Monday, June 24, 2013

Dante's Inferno (aka Cardiff)

 Leader of Cardiff City Council, Gareth "Knobber" Jones, gets ready to explain to visiting pressman what he thinks of their jokes about Cardiff not being voted "City of Culture" again.

I have gazed into the depths of Hell this weekend.  I have witnessed all that is mad and bad about humanity, and funnily enough you can see nearly all of it within a stones throw of the august portals of the Travelodge in Cardiff next to the Walkabout Pub and not far from the Millennium Stadium.  I was working once more with the lovely Knights of Royal England, only this time for my first visit to Cardiff Castle.  We were booked in for three days on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and Jeremy Richardson, main man and top jouster had booked me a room for a couple of nights at the aforementioned Travelodge in beautiful downtown Cardiff.
Now if you have been reading this blog you will know I have had a bit of a week, with lots of travel up and down the country and to be perfectly honest I was exhausted before I even got to Cardiff, however, on arrival at the Castle it was nice to meet up with all the jousters again.  Cardiff Castle is delightful, definitely worth a visit and bears more than a passing resemblance to Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter movies.  On the Friday it was only one show - for school children mostly, all of whom had come in parties from their schools around the country.  They were DEAFENING.  Far louder than normal crowds, and great fun too.  However, I got very good advice from all the jousters - as soon as we finished the show they said "don't head back to the dressing rooms yet..." This was because such an action would necessitate traversing a field full of manic, over excited school children.  We waited to one side until they had all but cleared and then began our trek back.  I was at once swamped with kids, who's reaction to me ranged from cries of "Hello Henry!  We loved the show!" to "You're fat and ugly!", to simply trying to tear the clothes and props from my costume.  It was almost akin to something from a zombie movie.  Any of the little shits who called me names, if they were wearing baseball caps (as most of them seemed to be), I would simply tear the hats off their heads and try and throw them in the moat.  Go and pick that one out of the lily pads you little f***er.
After getting changed and getting ready to go and find the hotel, the jousters announced they were all going out for a meal that evening, but to be honest I was beyond it by now and the lure of a nice big comfortable bed and not doing very much for a few hours sounded bloody wonderful.  So I politely declined.  Frank, the mad French Knight was also staying at the same Travelodge as me, so I gave him and his suitcase a lift down there. After a little trouble we found it, but soon discovered our only parking access was in a public car park behind the Travelodge and next to the railway station.  We had no change for the exorbitant £9 a day rate, so I had to do it via my mobile phone which was apparently "Quick and Easy!" according to the details on the info board at the car park.  You had to enter the number of the car park you were in as a final detail, but of course, they didn't put this number on the board with all the other numbers you need when you phone their automated service.  Oh, hell no, they hide it on an obscure board about 20 yards away further down the car park.  Our first intimation that we were about to pass through the portals to the gates of hell came when we tried to book into the hotel.  There was a massive queue at the check in desk, consisting mostly of large sweaty men in rugby shirts, with thick South Wales accents, or perma-tanned giggly girlies in matching school girl outfits with "Lisa's Hen Night" emblazoned across their mini skirts, and all clutching partially drunk bottles of alcopops and shrieking hysterically at everything and nothing.  And this was at about 4.30pm.  It was going to be a long night.  After a small cock up (for a while it looked like Frank and I might be sharing a room - Hell, no) we were sorted and wound our way up to the third floor and our rooms. I lay on the bed, stuck on the TV and promptly fell asleep.  I woke up about 20 minutes later and nipped out to buy myself some grub for my self imposed exile from the rest of the group that evening.  Bill, Mungo and Frank all came to my door at some point or other to try and persuade me to come and join in their fun and games, but I was on the backs of my knees and a night of doing bugger all sounded wonderful. 
