|Good King Hal, ruthlessly torturing the Invisible Man, mostly with his jokes.|
St Ives? That's Unigate isn't it? No no no! That is St Ivel, and we all know about that, well certainly in my family we do. Lot of history with St Ivel, but I won't spill the beans, not as yet. No, St Ives is a town. It's two towns actually, one in Cornwall, and one in Cambridgeshire. Luckily, as I was in Essex to begin with, I was due at the one in Cambridgeshire. So it was a crack of dawn start for me in Basildon, and then on the beloved M25, the slightly less beloved M11 and all the way to St Ives and an appointment at Westfield Junior School. The drive up was relatively painless, not too much traffic and I arrived with about an hour to spare before I was due. So I parked up in a side road and had a little snooze for a while. I woke up to find a woman taking her dog for a walk, looking through the windscreen at me as though I was a Martian invader. People asleep in cars obviously doesn't happen in Cambridgeshire very much, no doubt I shall be headline news in the St Ives Thunderer in it's next issue.
I made my entrance at the school and was warmly welcomed by the teachers, two lovely young ladies who pampered me with a nice cup of tea and recommendations that the children were terribly excited about my visit. I still felt half asleep, but was slowly getting there. I was given permission from the caretaker to park the Royal jalopy right round the back of the main hall, right next to the main door so I could unload with ease. It was a lovely group of children today, loads of fun and some of them showing off just what good knowledge they had of the Tudors. The children and the teachers had all dressed up in splendid costumes and it made the day that much more memorable. The morning zipped past quicker than an innings by England in the current Ashes series. We broke for lunch where I was brought a delicious tuna baguette by a very kind dinner lady. Or lunchtime assistant, I should say. The stocks were a raging success, with great crashing waves of laughter from the children. We finished with a rollicking joust in which a very competent Gents team galloped home to a memorable win. They needed that on the overall score and it clicks over to:
GENTLEMEN 9.5 - 12.5 LADIES
A fine end to a wonderful day at this splendid school. I packed my stuff away and left St Ives to begin the long trek back to Somerset. And it was a long trek. I left the school between half three and four, and finally arrived home tired, but happy at nearly 7.30pm.
The highlight of the Wednesday was a beer in the evening with the sainted Matthew Applegate of Barrington Court. The poor man has been treated appallingly by the National Trust of late, pushed to the very limits that most men could take, and now they have finally fully plunged the knife in by making him redundant, just after Christmas. We met over at East Lambrook at the Rose and Crown Pub and drank some lovely Palmers Beer and sat in front of a big roaring fire. We even treated ourselves to a wee nip of Lagavullin Scotch Whisky to wish ourselves a Merry Christmas, and a hopefully much better New Year, because personally for both of us, 2013 has pretty much sucked.
Thursday was another early start and an hour long drive up to Weston-super-Mare and a first visit to another new school for me, the deliciously named Windwhistle Primary School. This was a Year 3 group and though they weren't as responsive as the St Ives lot (who admittedly were older) they were very rewarding in the end. My only concern was that I was under strict instructions from the head teacher not to put any of the teachers in the stocks as it might "undermine the teacher's authority with the children".... or something. So, being the good little Tudor despot that I am, I didn't put anyone in. Just some kids! The day ended with a quite remarkable joust! The ladies roared off into the lead, with their first rider miles ahead of the first gent, who was struggling badly. Their first rider collected all of the quoits, and then dropped the lot! She had to recollect them, meanwhile the first chap had managed to only get two quoits. The young lady then roared round and collected them all again, only to drop them all again! By this time the first lad had finished and handed on to their second rider. The first lady finally finished as the lads handed on to their anchor leg rider. Unfortunately he had a complete nightmare of a round with horses, quintaines and quoits flying alarmingly round the hall, much to the amusement of some of the teachers. Meanwhile the ladies roared round and stormed home to the finest comeback since Lazarus. Amazing scenes of excitement from the children! So our score amazingly moves on to:
GENTLEMEN 9.5 - 13.5 LADIES
The ladies surely are now unstoppable. I packed everything away and began the drive back down the M5 towards Crewkerne. I got in and then received a phone call from Leeds Castle wondering if I was free to come in and be Santa Claus this coming weekend as they were short staffed. Sadly, I couldn't as I will be somewhere else altogether!
So my final two appearances before breaking for the Christmas holidays is tomorrow (Saturday) when I shall be slogging up to Chester for a corporate appearance at Chester Town Hall, and then on Tuesday a final Henry school visit of 2013 at Evercreech in Somerset. Then it is off to Wales for cuddles with my son, tons of turkey, pounds of puds and no doubt a touch of the old "ho-ho-ho's" along the way. And I promise to jingle my bells, all the way.