Now I was originally due to go to Mereside School in Shrewsbury in Shropshire on the 7th January, but the school had phoned and requested the date be put back. Originally this was to the 4th March, but back then I was suffering with a terrible chest infection and cough that made me explode every so often with eye watering volcanic eructations of the stridulating, gear crunching kind. Not a pretty site and not something to show off to impressionable children in Shrewsbury. Therefore the show was postponed again and this time back to Monday 14th March.
Shrewsbury is a long way from South Somerset, so I decided to drive up on the Sunday and stay overnight at a hotel so that I would be nice a fresh for the Monday morning. I booked myself into this wonderful little place called a "Travelodge" - you might have heard of them, quaint roadside lodges with lots of personal character, and.... no... I can't go on. I cannot tell a lie. They are the hotel version of the Roman Empire - doesn't matter where you go, they are all exactly the same. I booked in and sat in my room flicking through the TV channels - all the stuff you could imagine, plus for some reason a Russian news channel - in English. Bizarre. I had been assured by the Travelodge website that there was a Little Chef AND a Burger King adjacent to the hotel, so even if I wasn't going to be eating haute cuisine I would at least not have to stagger too far for a plate of heart attack and chips. WRONG! Both the fast food outlets were closed for refurbishment, so my Sunday evening meal consisted of cold sandwiches bought from a local petrol station. I had driven to where the school was early in the evening on Sunday so I knew where it would be for Monday morning. It was only about five minutes up the road, so that was good news to me.
I got up on the Monday and drove down to the school. I was very warmly welcomed by the staff and teachers, and soon found myself with the children in the hall. It was a nice big group of about 90 children. To begin with they were quite quiet, but they soon warmed up and as the day progressed the laughs got louder. Lunch was a full proper plate of sausage and chips - who needed Little Chef anyway!
The afternoon joust was hilarious, loud and nearly blew the roof off the hall! It culminated in a narrow victory for a very good Gents team. This now brings our score to:
GENTLEMEN 18 - 21 LADIES
All the staff were delightful and took part in a final joust with great enthusiasm! Bless 'em all! The drive back was relatively easy despite a bit of a snarl up round Birmingham, but I guess that is just par for the course.
The last time I had been to Shropshire for anytime was back in 2002 for a holiday with my wife. We stayed in a lovely little village near Ludlow called Downton on the Rock. Amanda was pregnant with James and upon arriving at our self catering cottage she had decided she needed a lie down and a rest. Being on my own, I had soon exhausted the entertainment possibilities of the cottage - I had turned the heating on and off, opened the fridge door to see how quickly the light came on, and had taken to dancing to Test Match Special on Radio 4 Long Wave. In a fit of boredom I decided to shave my beard off. I first grew my beard at the age of 21 and by 2002 I was 35, therefore I had not seen my face completely bald for 14 years. I was worried I had possibly turned into a potato. I nearly shaved it all off, but chickened out at the end and left myself with a small goatee. I woke Amanda up shortly afterwards with a cup of tea. She didn't notice the beard, in fact she didn't notice the beard for another two days, until I pointed it out to her while having lunch out somewhere. Bless.
My next Henry show is tomorrow, Wednesday the 16th March at Truro Prep in Cornwall, a lovely school I last visited back in 2008. Should be a fun day! Shame I forgot I had promised to drive down the night before and visit my friend Minti where she lives near Rough Tor in Cornwall. Whoops. I shall make it up to her and Gary sometime soon, honestly!