?

        • I read that (“if I don’t do it it doesn’t get done”) as an indirect hint that he currently lives alone and has no flat-mate/partner who might do the cleaning (apart from not having a professional cleaner). I though the secret scripts comment referred to Spooks scripts, after all they are secret enough, but in hindsight it may well have been a hint in the direction of Captain America or The Hobbit.

        • Allright you’ll be most faithfull and trustworthy admirer but I come second! Hehe

          OML ;)

      • @servetus, I think that when he was filming Spooks script confidentiality was probably a contractual issue he had to take seriously (remember how upset he was when he locked a script in the boot of his car?). This was something he alluded to in an interview as to why he doesn’t have a cleaner. The real issue is that people have lost the concept of honor and keeping ones word and respecting the person let alone the privacy of the individual. I don’t have any idea why you would think that you fall into this category of person. You write a blog that is not about a superb actor but one that uses the that actor as the lens for examination and exploration of life’s issues. I think I get a little frustrated sometimes when I see good people (and I have evidence to believe that you are one) question/blame themselves needlessly.Maybe you need to go through the exercise and that’s ok. I have to confess my obtuseness in not seeing what all the fuss is about. I have no frame of reference for the conflict that is referenced for Nat’s hysterically funny and delightful blog. I don’t know if I missed the war there but I may not have and not thought anything of it than pity for the offender because I have seen horrible things in emails sent at work that were worse! the flack with DB (a Jonas fan) on another blog was the closest I’ve seen to blood drawn. It just all seems so senseless to me.

        • Tempest in a teapot, mountain out of molehill territory Ann Marie?
          That’s the way I feel a great deal of the time when these conflicts arise. To me, fandom should be a supportive, positive, enjoyable, fun experience as much as possible. Not something approved with daggers drawn at fellow admirers of the celeb. Silly and senseless.

          If it starts being too angsty and I’m not having fun anymore, then I know I should really step away.

          Respect of individuals gets trampled a lot in general in today’s world and quite frequently in cyberspace. People will write the most slanderous, libelous things about other human beings while hiding behind the cloak of anonymity.

          I have been personally attacked on our newspaper website by readers(silly creatures didn’t realize we have ways of finding their real identity out– muahahahahaha) and it’s made me not want to hide my identity when I express my opinion on a blog. That’s why Angieklong is, in fact, Angie K. Long.

          I totally understand privacy issues and I am not telling anyone you need to use your name; you are entitled to keep that to yourself, absolutely. It was my personal choice and so far, I haven’t regretted it.
          I’m not brave, I’m just my hard-headed father’s hard-headed daughter.

          I agree, Ann Marie, Servetus is way too hard on herself sometimes. You’re a good, thoughtful, kind person with a great intellect, Doc. And we appreciate what you do.

        • Thanks for seeing the good in me, Ann Marie :) I try hard to be the best person I can. Maybe i do too much apologizing here, and I’ll try to back off.

  13. Wow! You really spilled your guts, didn’t you? Very brave.

    I think that you represent quite accurately what goes through the minds of quite a few admirers, the ones who have self-awareness. It’s almost as if they’re in so deep they are not sure where the boundary is. That’s how this post seems to me. What a struggle!

    My response got so long, and this post was so thought-provoking, that I’m going to wait and finish it on my blog later on. Am just on my way out the door.

    Meanwhile, “consuming Armitage product”. Did you really mean to put it that way?

    • Thanks. I tried to channel some of your “dare it all” energy, pi.

      Everything you say here is right — I’m in deep, I don’t know what’s ok, and whether there’s something that’s ok for me to look about but not to talk about (which seems nonsense to me. What is Enlightenment? Sapere aude).

      I look forward INTENSELY to your response.

      “consuming Armitage product” — well, I will be an academic for a little longer :) and hope I may be forgiven these little excesses.

  14. @Ann Marie, I’m not exactly sure but as he has said that he wants to keep his personal life private, they could be doing so to respect that. Especially when people start making not-so-nice comments about her. So, I’m guessing it’s best to avoid the subject altogether.

    That said, the post Servetus has written is not like that at all. In some ways and also from reading the comments, it helps others get to know AC a little better.

    Re afterparty, I don’t think he intended for the public to know he was going with someone. If he did, he would have taken the publicity photos with her. I think he just wanted to be around familiar company in a social event, and who can blame him really. But, I suppose he is aware that there is a possibility for something this to happen. Again, I am happy that she was there with him, but I do think it would have been better for him if those pictures weren’t ‘published’.

    • @Riv, I don;t have feelings one way or the other about the photos, he may not have even been “with” her but a shared common event to meet up at may have been the thing. I do that all the time with friends. we may not arrive together but if we know the other is also going we arrange to link up there. No big deal. I think we speculate too much about everything. I mean, really, the man must be able to talk to someone at a party, and yes, pictures will be taken because it was after all, a public event which is what my point is. There was an alumni dinner at school and tons of photos were taken…it happens. Yikes.

      • “I think we speculate too much about everything”—oh, yes.

        Amen, and amen.

        Let’s stop gazing at our navels so much, girls, if you know what I mean.

