Anne of Cleeves keeping her fingers crossed that this isn't really "handsome" King Henry, just a bizarre cross between an orangutan and a water bed.
Ah, Swindon! Swindon! Home of the Great Western Railway! Birthplace of Saint Billie of the Pipers! The starting point of Melinda Messenger's awesome career! And we can blame it for Mark Lamarr... But it is also home to XTC, the finest, most underrated, fantastic, creative, original, melodic rock band Britain has produced in 40 years. As you can tell from that rabid, frothing at the mouth sentence I am a bit of a fan. This is a bit like saying Billy Graham is a touch evangelical.
I had last come to visit Grange Junior in Swindon about two years ago. This show had been postponed for a week as the school had to endure an Ofsted inspection the previous date we had arranged. It was a large group - about 90 children, but they were really great. Fantastically excitable, full of enthusiasm, ready to laugh and all of them bright as buttons. I was warmly welcomed by the teachers and also the caretaker who, it turned out, had been to school with Andy Partridge (main man in the aforementioned XTC - just thought you should know). I was also grabbed by another teacher who had seen me about four years ago when I appeared at North Somerset Museum in Weston-super-Mare (you'll probably find my blog about that in the archives!). She said I was very funny and a bit rude. I don't know what she means! I was equally warmly welcomed by the lovely school secretary who could quite easily have a fabulous career as a wench if she wanted to.
After a very pleasant lunch and a sit down it was back for the madness for the afternoon. The stocks were a riot with some of the children getting almost too excited, especially the Mayor of Swindon (he knows who he is!). The jousting was amazing. Both the gents teams in their final were a little...ahem...clumsy? To be honest I thought they were the two most incompetent teams I had ever seen and I reckoned whoever got through to the final against the ladies would be absolutely trounced. Quoits were sent flying, quintaines were knocked over, wrong directions were gone in and various members of each team were nearly run through with loose lances! And yet....come the main final against a really good ladies team - THEY WON! Can you believe it? They stormed to victory! This now makes our score:
GENTLEMEN 10 - 14 LADIES
It's hotting up! Next week I am in Norfolk for a couple of days at Caister and Drayton.
In the evening when I got back I was down at United FM, the prospective new radio station for Crewkerne, recording some jingles and adverts ahead of their "live" launch. Check them out at www.unitedfm.co.uk and see if anything is happening yet!