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.

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