    • @ Riv, I think I can explain what I mean a little more clearly. I think where I may differ with what you may e thinking is here: I don’t think this event (because it was part of his professional appearance at the theatre) falls under “private life”…it was a public event that people bought tickets to attend.

      What I would consider to be “private life” and therefore would hope people would respect and not publish pictures about are things like, “being out and about (non work related) by himself, with a friend, talking on a cell phone, being in a grocery store, etc. That’s were I draw a line. The people who are going to say unkind things about Annabel are going to say them no matter what, the venue is irrelevant.

      I think that events like these are de rigeur for actors. I think that private lives should be respected and we should appreciate the public glimpses we are provided.

      • I agree that this was a public event (though a “VIP” event) in contrast to a private party for friends and family only. They have attended low-profile public events together before and while it seems that they did never seek out photographers they didn’t ran away from them either. It could have happened at any of the events they attended that a picture of them got printed in the press. It is only because the press is still very much not interested in Mr. Armitage’s private life that this hasn’t happen yet but the more famous he gets the more likely it becomes.

        So I don’t think posting pictures and mentioning her name and what is available about her is out of bounds. But that is were it ends in my opinion. As servetus says, very little can be concluded about the nature of their relationship or about the potential ups and downs of their relationship and this new appearance together actually adds no new information. What we should in my opinion respectfully stay away from is jumping onto any conclusions that might be totally wrong and base our judgements onto what is nothing but speculation.

        I think for the moment, and as long as the press is content with that, it is the easiest to stick with officially single to avoid further questions and potential digging. It may very well be true but I seriously doubt that he would announce anything publicly until things are very serious and even then only within the context of an interview to promote a new project, hardly on twitter!

        I do wonder how he feels about the increased interest in his person that the Hobbit will bring with it.

        • press not yet interested: yes, good point. It’s interesting to me that on a lot of these professional photo source sites that include pictures of them together at the Varekai event that only his name is listed and not hers, as if they have no idea who she is. That may make all of this easier for her, since the annoyance is limited to a few moments every now and then as opposed to a constant media push.

          I don’t think that he’s under any obligation to explain who anyone he is photographed with or hangs around with is — whether or not he becomes more notorious with The Hobbit. Actually, I don’t think he’s under any obligation to explain anything :) But that he does makes him more sympathetic.

          • No he isn’t obliged to anything. But at one point it might be easier, assuming he has a steady partner, to admit it, because otherwise the press will start digging and publish any kind of speculation. It is a miracle that this hasn’t happen before because it certainly happens to other actors of (to date) comparable fame. I can only assume it is because all known aspects of his private life including non-famous and scandal-free Ms Capper are so very boring and wouldn’t make a good story.

            • I agree. If he has a GF who is willing to be exposed as such, he should try to make it known — it would calm *everybody* down a few dozen Fahrenheit degrees.

      • @Ann Marie, I definitely agree that it isn’t wrong at all because it is indeed a public event. And for what its worth, the photos were sort of accidental, they were posted by the owner out of kindness to his fans who were missing out on the party. She certainly didn’t know who AC was. So, I don’t think she is at fault. Since it’s already out there, it is very fair to talk about it.

        I was just trying to explain why some people would rather not talk about it especially after the aforementioned bloodbath. And, I think it is for the reasons servetus mentioned above in reply to my saying I didn’t know what happened. Also, like RAfrenzy said, AC could equally be a private person like RA. She may have gone to support him, but it doesn’t mean that she wants to be seen with him.

        I think all of us draw the line for violation of privacy differently. To me personally, I would see publishing photos of RA with AC without their acknowledgement of the photo being taken, even in a public event, as a violation. (Again, this time, she didn’t know and I am actually thankful for her generosity to us who weren’t there at the party and loved her blog entry.) But, I personally wouldn’t go as far as to insult the people who brought it up because I know that it is not actually wrong, other people might not perceive that as a violation, and discussing the issue helps some people get it out of their systems. :)

        • One thing this raises for me, too, is the matter of generational divide. Back in the day when people didn’t carry cameras around with them all the time, it was considered normal to ask for permission to photograph. Now everyone’s got a camera or a phone or whatever and is photographing all the time. I have to tell my students in class that they have to ask permission to record what happens in class — that is not obvious to them.

          • I agree it is a generational divide. I haven’t think about it until now, but I don’t think I feel as strongly against taking pics of ‘public/out in the open’ stuff as to ask permission to do it (which is different to my sense of what I should or shouldn’t publish).
            For example, taking pics of the backstage, I wouldn’t have thought about asking for permission because it would be pics to remember the event. In that particular case I just don’t think it’s allright to put the camera in anyones face as if that person were an inanimated object. Not saying the people that did it don’t have manners, maybe it’s because of circumstances (he was passing by quickly, you were excited, you just didn’t think of taking some steps back to take the pic) but as an outsider serves to keep it in mind for future opportunities.

            OML :)

            • @Servetus, I agree about the generational divide, though I’m part of the generation you speak of.

              @OML, yes, I suppose it’s okay to take photographs of a celebrity without asking for permission if they were not in the company of personal friends/family members and as you mentioned, refrain the use of flash photography right in their faces. I think it’s alright to take photographs of a celebrity while they’re signing photographs at the stage door. But, I am merely stating my views on this issue and do not wish to impose them on others.