At about 9pm I was almost ready for sleep, but decided a bit of fresh air would do me good.  I took the lift down to the ground floor and stepped outside into.... HELL.  The road the hotel was in, was blocked off at each end by crash barriers and Police vans.  Every single bar and shop along the street had at least one or two security staff on the door, with ear pieces in and a shifty look about them.  Even McDonald's had security staff on the door.  Vast hoards of men in fancy dress, ranging from pirates and convicts, to whole groups dressed in enormous onesies, staggered along the pavement, bellowing obscenities at each other, and belching like some sort of partially decomposing walrus.  Groups of orange skinned women, in mega high heels, deely boppers, angel wings, and virtually no clothes at all, tottered along between the male groups, cackling, shrieking and singing, all on their ways to various deafening night clubs. Now you have to understand my viewpoint on clubs.  I am about as much attracted to the idea of clubbing as a baby seal on an ice floe would be.  Even when I was young the idea of going clubbing was totally alien to me.  Why pay money to go into a god awful cauldron of cacophonous noise, mostly of music you hate, where the drinks are priced out of most people's ranges and all the beer is utter shite, where you can't talk to anyone as the music is so loud your nose starts to bleed and where, if you are unfortunate enough to look like me (i.e. fat, ginger and ugly) you immediately become a target for these groups of perma-tanned slappers/harpies, who upon your unenthusiastic entrance to this hell hole suddenly come running over to you screaming "my friend fancies you, can you go and give her a snog - cackle cackle cackle cackle...".  I usually just drop my trousers at this point and offer her somewhere to hang her tea towels.  When I was a teenager in Essex I would have had access to a whole pantheon of clubs - Zero-6, Tots, Raquels, The Pink Toothbrush, Dukes, Hollywoods to name but just some of the f***ing awful places you could go to meet a possible future spouse.  I gazed upon this street of carnage in Wales and I have to say it depressed me enormously.  Was this REALLY people's idea of a fun night?  Seriously?  Was this the limit to their imagination?  If their life expectations are that limited and not wishing to sound like a pontificating smart arse, then I really truly pity them.
Saturday was more of a normal day at the Castle, two shows, open to the public and with the wind blowing an absolute hurricane across the grounds at Cardiff.  We got through both shows and once more the invitation to join the jousters for a night out on the town cropped up, and this time I agreed.  I was to meet them at a restaurant/bar in Wharton Street called Barocco at 7pm.  I drove back to the car park behind the Travelodge and parked up, noticing first that the time was 4.30pm, and then shortly afterwards noticing the gentleman in the "KNOBBERS STAG NIGHT - TOTAL DESTRUCTION 2013" t-shirt, slouched on the wall opposite where I had parked.  At this early hour of the afternoon, he was leaning forward and was vomiting.  A lot.  A quite tremendous amount.  I was half inclined to check behind him to see if there was a hose going up his arse as he can't have drunk that much in a month.  The depressing part of this site was him doing this in broad daylight, on a street, as families with young children walked past on their way back from days out etc.
At about 6pm Frank, Mungo and I walked up to the Rummer Pub opposite Cardiff Castle to meet up with some of the other jousters.  We then made our way back down to Wharton Street and Barocco.  By this time it was 7pm and Cardiff was just warming up.  We were suddenly overtaken by a phalanx of young perma-tanned ladies dressed as angels and all clutching enormous dildos - as you do.  While a mass group of drunk lads accosted a busker with a guitar and forced the poor bastard to play various crude rugby songs which they bellowed out with as much vocal dexterity as Lemmy gargling with razor blades.
Barocco was OK - very glitzy, very loud, pounding music, a limited menu and shite beer.  So pretty much everything you would expect in a city centre restaurant.  We had a good laugh.  The jousters took much delight in nicking Frank's mobile phone and posting various extremely rude updates on his Facebook account.  There was mock wrestling at the table, mass paper plane fights, loads of cocktails drunk and much loudness.  A possible new commentator called Ian joined us for the latter part of the meal, and sat in the corner with a slightly terrified look on his face.  I surrendered when the music level was cranked up and the light level was turned down to "Read in braille only" level - at about 10pm and slipped away and began to run the gauntlet of the walk back to the Travelodge.  This walk did remind me a lot of some of the scenes in Mad Max 2.  As I delicately tip-toed my way through the hurly burly of Stag and Hen Nights, hell bent on a good laugh, come what may, and the various little piles of puke already decorating the pavements, suddenly the Travelodge took on this appearance as a sort of Shangri-La for me - my sanctuary.  And my God it was.  As I walked into the reception area, the music from the Walkabout Pub next door was pounding through the walls at a deafening level.  There was a sour faced little chap on the front desk.  "Doesn't this noise drive you mad?" I asked, in a friendly way.  "Vot?" he replied in a thick east European accent.  I repeated what I had said, and so did he.  "Say goodnight to the folks, Gracie..." I said, and was delighted to find the lift waiting to whisk me to peace and solitude on the third floor.
