Diary of a Game of Thrones addict
Game of Thrones is back! Again! After all the hullabaloo surrounding the Red Wedding, Joffrey’s death and Tyrion’s escape, fan fever is at an all time high for a series that simply refuses to disappoint. But how devoted are you? Are you merely a casual viewer or does it go deeper than that? Are there any House Stark coffee mugs in your kitchen cupboard? Are you regularly locked in fierce online debate as to John Snow’s true parentage til dawn? Ever contemplated a tattoo? It is a world that is all too easy to get lost in. How far gone are you? Follow Time Out’s seven-step guide to Game of Thrones fandom and find out…
The Time Before Reckoning
You never thought it would happen to someone as worldly-wise (read: lazy and sarky) as you. It might, as Huey Lewis always assured us, be hip to be square these days, but isn’t Game of Thrones the preserve of block-quoting nerdlingers in egg-stained Red Dwarf t-shirts and earnest girls who’ve had too many packed lunches and henna tattoos. We’re none of us strangers to the box-set/Netflix-dump/dodgy download, but whereas The Sopranos was cask-aged in gushing claret and ‘family’ values and The Wire made us feel Legit and Word and Street, this is surely just an excuse for B-list English thesps to mess around in the Lord of the Rings dressing-up box. And yet. And yet… You’ve heard rumours that there’s the occasional flash of skin and that someone is graphically deprived of a limb/head/loved one/codpiece every ten minutes. So it is that you find yourself happening across a random episode whilst flicking around during the ad breaks in Family Guy. Maybe just give it five minutes. Can’t hurt, can it?
A Song of Vice and Ire
It’s three weeks later. You‘ve steadily caught up on all those precious episode you missed. You’ve dabbled online. You’ve casually sounded out which people at work are safe to approach on the subject. You find yourself in increasingly animated debate over Friday-night drinks with colleagues you’ve never really bothered with before. The depth of knowledge exhibited by your fellow Throneheads (your term) makes you realise how little of the Seven Kingdoms you have explored. There’s nothing for it. You need to learn more. This means reading the big, thick source novels. This means reading. Crikey. Yet this is the path you have chosen. George Martin’s original books may be staggering in both imagination and scope, but they are also stodgier than mammoth pie in places. Long chapters filled with aimless trudging or dream sequences. Dream sequences, for fuck’s sake! Yet you plough through them. Then, one day, you find yourself pricing up a full-size replica of Sean Bean’s sword (by now you know the sword is named ‘Ice’, but you’re still forcing yourself to call in ‘Sean Bean’s sword’) on the Forbidden Planet website. If anyone were to walk in on you right now you’d prefer to lie and tell them that you were surfing mammy-ramming porn than what you’re actually looking at. It’s a fad, that’s all. A craze. It’ll soon be out of your system.
A Cat of a Different Coat
While it passes, you might be well served by picking out a House with which to ally yourself. In real life you are most likely a blurry whirl of showbiz gossip, sweaty ‘pits and wanky little coffees, but the high tables of Westeros offer a chance to better yourself. A bit. Do you perhaps fancy yourself a Stark or a Lannister; a grimly-heroic, flinty-eyed martyr or a golden-haired, glory-shitting warmonger? You settle on House Targaryen and now everything from your hand towels to your Oyster Card wallet has a dragon on it. And it is here that we meet the pointy end of fandom: to tattoo or to not to do a tattoo. Maybe just a little one, yeah? On that same shoulder blade where you got the dolphin or that Chinese symbol for… something… back in the ‘90s. While you’re deciding, you immerse yourself in oddball fan fiction on websites with names like MuthahofDragons.com and Starknado. You’re skipping engagements, letting your friends down and neglecting work. You’re in trouble friend, and going back doesn’t seem to be an option.
Beards, Barrels and Bellies
You eventually go for a little tattoo of the Targaryen crest on your ankle, but what does the rest of your general lifestyle say about your devotion to the cause? If an Englishman’s home is his castle, then it’s time to hoist the nutty flag and hang some bunting from your mental buttresses. You look into the legal ramifications of re-naming your house Winterfell. You grow a beard (ladies, you’re just going to have to do your best here), burn all your Ikea crap on a pyre on the front lawn, fill your home with animal hides, church candles, barrels and hang billowing muslin drapes in your uPVC conservatory. You now eat only pies, which you call ‘pie’. You also call beer ‘ale’ and have your own pewter tankard behind the bar of your local. The local children have a song about you and former drinking partners fall into a respectful hush every time you enter the pub. Such is the price of majesty.
Sex & Violence
It isn’t just your appetite for pie, ale and sheepskin apparel that has increased. You’ve stopped going to badminton club, cancelled your membership at the gym and enrolled in a six-week fencing class at the local leisure centre. It’s hardly broadswords at dawn, but it’s a start. You’re the oldest person there by some margin and one of your classmates’ mum’s has already given you a telling off for calling her daughter a ‘vile strumpet’ during the heat of battle. By the end of the course you’re the only one there. Even the instructor fails to turn up. You are reduced to whacking at the pommel horse until someone turns the lights off. And it’s not just your bloodlust that’s up! Sex used to be a furtive, lights-off experience after Match of the Day was over. Now it s a wine-drenched bacchanal! You roister and bellow and gorge amid flickering torchlight beneath an old-timey parchment map of Dorne. If only there was someone there with you.
This time, it’s war! Sort of.
You now have friends all over the globe. A bloke you’ve been Skyping with in Germany has invited you over to hunt wild boar with him. You both know you’ll never go, but it’s nice to chat about it. A woman in South Africa keeps sending you erotic poems in which Jaime Lannister’s severed hand features prominently. It’s all very safe and remote and cosy, but deep down you yearn for the gore-streaked camaraderie of war. Of friendships borne out of iron and blood. Of marching shoulder-to-shoulder with men and women who would walk through dragonfire for you. So it is that you find yourself recreating the Battle of Blackwater in a car-park in Woking. You’re screaming foulmouthed death-or-glory allegiance to Stannis Barratheon into the face of a portly traffic warden from Balham and it’s not even lunchtime. Yes, you’re using broom-handles for swords and all the arrows have suckers on the ends, but the Westeros Reenactment Society is as close as any fan can get to pageantry and fury of battle. You have risen through the ranks to Master of Coin (i.e. making sure that the hot-dog van has enough loose change), but it is real power you crave. Bide your time.
You’ve bought a what?
You’ve finally gone the whole hog and bought a actual wolf. A mangy looking thing purchased at auction in a Latvian zoo foreclosure, it patrols your semi-detached house with barely disguised malice. The police have been round a few times, it’s eating you out of house and home and the downstairs bathroom is a complete right-off, but you have now ascended to the very pinnacle of GoT fandom. All the tattoos and tankards in the world cannot compare to this. Leave the masses to their box-sets and pub quizzes, for your devotion to Game of Thrones cannot now be surpassed. Unless… You don’t happen to have a brother or sister, do you..?