              • I don’t think your post tries to impose on us. The fact that we can express our views (always well-mannered of course)that might not always be the same makes for a very entertaining discussion.

                OML :)

  15. I wonder all sorts of things about Richard Armitage, but I guess I have not wondered too much about Annabel. Perhaps that’s because I’ve already made assumptions about her. I’ve assumed from the first mention of her that she is intelligent, has a spine, and is down-to-earth. But I have to remember that all of those are mostly assumptions with only some evidence — chief among it being her association with Richard Armitage.

    Very candidly and at the risk of stepping on your toes, Servetus, I’ve been wondering since my response of this morning if maybe this wasn’t too much. Not because I feel any need to protect Richard Armitage. He’s a big boy and can protect himself. But more because Annabel has not explicitly put herself out there for us to examine her as he has put himself out there, and I’m not sure her association with him is a reasonable invitation to do so. Oh, I know there will be rationalizations aplenty that it is. And no, I don’t think the theater event was a private affair and therefore off-limits, but I’m wondering if Annabel shouldn’t be pff-limits for her sake and not RA’s. I say this as someone who has been examined due to my association with my husband. Very frustrating to not be seeking that and yet be subject to it anyway because you’re close to someone who is in the limelight.
    It’s hard not to empathize with her.

    • The great thing about blogs is we don’t have mods telling us what we can/can’t post. (Although RA bloggers in general are respectful, I believe/hope.) So while you may want to keep the AC topic off-limits on your blog Frenz, others like Sev and I may choose to examine it from time to time. I understand your point, though.

      • Thanks, Nat. I really admired your steadfastness when you were treating this and your unwillingness to be pushed around by a group of people whom I found frighteningly aggressive at times. One thing that I feel relatively strongly about is that fenced-off topics create problems. It’s better for responsible people to take things up discursively and discipline people who pop up on the borders than to prohibit discussion and create ghettoes where anything goes and much of what is said is destructive.

        • Nat and Servetus, I hope you both know I think you or anyone has the right to post as they please on their blogs and would never say otherwise. As for the treatment of Annabel here, it was respectful. I simply got a pang of what it feels like to be put under the magnifying glass by the public for an association when you’re only trying to support the person who invited it. So know that I am not a fan of censorship just awareness although I’m insensitive at times and yet perhaps being overly sensitive about this given my experience. I’m totally willing to chalk it up to that.

          Kick in the head is that my next blog piece may really be insensitive. I don’t think it is, but it might be.

          • No matter what you write, Frenz, there will be somebody who doesn’t like it/doesn’t agree/finds it too sensitive/too insensitive/too boring/too daring . . . in other words, you can’t please ‘em all.

            I can’t please everyone with my fan fic; some people like it all, some like certain types of stories, and others wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. And that’s OK. Because if I try to make everyone happy, I won’t be true to myself in the end.

            If I feel it’s well-crafted and interesting and engaging; if I make people laugh, cry, tingle, then my job is done.

          • I didn’t think you were advocating censorship, Frenz, but rather an ethic of care.

      • Keep doing what you feel in your heart is the right thing to do, Nat. I’m sorry it’s been such a brouhaha. It’s YOUR blog and you have the right to set the rules and regulations and write and post and link what you choose. I would think everyone here would agree with that.

    • Indeed.

      As I said I wondered whether this post violates the Golden Rule with regard to her. I wanted to be absolutely honest, which was that she makes me like him (even) more (if perhaps for questionable reasons) and seeing them together made me feel relieved about myself in a situation that’s had me vaguely worried for months. As someone says below I’m trying to own problematic feelings and that puts me in a difficult rhetorical position. I have to admit to interests that cast me in a less than attractive light, even if it is a typical or more broadly shared one.

      The “do unto others” proviso was hard to apply insofar as I am nothing like Annabel Capper in terms of my willingness to appear in public. I’m not sure I’d ever agree to step on a red carpet even if my marital partner were involved and he’d promised me the moon if I did it with him. I’d actually consider paying a starlet to appear in a situation like that. So it was a bit hard for me to imagine a fully congruent “do unto others” situation. I have gone to parties I’d rather not have in service of romantic partners’ professional obligations and I do think there is a sense in which if you do that you agree to accept whatever the fallout is. My rationalization was that assuming I had made the decision to appear in public or semi-public with a friend, ex, or lover who was also a minor celebrity, I would want anyone who wrote about it to write kindly and accurately, and I wasn’t saying anything negative about her and I made an effort to relay only facts that influenced my surmises and perceptions and to distinguish the difference between facts and surmises. I tried to make it clear that I was absolutely not going to tolerate any trash-talking of her. I also didn’t create the interest in her.

      That said, you’re right that she gets attention she might not have invited because of her association with him and her willingness to appear in front of the flashbulbs with him should not necessarily be understood as an equivalent willingness to have her life drawn under the lupe by people like me. There’s actually more information about my professional life on the internet than there is about Ms Capper’s, and while I don’t object to any of it being there in the abstract, there is a sense in which it would be frightening if a group of people who were interested in someone close to me started looking at it closely. I also don’t think that one of my rationales regarding Mr. Armitage (that a blog like this serves as publicity for his career even if he weren’t to approve of everything in it, and that for him almost all publicity is good publicity) applies to her, insofar as there’s no evidence that she’s seeking a greater notoriety than she already has or that she seeks publicity.