I met Bill and Mungo at the lift at about 9am the next morning.  Bill was quiet, whereas Mungo just looked flushed, still drunk and wearing sunglasses indoors.  Not a good look.  We had another fine day at the joust, two very good shows, lots of lovely people to speak to and the delightful knowledge that I would be home in my own bed this evening in Somerset with not a stag party or hen night in ear shot.  Heaven.
Good King Hal is going to be a bit quiet for a little while now as I am going away on holiday!  Yes, me!  On holiday!  My first one in 4 years and I cannot wait.  I am off to Ireland for a few days in County Wexford.  I just hope they haven't got a massive hen and stag party problem, in which case I will be on the first ferry back.
Oh and if you read Dante's Inferno, I can tell you right now that Judas Iscariot, encased in a block of ice for all eternity is NOT the pit of hell.  There is a hen party from Merthyr Tydfill just below him wearing "KISS ME QUICK BONK ME SLOWLY" hats and holding large inflatable penises dancing to pounding disco music while drinking industrial amounts of alcopops.  Just so you know.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ferries, New Costumes and Bizarre Questions...

Good King Hal, shamelessly using his blog in yet another attempt to flog off tickets to see Michael Wood (left) give a talk at the Chalke Valley History Festival next Friday (28th June).  You know you want to... Contact the King via his website ( if you do!

In many of my recent adventures and visits to the Isle of Wight, I seem to have made something of an art form of missing the ferry.  I have slithered to a halt on the dockside at Lymington at various different times of day, to see the backside of the ferry I wanted, steaming happily out into the Solent without me on board.  With another visit to dear old Vectis due, I was determined this was not going to happen again.  I got up disgustingly early, knowing that I had to be at the ferry terminal for the 6.15am sailing over to Yarmouth.  I got ready, half scalded myself on a hastily slurped cup of tea and scuttled off to my car.  I punched in the post code into my sat nav and waited while it worked out how long it would take me to get to the ferry terminal.  It's initial estimated time of arrival was 6.16am.  Bu99er!  I was NOT going to miss another ferry.  So I drove like smoke down to Dorchester, along the Troy Town bypass, hammered past Wimborne with my tyres almost melting and by the time I reached Ringwood I was approaching light speed.  The ETA on my sat nav was now spiralling backwards - this was almost like time travel!  But it seemed that I was going to arrive at the ferry with a good 10 minutes to spare before the sailing at 6.15.  I got a clear run over the final miles and arrived at a worryingly empty looking ferry terminal at 5.59am.  It was only then as I sat on a virtually deserted concourse that I checked my paperwork.  I was actually booked on the 6.45am ferry.  Ah.  So I now had roughly three quarters of an hour to kill while I waited for the official ferry and could have done the whole journey with much less hyperspace and screaming.  Well, we live and learn.
Simple pleasures like just sitting and sleeping in your car as you scoot over the Solent in only about a half hour crossing, are now not allowed.  Due to that scourge of modern society - "health and safety", drivers must vacate their vehicles and then allow themselves to be incarcerated in the moodily lit passenger lounge where Wight Link Ferries spend the entire crossing trying to fleece cash out of you.  They stop just short of letting heavily muscled stevedores give you Chinese burns until you succumb, but it is surely only a matter of time before they introduce this.  I disembarked the ferry and began the pleasant drive across the island to Ryde and a return visit to Haylands Primary.  This was a different Haylands though this time, located as they now are in a brand new purpose built centre.  It is a stunning building, even more impressive inside than it is outside.  We had a great day at the school - a whole load of laughs, and some really nice children in great costumes.  I took great delight in choosing one classroom assistant to be Anne Boleyn in the morning session as she looked like Madonna, circa "Who's That Girl" and gave me a good excuse to crank out some elderly jokes.
After a very nice roast pork lunch it was a rollicking afternoon session.  The children roared with laughter throughout most of the nonsense I peddle out.  We came to a brilliant jousting session which a very good ladies team ran away with in the final. They are virtually unstoppable at the moment.
I began the long trek home, managed to catch the correct ferry and got home, clutching a Chinese take away and yawning like a good 'un.  It really was time for an early night.
