Friday, August 31, 2007

BBC Radio Wales

I had to drive into Yeovil this morning to appear on BBC Radio Wales. How can this be possible, I hear you cry, well it goes something like this. After being phoned the other day by a nice chap called Gareth, and asked to appear on the Roy Noble morning show on BBC Radio Wales, I had visions of me having to drive all the way over to Cardiff, but these wonderful BBC bods booked me into BBC Somerset Sound's Yeovil studio for a "live" link-up. I got to the studio smack on 9.30am, the time I was expected.
If I had thought the BBC Somerset studio in Park Street Taunton was small, this was nothing compared to Yeovil. The studio bore more of a relation to a school classroom from about 1982 than a 21st century local radio station. However, the very nice engineer plugged me in, I chatted over the ether to the production team in Cardiff and then I was on. The chat went very well, mainly about how the hell I came to be Henry VIIIth - the usual stuff, and Roy Noble was a nice very affable chatter and easy to get on with - even if I spent the entire interview calling him Rob. How embarrassing was that! You can listen to it on line now at the BBC Radio Wales website and using their "listen again" feature.
My little boy starts school next week - ARGH! And I am starting back at school with the Henry days, kicking off, as ever at Manor Court in Chard.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

BBC Somerset Sound

It was back to me being a radio star again today! Two weeks after my previous appearance on the BBC Somerset Sound news panel, I was invited back for another bash! As I had been a little late in arriving last time, I endeavoured to leave a little earlier so as not to make the same mistake twice. I should have known better with Taunton's appalling early morning traffic. I was about 10 minutes late this time, but at least I wasn't the last panellist to arrive!
I shared the panel this day with two charming ladies, one who was a "dog listener" and the other who was a fund raiser for a cancer charity based at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. We had some good chat and lots of laughter and I have again been invited back for another appearance sometime in the not too distant future.
This afternoon I got a phone call from BBC Wales. I was hugely excited as I had sent a few letters to Russel T Davies, urging him to write Henry VIII into the latest Doctor Who plots. Alas it was not to be. Instead I got chatting to a lovely bloke called Gareth who wants me to appear on the Bob Noble Show on BBC Radio Wales on this Friday morning. Luckily for me I don't have to drive all the way to Cardiff for this appearance as they will link me in from one of BBC Somerset's studios in Yeovil. I should be on from about 9.30am! So if you are in Wales and you know about me, have a listen!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Norton-sub-Hamdon - the Royal Progress Finale

The final day of the Royal Progress got off to a less than auspicious start. I went over to Norton-sub-Hamdon early and dished out some posters at the Lord Nelson Pub, the little local shop and popped a couple up next to the main bus stop in the village. I then drove round to pick up Jim Flanagan, my roadie, only to discover he had forgotten about today and had gone to London! Ho-hum!
I got to Norton-sub-Hamdon and was met by the key holder for the village hall. He seemed fairly confident that I wouldn't get anyone at all. After yesterday I kind of agreed with him. I need not have worried. A grand total of 17 hardy souls appeared, the majority of them children and a really good time was had by all! This was more like it! OK it was a smallish crowd, but it was better than the hermit reunion party of yesterday. Lots of nice comments afterwards and one of the ladies who had brought her son took my details to pass on to the school in Norton. Very nice.
The final irony with Jim not being there is that the chairs at this village hall were not the easy to stack lightweight plastic models of previous days, but heavy old wooden flap down seats that you had to put out and get back one at a time. it took ages! Never mind. I am now home with a nice bottle of wine, full of cold and exhausted but happy. Next Henry won't be until 7th September at Manor Court School again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

East Coker - Royal Progress...

Left: Monday in East Coker.
It would appear there is always something better to do in East Coker. A grand total of no people turned up for the show today. I should know as I counted them. Twice. It's a shame really as East Coker have a really nice village hall and it would have been great fun to put on a fabulous show for the people of this charming village. So I set up all the chairs, got my props in, got dressed up as Henry and then sat and watched the clock tick round to 3pm, and then got changed back into my civvies, put all the chairs away, stuffed all the props back in the car and went home. It was great! I can't wait to do it all again tomorrow at Norton-sub-Hamdon!
On the plus side, the BBC have come back to me and want me to appear on the morning panel again next Tuesday. More good exposure. Thank you BBC Somerset!