      So I am still undecided. This post may poof eventually if I become convinced it’s invasive. I’m not convinced that it is at this point because I don’t see the event at which she was photographed as fully private, I’m not sure what those photographs can possibly prove, and the post was intended as an honest exploration of my feelings — with her as the occasion of observation. But I may be wrong about all those things and am willing to be convinced.

  16. Hi there. Thank you for linking to my blog article on RA.

  17. As ever I’m grateful to you, Servetus, for being brave enough to explore thoughts and actions I find hard to own myself.

    I’ve been curious about AC too – had exactly the same guilty reaction to the ‘Isn’t that Annabel Capper?’ C19 post. If RA is a fantasy object then she’s a potential rival (crudely put) – but it helps that she seems to be a good thing, by anyone’s criteria. What’s not to identify with?

    I’ve often wondered what it’s been like for her as Richard’s career has taken off. In a cruel and competitive business like acting, it must be hard to watch success happening to someone else – whether friend or lover. You’d have to be a saint not to feel at least a stab of envy .

    I’m impressed by the way she seems to have cultivated an alternative path for herself instead of succumbing to resting actor syndrome. She’s carved out her own territory almost in opposition to his, so she doesn’t seem defined by her relative lack of success – on the contrary. Perhaps the fact that she’s got the richer experience in theatre (which he clearly aspires to) has meant there’s less tension. In fact she’s ideally placed to mentor his attempts to get back on the stage – that’s partly how I read her presence at the Old Vic. She’d be able to guide and support him at a scary time.

    RAF, I agree that she hasn’t put herself up for scrutiny in quite the same way as him – but she has appeared in public with him, and she seems pretty savvy. She must know what the deal is?

    • She can’t be unaware of the intense scrutiny that surrounds him, I think. Presumably she could simply decline the opportunity to appear with him in public, thus preventing the creation of photo opportunities.

      Nice point about the “alternative path” issue — that was something I was trying to point out. She has an important career even if she’s not a headliner, and she does significant work and gets praised for it by colleagues. Not everyone can be the star, and she exemplifies the Stanislavski saying about how there are no small roles. I also think it’s a good point about her ability to help him back onto stage. The projects she’s been associated with repeatedly have had important, respected directors. So maybe she’s helping him with contacts, too.

      And thanks for the sympathy about owning these thoughts. I am quite grateful. I also find it easier to combat thoughts I don’t like if I can cop to them as opposed to having to pretend I don’t have them.

  18. For information: AC’s cv mentions that she has a part in ‘Operation Mincemeat’. This is airing on BBC 2 TV at 9pm next Sunday (5 Dec), and will be available on iPlayer for those who can access it.

  19. feefa, I hear you, but let me say that being savvy and knowing the deal, as it were, is little comfort to someone when they appear in public with someone they care about. Or maybe she doesn’t care about him and is just an opportunist who appears with him to generate talk about herself. Knowing a little about how down-to-earth he is, I doubt that, but then I could be wrong.

    By the way, I certainly don’t want to become the defender of Annabel, but again, it’s hard not to empathize with her.

    • Presumably if she were “only” an opportunist we’d see more of her in his company than we have — e.g., at the BAFTAs, where he appeared with Miranda Raison.

      I think you’re right that friends, lovers, partners of all kinds have to take into account unwanted negative externalities from appearances with more-famous or more notorious SOs and that they may do so because they care more about the person involved than they do about their own comfort zone.

      I guess it comes down to, on some level, the dilemma of whether it’s ok to talk about her if we speak kindly, or simply unacceptable to speak about her at all. The first is oppressive within limits — it allows us to speak, but not perhaps as we really want to; the second, by not allowing us to speak at all, is perhaps more fair in that it suppresses the positive and the negative stances with equal vigor.

  20. I also want to say that I appreciate you, Servetus and your search for the heart of matters, but I would be disingenuous if I didn’t share my honest thoughts about this. Hopefully, nothing I’ve said will create a problem, but I think it’s good food for thought or I wouldn’t have said it.

  21. Before I start commenting individually I want to note that today is now officially the busiest day ever at “me and richard” — likely to go over 2,000 hits before the day ends. So clearly this topic has some traction.

    If you are a lurker and want to say something dissonant to what’s being said here, please be assured that I will take all comments seriously that do not involve ad hominem attacks. I am still hugely conflicted about it.

  22. Great post, Sev!

  23. Brave topic, since I was present (merely reading) when that particular ‘bloodbath’ took place.

    As I remember most didn’t exactly have one opinion or another about her or their relationship – whatever it may be. I’m more annoyed by certain fans who want to dictate how every person should experience their admiration for him. There is no standard mold, there are no set rules how one should act or think. Or even where our curiosity needs to be curbed.

    Of course I’m not talking about (near) stalking practices and whatnot. I remember how one fan used her work to access an actor’s home address and literally knocked on his door with a friend. Now that is seriously crossing the line.

    Curiosity is very much part of being human, so it is quite natural to want to know more. Yes, I have no doubt he’s a very private person, but people seem to be confused about what it means. To me it means predominantly: not willy-nilly sharing what my true thoughts and feelings are. Keeping certain aspects of my personal life to myself and only share with a few.