Wednesday 19th was a day off, but I was off over to see the multi-talented Judy Picton to pick up my newest addition to my costumes.  Judy has created a beautiful black flowing doublet, with garnets and silver fixings.  It looks absolutely wonderful.  Judy is an absolute genius, very modest, but she really shouldn't be.  Her skills are undoubted and if anyone should need a truly gifted seamstress, this is the lady to go and see.  Judy Picton of Martock - you heard it here first folks.
My new costume didn't have long to wait for it's first outing.  I was back at one of my favourite schools today - Paulton Junior near Bristol.   l love this place - you are always guaranteed a very warm welcome from all the teachers and a group of very sparky, chatty, funny kids - and as ever all in fabulous costumes.  And today was no let down, a real bundle of laughs, and one very bizarre question in the "Q&A" section just before lunch.  All the usual questions had come out: "how fat was he?" "did he have pets?" "when was his birthday?" etc., when one little girl put her hand up and asked me very earnestly "Who are you?"  I was a bit taken aback.  "Er... me or Henry?" I enquired.  She looked at me hard for a few seconds and then said "I don't know".  And on that bombshell it was off to lunch - lots of pleasant chats in the staff room with the nice relaxed atmosphere that pervades this lovely school, and then more utter nonsense in the afternoon culminating in a much needed win for the Gents in the jousting.
It is seriously closer than it should be.  The ladies have seemed to have held the whip hand since the start of the educational year, but the boys have hung in there.  It was very hot today - not sunny, but very close and muggy, and by the end of our session in the afternoon I was flagging badly.  Never was I more grateful to sling the last of my Henry gear in the back of the car and climb in and turn on the air conditioning.  I drove home, pausing only at Popular Motors in Merriott to replace my shredded windscreen wiper blades which were so awful today that I spent most of the period driving up to Paulton in braille.
Got home this evening and carried on trying to sort out a visit to Ireland in the next couple of weeks, for a much needed holiday.  Finally got my ferry booking sorted out.  Let's hope my arrival at Fishguard for the crossing will be a bit better organised than my recent efforts at Lymington.  But now is no time to rest on any laurels.  I am off out pretty early again tomorrow for a drive up to Cardiff Castle for three days jousting with the Knights of Royal England.  And the weather forecast is not exactly positive.  Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Tipping Point...

Ben Shephard of ITV's "Tipping Point" ready to hand over all the money Good King Hal won on his visit to the studio.  Blink and you'll miss it...

The week dawned bright and clear again - summer was finally here!  The beginning of the week started with a trip up to Walsall in the midlands for a return visit to Green Rock School.  I had last visited two years ago - I was amazed they had even booked me in the first place as the first time they ever called me I was tremendously rude to them - not on purpose I hasten to add.  They had called me one day when I had been inundated with cold callers on the phone.  You know the sort, usually some poor faceless little twit in a call centre near New Delhi who phones you up and asks you such life changing questions as "have you ever considered altering your gas tariff?"  Well, I had received a stack of these calls that day, when the phone rang again.  This time on answering the voice at the other end said "Hello, I'm calling from Green Rock..." Assuming this was someone else trying to sell me insurance or a new mobile phone network I did the only thing a true British gentleman could do.  I told them to stick whatever they were offering up their arses and to go forth and multiply, and slammed the phone down.  They phoned back a few moments later and said in quiet scared little voices that they were actually a school and would I be interested in visiting them as Henry VIII.  Ah.  Massive amounts of apologies and humble pie later and I was booked.
Well here I was two years on heading back up to Walsall, that other Eden in the midlands.  We had a cracking day at the school - they were a very lively bunch of kids, but that always tends to make the day for me that much easier.  We had a fun morning with lots of laughs and some very good scores in the Tudor Quiz, before a much welcome break for lunch.  After this the afternoon went like clockwork and we finished with another very impressive jousting tournament with one particular lads team that was head and shoulders above the rest, so it was no surprise when they romped to victory in the final.  This clicked our score over to:
All that was left was for me to climb in the car and drive back to Somerset.  As it was the journey back wasn't too bad, for which I was tremendously grateful as I had a hell of a day to look forward to on the Wednesday.
