Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back in the BBC

I was back on BBC Somerset again yesterday morning, for another appearance on the panel with the lovely Jo Phillips and the sainted Emma Britton. It was a great panel this time around. A lovely guy called Jim and a really attractive lady called Michelle - both very sparky personalities as well. We had great fun discussing various items of news. Jo Phillips was particularly keen that we should talk about the Channel 4 show "Embarrassing Illnesses", which as you can imagine threw up some hilarious moments. I was on to plug my "Henry's Horrid History" show at Barrington Court on August 29th and I think I did quite well with my sales pitch. I also got a phone message from a guy in Yeovil called John who thought I was very funny and should have my own show on BBC Somerset! Thank you John, whoever you are! After finishing the show I did some poster putting up in Shepton Beauchamp and the surrounds for the forthcoming show. I then headed over to Tatworth to see my friends Jo and Pete. In the evening I went over to Shepton Beauchamp and the lovely Duke of York pub for a beer with Matthew Applegate from Barrington Court.
This morning I have been into Ilminster to do some leafleting, in my full Henry gear! It was great walking about the town, accosting people and having a laugh and a joke with them. I got rid of nearly 100 leaflets, so fingers crossed we might get a big crowd in on Friday night. I will be going out again this afternoon to put even more posters up and continue to try and drum up support for this great show. Come and join me on Friday night at Barrington Court!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Somerset Rural Life Museum, Glastonbury

Back at the Somerset Rural Life Museum for the first time since October 2006, I was really looking forward to this day. As you can see from the picture taken today and forwarded to me by the lovely Nicky at the Rural Life Museum, here I am getting to grips with one of my fans! It looks like she is poised to kick me savagely in the shins doesn't it?
The day was great! The venue for the talks is the imperssive Abbey Barn - an early 14th century tithe barn of formidable proportions. It's vaulted, hammer beam roof gives it a wonderful echo and reverb if you want to air your tonsils with a few stentorian blasts - which I did! The groups of people who came in were really good - enthusiastic and laughing in the right spots. Always a good thing. I did four talks in the day, and the third and fourth were interrupted at different intervals by invading chickens from the yard, who took it upon themselves to wander into the barn and then cluck loudly in the darkened corners, much to the merriment of some of the children there! I also got an elderly heckler for the final show, but slowed her up sharply with a couple of witty replies. She left early, telling the people on the front desk that I was "too enthusiastic". I have had various complaints aimed at me over the years, but never "too enthusiastic". How bizarre. It was truly a lovely day and a pleasure to appear at such a fine and wonderful museum. I just hope they want me back at some point.
On Wednesday I am back with the lovely Jo Phillips on BBC Somerset and then I am at Barrington Court on Friday evening for my "Henry's Horrid History" show. Tickets still available on 01460 241938. Come and join me!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Henry's Horrid History - Coming Soon!

Past Presence Ltd presents...
Henry's Horrid History
The Life and Times of Henry VIIIth
at Barrington Court National Trust Property, Somerset
Friday, August 29th, 7.30pm
Tickets £7.50 adults
£5.00 children
Not really suitable for under 10's
Call 01460 241938 for tickets and more details

Friday, August 15, 2008

Royal Parks Half Marathon - the photoshoot!

So here they are! The final five photos chosen by those who know to be used to publicise the Royal Parks Half Marathon. For more details on the run, how to get sponsorship and to get an entry form, please go to it should make everything clearer!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Britain's Next Top Model