    However I venture out there. What I would like to keep private at times simply isn’t. When that happens, it happens. Sometimes it gets noticed and people will talk, other times no one even bats an eyelid and is pretty much ignored. Whether I like it or not, I have absolutely no control over what others may think or say.

    Ok, his public outings are far more scrutinised than any of ours, but this whole stance of “This is private! Clearly a No-Go area!!” is at times equally as ridiculous. Sometimes it does feel like the emperor’s new clothes.

    • I just noticed my comment is more about the reactions & behaviour around him, than it is about him or him & AC. Probably because I think he’ll continue to do his own thing and act according to what feels right.

      And regarding Ms. Capper, I just find I’m curious, but nothing more.

      • CC, that’s me–curious about AC, but not possessing any great need to know MORE.

        Something that I have observed: there appear to be certain fans who seem to want to put Richard on a very high pedestal–which he has clearly indicated through his comments isn’t something he is comfortable with–and treat him like a sort of saint or god. But when and if he says or does something they don’t like, or doesn’t do or say something they expect, they seem ready to take him to task and write angry letters to his agent, massively whinge, et al. ready to knock him off the pedestal he didn’t ask to be put on in the first place. He IS a real person, as hard as it is to believe sometimes, considering his awesome beauty, talent, charisma and general niceness, and we all need to remember that, and respect that.

        • Oh yes, and who don’t seem to appreciate and tolerate any critical notes on him and their own behaviour. However when one doesn’t seem to toe the line, oy vey!

    • Agree that one thing we’re struggling with is not knowing his definition of privacy.

    • “I remember how one fan used her work to access an actor’s home address and literally knocked on his door with a friend.”

      Oh goodness me. That would be against any sort of confidentiality agreement and most likely also be a breech of the Data Protection Act as well, at least if it was here in the UK. And that’s ASIDE from it being morally repulsive!

      If you’re in a callcenter and get phoned up by a celeb, then you may gush “OMG guess who I just spoke to!!” to your colleagues and/or your partner when you get home, but noting down the celeb’s details for “private use” and especially seek them out, spew no. That would be gross misconduct.

      • She even boasted about it, as if it’s a truly great achievement. I think most of the fandom were just dumbfounded by her actions when it came to light, and most did disagree with her. Sending fanmail is one thing, but standing at one’s doorstep is another!

        But the ultimate payback was when the actor discussed the incident in interviews later on. The ladies in question were even slightly indignant when he wasn’t flattering them or the incident.

        Can’t possibly imagine why. ;)

  24. Is it crazy to post X # words about an actor? Of course it is! Including exhaustive analysis of wardrobe and tailoring; exhaustive analysis of form and feature; exchange of recipes in regard to what would we feed this (in the perception of many) paragon? Absolutely. And fun, and informative and thought-provoking. Commenters have been stimulated to bring not just their PHWAOR reactions, but their varied backgrounds, skills, writing, analyses to the discourse.

    The question of intrusiveness and invasiveness is complex. The “bloody internet” stimulates extraordinary awareness of anyone who has a degree of public profile. The issue of how far to delve into one’s fangirling is always going to be a complex dilemma for the blogger, as it also involves how much of herself is the blogger comfortable of revealing of herself. The ethical dilemma being that of how to use the public information to interpret the actor. Is this invasion of privacy? I don’t think this blog, or that of Nat’s (which is witty and hysterically funny) quite constitutes a WikiLeaks situation. It is a personal decision on the part of the blogger – and I doubt any of us can apply a complete, across-the-board solution. We each have to find it within our personal codes of what is inappropriate or harmful or offensive to ourselves to either read, or comment on a blog.

    As for Ms Capper, the lady has a marvellously individual face, and whatever role she has the life of Mr. Armitage, she has clearly accompanied the actor to situations in which photogs will inevitably pop up from the woodwork.

    Post whatever you are comfortable with, servetus (or not entirely comfortable with). The feedback is part of it, and the ensuing discussion is valuable to all who read.

    • Another divide in this issue for me involves the question of thought vs deed. That is, is it ok to think things vs ok to do them? I think it’s somewhat easier to define acceptable behavior than acceptable thought — which some participants in the discusssion seem to want to do — but this blog stands on a cusp between thought and behavior. I don’t want to be yelling fire in a crowded theatre.

  25. Another fantastic post, servetus. There’s a discussion on another board I frequent about what it means to treat a celebrity as a “normal” person. For example, if you and RA had a mutual friend would you introduce yourself to him as “friend of so-and-so,” assuming you would do that with a non-celeb friend of a friend. And then there are stories like this one

    http://wellknowwhenwegetthere.blogspot.com/2009/08/sincerely-john-hughes.html

    and this one

    http://www.liriandersson.com/?p=51

    that feed our collective imagination.

    I’m thinking more about this (and rewatching Daffy Duck as, uh, research) and will post more later.

    • Loved reading those posts. The one about John Hughes just about made me cry. Definitely wonderful food for thought and the imagination, jazzbaby1.

