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:
GENTLEMEN 7 - 9 LADIES
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:
GENTLEMEN 7 - 10 LADIES
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:
GENTLEMEN 8 - 10 LADIES
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.