Good King Hal (right), checking the number of fingers on Ms Boleyn's left hand, just to make sure it is really her.
It would seem that the repercussions of my visit to James' school for his "Bring Dad to School Day" were still being felt. One of the other Dad's there on the day was the former Catholic Priest who worked at the school. By all accounts during his time working there he was quite strict and pious towards most of the families. But, Lo! It came to pass that this priest didst gaze upon one of the single mothers attending the school and thought "Phew, what a scorcher!", tore off his dog collar and moved in with her. He is now a good little secular step father. He came to the "Bring Dad to School Day" and during the bit where we all had to stand up and tell the others what we did for a living, he announced how he used to be the Priest for the Catholic school but was now training to become an Anglican Vicar. Putting on my best stentorian and outraged Catholic voice, I shouted "GET OUT!" and pointed at the door, which brought loud guffaws from everyone else in the room. He looked daggers at me and has now probably booked me a nice little spot in Hell for judgement day. Still, I am sure it was worth it for all the laughs I got from the other fathers.
And so it was time to be Henry VIII again. On the Sunday morning I left for the long drive up to County Durham and my appointment at Wolsingham Primary school near Bishop Auckland. I was heading for Sedgefield as I was booked into another "luxurious" Travelodge - but this time for the bargain basement price of £15 for the night. Last of the big spenders, that's me. The journey up from Essex to County Durham was relatively easy, but very warm on one of the hottest days of the year. I reckon the highlight of the long drive was being overtaken by a gleaming De Lorean sports car looking as though it had just come off the set of "Back to the Future". I stopped off for some petrol and food for the evening when I found the Travelodge. I knew I was in County Durham for sure as on my arrival in the shop, the man behind the counter hailed me with a "Afternoon, wee man." And when I mentioned how hot it was he described the weather as "right canny". He could of course have been a stereotype placed there by the County Durham tourist board, but he wasn't just wearing a t-shirt and didn't refer to me as a "shandy drinking cockney man woman man". Or something. The hotel room was stiflingly hot and had windows that you could only open to a very small degree for "health and safety" reasons. So they save you from plummeting to your death, they just let you cook slowly instead. So I set myself on at gas mark 4 and went to bed.
I had a half hour drive over to Wolsingham, where the school was, the next morning. It was a pretty little town/large village, and the school was tucked right away down a tiny back road. It was a very small group today - about 31 children and they were possibly the quietest group I have ever encountered. I was a little worried about them at some points during the day, but they kept reassuring me that they were enjoying themselves. After a delicious roast dinner lunch the day finally got some noise with the stocks and then a rip roaring jousting tournament. Amazingly enough and for the first time in what seemed like ages, the Gents won! But only just. This makes the score now:
GENTLEMEN 24 - 31 LADIES
The journey home to Somerset from County Durham was going to be a long one. I left the car park at the school at approximately 3.15pm. I arrived outside my flat in Crewkerne 350 miles later at nearly 9pm. About the only thing that kept me going was listening to the frequent traffic reports of the 20 miles of virtually stationary traffic crawling away from Glastonbury after the festival ended. As I neared the end of my journey home down the A34 and A303 I saw many a "crusty bus" clanking along looking all funky and crap heading east back towards London and the home counties. When I stopped for petrol at the end of the A34 there was a young lad in the queue in front of me at the pay desk obviously on his way home from a long hard festival. His trousers were those trendy sort that look like they are riding at half mast, giving the poor unfortunate git behind him (i.e. Me) a fine and totally unwanted view of his grundies. He had purchased £10 worth of petrol, a bottle of mineral water, a can of Red Bull and some mints. His card was now being frequently and loudly declined by the machine by the check out. He eventually wandered off muttering like Kevin the Teenager about life's unfairness. As I got to my car he was leaning into the car n the bay next to mine trying to rouse two comatose travelling companions with oft intoned whiny nasal implications as to if any of them had any "wonga". Ah, the joys of youth.
Home for now, with my next Henry appearance this Saturday when I am working at Dillington House near Ilminster at a wedding, which should be great fun.