And so, it came to pass, that Good King Hal, he that is known as "Ginger Idiot in Tights", didst set forth in his mighty Peugeot 406 upon the road that is known as the A1(M) and didst travel many an hour in the direction of northwards. And the hours didst passeth and the mileometre in his car didst go round, verily unto liketh the gerbil upon the wheel in the cage (particularly one that hath been denied female companionship for about six months and then fed some sherbet - boyeth - do they go!). And it came to pass that eventually the Ginger Idiot didst reacheth the chosen land, that which is known as North Yorkshire, and didst maketh to the migthy citadel which is knoweth to all and sundry (and the British Tourist Board) as Whitby. And he didst sayeth "blimey", as he was cream crackered and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and use of the "F" word as his back was soreth, even unto something very sore indeed. And eventually he foundeth his way unto the village called Ellerby where there was an inn, of the name The Ellerby Inn, because that's the sort of names they use "oop there". And he asketh, if there be room for him at the inn. And they said, "don't be a plum, of course there is, you booketh it via the electric telephone the other night." And there was much rejoicing. AMEN.
And so on and so forth. I had fallen on my feet here, and make no mistake. I had driven to Ellerby from Essex where I had been staying - about a 300 mile trip, but with it being a Sunday, I sailed through and arrived at the Hotel at about 2pm. I was booked in and shown to my room. There must be some mistake. This is luxurious! A super king size bed, flat screen plasma TV on the wall, designer fitted en-suite bathroom with walk in cubicle shower, plus my own little balcony to sit out on, should the howling wind and rain abate. I stood in the middle of this luxurious suite in my grotty travelling rags and felt like Worzel Gummidge at the Savoy Grill. After the long drive and a fairly poor nights sleep the night before, I decided to lay down on the incredibly comfortable bed and read my book, but I wouldn't sleep because....zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh dear. I woke with a start and found that it was now 6.30pm and I hadn't eaten since a rather limp sandwich bought at a petrol station near Huntingdon many hours previously.
I wandered down into the bar of the hotel and was delighted to find it busy, but not crowded, and nice and snug looking with a crackling log fire at one end. The only hand pumped beers they had were either Courage Directors or John Smiths Magnet Ale. Well, when in Yorkshire... I ordered a pint of John Smiths and of course forgot about the sparkler they insist on putting on all beer pumps at points north of Watford. This aerates the beer, fills it full of froth and puts a creamy head on it. It also makes the beer taste like dishwater. We only ever used to put sparklers on the pumps at the pub I worked at in Essex when the beer was on the turn, to mask the flavour. Anyway, I drank my dishwater and then ordered dinner. I abandoned the idea of beer after the first pint and moved onto red wine. The first one was lovely, would Sir like another? Yes, sir would. After three more anothers, Sir was ready for the first assault on the north face of the stairs back to his bedroom.
Morning broke - and no one was able to fix it. So I had my brekkie at the hotel and then made my way, the long three miles to the village of Lythe and the school therein. I had been booked by a lovely sounding lady called Helen Isaacs and she was just as charming in real life as she had been on the phone and via email. There was a problem in that the lights had all fused in the main hall, so I could either do my show in braille in there, or they could bring in some arc lights to illuminate the King. So arc lights it was. It was like being back on stage proper. They were a lovely group at the school - about 70 really fun very excitable children. We had a great day with lots of silly laughs and the usual marvellous demonstration of all that the children had already learnt. After a fine lunch and many laughs with all the charming teachers it was back in the arc lit hall for more Tudor nonsense. This went down a treat and we finished with a really rip roaring jousting tournament that the ladies managed to triumph in, storming to victory over the last leg. I packed and bade a tired farewell to a lovely school. It had been quite a trip to come and see them, but definitely worth it!
Back at the hotel that night I was sitting in the restaurant tackling a small plate of Whitby Scampi and ear wigging on the table next to me, full of four very pleasant older retired people enjoying a break at the hotel. They were all from Yorkshire, but obviously not this part as they were on holiday. (That makes sense...) One of the chaps was commenting on his job before retirement which had involved a lot of travel and trips to exotic places. He took great delight in all seriousness of telling his fellow guests about how he had made frequent trips to this glorious centre of hedonistic delights. It's name? Harpenden. I needed a drink after that. I sat at the bar and chatted to the hotel owners son, Mark, and one of their regular drinkers. They thought it was hilarious that I dressed up as Henry VIIIth for a living. How dare they. I hoisted my tights up and headed for bed...
I drove home today. Over five hours from door to door. YAWN. Tomorrow I drive to Wales. I must need locking up. That or a chauffeur. Any offers?