Monday, December 31, 2012

Six Hours To Go....

2012 has been a fantastic year for me, both professionally and personally, and I hope that 2013 will be even better.  So to all my friends, family and followers of this blog (both of you), and to people who read the Facebook page or the deeply infrequent Twitter updates from Good King Hal, then have a very happy new year and may the new year bring you all the peace and happiness that you need.
So, link arms everyone and.... all together now.... "should auld acquaintance......" etc etc.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Monday, December 24, 2012

And the World Did NOT End!

So 2012, a year when we were supposed to see the world end has come and nearly gone, and as far as I can see I am still here.  It has been a pretty phenomenal year for a lot of people, but also for me and Good King Hal.
My professional year has just come to a close with my final evening in the grotto as Father Christmas at Leeds Castle.  It is a fairly well known fact the sainted Darlene Cavill is leaving her post as Events Manager at the Castle in May after so many years fulfilling the position.  The place just won't be the same without her and after eight years of working as Santa at Leeds, with Darlene's departure it seems right that I should hang up the red bobble hat and hand over the present sack to someone else.  To be honest it will be lovely just to have a normal Christmas without being cocooned within the grotto for three weeks and unable to do "normal" things!  I personally think as in Doctor Who there should be a regeneration scene where I morph into the next person who plays Santa.
Being Henry this year has been great fun with visits to new areas such as Liverpool, Hexham, Barry and other various far flung corners of the British Isles.  Plus I spent most of the summer months gallivanting around a variety of stately homes and castles with the wonderful Knights of Royal England - a truly epoch making experience.  But this sort of travelling will pale into insignificance if the plans for 2014 come to fruition - I have been invited out to Shanghai in China for some Good King Hal appearances.  I can't wait!  I am so excited by the idea and really hope this all works out and becomes a reality.  There are equally exciting plans for 2013 for the business, but I shall reveal my master plan piece by piece and as we reach each milestone.  I like to keep my powder dry!
And my final reason for making 2012 so memorable is that I have met the lovely Shelley, a lady who has brought back the sunshine into my life long after I honestly thought I would never be personally happy again.  For that I cannot thank her enough, but will have to start somewhere, so why not here?  THANK YOU!
So to everyone who has been a part of the madness, fun and historical rantings that has been Good King Hal in 2012, many thanks to you.  Hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as I did.  Here is to 2013 and hoping it is as successful and prosperous for you all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like The End of the World as We Know It

Father Christmas, with his wages in a small red sack to his right, totally failing to pull the wool over the eyes of Sir Owen of Leeds Castle and the Broomfield Exit.  The Elf on the right has just been pushed through a window into this picture.

They do say you live and learn.  They do.  And now after eight years I find myself being Father Christmas AGAIN down at Leeds Castle.  Eight years of donning the red suit and the white beard, all those ho-ho-ho's and all those happy children.  And also all the unhappy ones, the minuscule little toddlers, heads already stuffed full of advice from parents, advice like "don't talk to strangers", or "don't take sweets from strangers", or even "look out for strange characters".  And then they find themselves in a room which looks like it's been decorated by members of the band Parliament and introduced to a rotund strangers in bright red outfit and a massive beard and ordered to tell this figure their deepest desires and also to accept presents from him.  No wonder so many of them scream and hide behind their parents legs.  And don't forget the embarrassed ones.  Kids who have reached an age of maturity where this sort of demeaning childish outing is now the nadir in their development.  How I love to embarrass the hell out of them.  Or the smart arse kids.  The ones who are "precocious" (i.e. spoilt little shits) and say something rude to Santa and get a guffaw of laughter from the parents when really a vicious elbow in the ribs would be more agreeable.  And speaking of parents, what about the pushy/moody/never-bloody-satisfied parents?  The ones who however long you spend with their child it is never enough, they always want more, or one more photo, and all this time there is a legion of other irate parents outside the grotto, desperate to get in and slake the blood lust of Christmas greed in their children.  It sort of makes you and your Elves feel like gaudily dressed defenders of some tinsel-bedecked Rorkes Drift.  Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, but I feel I am reaching the end of the line.  This could be, as they say "it".
If it is to be my Lapland "Swan Song", then it was lovely to go out with a visit from my lovely Shelley and her son Sir Owen.  He arrived in his wheelchair unaware of what exactly I was doing at Leeds Castle, and I hoped with the red suit and white beard and with my glasses taken off he might not recognise me.  Nope, not a chance.  As soon as he was wheeled into my presence he looked at me and went "MIKE!"  Rumbled.  But despite what I said at the start, I have lived and learnt this last week or so.  So here goes!

  1. Don't snore next to a lady with an ear infection
  2. Never believe anything you read in a Mayan calendar.  End of the world, my arse.
  3. Don't have a tea party with people with the norovirus.
  4. Don't live in Tovill.
  5. Christmas shopping in any town anywhere in Britain in December is NOT fun.
  6. Smile at everyone, even the miserable gits.  It doesn't half annoy them.
  7. The man with the shovel and the shit filled wheel barrow is NOT the new events manager at Leeds Castle.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year (If you like freezing cold weather)....

