Saturday, October 29, 2005

They're Storming the Castle!

Wow! What a good day! I got up and set off to Taunton with a slight hangover and in pouring rain, plus it was still pitch dark. Not good omens for the day, I assumed. However, the traffic was remarkably light for a rush hour daliance in Taunton and I arrived at the County Museum at the Castle smack on 8.30am as promised. I was let in and greeted by a charming man who, better still, made me a cup of tea. I got all my props set up on a lovely big old heavy wooden table they normally have in their alms house. When this was draped with a heavy red cloth it really looked the business. I was doing three sessions today - one from 10am to 11.30am, 11.30am to 1pm and then 2pm to 3.30pm. The first group came in a seemed a little thin on the ground and a lot appeared to be startlingly young children, some still in push chairs. I hasten to add that they had their parents with them, they hadn't just decided en masse to wheel themselves down to Taunton Castle. That would be a just a bit too bowel loosening. I started and they were an OK group if a little low on numbers. I was disappointed with the showing as the staff at the museum had been saying what a great deal of interest in my appearance there had been. Anyway, when we had finished the first group, there was a sudden influx of people for the second group and we were packed out! It was great. A superb group, lots of laughs and interest and the kids were cool too. We had one great answer in this group. I was talking about the fact that Henry VIIIth and Katherine of Aragon actually had a son first, but that he died very young, so I asked the group what they called their first son. There was a slight pause, and then a little lad who couldn't have been much more than 5 years old put his hand up and said "Jesus?" Cue much spontaneous "Aaaaw-ing!" from all the collected Mums there. The jousting in that session was really close, a good contest. I broke for lunch at 1pm and got changed for a wander down to Loafers Sandwich bar which I used to frequent during my horrific year of working for Debenhams. Of course I bumped into Steve Lindley, one of my erstwhile colleagues from Debenhams. Nice to see him. Back to the museum for lunch and burping, then just time to throw the glad rags back on and back for another session. Another sell out. The group was spoilt a little this time but one mother bringing in a child who was way way too young to appreciate the whole thing, he was even younger than my James, and he spent most of the talk competing with me for loudest voice. He had the added armoury of frequently banging a set of keys on a display cabinet as well. I did find this very distracting. The jousting was hilarious. I picked two little brothers to appear together on one team. They were great fun, but utterly hopeless, constantly going in the wrong direction and trying to hook the other team's quoits. Amazingly, and against all odds, they won! There was a lovely group there from Milverton School who I visited last year and they had a great time. I gave out a load of my leaflets as well, so hopefully I can pick up some more bookings and interest.
I finished and went off to get changed and phone Amanda. On the way down they asked me to sign their visitors book and then showed me some of the feedback forms from customers. All hugely positive, which was wonderful. They are talking of having me back at Christmas and next Summer as well which would be wonderful. I then endured the hell filled drive home to end all, taking just over an hour and a half to travel the 20+ miles from Taunton to my home. ABout 95% of that time was spent trying to get out of Taunton. Perhaps this can be the basis of a new exciting Hollywood film - "Escape from Taunton" starring Kurt Russell as Yokel Plisskin. Remember, you heard it here first. Night night!

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