Encounter with the Excellence of Execution

Let me transport you back a couple of decades. More, in fact. Let’s go back 25 years. A young Gav is living in Stevenage, a town about 30 miles north of London. Not a lot happens in Stevenage. In fact barely anything happens at all. It does have a hobby store in the indoor market, where young Gav will purchase his first Citadel miniatures, but that’s another story. In addition to toy soldiers, Stevenage has satellite cable TV. More importantly, the Thorpe household has satellite cable TV.

Amongst the incomprehensible German soap operas and French dramas, there is Super Channel. Super Channel will be responsible for creating two loves in the young Gav’s mind that will last for the rest of his life.

I remember well getting up early on Saturday mornings for one thing and one thing only. At 7am every Saturday, while less TV-endowed youths were raised on shite cartoons like Gobots, young Gav could watch Robotech. Thus was created my interest in anime, and in particular mecha and anything involving giant robots smashing each other to pieces.

Saturday evenings were just as important. Young Gav would leave the rest of the family in the living room and watch Super Channel in his parents’ room on the second TV in the house (and a pretty crappy TV it was too). What so enthralled the young Thorpe? Pro-wrestling! Watching the likes of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Gant whilst practising my elbow drops on my parents’ bed… Amongst all these heroes and villains in spandex and tights, there was one particular ‘stable’ that fascinated me: The Hart Foundation. Though they dressed in pink, they were still very cool. Jimmy ‘Mouth of the South’ Hart as their manager, the incomparable Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart and Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart kept me engrossed and entertained in those formative years.

Hit the fast-forward button and we find a much older and world-wearier Gav standing with his friend Adam in a queue outside Waterstones bookshop in Birmingham city centre. He has a ticket numbered 266. That means just 265 people stand between Gav and the legendary Bret Hart.

The Hitman was signing his autobigoraphy. For three hours we waited. It passed quickly, as we were stood next to a gang of entertaining guys and we happily chatted away about the Hitman, the current wrestling storylines and live shows we’d attended. Kudos to the chap who had brought his warp-around shades that Hitman had given him at Earl’s Court sixteen years earlier! It was wrestling nerdville, and it was great.

Adam, not complaining about the cold for once

Adam, not complaining about the cold for once

Then we were at the front of the queue and the great man was there, signing away and posing for photos. I took him my book, shook his hand and simply said, “Thanks for everything, Bret.”

Look! It's the Hitman's autograph!

Look! It's the Hitman's autograph!

Unfortunately, Adam’s camera work is even more shonky than mine.

Hitman and Gav, honest...

Hitman and Gav, honest...

After some incidents involving Birmingham’s one-way system, a trip up the M1 to drop off Adam at home (during which I nearly ran out of petrol), I got back 7 1/2 hours after I’d set out. 7 1/2 hours to spend twenty seconds with the Hitman? Worth every second. Awesome!

The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.

The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.


Reminder: I’m running a competition to give away signed novels and anthologies – see my post here.

Published in: on April 16, 2009 at 9:38 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I never realised you were such a fanboy ;-P

    I was more of an Ultimate Warrior fan myself – although I didn’t watch it often. I’ve never seen Robotech – I guess that means my geekometer rating must measure much lower than my peers.


  2. I don’t care for anime, but I love Robotech. In fact, I just finished a tie-in novel, Zentraedi Rebellion, yesterday. I wouldn’t recommend it.


  3. fun peek into young gav’s life 😉


  4. I was there too!

    I was tickled pink – no pun intended – when Bret chose his match with the Undertaker at the Birmingham NIA for his DVD.


  5. […] Hitman by Bret Hart Sci-fi, fantasy and horror were huge parts of my life growing up, along with gaming. Another youthful fascination of mine was pro-wrestling, specifically the World Wrestling Federation as it was then. Not for me the clownish antics of Hulk Hogan, I was starstruck by two amazing performers in neon pink – The Hart Foundation, or Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and Jim ‘The Anvil’ Niedhart. They were on the very first WWF show I watched and were instant hits. Bret Hart, for the many of you that don’t know, is known as the ‘Excellence of Execution’ and it fits. He really was the most brilliant technical wrestler of his time, a stunning performer in the squared circle. Years roll past, I fall out of love with wrestling and then get back into it in the last decade or so. Bret Hart released this autobiography a few years back. I’ve got some of the better wrestling books available, but I’ve included this one in my ten books not just because it’s Bret Hart, or because it’s a great read, but because I went to the trouble of buying it from the Hitman himself at a signing. The only other signed book I own is David Gemmell’s Winter Warriors. The day trip itself is part of the book now, an example of how books have context not just content. When and where we read them, our mood before and after, the anticipation and payoff or disappointment is all bound within the pages (or digitised on the screen) as much as words. Hitman will always be two stories– the one contained inside the covers and the one I have about getting it. Anyway, it was such a big thing for me, I even blogged about it at the time: mechanicalhamster.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/encounter-with-the-excellence-of-execution/ […]


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