Barrington Court - Day Two

Day two dawned at Barrington Court with a far better looking morning. OK, it was still blowing a hoolie, but the skies were mostly clear and the sun was threatening to shine. It was dry, the billowing rain and wind from the previous day had gone.
It was much busier at the Court house today. A lot of people were coming in, yes enticed by the good weather and a chance to meet Henry VIII, but also because a lot of local shows and events had been postponed and cancelled because of the limits on moving livestock with the foot and mouth outbreak.
I met one lovely couple from Billericay in Essex, where I used to live! There was also a couple from Detling in Kent, literally about a mile from where my sister lives. Best of all, who should be here today, but dear little Isis and her beautiful Mother, Holly, late of Weston-super-Mare and Sudeley Castle (see this blog passim). Isis did me a lovely picture which I am going to scan and send to Steve French so he can upload it onto the website. It shows Henry VIII dreaming about his six wives. It was so nice to see them again. My favourite fans! Bless them both.
Towards the end of the afternoon it started to quieten down and I showed what a marvellously benevolent King I am by giving Holly and Isis a lift to Taunton Station so they could get home safe and sound. It was so lovely to see them.
Today I am back on the Royal Progress Trail at East Coker near Yeovil, but I am not holding my breath about numbers. I have pushed all the other shows and no one turned up, where as today's show I haven't had a chance to do much publicity at all, so it will be interesting to see if anyone turns up at all. Watch this space...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Barrington Court - Day One

For this Tudor Day at Barrington Court, a sou'wester or even an aqua-lung would have been more appropriate than the Tudor robes I was wearing! This was possibly the worst weather I have ever encountered when doing an outdoor "Henry", and that includes the dreadful downpours that afflicted this year at Sudeley Castle (see this blog passim). The rain came hammering in horizontally, you could see it billowing through the howling winds.
Normally a Saturday in August at Barrington Court would see the car park full to bursting with the chance of the overflow car parks being used a real possibility. Today the main car park was barely half full and the overflows stayed resolutely locked all day. The few hardy souls who dared to brave this weather were lovely and it was great to see them all.
Matthew Applegate is away on holiday at the moment, so I was left in the tender mercies of his new assistant (Helen Appleyard having moved on to pastures new). The new assistant is called Simon and is a really nice, though quite horrifyingly young, gent! He looks like some of the children I see at the schools I visit. But I know Matthew rates him very highly and he certainly seemed to know his job. He took some photos of me posed in different parts of the main Court House which I shall hopefully get some copies of to post on here.
Anyway, today is another day at Barrington Court and the weather, dare I say it and not wishing to tempt fate, looks far better than yesterday. The wind is still blowing but it's dry and the sun is shining.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Clapton & Wayford - More Royal Progress...

Now this is about as local a gig as you can get! Clapton and Wayford Village Hall is about 300 yards from my front door - fantastic. The Royal Progress Show today was attended by 9 hardy souls, but give them their due they listened very well, laughed in all the right places and even asked for an encore at the end, so I had to come on and do a few more gags after I had finished.
No children again today, mostly OAP's funnily enough, but they were a good crowd and enjoyed themselves.
Later today, through the pouring wind and rain, I shall be wandering around Barrington Court meeting and greeting people as I go. If you are there, come and say hello. I shall be at Barrington Court again on Sunday as well.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Stoke-sub-Hamdon - The Royal Progress continues...

Another day and another not exactly brilliant turn out. Stoke-sub-Hamdon is probably the largest town I will be visiting on the tour and I had high hopes of a good turn out. But sadly only 5 people decided to venture out. We had some fun with them, but it would have been so nice to see more people there. It was equally galling that there was a big church youth/social/outreach event going on right next door and I went and told them about the day and invited them to come over and see the show as the price for anyone under 14 was only 50p. But this didn't sway them. Anyway, the lady I booked the hall through, the very nice landlady of the Half Moon Inn on Ham Hill Road, was very compassionate and waived the fee, which I appreciated enormously.
It has been a tough week, with the tour and what have you. We have also had the news this week of the death of my dear great Aunt Joan from Sherborne in Dorset. She is like a last link to my grandparent's generation and I have to say I have felt the loss quite heavily.
Today, Friday, I am on the tour again, this time at Clapton and Wayford Village Hall, and here's hoping we get some punters in today.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Compton Dundon - The Royal Progress pt 2

And so the second day of the Royal Progress tour dawned - all wet and windy! After being roused by my son James at 5.30am (that's him out of the will), my wife and I dropped him over at his nursery and then headed to Taunton for my appearance on BBC Somerset's morning discussion panel. We arrived at the studio slightly late, but had to choose a news story from a pile of papers. I plumped for a story from The Times about Great Western Railways attempts to appease disgruntled passengers complaining about their appalling punctuality by employing a pink haired poet to travel the network reading poems to the annoyed customers. Yes, that's what I thought as well... The other panel members were Ian, a Tae Kwon Do instructor from Bridgwater, and Jill, an Alexander technique practitioner from Wiveliscombe. It went very well and Jess, the presenter I spoke to the other night on the Drive programme, was very pleased with our contributions. I was told afterwards that if ever I wanted to be back on the show, just ask! Very nice...
The afternoon show at Compton Dundon wasn't quite so successful. Absolutely no children turned up, but luckily 11 adults braved the elements, and really enjoyed the show! Laughs aplenty and loads of questions afterwards. They even had a go at the hobby horse jousting at the end, which very predictably the women won!
Next stage of the tour is at Stoke-sub-Hamdon Memorial Hall on Thursday afternoon.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Seavington Millennium Hall - The Royal Progress!

