It is always nice in this business to visit new areas that you don't really know. So what did I know about Cheshire? Grinning cats? Check. Some sort of cheese? Check. Home for a lot of overpaid morons living in posh houses chasing inflated pigs bladders round a field? Check. Well, there you have it! All you need to know about Cheshire. I am of course, joking. I really honestly didn't know what to expect. I was heading for Nantwich near Crewe, which to a soft southerner like myself conjured up images of shunting yards and industrial landscapes. How wrong I was! True the weather when I drove up on the Monday was filthy - pouring with rain and miserable as sin. But the countryside did seem very pleasant with some lovely houses. I was booked into another luxurious Travelodge (ah, the excitement of showbiz folks) and for once it was quite nice! It seemed to be a brand spanking new build and seemed slightly better fitted out than some of the ones I have visited recently. Some of the usual things were there as ever - the confusing shower/bath combination thing that would need someone like Professor Stephen Hawking to work out how to make it work, the hot water that either comes out cold for several hours, or is immediately the same heat as volcanic magma and strips the flesh from your hands. But for once it was not just a lonely building in the corner of an industrial estate or a cow field - there were facilities! True, one was one of these God-awful plastic "family pubs" called things like "The Jolly Farmer" or "The Badgers Nadgers", and another was a Subway outlet selling sandwiches so full of salt they could exterminate an infants school with one mouthful. But there was also a nice looking Chinese take away and a Co-op Supermarket. Being the health conscious King I am these days, I put on my blinkers, walked straight past the Chinese and headed for the low fat food in the Co-op. What a good boy I am. I spent a restful evening watching "X-Men: The Last Stand" and having very naughty thoughts about Famke Janssen. (Dirty boy!).
The drive to St Oswald's Worlstone Primary was quite painless the next morning, though the rain was continuing to fall mainly in the downwards direction. It is a lovely old Victorian school building in a very leafy country lane seemingly miles from anywhere. The teachers who greeted me were lovely and friendly and it seemed pretty certain I was on for a good day. And I was right! It was a group of about 35 children and a mixture of years 3, 4, 5 & 6, and though they began the day a little subdued, they soon got into their stride! We had a fine morning,with lots of laughs and were even delighted to notice that the sun was coming out! Hoorah! Lunch was a delicious spaggy bol, and then it was back to the hall for more Tudor mayhem. The concluding joust was close, but won in the end by a very fine Gents team - and about time too! Our score for the year at this point was then:
GENTLEMEN 1 -2 LADIES
I packed my stuff away and headed for an hour long drive down to the Frankley Services on the M5 and yet another rendezvous with a Travelodge. This was much more like your usual text book Travelodge. A bit run down, a surly receptionist who kept tutting if people asked her questions and once you got into the corridor towards your room, an over-powering smell of fetid dampness. Frankly, Frankley Services were enough to make you want to chew your own foot off. We did have facilities! You could dine in the sumptuous surrounds of Burger King, or play very loud flashing fruit machines. I instead headed for the near deserted Marks and Spencers food outlet and purchased some more of my low fat grub. There was no Famke Janssen to keep me company this evening, so I ended up retiring to bed at 9.30pm (yes, it's that wild showbiz, rock'n'roll lifestyle again folks!). I am currently reading "1,000 Years of Annoying the French" by Stephen Clarke, which is a mildly diverting book about our "entente cordiale", or rather lack of it, with our Gallic chums over the channel. It is a hefty tome of some 700 pages, and I tend to lie on my back in bed when reading, but this does then bring you the danger of when you're nodding off of dropping your reading matter on your face. Not so bad if it's a newspaper, but a 700 page anti-French comedy book can do some serious damage. After bashing myself on the nose for the 4th time I decided it was time for sleep.
My second show on the road was at Perryfields Primary in Oldbury in Birmingham. To get to this place I had to drive down the M5 for about five miles to the next junction and then turn round and come back again up past the Frankley Service area where I had stayed the night before. It was such a delight to be on the motorway with all those friendly midlands motorists. I'd particularly like to say a big "hello" to the utter Merchant Banker in his glistening silver BMW who seemed to think he had a God given right to drive wherever he fecking wanted on the road and tough luck if you're in his way. I can only wish him my fondest regards, and hopefully terminal dysentery. The school was lovely - I was greeted by Miss Bridgewater who had booked me for the morning and was soon in with the 60+ children from years 3 & 4 combined. We had a great morning - really terrific fun. But the whole thing seemed to pass in a flash and before I knew it, it was over and I was on my way home! The jousting was a close run thing and had to go to TWO ride offs to find the eventual winners which was the Gentlemen AGAIN! So we are now at:
GENTLEMEN 2 - 2 LADIES
All square as I now head to Essex for a show at South Green Junior in Billericay this Friday.
Wednesday evening I met up with my friends Viv and John Rich from Crawley who are staying in Somerset for a little holiday at the moment. We went to the Mason's Arms at Odcombe near Yeovil and had a lovely meal, which John insisted on paying for. What a nice man! I hope they enjoy the rest of their stay.
On a final note I would like to send my best wishes for a speedy recovery to my old mate Pete Flanagan who is currently in hospital after a very nasty accident when he had his leg crushed by a car that hit him while he was out walking his dog. Hope you are soon back and firing on all four again soon, Pete.