      And how is Daffy coming along? *grin* Suddenly craving seeing the one where Bugs visits Sherwood Forest and dubs the sheriff
      Sir Loin of Beef . . . Can still hear Little John saying, “Never Worry, Never Fear, Robin Hood Will Soon Be Here!” And then Errol Flynn appears in the trees.

      Ah, Errol–now THAT is what Robin should look like.

      • I’ve probably seen that Bugs but can’t recall it. I wonder if that’s where the Urban Legend about how sirloin came to be named sirloin came from.

    • Excellent.

      There was an article about John Hughes in a recent Vanity Fair that was really interesting — he was very focused on the teen ngeneration that he was writing for, and thought they had been overwhelmed by the baby boomers. He seems to have had a truly unique attitude.

  26. Great post Servetus. I don’t have much to add, but I am reading it with avid attention. There is so much food for thought. I also started thinking about my fan-attitude, especially after Calorexa’s remarks. But I am far less astute at wording all these thoughts, so I am very grateful to you and all the commenters. It’s hugely interesting.

  27. servetus, easier to define deed vs. thought. Up to a point.

    Well, 1984 came and sort of went. Sort of. “intent” and state of mind are long a part of the justice system. Profiling has been around for a long time. Technology is fervently working toward “reading thoughts”. Is the issue that of how a thought is expressed publicly? Then we get into the entire free speech debate.

    A couple of times on a blog, I’ve expressed a less than kind opinion of an actor/actress, and afterward, felt that it was unkind, and I ought not to have expressed it in writing. (RIP Tynan) As opposed to private conversation. Which is probably silly. So, the internal debate goes on.

    How can we not have thoughts and mental/emotional reactions to anyone? How does the thought express itself in deed? Especially, how to express that in a public and written (words do live on…) manner? I knew all the answers to everything in my 20’s and 30’s. Since then, fuggaboudit. Still searching. No advice to offer; who wants advice anyway, just expanded points of view to help reinforce our individual fundamental sense of right and wrong. Which can be very grey along the way.

    • I really like what you’ve said here, fitzg, especially this.

      “A couple of times on a blog, I’ve expressed a less than kind opinion of an actor/actress, and afterward, felt that it was unkind, and I ought not to have expressed it in writing. (RIP Tynan) As opposed to private conversation. Which is probably silly. So, the internal debate goes on.”

      For me it depends on what the comment is. On another post just recently I said that I thought Daffy Duck was a better Robin Hood than JA. I don’t know anything else about him as an actor, I’ve never seen anything else he’s ever done, but I think he was out of his depth acting against RA and KA. I just didn’t buy his performance. That kind of criticism — harsh though it may be — I think is valid. I’m not ripping on Jonas, I’m ripping on his performance. It’s different to tear JA or Annabel or any other human apart for their humanity but at the same time it’s a very human instinct — jealousy, for example — that drives sucha response.

      • This gets to my rule on ad hominem — you can criticize an actor for delivering a poor performance, for example, but not for being a bad person. So the question is, if you say “this actor was not capable of providing a good performance in this instance” is that an attack on the person or his performance? I’m opposed to personal attack, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out where it is.

        • It can be hard to tell with actors, but what else can we criticize? If we were talking about, say, Jimi Hendrix and a particular performance was off then we could talk about how maybe he used strings that he didn’t particularly like or the dynamic between him and the band was off. When we talk about actors all we have is their physical presence to work with. I think in the case of Robin Hood the writers depended too much on the assumption that Robin was the hero and didn’t really do much to develop him as a character beyond that. The moment Robin carried Marian across the desert? I didn’t find that beautiful because of Robin and Marian and their relationship; I found it beautiful as a tribute to Domenic’s brother and the most famous scene from the English Patient. It’s possible that JA was hampered by poor direction or that RA and KA overwhelmed the direction that they were given.

  28. Man, my head is spinning! I’ve tried to read all comments but am going to have stop here as I have A Very Important Person’s birthday cake to finish by tonight…she’s turning 5.

    My first reaction is “HUH?” Then I kinda wonder if I need to weed out some of my thinking on this. You guys are right about the validity of internet comments and their effect on others and yes, we should be careful what we say. But then there’s the old thing that my Mama always threw at me, “It’s not WHAT you said that got you into trouble, but HOW you said it.” It’s really, really hard to convey that thru typing out words on the internet, the emotions, the state of mind, the background, etc.

    But then, I’m new in these parts and yes, RA has had an effect on me that I haven’t really experienced before. Let me just say this. I’ve been involved a group of fans that is based on a mid-90’s TV show, who meet once a year. In the beginning, it was a little nerve-racking to think about meeting TV producers, writers and actors. I mean, this is big time! Not. They were/are regular people (for the most part) who were very friendly, accommodating to some admittedly nutso fans ( not me, of course *snort*). Some of them were as genuine as they could be…some were not. I learned that most of them were people with whom I had very little in common and if they lived in our little town, I probably would have no more than a nodding acquaintance. But that does not diminish my respect for them as fellow human beings or my honest interest in them as a friend. And the truth is, what I saw during the time we were together (2-3 days per year) might have been what my Mama calls “puttin; on”. Was that person that I may have spent 10 mins with showing me the real him/her?! Probably not. But then, was I showing my true self? Heck no! I sure don’t want anyone to know that sometimes I lick my fingers when eating fried chicken and I’ve got a real hang-up about the correct direction of toilet paper! And you don’t want to even see me get really aggravated when Dear Hubby tracks mud into the house. (his mud usually includes cow poop)

    Bottom line is: we’re here to learn from each other. To broaden our horizons. Peer into a world that we’ve never imagined much less participated in. Yes, we must be diligent to filter out what’s not good for us or what is “too much”. I think G-d puts in each of us an alarm for the Too Much alert. At least He has with me. It’s up to me/us to listen for the alarm.

