|Elizabeth of York, feeling a prick (on a rose).|
And finally the flood waters did recede, and the people of Somerset did look up at the strange yellow object in the sky and go "ooh-arr" and scratch their heads in bewilderment. You knew the threat of flooding was now rapidly disappearing as all the TV news crews had buggered off. When I look back to last year and this same time, we weren't inundated with water, we were instead freezing our collected butts off. If you think back to the weekend at Knebworth (shudder - I try not to) the temperature for that whole weekend barely rose above freezing. This same weekend just gone (i.e. 365 days later) and the temperatures were around about 20 degrees. Funny old world, innit?
And so we begin on Tuesday the 18th March and the King's return to Birchfield Junior School in Yeovil. My last visit to this school had been the previous January and that was certainly a lot colder - I remember loading the props back into the car after that show with huge great flakes of snow dolloping themselves onto my car windscreen and stubbornly refusing to melt. I arrived early and was met by the usual group of very friendly teachers, including the wonderful Ally Goff who was her usual infectiously funny and happy self. This is such a friendly happy school, great atmosphere whenever you go there and this day was no different. We had a great group of kids as well, loads of laughs and everyone seemed to enjoy the day in the extreme. The final jousting tournament was an incredibly loud event which virtually tore the roof off the place. It was worth it for the lads as they were finally rewarded with a long needed win. Our score goes to:
GENTLEMEN 13.5 - 21.5 LADIES
Back out to the car to load it up and go and I am delighted to say there was not a hint of dollopy snow flakes in the air, for which I was very grateful for.
I headed up to Essex on the 23rd, for a week of looking after James as Amanda continued her burgeoning am dram career with her second performance for the Thalians Theatre Group in Basildon. She was out for most evenings for the final technical and dress rehearsals, and was then performing on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Mirren Studio in the Towngate Theatre. My first port of call though back in the south east was a return visit to Dulwich College Junior School in South East London. Again my previous visit last year had included quite prodigious amounts of snow everywhere, appalling traffic and a journey that seemed just slightly shorter than Captain Scott's epic trek to the South Pole. There was no way I was going to get caught in such terrible traffic this time, so I set off spectacularly early from Basildon... and arrived spectacularly early at the school. Not a hint of any traffic or bad weather. Typical. Once inside I was greeted by the delightful Leiba Sablon, the lovely teacher who booked me last year. Dulwich College which is Nigel Farage's old school (now there is a claim to fame) is an all boy's school so no results from the very entertaining jousting can be added to the scores as it wouldn't be fair on the ladies. I do the same for the men when I visit the Maynard School in Exeter. It was a great day once again at this school. Great kids, really switched on and with it, and they get all the gags - big time! So man laughs. We ripped through to a fantastic jousting finale and then I was on my way back to Basildon. The traffic out of London was far more what I expected first thing in the morning, slow, bumper to bumper and lots of very bad tempered people refusing to budge an inch.
My main place of residence on Wednesday the 26th was at the "Weston Homes Community Stadium" in Colchester. This sadly wasn't for some huge outdoor arena style Good King Hal show in front of thousands of adoring fans - nope, I was attending a speed awareness course as I had been photographed in the Royal motor doing 67MPH on the A282 leading onto the Dartford Crossing Bridge back in early January. So I could either pay the £100 fine and take the three points onto my licence, or I could attend this course and avoid the points. I naturally went for this option - and promptly picked up a bill for £97.50 to attend. Well, at least I saved myself £2.50. Not really, after I had bought myself an exorbitantly priced cup of tea in the cafe in the stadium as I waited for the course to begin. I found it rather sweet that Colchester United had decided to call their stadium cafe "The Hot Shot Cafe". Surely for the level they play at it should be called "The Scuffed Shot" or "The Toe Ender". But I can forgive them most things as the waitress had a lovely bottom. The course was much as I expected - it was presented by two men, one who was so smug as to make Greg Wallace on Masterchef look positively insecure and another old chap who was to technical items what Bernard Manning was to race relations. If he could press a button and make something go wrong he would do it. The automatic lights went up and down, the electronic blinds went up and down more times than a whore's drawers until they fused, and he was halfway through his part of the presentation when he somehow managed to completely switch off the lap top he was doing his presentation through and we had to sit in a slightly embarrassed silence as he and Captain Smug muttered and pressed buttons until it all came on again. Well, it was all quite informative, didn't really tell me anything I didn't already knew and it was four hours of my life I won't get back again.
Thursday night was Amanda's opening night in the play. The Thalians (the am dram group Amanda belongs to) were doing a version of Terry Pratchett's "Going Postal" and Amanda had the part of "Mr Pony" (yes, I know) and she did fantastically well in a superb all round production. She had worked long and hard on this production, helping out a lot with the costumes, most particularly the very impressive Golem outfit, complete with it's stunning latex mask - anyone who saw the show will know what I am talking about. Her performance was faultless and James and I really enjoyed it, even though James got very restless towards the end of the first half. Luckily there were some spare seats at the back of the theatre, so for the second half James and I moved back there and my restless native of a son could stand up, sit down, wriggle and do all the things slightly bored autistic children want to do, without disturbing anybody around us. It is so great to see Amanda getting into the acting lark - her almost child-like excitement and fixation with the cast and the whole experience reminded me so much of my early days in the business. I warned her after the final performance she would experience a real downer of post show blues - and she did, bless her. It was nice to see her in the post performance glow going over and over the photos she had taken of the rehearsals and the cast in general. Thankfully she is going for the read through of their next production this week, so her fix for this new addiction will get fed again! Hopefully there will be another production soon in which James can take part as he is as taken with the whole acting lark as Amanda is. Oh, the roar of the grease paint, the smell of the crowd.... You can't whack it.
Mothering Sunday saw Amanda, James and I joining Cathy and Julian down at their house in Kent for a lovely slap up meal and a bit of champagne sipping. It was a nice way to round off my week looking after my beloved James. He can also get back into his performing as I have just had all the dates through for the jousting this summer with the Knights of Royal England. Fantastic!