Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, Haylands Primary and 500th post.

Good King Hal (ginger lummox on the right), about to roast his chestnuts on an open fire. He was taken, screaming to a burns unit where Catherine of Aragon described his condition as "satisfactory". And now here's Daniel Corbett with ye weather - Daniel?

I have had a really lovely few days, I have to admit. My parents came down from Wales last Thursday and I have been unable to get rid of them since. All joking aside it has been lovely to see them. We've had some lovely days out, beginning with a trip for my mother to Ilminster to buy nearly all world stocks of shoes from Dyers the Department Store. I took them for lunch at the Halfway Inn at Pitney (definitely worth a visit folks) and then a leg stretching walk around the grounds of Barrington Court. We've also been down to Portland, stayed with friends in Weymouth, had lunch with relatives at Portesham, been down to Manaton to see more relatives and drank probably a bit too much red wine, but who cares?

To finally get a break from all this carousing I had to get up at the crack of dawn yesterday for a return visit to Haylands Primary School in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. I was booked on the 6.45am ferry from Lymington and for once, I arrived in time to collect my tickets and then catch the correct ferry without any need to panic, swear or drive like Nigel Mansell on amphetamines. I got to the school at about 7.45am which was about perfect. It was a lovely day for driving so early as well - bright and sunny and with this rather attractive halo effect around the early morning sun as it rose over the horizon. Not sure what that was all about, but if it was the Rapture we were promised at the weekend then the mad Bible chomping loony from the States got it all wrong. Probably more likely to do with another Icelandic volcano going a bit tonto. Haylands is a lovely school with some of the funniest and friendliest teachers you could ever wish to meet. Great fun seemed to be had by all for the majority of the day and the children joined in to a large degree which made it much easier for me. Sometimes with a Year 3 group, which is what this lot were, you can struggle, but they got it - and more - and reacted brilliantly. Lunch was a treat - very nice roast gammon, and then it was back to Tudor nonsense for a very silly afternoon. Jousting was a bit of a riot as some of the children seemed to be making up their own rules as they went along, but heck, I reckon that is called thinking outside the box. Or cheating. Never quite sure. It culminated in a fine win for a very talented ladies team. This now makes the score:


Not sure if the Gents are going to get a chance to catch them now. Mind you, Ryan Giggs never thought he'd get caught either, but there you are.

Today my parents (Henry VIIth and Elizabeth of York) are off down to Devon again to visit some old friends of theirs. I am taking the opportunity of getting back into my own personal routine, and am heading over to Chard to see some friends. We have our final day together tomorrow before their Royal Visit comes to an end on Friday and they return to Wales. It has been so nice to see them both.

Next Henry outing is from the 31st May to 5th June at the Jousting Tournament at Leeds Castle in Kent. Come and say hello if you're there!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birchfield Primary, Yeovil

Good King Hal, looking camper than a row of pink tents, whilst lurking in the kitchens at Barrington Court. The Pot Noodle was ruined.

The drive across to Birchfield was nice and easy this morning. As I pulled into the car park of this lovely school in Yeovil I nearly ran into a recycling lorry that was recycling things. That had just finished when I stepped from the car and was promptly nearly run over by two of the teachers arriving in a mud spattered VW Polo. Birchfield is a lovely school, always a pleasure to return to - friendly teachers, lovely kids and a nice atmosphere about the place. And it's local to me, which is definitely a plus point.

It was a largish group today, just under 100 children and the vast majority had dressed up. During the early part of the show I talk about some of the problems Henry suffered with Catherine of Aragon as they tried for children - about how the first child she gave birth to was a boy - I always then ask the group what they called the first child. Now this is a great test of Tudor knowledge as most people will guess at Edward, but of course the first, short-lived child was called Henry. Anyway, I asked the question and sure enough the first child I came to guessed "Edward", I informed them they were wrong. The second child guessed "Prince Edward" - nope still wrong. Amazingly about the next 6 kids I went to kept guessing different variations on the names Edward, Eddie, Prince Edward and even King Edward. You had to admire their tenacity.

