...but very soon Good King Hal was back to his charming, sociable, cuddly self. My, how we all laughed.
With the Blenheim shows out of the way, it was time to head back to Kent and another joust at Leeds Castle. This time however it was an evening corporate joust for an American based company who were in situ at Leeds Castle all week. Michelle Coda came along as well and to begin with she, the rest of the jousting team and me spent the early part of the evening hiding in their tent as it was absolutely tipping down with rain. It poured and poured, the sound deafening on the roof of the tent as we cowered inside. Lightning flashed across the sky and thunder rumbled menacingly, and one or two of us were more than a little worried that we were in an open field, sheltering from a big electrical storm inside a large metal framed tent. Not the cleverest place to be in that situation. But the clouds and rain passed by and suddenly light evening sunshine appeared. We were then introduced to Larry from the American group, their head honcho and a man hell bent on riding into the arena on one of the jousters horses, wearing a helmet and clutching a sword. And all of this while wearing a pair of shoes that can only be described as BLUE!!! Well, we did our show OK, but thankfully there was a small group of children from a local youth group to add some atmosphere as there was very little feedback from the American guests hidden in their marquee. To be honest the show was hard work, simply due to the lack of audience reaction, you suddenly realised just how much this show relied upon audience participation.
I was back at Leeds Castle on Wednesday evening, and with the same American group from the Monday evening joust, for a champagne reception and evening banquet. I had been paid a deposit by them and they were going to pay the rest on the evening. I got an email from them the night before asking if I could swap from the Wednesday to the Sunday evening, but I couldn't as I was already booked up. They then said as I was only appearing on the Wednesday they had decided to drop my fee. I was not a happy bunny, as I think most people would be. I arrived at the Castle bristling for a fight, and soon got one. I was speaking to the lady from Hospitality at Leeds and said I wasn't happy about the way I was being treated by the host company. Her immediate response was "well, if you want to leave you can go..." at which point I was quite tempted to. I then said to her I needed to speak to the main organising lady from the American group and struggled to remember her name and ventured the option of Lisa. The Leeds lady immediately bristled and said, rather snottily that the lady was a representative from a very important client, her name was Laura and suggested I get her name right before I spoke to her, This was the snotty straw that broke the camels back. I told the Leeds lady that the American lady should get her f***ing figures right when booking artists. So I threatened to walk out and leave, but was encouraged by slightly less snotty Leeds lady to stay. So I did the meet and greet, later paraded the guests down to the banquet hall, and then did a little 10 minutes stand up slot that had them rolling in the aisles with laughter. I guess I won them over. At the event I even got to meet Missy Franklin, three gold and one bronze medal winning swimmer from the American team at the 2012 London Olympics. She had one of her gold medals with her, so I had a chance to hold the medal and get a close up of it - huge, and staggeringly heavy. And Missy herself was lovely, and quite amazingly tall! She towered over me! So what had begun as an unpleasant evening, in the end was a very memorable one.
Friday saw myself, Michelle Coda, her daughter Vix and my son James back at Hever Castle for another weekend of jousting. It was good to see Sir Owen of Leeds Castle there for each and every day, alongside his delightful and yummy mummy, Shelley. The Friday was amazingly hot and sweaty, with barely a breath of wind to be found. We were also short of men from the jousting team with Ashley, Bill, Dan, Mungo and Andy all missing for a variety of reasons. So for once the Knight Marshall's at both ends of the arena were ladies - Lady Kim ("the Squeeze of du Barry" as I introduced her!) at the red end, and her daughter Lucy ("Bob") manning the blue end. It was a pretty good show, despite the stifling heat and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. We ended up back at Michelle's house in Folkestone eating a lovely take away Chinese and drinking cold beer. Just what was needed.
Saturday, and all the lads were back for the jousting show (And Sir Owen and Lady Shelley!). The day began with the horse box arriving at the Castle and, after the real horses had been taken out and tethered, Jeremy went back into the box and produced a pantomime horse, consisting of his son Sam and Sam's mate Alex.
As you can see from the picture attached, it was incredibly realistic. OK, so not to us, but as the pantomime nag clopped down the back of the horse box it completely freaked out the real horses who backed off and tried to break their tethering to hoof it away. Michelle's daughter Vix got to have a ride on the pantomime horse's back, much to her delight. It turned out this was one of many costumes Jeremy had recently purchased from an auction, most of them jokey fancy dress efforts, but we would see a lot more of them later that day.
The show on the Saturday was great - a fantastic responsive audience and even a nice cooling breeze for us idiots dressed up in costumes. Very much appreciated. James and Vix got much more involved in the show this time around and even had a good old bop around the arena at the end when we played "We Will Rock You" by Queen, and Sam and Bill came back on for their traditional victory dance. The Tudor Roses were in attendance as well on the Saturday, and so after the show it was decided we should all go along to the Kentish Horse pub just up the road from Hever for some dinner and drinks. We thought the other jousters might be there, but of all of them only young Mungo had shown up. Sir Owen was terribly upset as he wanted to see Sir William (or "The Bad Guy" as he calls him), but of the others there was not a sign. Eventually Sir Owen and Lady Shelley had to leave and make their way home. Barely five minutes after they had gone Jeremy and Kim's Land Rover swept into the pub car park and 12 (YES, TWELVE) jousters leaped out of the interior all dressed in various silly costumes from Jeremy's purchase. Ashley and Sam were Gorillas, even if Ash's one bore a striking resemblance to Amy Winehouse from behind, Kim and Lady Porlock were rabbits, Jeremy a big pink elephant, Lucy was a turtle, Sir Stepen of Porlock was a Womble (or a Wookiee Womble as James christened him) and there was also penguins, more rabbits and Stephanie was a cross between a Tiger and a Wolf, whatever the hell that is. It was hysterical fun as you can see from the pictures, but I was quite glad young Sir Owen had gone as he gets so excited when he meets the jousters normally, that to see them in their costumes, arsing about in the pub garden I think he might have completely freaked out. James was in heaven though and laughed like a drain throughout.
Sir Stephen of Porlock remembering he's a Wookiee Womble (please note departing rear end of Tiger/Wolf hybrid).
Sir William of Antioch not completely thrilled at the stifling heat. Not a happy bunny.
Lady Kim and Sir Jasper as a rabbit and an elephant. No honestly...
And so we came to Sunday, our final day. The heat was still on, and sadly the cooling breeze had more or less vanished as well. But it was another good show, with a very vocal Sir Owen in attendance as ever and a very thrilled audience who took part with great gusto. After the show another drink at the Kentish Horse seemed like the best idea to get over the rigours of the day. But it was only one, for then James and I had to climb in the car and begin our long journey back to Somerset. We got back after about two and a bit hours, then watched a load of the Olympic closing ceremony. James then went to bed but unfortunately was up about an hour later throwing up everywhere. So my lovely weekend concluded with me on all fours mopping up five big puddles of vomit. Not how I expected it to end, to be honest.
And the title of this blog? Vix's description of the speed bumps as you drive into Hever Castle! They were the "Never Ending Bumps of Doom"! Brilliant.