Sunday, May 27, 2012

Yeovil Probus and Dudley Do Right (with added Ghosts)

Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour explain to the King their exact feelings about his rule of England, desire for a son and heir, and his treatment of women in general in Tudor England.  No solicitors were harmed during the making of this marital conflict.  If you have been affected by any of the topics raised in this photograph, please contact: Mrs Edna Colostomy, Dun Gossipping, Ratbag Road, Much Sniding in the Marsh, England.

Friday evening saw me finally complete a long standing promise, and this isn't the one for Lisa Rogers as the court injunction is still in place.  Cast your mind back, dear reader, to April 2011 when I wended my way up to sunny Stranraer in Scotland to go and view the footballing treat that Stranraer versus East Stirling promised.  I had travelled up with my father for the weekend with the proviso that I had to be back in Somerset for the Monday to give a talk to the fine upstanding members of the Probus Club in Yeovil.  Well, if you recall we had a bit of a nightmare with the car breaking down in Carlisle and being stranded in Cumbria until late on the Monday evening.  Luckily I had managed to get a message to the Probus club and explained my predicament and they were very kind and only ordered a partial fatwa.  The date was re-arranged, and then re-arranged again until it was finally settled that I should give my performance to the club and their good lady wives on the evening of Friday 25th May.  It was to be held at the Westland's Social Club in Yeovil, a place I had only ever visited once before and that was about 10 years ago when I went to an antiques fair and failed to buy anything.  I couldn't even remember what the club looked like.  I arrived on the Friday evening at about 7pm and to be honest it didn't look promising.  All I could see was what appeared to be a large garden centre and some tennis courts.  I asked a chap standing outside the "garden centre" if he knew where Yeovil Probus club normally meet and he assured me that after 15 years of working at this centre he hadn't got a clue.  Great.  I drove a bit further in and found the Social Club proper - a large 1970's square shaped building.  I parked up and went to walk in - and the first thing I saw was the horrific site of a poster advertising a forthcoming show by the highly talented and eloquent (not) rapper Dappy from N-Dubz.  Ooh, nasty and really something not to be seen, or indeed heard on an empty stomach.  I went inside to introduce myself but couldn't find anyone.  It appeared, from reading the "what's on" board in the lobby that Yeovil Probus were meeting in the Wessex Room.  I went down to this room, right at the back of the building, and it was completely empty and in semi darkness.  However, I was in the right place and eventually the club members and their wives began arriving.  I had been due on at 7.30pm, but events like this can sometimes be about as easy to organise as herding cats and in the end it was nearer 9pm before I was on.  It was a scorching hot night, but great fun.  They were a lovely responsive group, roared with laughter at most of my appalling old gags and I even got a chance to chop the head off a lady who used to serve me when I used to bank at Lloyds TSB many moons ago.  Smashing.  I partook of some of their buffet before heading home.  I stopped at a Spar petrol station on the way home as I fancied purchasing a bottle of wine to help me unwind, however I got to them about three nano-seconds after they had locked the front door for the evening.  I asked through the night till if the young lady serving could grab me a bottle of Shiraz.  "A bottle of wot?" she asked.  Shiraz, I replied.  "Wot?" her reply.  SHIRAZ! I yelled.  "Wot?" She said.  "Goodnight."  I said, and went home and stayed sober.
Up bright and early on the Saturday morning for a drive up to Dudley in the West Midlands.  I was appearing at Dudley Castle (which doubles as a zoo BTW) for "SPOOKFEST 2012", a ghost hunting and paranormal event hosted by TV's sweaty spiritual scouse medium Derek Acorah.  I was to be there with the Tudor Roses, late of Leeds and Sudeley Castles.  I was booked in at the Quality Inn Hotel in Dudley and arrived there and phoned the Tudor Roses to see if they had arrived, but they were having a horrendous journey and were stuck on the M25 still, so I checked into my room and ordered a sandwich on room service (£7 for a bleedin' ham baguette!) and settled down to munch on my priceless sarnie and listened to the Test Match on the radio.  About an hour or so later I got the message that the Roses had arrived!  We met up and went down to the car park where the Spookfest organisers were going to take us up to the Castle for a look about and a production meeting.  In the big castle courtyard the heat was stifling, but inside in our dressing room deep within the castle walls it was lovely and dark and cool.  It was only three of the Tudor Roses today - Lady Emma, Lady Erica and Lady Katherine, all chaperoned by Emma's other half, the near legendary Darren Wilkins and his ever-present camera.  We were joined by a Tudor music group that resembled either part of the Addams Family (if you were feeling uncharitable) or a pensionable version of Fleetwood Mac (if you were feeling even more uncharitable).  The plan was that we had to be changed into our gear and ready to rock'n'roll by 6pm to meet and greet the first punters as they wandered in to a Psychic Fair held in one of the Castle's restaurants.  Then at 8pm the main gates would open and the crowds could flock into the Castle courtyard where the main stage and show was to be performed, with various warm up psychics and comic turns entertaining everyone until Derek Acorah and Richard Felix, both late of TV's "Most Haunted" would then take over and carry on the ghost hunting.  Things would culminate with a night time night vision vigil in the Castle's under croft at about midnight.  Well we did our meet and greet - posed for hundreds of photos, greeted the customers as they came in when the 8pm gates opened.  By 9.30pm myself, Katherine and Erica were pretty much done in.  Emma and Darren were going to hang on for the late night vigil.  Therefore just as Derek Acorah was getting extra specially sweaty and psychic with the audience, Erica disappeared off into the night with her parents for the long drive home, and Katherine and I headed to the Castle gate and ordered a taxi to take us back to the hotel.  We both decided we needed a drink.
My wine hoodoo seemed to have struck again, Katherine and I burst into the bar, gasping for something cooling and alcoholic to be told they had just shut for the night.  We could still purchase a bottle of wine if we wanted to, so we bought a bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc (for a breathtaking £19) and settled down with two glasses to attempt to put the world to rights.  I hadn't really had much time at previous events to speak to Katherine, but she is a simply charming lady - quite staggeringly young and pretty, but very bright and sparky with it.  Ah, if only I were about 20 years younger and good looking - she could be mine!  ALL MINE I TELL YOU!  (We pause the blog here as Mr Farley has a sit down and a glass of water to recover.  Welcome back!).  We laughed and chatted for what seemed like only a brief period, but before we knew it the bottle of wine was empty and it was nearly 1.30am - a really lovely end to a hot and busy day.  I have no idea what time Emma and Darren got back from the vigil, but they and Katherine were up bright and early and away from the hotel by 8am.  I had intended to try and be up and wave all three of them off, but I slept through my alarm and didn't surface until about 9am.
I packed the car and was away from Dudley just after 10am and arrived back in an equally hot and sweaty Somerset by 12.30pm.  So I have spent a lazy Sunday afternoon drinking tea and watching the Test Match, preparing myself for more Henry shenanigans on Tuesday with a morning at Woodstock School in Bristol before driving up to Essex for Wednesday at Prettygate Junior in Colchester.  Right, kettle on, more tea and.....  relax.

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