This recollection of a brief meeting with the great man is my personal tribute to
a truly SUPER and GENUINE HERO
Even in his new home, he continues to be for us all an
I have never seen a superman film in my life. I wouldn`t be surprised if Christopher Reeve didn`t have time to watch movies either. By all accounts, he was too busy helping the disabled and, in particular, the terminally ill.
As a testimonial to his heroic charitable work, here is a true story that I have never before put in print. Yet I have told it thousands of times. Albeit only to handicapped and very sick people and their families. Usually at the end of their very first bridge lesson!
I am telling it now because, if it were not for my meeting with this super person 40 years ago, I would not be alive today. Logically, this means Chris must now be using supernatural powers from another world. Presumably to keep me alive long enough to tell this story before I go and join him.
In return for him saving me from certain death four decades later, I owe it to him and his Foundation to publicly tell the story now. To help inspire future generations to carry on his good work. So here we go:
Around the year 1980, I was one of the Immigration Officers sent from Dover to work for a month at Heathrow Terminal 3. To help resolve the problem which was all over the front pages of the newspapers. Namely the waiting times of passengers coming off transatlantic flights early morning. In some cases for longer than it took Concorde to actually fly across the Atlantic.
My shift started at 05h30 After saying “howdy” about 150 times and putting a similar number of visitor stamps (visas) into American passports, I was wilting and dying for a tea break. That was partly because I had been required to try and explain 150 times to angry passengers why they had waited so long at passport control. As readers can imagine, it is embarrassing and depressing trying to explain the inexplicable.
But just when I reached the point where I wanted to kneel down on the floor and hide from disgruntled passengers behind my desk, I looked up and there he was. And the big fella was smiling. Unbelievable.
He could see I looked visibly shocked for whatever reason. Which meant he ended up being the first one to speak. But it wasn't “howdy” that he said. This is how that conversation went:
Christopher Reeve: Are you OK?
Trevor: Yes. Welcome to Britain Superman
CR (looking genuinely concerned): Are you sure you are OK?
T: Yes. In fact I am very very well now I have met you. I was lost for words simply because it is me who ought to be asking you that very same question. Sorry, but I was just trying to work out how long you must have been queuing.
CR: Three hours. And before you ask, I travelled economy class
T: Really? If you don`t mind, I will call you Chris and ask why Superman is not travelling by Concorde so that he can bypass these queues on arrival.
CR: Because I want to meet real people. Like you.
T. Well Chris, it is very nice of you to say that. I can see now that you really are a super man in real life. Hopefully therefore you wouldn`t mind staying an extra few minutes at my desk to fill in a duplicate landing card. So that I can take it home for my little kids. All under ten.
CR: Of course. But only if you fill in one for me to keep.
T: Why do you want that Chris?
CR: Because I like to remember all the nice people I meet. What is your name.
T: Trevor. And, by the way Chris, it is very kind of you to say that as well.
CR: Here is the card for your children Trevor.
T: And here`s mine if you really want it. I will never forget this conversation Christopher. Not least because you are the first American I have ever met who speaks the Queen`s English better than me. Not only that, you are about four inches taller than me and even better looking.
CR. (laughing) I will not forget you either. For your welcome. I never forget my friends.
And whilst he was saying that jovial farewell remark, I put the stamp in his passport and sent him merrily on his way.
By the time he left I was, unsurprisingly, reenergised to the extent that I no longer needed my tea break - except to note on that treasured duplicate landing card exactly what he had just said. So that I would never forget him.
But when I was writing those notes, little did I know what fate would have in store for the two young men involved. Nor how poignant that accurate written recollection of our brief meeting would prove to be in my later life.
I am sure that his family, friends and fans can, even today, easily visualize him standing there in front of me and saying those exact words in his perfect English accent.
As at the movies, part 2 of this epic Superman story follows. Entitled,.of course....