Good King Hal, letting everyone know just how cold and wet he is feeling at Blenheim Palace during the Summer, so God knows how cold and wet he is feeling now that it is the middle of winter.

I have a lot of catching up to do.  I sometimes wonder where the time goes.  On checking back on this blog it seems I have FOUR shows to catch up on.  How on Earth did that happen?  What have I been doing?  Surely not a passable Ray Milland impression and having a lost weekend?  No, I can't afford that sort of thing and I am sure poor old Ray would feel the same if he was still with us. 
So let's begin, we have to roll the time back to last week when I had just finished the show at Dunster School.  The following morning I was up and about, but thankfully not too early as I was heading back down to The Maynard School in Exeter and they didn't want me to start until 10.30am, which was fine by me.  I do love to come and visit the Maynard, it is a lovely school and the staff are just a delight to be with, particularly Keagh Fry, the main teacher I deal with, who is simply one of the loveliest people you could ever wish to meet.  It was a bigger group than normal for the Maynard - 18 children this time!  It was a good fun day all round with lots of laughs and some fantastic costumes among the ladies.  The jousting was good too, but as the Maynard is an all-girls school, alas I can't add the result from this show to our overall year long score.
I had a day at leisure on the Wednesday and then on the Thursday it was another return visit to a very nice school - Dean Close Prep in Cheltenham.  The drive into Cheltenham is relatively easy - you go past GCHQ and try not to notice it, just in case you are arrested and water boarded, or some such, and then along Lansdown Road, with many grand old buildings to your right, most of which is Dean Close School.  I always look out for the little hall in the middle where I always do my shows.  Last time I had driven through Cheltenham back in the summer (coming back from a Sudeley show) I had been delighted to see everything at Dean Close was as it had ever looked.  So in the early morning watery light, I drove up Lansdown Road and kept an eye out for my hall.  But it had gone - completely.  All that was left was a massive pile of rubble and a few builders and labourers standing round scratching their arses and drinking tea.  Was it something I said?  I finally met up with Jon Harris who books me at the school and it appeared my drama room was being "re-developed" but it might take a couple of years.  So I was in the main building for a change, and we had a great day, some really nice kids and a fun day all round.  Superb lunch of immaculate roast beef, and then after a stocks session in which I almost made an Australian teacher wet himself (you really don't want to know) it was outside for the final joust.  It was a great final and I was delighted to see a very cocksure lads team come completely unstuck and were trounced by the ladies.  Wonderful.  The score clicks remorselessly round to:
After Dean Close and a whistle stop weekend back to see my lovely son James in Essex and my gorgeous Shelley in Kent, I was back down to Somerset and all points west for my final two Henry VIII shows for 2012.
Thursday 6th December found me at Redstart School in Chard for a half day with the year 4's under the auspices of the wonderfully named Lisa Organ.  Redstart is a delightful school and the shows I do here are always fun, even if they are half days.  There was talk after the success of this year of going for a full day next year - so watch this space.  It was a fun, mad, loud, laughter filled morning and culminated in another great joust - so much talent this year.  And this time the ladies stormed through for a memorable and well earned victory.  There seems to be no stopping them now.  Our score goes over to:
Another win.  Can the gents ever hope to be in the lead?
My final Henry for the year was at the delightfully named Air Balloon Hill Primary School in Bristol.  The early part of the day was not promising it has to be said.  Freezing cold weather, lots of mucky salty spray off the road, tons of traffic and lots of roadworks it seemed.  It took me far longer to get to the school than I intended and I was then horrified to discover that they didn't have a car park, but that was the last of the unpleasantness.  Air Balloon Hill Primary is a SUPERB school with wonderful kids.  It was a biggish group today, about 90+ children from year 5, but they were brilliant!  Their enthusiasm, willingness to laugh and their already formidable Tudor knowledge made for it to be one of the best days of the year.  Thoroughly enjoyable day all round.  The staff were lovely (I had been recommended to the school by a supply teacher there who had seen me at Twerton some two or three years ago) and responded so well to my show that they have already demanded a return visit for next year, which suits me down to the ground.  The joust was deafening and ended with a long overdue win for the Gents.  They pull the score back to:
The drive back to Crewkerne was almost as tortuous as the journey up, so I was glad when I finally got home and put my feet up. 
2012 has been one of my busiest years since I started back in 2004, and 2013 is looking even better still.  So to all the people I have worked with throughout the past 12 months, thank you so much for your help, bookings, enthusiasm and laughter, here is to 2013 being the biggest year ever.  And to all fans of Good King Hal and anything Tudor related, stick on a choral version of "In Dulce Jubilo" and boogie round your peasant sacks, and have a deeply wonderful and merry Christmas and a most lovely, peaceful and happy new year.  I am off to stick on a red suit and white beard and shout "ho ho ho" at various terrified children at Leeds Castle for the next two weeks, before Henry VIII strides back into view on January 9th 2013 with a return visit to Blackbrook School in Taunton.  Until then, no snow, please!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Good King Hal and all at Past Presence Ltd.