And so the Royal Progress begins... I drove over to Jo and Pete's place at Haselbury Plucknet to pick up Jim, my little roadie (as opposed to my little pony) for the week. We got over to Seavington St Michael (where the hall is) but first had to go to Seavington St Mary (where the key was) - are you all taking notes about this? I met the nice lady with the key and her lovely cocker spaniel, Scooby, before heading back to the hall. Jim and I put out the seats, with enough for about 50-60 people. We then had the hanging around and waiting until anything happened.
My biggest fear about this whole tour has been the "what if no one comes?" thoughts. As it was, some people came - 9 in all. 10 if you count the Western Gazette photographer who turned up halfway through. But they were a good hardy little bunch. Four adults and five children. They all laughed and seemed to enjoy themselves with the talk, and the jousting was a rip roaring affair. They went off happy, and Jim cleared away the chairs while I got changed. A good day I suppose. Would have been nice to see more people.
Tomorrow I have the radio show to do in the morning at BBC Somerset, then Jim and I are off to Compton Dundon for more Henry shennanigans! See you there... (please)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

2 and now 1 Day to Go....

And suddenly there is no time left to worry about it any more! On the Saturday, James and I went and did our usual bit of shopping in Chard. In such nice weather we had some fun in the garden, then this afternoon I took myself and James over to Stoke-sub-Hamdon and the Half Moon Pub to deliver some of the tour posters to the friendly landlady there who had taken my booking for the village hall. We also put some posters in a couple of local shops.
Today, on the Sunday, James and I have had a day at leisure really. After lunch we headed over to Barrington Court and enjoyed a nice walk round the beautiful grounds in some lovely warm sunshine. Next time I will be at Barrington will be next weekend... I hope it goes well.
And tomorrow - the tour begins at Seavington Millennium Hall near Ilminster at 3pm. Please come along and support the show!

Friday, August 10, 2007

3 Days to Go...

Three days? ARGH! After all the plugging that got done yesterday with the Western Gazette, the Chard and Ilminster News and the BBC Somerset interview and I am so hoping there will be a turn out at Seavington for the first gig on Monday. It has now got to the point in the day when there is nothing more I can do.
I am going up to Stoke-sub-Hamdon tomorrow to see the lady who books the Memorial Hall as she is going to take some more posters for me.
I was also phoned again last night by the wonderful Blackwolf the Dragonmaster. What a lovely Wizard he is!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

5 and 4 Days to Go...

OK OK, I know I didn't blog yesterday - I just didn't seem to find the time. I popped up to Compton Dundon again yesterday to put some more posters up for the upcoming shows.
I forgot to add that I got another phone call the other night from Blackwolf the Dragonmaster again! He does phone quite late at night which is a real pity as that as we have a young child in the house, my wife and I are usually so exhausted we go to bed at some criminally early hour! Sorry about that, oh Grand Wizard!
I was on BBC Somerset in the end, they came along and I was on air and interviewed at the end of the "Drive" programme, at nearly 7pm. It went well though and I got to plug the tour.
Today I have picked up copies of the Western Gazette (the tour is in the "What's On" section), the "View From Crewkerne" (not a mention!) and The Chard and Ilminster News (again a good feature on the tour). It is all grist to the mill.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

6 Days to Go...

A lot of driving was done today. I prepared posters for the Compton Dundon show, the Stoke-sub-Hamdon show and the Clapton show. First I stopped in at Crewkerne to see if I could get some of the Clapton and Stoke one's up. Bilby's of course were more than obliging. Other places less so. For instance the tourist information office in the main square complained how big the posters were.
Next I drove up to Glastonbury to get some posters out for the Compton Dundon show. Rainbow's End cafe were very helpful, but yet again the tourist information office were less than excited, once more complaining about the size of the poster. Sorry chaps, but this is my livelihood.
I stopped in at Compton Dundon itself and the very nice chap in the pub very obligingly took a poster, and then I stopped off at Somerton and left a few more at some different places, including in the Library.
I have spoken to BBC Somerset and I am being featured on the website in an in-depth interview, plus they probably want me to appear on a mid-morning show on Friday, but I am waiting for confirmation on that one. Finally, they have just called back to say the "Drive Time" show wants to interview me "live" on air at about 6.15pm, or in other words in about 20 minutes! Watch this space...

