|Mr Sides from Parkfield, proving he really was the Head Master. (Geddit?)|
Some schools I love for their location, some for their wonderfully behaved children, some for the wonderful teachers, and some for their warm welcome. Well Parkfield School in Taunton combines all of these fine attributes, but then goes further. Because one of the main reasons I love Parkfield School is for their wonderful Head Teacher, the unique, quintessential Mr Sides. Now Mr Wynford Sides, to give him his full Dickensian-esque title, really does resemble the late lamented Roger Delgado above, in his full scenery chewing role as The Master in Doctor Who. He is well known throughout Somerset with teachers and parents alike, and he comes across as being very Marmite - you either love him, or loathe him. I love him. He is quirky, doesn't suffer fools gladly and calls a spade an f-ing shovel. And I like that in a person. As I have discovered to my cost this year, you're never really sure who your friends are until the chips are down. People who, one minute are claiming to be on your side, can very quickly turn round and stab you in the back as soon as look at you. It is a thorny point and one which really shouldn't arise over petty things like historical re-enactment. Or the casting in films. But I digress. Mr Sides is not like that - you know exactly where you stand with this gentleman, and I appreciate that. Poor old Mr S was struggling with a bad cold and cough this year, so much so that he had to nip off to the Doctor's half way through the morning - and he is a man, so that proves he must have felt a bit peaky.
For once I arrived at Parkfield before Mr Sides, but he was soon in about 5 minutes after me, and was soon making me the usual welcoming cup of tea. I also bumped into the lovely French lady who works at this school and tried out some of my appalling French on her. She muttered something about "Evadez-vous de moi, vous paniquez!" which was lovely, until I translated it. Only joking, she was as welcoming as Mr Sides. She and I chatted a little later about The Tunnel, the English/French drama on Sky Atlantic at the moment - she is enjoying it as much as I am.
The children were as great as ever at Parkfield, never in my many years of visiting this school have I had a properly duff group, and today was no different. All had dressed in fabulous costumes and were engaged, fizzy and full of laughs. Great fun. Lunch for me was, as ever, bought from the local Tesco store with one of the staff trudging off and getting it for me which is a lovely little touch and one which endears me the this school even more. The afternoon was deafening, particularly the jousting which was of a surprisingly high standard and produced a rather inevitable finish. Yes, the ladies won again! They are easily getting away again now and move into a stronger lead. This now stands at:
GENTLEMEN 7.5 - 11.5 LADIES
Mon Dieu! I had to curtail the afternoon a bit pronto as there was a whole school assembly, so I disappeared off with more of a whimper than anything else. Shame I won't be back at this lovely school for another year.
And so this week, I am off to Maltman's Green School near Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire tomorrow (Wednesday), then on Saturday and Sunday it is the dear old Mistletoe Fayre at Barrington Court near Ilminster. I am being joined by the delectable Sarah Morris on the Saturday, and the gorgeous Katherine Miller on the Sunday. And I am having dinner with them both on Saturday night! Sometimes it really is GOOD to be the King! And I shall be missing watching "live" the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary programme - the things I do for women, and do they appreciate it? Probably not.
And speaking of Doctor Who, if they decide to bring the Master back in Peter Capaldi's first season and John Simm isn't really up for it, they could do a lot worse than ask Mr Sides if he is available. Just a thought. I could be his agent, for a very small fee.