    I had an interesting conversation with one of my daughter-in-laws last week. She was trying to deal with “a friend” who was being intrusive with her phone calls, visits, etc. (DIL works from her home via computer and has 3 children under 6 and helps with our family business. She’s a busy gal!) She wanted to know what to do about it and IF she should do anything about it. I told that I had faced similar circumstances many times and it all came down to: Is this person/thing/job/whatever intruding on my family time? Am I neglecting to spend time w/my own children and/or husband? Does this person/problem invade my time with G-d?

    We each have responsibilities to meet every day and we like to think we do our best in meeting them. Anything that interferes with that, in my case, has to be disciplined and examined. Not easy sometimes but required, again, in my case. I have to be careful because I’m pretty much an All or Nothing kind of gal. But I wouldn’t trade the friendships and learning experiences I’ve had here and at other sites. If not for those “other sites”, I would never have learned the Jewish reasoning for not writing out the complete word for Jehovah G-d! When my internet Jewish friend explained it to me, I was humbled and amazed. What a notion! That G-d is so sacred that we can’t write out His name! Now that’s a true WOW!!!!!!!

    Love to you all!

    • @NovemberBride, it was good to see you post. Has your Lords of the North arrived yet? Also, please know that when I write out God’s name I am not being disrespectful to Him or do not consider it sacred for I do. It is the way I was taught in my religion.

    • Hope your five year old enjoyed her cake and candles, NovemberBride!

      • She was thrilled w/pony cake allbeit a somewhat haggard pony. But he was my first pony so he’s special! With 10 grands celebrating, it was a bit chaotic…but fun!

  29. (taking lunch break with icing hanging off my nose and in my hair)…NOOOOOO! It hasn’t come yet altho my mail lady is praying for it to come as quickly as possible, not that I’m harassing her or anything. Just as friendly reminder, I returned Mr. Royle’s email 2 days ago by thanking him for the courteous phonelady’s assistance in ordering said CDs! *wink* I added that upon its receipt, I planned to listen to the reader’s rendition of the book with extreme anticipation. Heck, hubs might even like to hear it?! We’ll see….

    And No Ma’m, no disrespect noted! You type God, I type G-d. I may be a Babtist (yes I know how to spell it, I’m just goofy that way) but I love exploring the whys of others’ view of G-d and the Bible. Another eye-opener for me was the crossing of oneself. Who knew the history and reasoning for it? Obviously not me! Whole new respect for the practice.

    See that’s the beauty of this whole deal. I probably would’ve never known much less thought of asking anyone about such things. I was brought up in a VERY conservative family/home and you just didn’t question some things. So I hit upon the internet and places like this and a whole new world opened up for me!!

    And by the way, I just touched (in the above comment) on a couple of points that Servatus and the rest of you examined. Many more that I could go over, but won’t. However, re the RA/AC relationship, I just have 2 questions: Does he send her roses? Does she feed him good? Anything else, I don’t need to know! Unless, someone wants to tell me…:)

    • Mine took a couple of week to come, so don’t despair if you don’t get it right away. I think they must have to burn the CDs.

      To fill in: Ms. Capper is the only woman I’m aware of that he’s ever been photographed with more than once. We have no idea if he sends her roses or whether she cooks.

      • Exactly! My “theoretical” questions are somewhat satirical. ( again, emoticons might help get the case won, but then I usually struggle with which ones to use and how to use them and by that time, I ‘ve forgotten what I was saying anyways!) But we don’t know much and that’s ok with me. Really. My questions were based on “motherly” notions. (And while I’m at it, did you remember to take your vitamins today?! See, I just can’t help myself.) A long relationship, a broken relationship, many relationships…not things that I fret about. Too many crazy things going on this world to divert my attention I guess.

  30. @NovemberBride, two great points of yours: HOW you say it! and how difficult it is, to express the emotion/intent behind it, without facial expression, tone of voice. I’d love it if WordPress allowed comments with italicising, underlining, etc. I find this helpful in e-mail…

    • Emoticons are a real blessing once you get over the threshold of embarrassment in using them, I think. I read some criticism of Armitage fans as overusers of emoticons somewhere, but I think given all the potential for misunderstanding emotions, it’s better to use a few too many than a few too few :)

    • You can, but you have to use the HTML tags and type them in, like for italicized etc.