Lunch was very nice and was spent in the company of the teachers and staff of this lovely school - but they were in and out like fiddlers elbows as they were being officially photographed this day. This caused a fair amount of moaning and distress for some of them. But I reckon they all looked fine! The afternoon went by at a fair old lick and the jousting was unbelievably loud and boisterous. It culminated in a fairly comfortable victory for the gentlemen - it wasn't even really close to be honest. This now makes the score:


I finished to great acclaim and reloaded all the props back into the car. I had decided I needed to pop into central Yeovil to go to the bank. As I drove away from the school with streets still busy with children, I did what I always did which was to drive very slowly and carefully. Thankfully I did as coming along one small road a rather moth-eaten looking cat just suddenly wandered out of a garden and in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes and thankfully managed to avoid the suicidal moggy, but it certainly had it's nine lives quota reduced by one. I fought my way across town and got to the car park near the banks. It was closed and was being resurfaced by a bunch of arse scratching neanderthals in day glo overalls. I better head for home then.

Oh, and as I haven't mentioned it before... MANCHESTER CITY WON THE FA CUP ON SATURDAY! YES!!!!!! There, I feel better now... Got my folks coming to stay for a few days, with my next Henry show being a return visit to Haylands School in Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Broadclyst Evening

Good King Hal (left) showing amazement at the accuracy of Scotland Yard's latest e-fit of a suspect wanted for questioning in connection with the dismantling of the entire Church system in Britain.

The day I had done down at Broadclyst School back in February had apparently been a bit of a success. And a success to the extent that the lovely lady who organised the school day, Calli Walkerdine, decided she wanted me to come back and do an evening show for the parents! Well, who was I to argue?

From my place it takes about an hour to drive down to Broadclyst, just outside Exeter. It is a pleasant drive as well, mostly through beautiful countryside on the Somerset/Devon border. I was warmly greeted at the hall by Calli and introduced to various other members of staff and other halves from the school. I set up my props on a table and about 80+ seats were set out. I wandered off to get changed as I was due to start the show at 7.15pm. By half past seven people were STILL arriving and more and more chairs were having to be set up to accommodate them all. How nice! Well the evening went fantastically! Such a great group of people - they loved the show, lapped up the silly jokes and asides and really joined in brilliantly. Wonderful. I did my usual "Henry's Horrid History" talk but threw in loads of asides and some improvisation as well, and had them rocking in the aisles, which was very gratifying. We finished the evening with a very silly jousting tournament - one adult male, one adult female and two children, one boy and one girl, per team. The chairs were pushed back and the event took place. Great fun, particularly as the head teacher from the school was on one team, first endearing himself to the audience by going base over apex during one part of his run, and then cheating on the second half and getting his entire team disqualified! Loads of laughs during this point as well.

The evening finished with deafening applause and Calli insisting she pay me more than we had originally agreed as I had "been so excellent". How can you argue with someone like that? The drive back was very nice along quiet country roads. But it is always strange to finish a show, with a big audience and feeling the love and warmth of that audience, but then come back to a cold and empty flat. That is something I shall never get the hang of... :-(

FA Cup Final this weekend, so COME ON MANCHESTER CITY! We need to win our first silverware since 1976! Fingers, eyes and legs crossed. Next Henry show is on Wednesday at Birchfield Junior back in dear old Yeovil.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Who's sexy? OH! Hugh Sexey!

A wonderful glimpse of the World's first "Club 18-30" holiday. Henry and the lads hit the "Field of the Cloth of Gold" in France. It would end in tears - TEARS I TELLS YA!

I love visiting this school near Wedmore in Somerset, mainly because of the name of it. It is a comedian's dream to have a school called "Hugh Sexey Middle School". I actually told some of the teachers that if they have a night out on the tiles they should have t-shirts made up with the words "Who's Sexy? Hugh Sexey, That's Who's Sexey!" This is almost tantamount to calling a school the "Hugh Jampton Junior" for all the Finbarr Saunders reaction you get from most people.

Another good reason for coming to this school is the welcome you get from absolutely everyone. From the caretaker and his welcoming cup of tea, through all the lovely teachers (and let me tell you folks, some of them are VERY lovely!) and down to the kids themselves, everyone seems genuinely pleased to see you and makes you very welcome. All of the children had dressed up in great costumes, ranging from Royalty right through to peasants. One little girl had even dressed up as Anne Boleyn AFTER her head had been chopped off. Her costume had the collar up over her head and she carried a pretend severed head under her arm. Fabulous. Such imagination from the parents and the children, it really makes the job more fun. It was a big group for the day - about 170 children in total, but they were very easy to get along with and seemed to love the show. The morning whipped through at what seemed an incredible speed. Lunch was a very nice plate of fish and chips, eaten with much laughter and banter with all the lovely lady teachers - something I could get used to!

