Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Ticket to Ryde

I had never been abroad to be Henry VIIIth before. Someone said to me that the Isle of Wight wasn't officially abroad - I just pointed out that it was very difficult to walk there. I was booked to appear at Haylands School on the outskirts of Ryde on the Island through a Mr Chubb. He had seen me in action as Henry VIIIth some years ago when he worked at Brookside School in Street near Glastonbury. However, he is a Vectis man, born and bred, and had moved back to the island a couple of years ago - but he remembered me, and had consequently booked me for Haylands School.
I knew it was going to be a long journey down to the Isle of Wight, but it was also a long way down to Lymington where the ferry was. I caught the 6.15am ferry and it was lovely to sit on the viewing deck and cast my eyes over the steely grey waters of the Solent. The sun was smudging it's way to the horizon to my left, making vast silhouettes of the petro-chemical works at Fawley. The orange and pink colours of the delicate sunrise flecked the small waves as we slowly steamed out of the harbour. It was a crisp clear brilliant morning and my reverie was only partially ruined by some slack jawed neanderthal suddenly deciding to play the very loud fruit machine just behind where I was sitting. It was obviously a "Carry on" themed machine as there were lots of Barbara Windsor giggles, Sid James guffaws, Swanee whistle whoops and "ber-doing!!!!!" sound effects that obviously appealed to the mouth breather as he played the damn thing for what seemed a lifetime. We soon docked at Yarmouth and I was on my way. You can't go very far anywhere on the island and I was soon approaching Ryde at a rate of knots. I found the school but, as it was still only about 7.30am, the place was still fully locked up. I had just parked up outside expecting a long wait when a car arrived and the driver got out and unlocked the gates before driving in. I followed. It was the head teacher and he couldn't have been more helpful and charming. Haylands School is a very modern welcoming building with excellent facilities. It has the air of a very happy contented school. I was with the year 3 group for the day and was told by Mr Chubb that they were a very excitable group - and boy they were!
We had a lovely day - tremendous group of children, lovely friendly teachers and assistants, and a very nice lunch to boot. Lots of fun and laughter with the children who also showed a very high level of Tudor knowledge. For the final jousting tournament in the hall we invited the year 4 group to come in and join the spectators which certainly added to the atmosphere in the hall. We nearly blew the roof off the place! A thrilling joust final was won by a very competent ladies team, and we then had a fun teachers race which Mr Chubb's team won!
It was a long drive home and a slow ferry, with intermittent heavy rain and then dazzling sunshine. I didn't get back to Crewkerne until about 7.20pm - I was very tired, but happy. It had been a brilliant day.
Friday I am at Wooton Bassett in Wiltshire during the day and then have a mad dash over to Hever Castle in Kent for my first ever work there in the evening. Smashing!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

St George's Night Event, Misterton

I had been approached some months back by a lovely lady called Cheryl Newman to see if I would be interested in appearing at the Crewkerne Town Twinning Association's St George's Night Event in Misterton when all their guests from Igny in France would be over. For a while it seemed touch and go as to whether the event would go ahead, but then about a month or so ago it was confirmed. I arrived at the village hall in Misterton, tucked away down a back lane as it is and was delighted by what I found. There is a large open space with a football pitch or two, some other hard court sports areas and a rather attractive looking village hall. Various St George's Crosses were hanging up alongside various tricolours. Long tables had been set up along the hall and a band (called Tease the Cat) were setting up as well. Outside caterers were setting up large hot trays and a bar was being readied for the evening. Cheryl showed me a room at the rear of the hall where I could get ready.
The plan was that everyone would arrive, there would be some speeches, then I would be introduced and I would then appear from my back room to wow the audience. Of course the speeches were twice the length they should be as they all had to be translated, either from English into French, or from French into English. Finally it was my turn. As I emerged from the back room there was applause and a few gasps of astonishment from the French contingent. I quickly checked that I had put my pantaloons on, but everything was in place. The reason for their reaction was that on the trip down to Crewkerne in their coach, they had stopped at Hampton Court Palace and seen lots of pics of Henry - now they were seeing the real thing. The talk went really well, lots of laughs and great audience participation. I finished and was then set upon by photographers - thousands of 'em, it seemed, but I happily posed for all their pictures, and they seemed well pleased. I left the happy people to their party and headed back into Crewkerne, pausing only to buy a Chinese curry and boiled rice.
Today has been nice - a bit of tidying up around the flat and then a long walk over at Barrington Court. Very nice. Tuesday I am in the Isle of Wight for the first time doing a Henry show - it should be fun.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Some Pics from the Best of Britain and Ireland 2009 Show

On the opening day, Henry VIII with, among others, a Beatle, Robbie Burns, Gunnersaurus and a ballerina. There was four more days of this.

