Thursday, February 09, 2012

Brass Monkeys In Norwich and West Wimbledon

Three Little Maids From School Are We, sung in middle English and with baggy tights on. It was never really going to bother the charts, was it?

Just when you think you've managed to escape from the whole of winter with barely a frost bitten appendage to worry about and - WALLOP - Snow. Horrid, white, freezing, slippery, slidey, time consuming, ankle breaking snow. And some people pay good money to travel the world looking for the ruddy stuff. They want locking up. Now, down in Somerset we're very smart, we don't hold with all this snow nonsense. Even while the rest of the country at the beginning of the week was ranting and raving about snow storms and travel chaos, in Somerset it was a balmy 8-9 degrees, and also dry and sunny. I was due for a drive to the south east for shows in Norwich and West Wimbledon, and to be honest I wasn't sure what to expect.
To begin with all was fine. I drove up the A303 and there was not a sign of any snow or ice, and it continued this happy way until I reached roughly the Andover area, and then various bits of melting snow were spotted in fields. Then towards the end of the A303 there was more and more, clearly a lot had fallen. By the time I got to that mighty metropolis of the east (Basildon to you and me), there was loads of snow everywhere. There was little or no more snow promised, but by heck it was cold. After a nice cuddly evening with my lovely son, I was up at a piercingly cold 5.30am for a drive up to Norwich and return visit to White Woman Lane School. The journey was pretty awful I have to say, not because of the weather, but of the extreme cold and the pathological terror the mere mention of ice seems to breed in some drivers. Queues of slow moving traffic were everywhere, most of them stacked up behind petrified Ford Mondeo drivers, gripping their steering wheels with white knuckled hands and barely getting much above 35 MPH, even on gun barrel straight, well salted, ice-free roads. The two hour journey eventually took me much nearer three hours to complete. But it was worth it, as White Woman Lane School is just so nice! Wonderful funny kids, genuinely lovely teachers and a guaranteed warm welcomed whenever I go - and some of the staff came all the way down to Kent to see me perform Henry's Horrid History last February. Above and beyond the call of duty chaps, seriously...
It was a fun, loud and laughter filled day. A particularly popular gag I did was about a Tudor version of the Teletubbies, with characters like Choppy-Woppy and Leechy, however all the gags seemed to go tremendously well and the kids were genuinely eager to learn more and more about Henry and the Tudors. The apres-lunch stocks session was an absolute blast, and in the jousting we finally managed to secure a win for the Gentlemen, the first time it seems in ages. Our score after Norwich was therefore:
Originally I was then due to have the Wednesday daytime off and then travel to West Wimbledon and a visit to St Matthew's Primary School on the Thursday, but at the last minute St Matthew's decided to swap their day and go for the Wednesday. So I found myself once again rising at the crack of dawn in freezing cold weather and heading round the M25, then up through the frightfully pleasant Esher and into the Wimbledon area. I was welcomed by an absolutely charming young lady called Katie Barnham and introduced to this school I had never visited before. Again, as with so many schools I visit, the overall welcome from all the staff could not have been kinder, warmer or more generous. It genuinely felt like I was an old returning friend, not some first time visitor, particularly one clad in white tights. It was only a relatively small group on the day - 29 children, but their lack of numbers was easily out-weighed by their enthusiasm, noise level and enjoyment of the day. It was a real pleasure to work with such switched on, intelligent and well behaved children. Katie Barnham has a smashing class, and I don't just say that about everyone! Lunch was a truly delicious roast beef dinner and we had a slightly curtailed afternoon to let me get away and attempt to beat the M25 rush back to an appointment in Essex. And it worked! The jousting was great though, very exciting and loud, but won by a superb ladies team (again!), which brings the score back again to it's current position of:
Back in the old routine, eh?
I am in Essex now until Saturday, then will pick up my lovely son and drive him down to Somerset for the half term holiday. I am doing a private party in Weston-super-Mare on Tuesday, but the rest of the week I am all his, so I hope we have some great fun.

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