  31. Thank Servetus for a different perspective on Ms.. Capper. I always thought of her “happy girl”, I hope it is for Mr.. RA is also a friend. Indeed, much of their links, because even a common interest in art. As for privacy, RA – it is natural that every fan wants to learn as much about his idol, and from our fans, depending on how much further to go in collecting information about him. I think it’s wonderful that RA does not share your privacy. On the other hand, every artist, whether painter, musician or actor does not exist without its addressee (the fans). And I was always curious, what shaped it such a sensitivity. After looking at the roles of RA, each man clearly shows, even the bad characters are not bad until the end, just make mistakes, such as John Mulligan in the Moving On

    • I think you’re right that to some extent he needs us to be interested in him, Ania. I’m doing my little part :)

  32. The ritual of crossing oneself is interesting. The last of my ancestors – the Irish side – to be Catholic, declared about three hundred years ago “What! Lose our lands? We’re Protestant!” (how principled…)

    Yet, I (non-practising Anglican) viewing the glory of a cathedral in England or Normandy, have found myself quietly making the sign of the cross. Whether atavistic, or respectful awe for the urge and the faith to create such beauty, it precludes outright atheism for me. Creativity and beauty must derive from a source. One can hold to/practise within any denomination, or not; but the sense of faith expressed through beauty and respect for the beliefs of the creators (the menorah is one of the loveliest, most graceful expression of faith) is an anchor.

  33. [...] succinct and thus always worthwhile pi provides her promised reflections on the question of the limits of her Armitage fandom. She gets me exactly right when she writes: [...]

  34. Just wanted to say I’m so glad I found your blog. I’ve only recently given in and joined the RA forums so I’m late to this discussion. It’s intriguing, intelligent, fascinating and thought provoking. I admire your decision to tackle topics forbidden on the discussion forums. I admire RA as an actor and a man. I can’t feeling reasonably interested in what he does as a man because it informs my opinion of him. For example of the things that could put me right off him is learning he was a bigot, or abusive or a cheater. I can’t squee (love this term) over anybody I wouldn’t respect in real life. I say reasonably, because it’s not good to know too much because that takes away from the squee-quality which I enjoy. I’ve been in fandoms a long time and could probably write an entire blog on the evolution of that realization.

    Interestingly I’ve never had to worry about any of my celeb crushes getting out of hand. I’ve even met a few and gotten autographs backstage. Maybe it’s because I don’t think that, stripped of their fame, they have any real direct bearing on my world, although indirectly I’ve benefited from meeting new friends with fellow fans. Maybe I’m just too pragmatic.

    The only big way my crushes have benefited me directly is what choice in men I make in RL. I’m looking at what qualities I’m drawn to by men such as RA and a definite pattern is emerging. To my surprise, they are different from what I originally would have listed.

    Prattling on, I’ll finish this comment by asking this question: if you could interview RA, what would you ask him?

    • Sorry about the typos. Composed this post before coffee. :P

    • Thanks for the kind words and welcome — I really enjoy reading comments and it’s gratifying to know that older posts are still relevant. To be fair to the forums: I think it’s easier for me to take these things on because as a single voice in charge, I have a lot more control in setting boundaries than the discussion boards do.

      But absolutely: I think that one reason for many of the features of Armitagemania — both the intensity of it and some of its particular features (e.g. the protectiveness, which I was asking about today) have to do with our awareness of him as a person. I’m impressed by your ability to keep your pragmatism front and center, too.

      I’m intrigued by the notion that celebrity crushes can affect our awareness of what we might choose in partners and I’ll have to think about this more. It’s true, though, that Mr. Armitage seems to have at least two qualities that I find absolutely essential in partners: compassion and integrity.

      As to your question about what I’d ask — some of that is still secret. I have a list of questions, because I haven’t yet abandoned the fantasy that I could someday indeed interview him. One thing I’d really like to do is watch some of his work with him (if he could stand it) and ask him what he’s thinking/doing at certain points. It’s unclear, probably, that he’d be able to articulate it — if he’s as intuitive an actor as he seems to be it could be a problem for him to describe it — but it would be intriguing.

      What would YOU ask, judiang?

  35. well isn’t this creepy.

  36. [...] may also differ from the author perspective. The most obvious category for searching for the most viewed post on this blog (by a factor of four) has only eight mentions. (Not because I wouldn’t write about it more, but I’ve run out [...]

  37. [...] someone solely for his beauty seems shallow — even as I felt it was a false dilemma, as acting is to no insignificant degree the successful employment of one’s physicality to move an…. Eventually, I argued that four factors working together in a relationship of combinations [...]

  38. [...] I observed on the boards. Someone — who likes it — once described this blog as a virtual water cooler. I think “bar” might be a better metaphor. Some people stay away entirely on the [...]

  39. Wow, well said, and thanks for saying it. :)

  40. [...] “me + annabel capper: or, the limits of Armitage fangrrling, almost a year in.” December 1, 2010. With four times as many hits as the next post on the list, this one still [...]

  41. [...] are a few remarks I made in response to a post on Me + Richard Armitage last December, when the topic was about his fame, his friendship with an actress and the fandom [...]

  42. […] pursued the point, though, and I remembered that I had made that point once upon a time myself, in a long discussion of Annabel Capper that’s still the most viewed post on this blog, even if I don’t think about it much any more. (Poor Annabel Capper, to have her available […]

  43. […] topic than anyone who reads publicly available sources already knows). A long time ago, I wrote a speculative text on what a particular answer to this question would mean to me if I knew it were t… (a text that labels itself as such, throughout, by the way) but reliable data simply do not go to […]

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