Henry with the wonderful lovely people of the Good Food Ireland stand. Officially makers of the 2nd best Tiffin in the world. Check out Sara's Dairy in Ilminster, Somerset for the best.

Henry VIIIth playing "Spot the Ham".

Good King Hal with a fine pair of Fillies.

Good King Hal gurning at some Soda Bread.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Barrington Court - an Apology & BBC Somerset

What a lovely Easter! Amanda and James came down from Essex and the sun shone warmly - we had lots of fun days out to places like Seaton and visited friends, and just generally had a wonderful time.
However, now the bad news. The "Henry's Horrid History" shows scheduled for this Saturday night at Barrington Court has had to be postponed. This is purely down to poor advance ticket sales and I can understand Barrington covering themselves by pulling the plug early. It is a real shame as I was looking forward to performing at this lovely house again, plus I had friends coming down from Sussex for the show, plus several local friends had confirmed they would be coming along. Never mind, we shall try again in September.
Today, I was on BBC Somerset again on the Emma Britton show, originally to plug the show at Barrington but as that had gone round the u-bend we chatted about the 500th anniversary of Henry's ascension to the throne, and I had to give 5 Facts About Henry you Might Not Know! Which was great fun! It was lovely to work with Emma again as she is such a lovely lady and a brilliant presenter. Good fun all round.
So my next Henry outing at the moment will be a St George's Night event for the Crewkerne Town Twinning Association where I will be entertaining the great and good of Crewkerne and Igny the town in France we are twinned with. Parfait!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Kent 2020 Business Expo

After the fun and games of the Best of Britain show at the Excel London arena last week, I had been asked to join the Visit Kent Stand at the Kent 2020 Business Exhibition at Detling Showground midway between Sittingbourne and Maidstone. I was due at the stand at 12 noon and would be finished by 3pm. So not too bad. I stayed the night before at my sister's in Stockbury which is only about a mile or so from Detling as the crow flies. However, as the King trudges it's a bit further as you have to navigate the joys of the dual carriageway on the A249. I had left Somerset the day before basking in beautiful early spring sunshine, so I wore a fairly cool outfit for the morning down to Detling. WRONG! It was like Siberia up on the showground, no sunshine and a howling cold wind. I parked near the main pavilion and then began the "where the hell am I going to get changed" routine. There was a baby changing unit in a portakabin type thing, but it was firmly locked. Eventually I was pointed to the main office for the showground and there was a disabled toilet which proved perfect.
I had a great time wandering round the show, chatting, leafleting, being photographed and spreading the word about Visit Kent. I headed back to the stand and stood by ready to dish out more leaflets when I saw a lady helping herself to some of the free Cadbury's Mini Eggs on our stand - I turned round just as the egg she'd popped in her mouth shot out and landed with a resounding "clang" back in the metal bowl it had come from. She looked at me like an errant school child and a big embarrassed grin on her face. I laughed with her and made a Henry type comment about her fishing it out and don't just leave it there. I also did the usual kissing of the hand and asked her name. She replied "Janet" - and suddenly I recognised her. It was Janet Fielding - JANET FIELDING! Formerly of Doctor Who from 1981 to 1984 where she played Australian air hostess Tegan Jovanka opposite Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor (is my anorak showing now?) I was a big fan of both her and Sarah Sutton in those days as I was aged about 14-16 during that time and they were both drop dead gorgeous and would occasionally interrupt my sleep pattern - but enough of that. She was absolutely lovely and we had a great chat and she revealed she is working hard to get a Ramsgate Arts Festival going. I recommended a one man Henry VIIIth show - she didn't say no. She even didn't mind when I requested someone take a photo of us together - even after we had to have the photo taken three times as they lady who's camera phone we borrowed wasn't entirely sure how it worked.
The afternoon finished and I was a happy man - great company on the stall, lots of nice people to chat to and I had got to meet Janet Fielding. Great stuff. Almost as good as meeting Cherie Lunghi back in 2005 at the Rolf on Art TV programme I was on. But that's another story.
Coming soon - Henry VIIIth is back in "Henry's Horrid History" at Barrington Court on April 18th. Be there!
By the way - hope you like the picture of Janet from 1984.