In my extended family we have a supermodel. It’s true! Her name is Lily Cole and she looks like a little china doll (as you can see right) – a typical supermodel. From a distance she looks like a spoon with a ginger wig on. Closer examination makes her look like one of the aliens from Close Encounters – also in a ginger wig. But now my family might suddenly have a new supermodel in it’s midst as I did my first ever photo shoot as a professional model! It’s true – stop laughing. I had been contacted by the Royal Parks Society for a promotional shoot advertising their forthcoming Half Marathon in Hyde Park.
I rose at the crack of dawn and headed up to Crewkerne Station to catch the 6.42 to London Waterloo. I pilfered a seat and settled down with my John O’Farrell book and promptly fell asleep. The sleeping was a good idea as it made the journey a lot shorter (or just seemed shorter) – perhaps I should try that next time I am driving a long distance? During my lucid moments it was nice to see the English summer countryside rushing by, with one small complaint – too much foliage. You’d get a glimpse in the distance of some interesting looking building and it would then just be swallowed up by greenery. Chop it all down! On entering central London it was nice to see the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and even the MI5 building as we swept into Waterloo. I trundled the ridiculously heavy Henry costume in it’s suitcase on wheels out of the front of the building and over to the Taxi rank. A very nice driver took me up to Hyde Park and to the Royal Parks office at the Old Police House which is a bit of a misnomer as the place is still used by loads of Police! I was greeted by some lovely ladies from the Royal Parks people and, after quickly getting into the Henry gear we were soon driving over to Kensington Gardens for the photo shoot near the Round Pond. The photographer was a nice guy called Andy Lane, and there was, among others, Sophie Rivett-Carnac from Forster plus Hannah Cottrill and Sally Barney from the Royal Parks, plus Sarah Igglesden who was to be our “jogger” for the photo shoot. The set up was me as Henry, armed with shears, with a topiary figure of a runner which I am supposed to be trimming, while Sarah runs past behind me, causing me to cast a glance over my shoulder. We did this over and over, all slightly different positions, poses etc, with lots of bizarre glances being chucked our way by bemused passers by. We tried almost every permutation you could imagine, and then moved on to having Henry sitting at a park bench reading a newspaper as Sarah jogs by – these produced some of the funniest shots of the day, and masses of interest from various tourists walking past.
With the photo shoot complete myself and one of the lovely ladies from Royal Parks (sorry I forgot your name!) walked the topiary figure back towards the Serpentine Art Gallery balanced on a glorified wheelbarrow. The sight of England’s greatest post medieval monarch walking a wheelbarrow across Kensington Gardens with a topiary figure balanced on the top was almost too much for some tourists and we became a target for many a camera lens. We paused briefly to rest as the whole thing was very heavy, and a very nice lady taking her dog for a walk came over to see this bizarre site and ask what the heck was going on. It was Jenny Seagrove! The gorgeous actress from Judge John Reed and Local Hero and A Woman of Substance. I explained my job as Henry VIIIth and what we had been up to today; she thought it sounded a hoot. I kissed her hand and thanked her for Local Hero as it is still one of my all time favourite movies. She was just lovely.
After a quick cup of tea at the Old Police House I was driven down to Hyde Park Corner where I hailed a cab and was soon on my way to Waterloo. Another lovely driver, we had a good chat and I was soon on the concourse. Sadly my train wasn’t due for 40 minutes, so I grabbed a sandwich from M&S and sat on my case waiting for the time to arrive. I was one of the first on and got myself a seat. By the time we got to Salisbury the train split in two with only the first three carriages going on towards Crewkerne where I wanted to go. Of course everyone from the back three carriages came forward and packed though we already were, we were soon even MORE packed. A little old lady staggered on, so I offered her my seat. She accepted less than graciously, but I refrained from my desire to punch her teeth down her throat and throw her off the train as we thundered through Tisbury. I stood all the way from Salisbury in the corridor by the loo. Very nice. So glad I paid £78 for this privilege. I was forced to look on as a very smug young couple sat being smug, young and in love in one of the comfy looking seats, the particularly smug looking young lady with her ickle wickle doggy woggy in her arms, feeding it ickle wickle treatsy weatsies. Another two doomed for a quick exit near Tisbury methinks.
Home for cuddles with the cat and a bottle of Aussie Shiraz to celebrate. Watch yer back Lily Cole – I could be the next “willowy one” in the family…

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Henry's Horrid History

Past Presence Ltd Presents...
Henry's Horrid History
The Life and Times of Henry VIIIth
Barrington Court National Trust Property
Friday August 29th 2008 7.30pm
Tickets £7.50 adults
£5.00 children
Call 01460 241938 to book tickets
Featuring the UK's number one professional Henry VIIIth re-enactor, Good King Hal! History, laughter and music combine for an unforgettable experience in beautiful Tudor surroundings. Not suitable for children under 10.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dementia Care Trust, Weston-super-Mare

Sometime ago, whilst making one of my many appearances at Barrington Court, a very nice lady asked for my details as she thought I might be suitable for a luncheon club she knew of, which was part of the Dementia Care Trust. All this while later I was contacted about a month or so ago and asked to attend on this day.
It takes about an hour to get up to Weston from Clapton, and the weather today was lousy in the extreme. The added fun was that a brand new superstore had been built where my Sat Nav said I had to go, so ignoring Doris' complaints I drove past it and on, and she eventually calmed down and found where I wanted to go. After dashing in and getting changed, I was on almost straight away. There must have been about 50 people there, some carers, some of them sufferers of dementia, but the talk went down really well - lots of laughs, and the original lovely lady from Barrington there again with her daughter! I did about an hour and finished to loud applause. I quickly changed back into my civvies and was invited to join the group for lunch. We had a lovely meal of roast pork followed by cinammon rice pudding - delicious. I sat and chatted to a charming couple, the gentleman being a former clown, called Jackie the Clown, who though in the early stages of dementia is trying to write his memoirs about his wartime service with the RAF and his work in entertaining the troops. His book he hopes to have published will be called "The Clown Who Went To War" - remember you heard it here first folks.
I will be taking part in a photo shoot next Monday up at Hyde Park for the Royal Parks Society. More info as and when I know it myself.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Tudor Day at Southchurch Hall