Monday, August 06, 2007

7 Days to Go...

Another day goes by and we edge ever closer. I was rather hoping to hear from one of the Radio stations today to help publicise things for next week, but alas so far nothing. I shall chase them up tomorrow.
Also on the agenda for tomorrow is more poster sticking! This is pretty much just like being back at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - you spend more time putting posters up for the show you are in than you do on actually performing.
I have an assistant for next week - Jim Flanagan, son of my close friend Pete. Little does the poor little chap know what lies in store for him...
My lovely friend Steve French has updated my website so there is a drop down page all about "The Royal Progress 2007" tour, with a write up about the tour, itinerary and contact details. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

8 Days to Go...

And so the days go by and the beginning of the Royal Progress draws ever closer. I was delighted to see a good plug for the tour in the ever redoubtable "Chard and Ilminster News" this week, complete with picture of me at Leeds Castle. I have also been spreading the word on the internet at any sites that take free adverts for "What's On In Somerset" during the school holidays.
I am still waiting to hear back from BBC Somerset and next week there will be more coverage in the Western Gazette and the View from Crewkerne.
We have had a nice restful day with the good weather taking James down to Charmouth for a paddle. The rest of the day was spent leisurely not doing very much basking in the warm sun in the garden. Lovely.
Back to work again tomorrow...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

9 Days To Go...

It has been a busy couple of days with a few surprises along the way as the dawning of my "Royal Progress" comes ever closer. Yesterday (Friday) I had to meet local journalist Martha, who was doing a profile of me for the local freebie paper "This is Crewkerne". We met at Bilby's Coffee House in the High Street and she interviewed me for about 45 minutes in which time I managed to plug the tour mercillessly. My friend Pete Flanagan turned up halfway through, suddenly realised it was an interview and left again! When we had finished I then wandered down to Footprintz Print Shop to see how much 50 copies of my tour poster in A3 would cost. If I wanted to have the poster done with the red Tudor roses left on it would be £40 for the 50 prints. For black and white - £10. No contest for this tight fisted Tudor King. I went home and emailed the original artwork from my sister through to Footprintz. Later in the afternoon I went back into Crewkerne and to the print shop - and they had forgotten who I was already and had forgotten to check for any emails. The Boss quickly promised to get them printed very quickly, so I wandered off down the High Street to Woolworths to get some marker pens. On my return to the print shop I was delighted to find the prints finished - but he had done them in colour. I pointed this out and with an air of resignation he agreed to let me have them for £10. What a nice man! He obviously knows not to trifle with a King. When I got home I was just in time to do another interview about the tour, this time with Chris Sweet from the Western Gazette. More publicity.
Later, much later, about 10.30pm to be precise - the phone rings. Now when I get a call at that time of night I usually assume it is either a friend has kicked the bucket or something else equally horrible has happened. It was neither. It was the splendidly eccentric Blackwolf Dragonmaster from New York City, a dear friend of mine over the internet and talking to me personally for the first time. He explained he was in the middle of organising the New York Renaissance Fayre and would normally be bothering Raaaay Irving from Lancashire, but he was hiding somewhere in Spain at the moment, so it was my turn. We had a nice little chat about my tour and his Fayre, but I was more than half way through a very decent bottle of red wine, so please if you are reading this Blackwolf, please forgive my slightly shell shocked reaction to your call.
Today, my wife, son and I have been touring round the area plastering up the first few posters for the Seavington show on the 13th August. More grist to the mill I hope.
The photo on this page was taken by the station manager of Ivel FM Radio Station in Yeovil at the recent Medieval Banquet for the local Lions Club. The lady in the photo always dresses like that. Apparently.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Royal Progress - here it comes!

OK folks - this is it! Get ready for the Royal Event of the YEAR! Your very own chance to get up close and personal with King Henry VIIIth, the infamous Tudor Monarch, with "An Audience With The King".
This short tour of some of the more rural areas of Somerset will bring history alive for young and old alike. Good King Hal's hysterical history tour is primarily aimed at junior school children, but can be appreciated by just about anyone. After the history lesson, the King will show off his musical skills on Tudor instruments followed by an opportunity to take part in some hobby horse jousting. The whole show runs for just over an hour and the act has been described by BBC Somerset as "one of the best of its kind." And who am I to argue with that?
Ticket prices are £3.50 for adults and just 50p for children under the age of 14.
Dates and times are as follows:
13th August Seavington Millennium Hall, 3pm
14th August Compton Dundon Village Hall, 3pm
16th August Stoke-sub-Hamdon Memorial Hall, 3pm
17th August Clapton and Wayford Village Hall, 3pm
20th August East Coker Village Hall, 3pm
21st August Norton-sub-Hamdon Village Hall, 3pm
You can also come and meet the King on August 18th and 19th at Barrington Court, a National Trust property just outside Ilminster in the village of Barrington. The King will be strolling through the grounds between the hours of 12 noon and 4pm and will be happy to answer questions, chat to his peasants and even pose for photographs. Normal National Trust entrance fees apply.
For more details on any part of this tour, please call Mike on 01460 271641.