I have often wanted to go on a TV quiz show and see if I could test my general knowledge against others and also to see if I could win some prizes and a bit of dosh.  I had seen the ITV daytime quiz show "Tipping Point" a few times - Ben Shephard asking semi difficult questions to a group of people who then place discs in a coin waterfall machine, the sort you used to play when you were a kid at seaside resorts many years ago, and for each coin you get out the machine you won £50.  And if you were lucky enough you could get right through the show to the finale and a chance to win £10,000 - an amount not to be sniffed at.  I had applied to appear on the show, and a couple of weeks ago I had travelled up to London for an audition, I had now been accepted and so here I was going up to the studios in Wimbledon to record the show for real.  This could be the big time.  I had been contacted by the production company the day before and asked if I could bring my Henry costume with me and wear it on the show.  I was more than happy to - no such thing as bad publicity.  I caught the London train from Crewkerne just after 9am and arrived at Waterloo just before midday.  The TV company had laid on a car for me to help transport me and the enormous suitcase my Henry costume was in to the studios in South Wimbledon.  Upon arrival it turned out I was the last contestant to get there.  The others were Sally, a nice lady from Surrey, Lea, a very bubbly blond lady from Brighton and Oliver a nice young chap from Leeds.  We sat chatting in the green room for a while before we got taken away one by one for a make up session - sadly when they finished I still looked like me.  We were then taken down to the canteen for some lunch.  There are plenty of shows still being produced at these studios, former home to The Bill.  Among the shows they are making there, aside from Tipping Point, they also film Episodes, the BBC comedy with Stephen Mangam, Tamsin Greig and Matt Le Blanc. As we walked into the canteen I immediately noticed Matt LeBlanc.  He didn't recognise me, swine.  After a delicious meal we were then taken down to the main studio and got ready to record the show.  I am not at liberty to reveal who won the show on any public media, which I kind of guess includes this barely read blog, so you'll just have to wait until they broadcast the episode to find out who took home all the dosh.  All I can say is I am still living in a dustbin.
A car picked me and my suitcase up from the studio and took me back to Waterloo.  The driver, a very friendly affable chap from Lithuania, nearly made me choke to death with laughter.  As we were driving through the thronging streets of south London and the myriad of races, creeds and colours you can see, he suddenly said: "You know vots wrong vis zis country - it's full of bloody foreigners..."  Oh irony of ironies.  Bless him.  My train didn't leave until 7.20pm, and was packed to the rafters.  I was crushed up in one corner next to a harrumphing businessman, who wallowed and snorted like a rather over pleased walrus and noisily ate a large packet of Cheddars biscuits, and guzzled a can of cider before burping quietly for a while.  He eventually moved when the carriage thinned out when we got west of Salisbury, and finally exited the train at Tisbury.  Bye! I got home late, about 10pm, and promptly fell into the coma sofa, and inevitably, a coma of my own.
I was due today to appear at Chard School, in the town of Chard just down the road from where I live.  I had agreed to arrive at the school at 8am.  I stirred in bed, lent over to check my clock and was horrified to see that it was already quarter to eight.  ARGH!  Wash, shave, glass of juice and then a quick plummet down the stairs and I was on my way.  I had last been at Chard School back in about 2006, when the head teacher looked remarkably like Scottie from the Star Trek series.  His dilythium crystals obviously cannae take the strain any more as he has retired.  This was one of the most fun days I have had in a school for years.  So many laughs, so many jokes and great knowledge all round.  The joust was amazing, so noisy, and considering there were only seven girls in the group of about 30 children, it was even more amazing that they managed to snatch a comprehensive victory in the final.  Great stuff.  So our score now clicks on to:
I got home this evening and I now feel more tired than I think many a human being has felt in many a day, so tonight I am going to not bother with any alarm on the clock and just intend to sleep until I turn into Rip van Winkle.  You have been warned.  No early calls tomorrow.  I HAVE reached my Tipping Point.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

It's the End... But The Moment Has Been Prepared For...

The Maiden's Tower at Leeds Castle, built by King Henry VIII of England to house the Ladies in Waiting of Catherine of Aragon.  Next used in 2013 as part of a monster p*** up when Darlene retired.

