And so to Paradise. The last few weeks for me have been like how I imagine standing under a meteor shower must feel. Producing the film is a hard enough job, organising the premiere would have been a hard task for some governments. In the week leading up to the event you answer so many questions about the night, you feel like a Chaser in The Chase. This can lead to you reacting like Nigel Farage to an Ice T song when someone asks you to choose between coffee or tea.
Sorry to anyone who had to suffer that!
I won't bore you with the organisation of the event but the lesson I learned was that having a crowd of 450 people there is probably too big to ensure everyone enjoys themselves. I was actually amazed over the course of yesterday how many photos of folk I saw at Celtic Park and I had never clapped eyes on them once during the night. That is both exciting and a little scary.
Yet it almost never happened.
We got there about an hour beforehand because I had spotted something I didn't like. There were no table names on the actual tables. Celtic tried to fix this but it was totally inadequate and I apologise to people as we had tried to make the names relevant to the people at the table, three in particular were friends and supporters of us who have passed away, John Murphy, Liam Fowler and Alan Adams. Celtic were left in no doubt how we felt about it. Meanwhile, as this was going on, there was a laptop malfunction. The film was supposed to be shown on DVD but the Celtic DVD player didn't work and then the back up laptop that was brought in suddenly wouldn't work. This all before a body had came into the Kerrydale Suite. The cool head and quick thinking of Tabatha Jussa saved the day and I really can't thank her enough.
Then they came in.
Hundreds upon hundreds swarmed in and most seemed in great spirits which is also good. Our MC, Joe Miller, did an absolutely phenomenal job at getting folk ready for the night, not an easy task when you are dealing with 450 folk, but he went above and beyond and really helped me personally.
First up was Eamonn Coyle who delivered a poem, completely memorised, to an astounded audience and brought the house down. I'd only read the poem once so the impact was just as huge for me as it was for everyone else. The standing ovation he received was richly deserved.
Joe then got me up to say a few words, introduce me and the enormity of the crowd hit me. It was like an ocean swirling around me as I introduced the film.
The film is just over an hour long and you just hope everyone can stay silent so that everyone can hear the information. In crowds that size, you're never going to get and so I am immensely thankful to Joe Mackin and The Kano Foundation for ensuring folk were told to shut the hell up.
After the film had finished, everyone rose to a standing ovation, if no one expects the Spanish inquisition than I never expect a standing ovation and it really blew me away. If you were part of that, thank you, you made it worth all the grief, all the hassle and all the threats.
After the buffet was done, the Q&A began. It was a little too late for my liking and impossible to control a crowd that size but I hope if you didn't get the chance ask a question in it, you did after it as plenty did.
One guy that made me think was a guy who is actually a Falkirk fan who said the film has opened his eyes. That made me feel immensely proud.
We then did a raffle and auction with a grand each for The Celtic Foundation and Down's and Proud being raised, thank you.
The band, Fat Alligator, then came on and lifted the roof off for most, you'll never please everyone but they certainly pleased me.
In terms of the organisation of the actual night, it could not have happened without the work of Joe Miller, Lisa Miller, John O'Farrell, Laura Dewar, Jim, Steven and Elaine from Celtic, Steph O'Neill, Nas Mohammed Allison Orr, Louise Lavery and, of course, everyone who came and supported it.
Without you, we are nothing.
Two legends also came along, John Fallon and Simon Donnelly whilst Donny McNamara was there to represent Jackie and gave me a real warm bath moment when he came over, hugged me and said "That's from my auld man for The Asterisk Years"
Finally, I want to pay tribute to a 14 year old called Gabriel, At the Q&A he stuck his hand up, asked a brilliant question and thanked me for making the film. I can tell you now, that was one of the best moments my life.
Thank you Gabriel, you made it all worthwhile pal.
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