Sunday, January 24, 2010

White Woman Lane School, Norwich

Good King Hal and Anne of Cleeves inspect the small extension to their bungalow. (left)
And Lo, it came pass that Good King Hal was roused from his long slumbers from Christmas and did venture into the land that is called Nor-Folk and did perform his Tudor show at ye august portals of White Woman Lane Junior School in Sprouston in Norwich. And the locals did say "that's nice" and "look at his tights" and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but mostly during the lunch break. And great was the burping thereafter.
Actually it was really nice to be back on the boards again. First things first, I drove up to Essex on the Wednesday and have a couple of days with Amanda and James which was very pleasant. Then on the Friday morning I was up at the crack of dawn and heading towards Norwich. But not at first. Oh no. Oh, hell no. My sat nav had other ideas first. For some reason known only to it's bizarre electronic mind it had re-set it's main settings so that any route you enquired about it only looked for "Most Use of Motorways" routes. Now I don't really know the verdant grasslands around Basildon particularly well, so I just followed where my sat nav was sending me. I suddenly realised as she made me head for the M25 she was trying to get me to go up the M11. NO! I turned her off and re-set her and headed up the A12 as any sane human being should. I still arrived at White Woman Lane Junior on time. It was good to be back and this is a lovely school. Nice buildings and facilities, great teachers (very friendly) and some hilarious children. Whilst getting changed I suddenly found Christmas catching up with me when I discovered my Henry tunic was a tad tight around the front. Back to the salads and step aerobics for me.
The morning was very entertaining and loud! Lots of laughter from the children and the teachers. After a nice lunch of fish and chips (ARGH! MORE STEP AEROBICS AND SCREAMING!) it was on with the afternoon session. More laughs and fun and finally a storming joust which ended in a very close finish but was won by a very capable gentleman's team. This now makes this education year score a very interesting:
I began my drive home to Amanda's, but was soon firstly held up by bad traffic in Norwich, then a broken down lorry in Longstratton and finally, when back in Essex, the final crowning poo in the potty, the final road I needed was shut. But I was home. And James wanted me to order in pizza. So I did. (ARGH! MORE LETTUCE LEAVES, SCREAMING AND BERATING!). A final couple of days in Essex and then back to Somerset today, listening to Manchester City take on the might of Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup. (We won - a bit like we did against Manchester United on Tuesday).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Barrington Court Wassail 2010

Mike Farley wearing his new costume for the Wassail and looking remarkably like a Time Lord with gland problems.

The Barrington Court Wassail 2010 fire. A large wicker apple was placed on top, but despite many requests, Edward Woodward would not get in it.

Barrington Court's pommellier, Rachel Brewer, suddenly spotting someone NOT enjoying themselves at the Wassail.

Fourth annual Wassail at Barrington Court and I was host and MC for the evening. I arrived just before they lit the big fire. The logs were piled high into an impressive pyre with a hand made wicker apple sitting proudly on the top. I was in my fabulous new costume from Judy Picton and watched on as the men began lighting the fire. Some punters had arrived already and one family group stood to one side. An older lady, who looked like Buffy Saint Marie gone to seed, chain-smoked and whined as to why the fire wasn't lit, where the Morris dancers were, where the Mummers were and how cold she was. What a little bundle of fun.
We were packed out tonight, something like about 500+ people. The car parks were full to bursting point and there was a real buzz about the place tonight. I made my announcements and got a few laughs, particularly when some car keys were discovered. I told the audience that someone had better come and collect them as we had tried all the really nice cars and it hadn't fitted any of them.
The new batch of cider was delicious, Barrington Court's pommellier, Rachel Brewer, had excelled herself. The entertainment was equally brilliant - great drumming from the Street Heat Band from Exeter, fun mummery from the Langport Mummers and good Morris dancing from the Babylon Morris Men from Yeovil. Dick Stephens recited some ancient wassail poems and led the singing on the wassail carols. In fact the only person who didn't do their turn was Matthew Applegate who reckoned there wasn't time for him to do his poem. Bad boy! Loads of photos for different local papers and then it was all over for another year. Shame!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

BBC Somerset 2010

Good King Hal explaining all about cup and ball games. He told the two young ladies he had to get his ball in their cup to win. He was arrested shortly afterwards.
New Year and a return visit to dear old BBC Somerset in Taunton for another appearance on the wonderful Emma Britton's "Have Your Say" panel on her morning show. I was on with a lovely lady from Taunton called Maggie who was an alternative therapist. The main discussion was dominated naturally by the recent horrific earthquake in Haiti and asked the question should we donate aid to foreign disaster funds. My stance was: of course we should. This to me is a no-brainer. At times like this nationalism and petty prejudices should go by the wayside and we should just all try to "be a mensch" (to paraphrase the wonderful Dr Dreyfuss in Billy Wilder's "The Apartment") - that is, be a human being. You can hear the discussion again if you go to the BBC Somerset website and click on "listen again" to the Emma Britton show for last Friday 15th January. I stopped off at Ilminster on the way back to get some gloves for the cold evening to come at Barrington Court and the Wassail. I also treated myself to a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea at Bilby's. Tris was on fine form, but then so would you be if you were off to Mauritius on Sunday for yet another holiday.
So tomorrow night is the long awaited Barrington Court Wassail. It all starts at 5.30pm, entrance is £3.50 for adults and free to children. There will be drumming, morris dancing, a mummers play, poetry, carol singing, plus lots of cider to drink and food to be had, all round a big roaring fire. My costume has now been picked up from the brilliant Judy Picton in Martock and looks fantastic. I shall try and post some pics on here when I get a chance to. Come and join us!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Trapped in Ice

Mike Farley (left), after successfully returning from a shopping expedition to Waitrose in Crewkerne. Beans were off.

Now, you may not have noticed this, but it's been a tad parky since 2010 started. In much the same way that the Antarctic, during it's pitch black winter is a bit nippy. Icicles have not even appeared yet as the weather hasn't relented enough to allow for any melting. Brass monkeys are running around screaming, country roads are impassable, and women are keeping their arms folded for fear of men pointing (and other things).
The one thing I am truly grateful for is that I have not yet had to brave the weather for a Henry show. I have lots of bookings coming up but nothing really kicks off until the third week in January. So my next appearance is going to be at the Wassail at Barrington Court and I am praying to whatever God there maybe that it is slightly milder come the event otherwise we will all be huddled round Paul Jessop's kiln in his pottery.
So whilst trapped in my flat in Crewkerne I have to find various intellectual ways to keep my mind stimulated and alive. So maybe it will be reading the complete works of Proust, or a deep study of the writings and philosophy of Wittgenstein whilst listening to a Stockhausen symphony. Actually, I must go, a dwarf and a red neck are fighting over a blonde waitress on the Jerry Springer Show. Marvellous!