Time passes.  It is the one thing you can be sure of...  Nothing lasts forever, even Bruce Forsyth will eventually at some point stop, and that I find a tremendous comfort, don't you?  So from the balmy sun drenched days of jousting at Castle Hedingham, the Knights of Royal England, and yours truly, sauntered on down the M25 and M20 and back into Kent for a week of jousting at Leeds Castle.  It was actually six days of jousting, of which I was to commentate and host the first three days, and then Roland Bearne was to tackle the final three days.  My lovely son James was still in tow and keen for more involvement in the shows.  We arrived at Leeds Castle on the 28th May to weather far removed from that we had experienced at Hedingham.  It was cold, grey and there was a devilish wind whipping across the tilt yard.  We got a smallish turn out for the first show, but they were at least enthusiastic, however shortly after our lunch break the heavens opened and the rain it didst fall mainly downwards and violently sideways.  It bucketed down and in the end Jeremy (from Knights of Royal England) was forced to cancel the second show as it was just too dangerous and slippery for the horses in the yard.  James and I drove back to my sister Cathy's place in Stockbury and settled down for the evening.
The following morning the weather looked a little more promising as we made our way into the Castle.  WRONG!  It began raining again, James and I got soaked before we even started the show.  Halfway through the first show Frank (one of the Knights) had his horse slip underneath him, nearly throw him and then crash through the middle of the tilt.  Following this show the rain fell even more heavily and once more the second show had to be pulled for safety reasons.  Finally, on the third day we managed to get through both shows, yes we all got soaked again and frozen to the marrow, but hell, this is English summertime, what were you expecting?  Of course as soon as James and I packed up and left Leeds and Roland turned up to commentate, the sun broke through, birds sang, cherubim and seraphim did burst forth into song and, yes, dammit all, even Bruce Forsyth was silenced for five minutes.  Yes, the lucky swines roasted for the final three days.  But I wasn't jealous - I just sat in a darkened room sticking pins in a wax effigy of Michael Fish and cackling quietly to myself.
I was back at Leeds Castle by myself on the evening of Friday 31st May for the retirement and farewell party for Darlene Cavill.  Darlene has worked at Leeds Castle in various guises for the previous 26 years, and it was she who first booked me as Henry VIII in 2005 - and did much to help the fledgling Good King Hal business to survive those early years.  It was through her encouragement that my "Henry's Horrid History" shows developed and she also gave me the chance to be Father Christmas at Leeds for eight years!  And I still remember with such pride it was she who asked me to be narrator at the Leeds Castle Junior Prom concert in 2006 alongside the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Carl Davis and the beautiful soprano Kathryn Rudge, and all in front of about 6,000 people.  Wonderful.  Through Darlene, and her initial assistant Helen Pomorski (nee Budd) and later Becky Lander, I made a lot of friends, had tremendous fun and learnt a lot about my trade and performances.  On the evening it was so nice to see so many old friends from my years at Leeds, but particularly the lady I think who summed up the early years of fun at the Castle - the lovely Jeanne Beaton.  I simply adore this woman, and I am so sad she has been unwell in recent years.  I have so missed her presence at Leeds but it was great to see her and her husband Malcolm at the party on Friday.  Wonderful.  The finale of the evening was a video made by Darlene's son, the very talented Doug Bolton who had made a pop video of the Dolly Parton song "9 to 5" with various different Leeds Castle employees (myself included) miming along to the song.  You can catch it on You Tube if you click on this link: .  You have been warned!
I was back in Somerset by the end of the weekend and got myself ready for heading back to being Henry VIII in schools again.  My first show back was today (Wednesday) with an eighth return visit to West Pennard School near Glastonbury.  The sun had been shining all week, but then I have always seemed to have visited West Pennard in bright sunshine!  It was good to see Tony Wheat the year 4 teacher who books me each year and as ever it was marvellous to see the wonderful Ian Gouge the original booker of Good King Hal all those years ago.  It was a nice group, about 30 children and all wonderful fun and good listeners.  In fact I can honestly say I don't think I have ever had a duff group at West Pennard, and this lot were no different.  After a fun morning we then launched into the afternoon, which was very hot in the hall, but marvellously entertaining.  The joust was very loud and popular and ended with that rarest of things - a win for the Gentlemen.  Our score goes to:
Can they catch them?  Who knows!  Who cares?  Stay tuned for more vagueness and indecision.  Or maybe not?  Pass the Merlot...