Sunday saw me back in Sunny Essex for a visit to Southchurch Hall Museum in Southend for their annual Tudor Day. I had no idea this was such a big event - as I arrived re-enactors were setting up already with various stalls showing how a fletcher works, plus a potter, a scrivener, various herbalists and even a guy with a genuine ancient lathe.
My opening part of the day was just a walkabout meet and greet, which was great as the place was packed. As I wandered round the side of the house a figure suddenly ran full tilt from one of the doors, straight at me. He was dressed as a peasant, and with a great leap prostrated himself at my feet.
"MAJESTY!" He yelled at top volume. Everyone turned and looked towards us. "GRAVE NEWS FROM PORTSMOUTH!" He screamed at the top of his lungs. I was a little taken aback and wasn't sure quite how to react. He then launched into a full 15 minute account of the sinking of the Mary Rose in old English, complete with screaming, eye rolling, hand ringing, lots of sweating and more over acting than a container truck full of Robert Newtons. On finishing he walked away from me to the sound of polite applause and the occasional child saying "Mummy, I'm scared." About two hours later, whilst sitting on my throne in the main hall having a rest, there is a blur or movement and suddenly this lunatic is launching into his Mary Rose routine all over again. More screaming, sweating, shaking and hollering, and as we are indoors this time, as he finishes there is a group of about 100 people looking on. He walks out of the room to polite applause and all 100 pairs of eyes turn towards me expecting something similar. I smile lamely at them and then say "And now, the weather..." which got a great laugh.
My two talks went really well, especially the second one outside which attracted something like 150 people all round me as I went through the usual Henry stuff. I met some lovely people at the do, especially the wonderful man who works at Hampton Court Palace and has promised possible great things in the future. Also a big "Hello" to the lovely people from the St John's Ambulance people and the delightful Lisa from Southend Pier!
It was a great day and a joy to perform at. I am really looking forward to going back there again next August. Tomorrow, Tuesday, I am doing an after lunch talk for the Dementia Care Trust Charity in Weston-super-Mare, and no, before you ask, not on the pier.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Cobbaton Combat Museum, Devon

Here we see Matthew Applegate, Visitors Services Manager at Barrington Court, showing utter disdain for Hitler and his entire war machine, by posing in front of a Sherman Tank a good 60 years after the war finished.
It was our "lads day out"! Matthew and I had been planning for a few weeks for a trip to Cobbaton Combat Museum, a privately owned collection of militaria in the Devon countryside, so we could enjoy looking at the tanks, but also so we could have a look at their prices when it came to de-activated weapons and uniforms (all for research into my forthcoming WWII Home Guard shows). I picked up Matthew from Barrington Court at about 11am and we drove down the M5 and turned off at the Tiverton exit. We fairly quickly found the museum, but it was more than definitely lunch by this time and as I had done the driving and paid for the fuel, Matthew offered to buy lunch. I refused his offer of a Pot Noodle and a glass of water and instead we began a hunt for a pub, and what a pub did we find! We drove to the village of Chittlehampton and went into the Bell Inn. If you are down in this area of Devon I can highly recommend it - great food and fabulous beer. I would have been quite happy to stay there all day, but it was time to head back to Cobbaton and the museum.
It was an interesting stroll round the exhibits and they have some marvellous stuff there, but by God do they need a Museum Manager. Most of the exhibits are caked in dust, and we are talking YEARS-WORTH rather than just weeks. Quite a few of the photo exhibits are water or condensation damaged and a major portion of the entire exhibition seems to be cobwebs. Most of the tanks and people carriers seem to be used as storage cupboards as well as exhibits. You also find large swathes of exhibits with absolutely no information on them at all - you just have to guess. Despite me sounding very negative, please understand this museum is well worth a visit - but it could be so much better.
Back to Somerset we tried to stop for a pint somewhere but were just a bit too early for anywhere to be open yet, so it was back to Matthew's flat in Strode House and a cup of tea. Very nice, but a pint would have been better!
This weekend it is up to Essex for an appearance as Henry at Southminster Museum in Southend. See you there.