I was on strict instructions to be finished by 3pm if possible as they were setting up for SATs exams as soon as I was done. So the afternoon went like the clappers, with loads of hysterical laughter and silliness and a really exciting jousting tournament which finally led to a gents victory. Our score now comes to:


Great stuff. I was a very good King as well, and finished smack on 3pm, with huge cheers from the children ringing round the hall. What a lovely day! What a lovely school! What a great looking group of teachers! (Ooh! Naughty King!). I have a couple of days off, but will be then back down to Broadclyst in Devon for a return visit, not to the school, but to do an evening talk for some of the parents of the children I visited a while back. Should be fun.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

BBC Somerset & Falcon School (+ TGI Friday's!)

Good King Hal showing some delighted children how to push two attacking dwarfs away, should they come at you unexpectedly.

When all the excitement of the Royal Wedding finally abated, life got back to normal. Except if you're called Osama Bin Laden, but then I suppose he was the only Bin taken out over the bank holiday weekend (Ba-doom-tish! I thank you, I am here all week folks). My first port of call after the long weekend was back to Taunton and a visit to the studios of BBC Somerset for another appearance on Emma Britton's show. I was a little "ahem" delicate after a ferocious struggle with a bottle of Shiraz the night before, so I reckon I must have cut something of an Oliver Reed figure as I lumbered in through their front door. I was on the panel this morning with the manager of the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil, who seemed like a very nice chap, and even took one of my cards, so you never know. Our main discussions were about the Yes and No campaign for the AV voting system, and the death of Bin Laden and was it now time for Allied forces to return from Afghanistan. So a real laugh a minute as you can guess.

After finishing on the show I then drove up to Essex to spend the evening with Amanda and James, before my Henry show on the Wednesday at Falcon Junior School in Sprouston in the suburbs of Norwich. It was lovely to see Amanda and James, I offered to take them out for a meal - James' idea of culinary excellence is Pizza Hut, but I have to admit Mummy and I were completely Hutted out by now and so we told him a little white lie and said it was closed for decoration. We didn't travel that much further up the food chain to be honest and chose instead to take James to TGI Friday's at Festival Leisure Park in Basildon, or Bas Vegas as it is affectionately referred to by the locals. We actually had a superb meal, but you could honestly hear your arteries hardening as you ate. On the table behind us, a family of well tattooed parents were settling their child in a high chair. She must only have been about a year old at most - and already with double pierced ears. Classy. James and Amanda finished off with massive ice creams in Knickerbocker glory glasses! Smashing.

I was up at the crack of dawn for the drive up to Norfolk. It was really pleasant - a bright, sunny, piercingly cold morning. The dazzling early morning sun soon raised the temperatures, but there was enough northerly wind to cool things down a little. Falcon School is a marvellous place - I love visiting there. You always get really cool children and lovely teachers. It was the last time I shall see a couple of the lovely ladies I usually see - they are both retiring in the summer, it really won't be the same without them. The group of children, about 75 of them, started off quietly, but as the morning wore on they got more and more excited and the afternoon was a riot - loads of laughs all round and everyone seemed to really enjoy it! The jousting was a cracker, two very good teams, but as ever it seems, the ladies stormed to a fantastic and well deserved victory. This now makes the score:


They are really starting to get away again. Come along gents! Do it for all mankind!

I had a nice evening with Amanda and James, being thrashed on Mario Kart by my son, who returned from school this day to announce he had won a long jump competition in his year. This must be in his genes as his (and my) cousin is none other than Lynn "The Leap" Davies who won Olympic Gold in the long jump in Tokyo in 1964. We then blew James' mind a bit further by letting him know his other distant cousin through me (Lily Cole) was appearing in Doctor Who this weekend. This was almost too much information for an 8 year-old brain to handle, but I think he will enjoy the episode when he sees it!

I drove back to Somerset this morning. The only two things of note to happen on the journey was a 20 minute hold up on the M3 after a particularly nasty looking pile up that necessitated the attendance of the air ambulance. Then when I stopped for fuel on the A303 I had to endure one of my pet hates - when you are paying for your stuff you get the next customer behind you coming up and standing next to you at the counter. That really pisses me off when people do this - can't they just step a couple of paces back? Give you a bit of room? This is one of the few times I am glad I am large enough to appear on ordnance survey maps. You wait till they are particularly close, then step back, crushing your heel onto their big toe. They don't half move a bit sharpish then! Of course you can then say "Oh, sorry mate, didn't realise you were standing so STUPIDLY close to me!" Leaving out the STUPIDLY bit of course, much as I would love to leave it in.

Next stop? Tomorrow a return visit to the splendidly named Hugh Sexey Middle School at Wedmore in Somerset. Fun!