Wednesday, May 28, 2014

They Think It's All Over...

...It is now!
Hello folks and to the very occasional regular readers of this blog.  I just wanted to let you all know that this is going to be my last regular blog on here.  I have been writing this travesty of the English language on and off for the past nine years and to be honest the actual reach I am getting from it is hardly worth it.  It seems the only time I ever get feedback from people these days is when they contact me to complain about something I have written!  The effort I put in writing it is not reciprocated by the number of people reading it, so rather than struggle on trying to regularly be funny and Tudor-ish, which is all I ever wanted this blog to be, I have decided to knock it on the head and just carry on making occasional comments on Facebook and Twitter.
To all the wonderful friends I have made through this page over the years, thank you for your companionship and reading all the crap - even that infamous blog that I managed to post whilst almost paralytically drunk which actually didn't make any sense what so ever.  One of my regular readers even "liked" it on Facebook. That impressed me greatly.  To my family, again, thanks for the blind faith and encouragement. To the wonderful Michelle Coda, thanks for everything bird.  To Ian Weston and Sue English, for getting me into this mad world in the first place, many thanks!  Who needs financial security!  To the long suffering and very patient Amanda and James, thanks for understanding and encouraging me.  To all my lovely Tudor ladies - Sarah Morris, Zarrina Bull, Diane Collings, Justine Cotterill, Tudor Lou, Katherine Miller and anyone I've forgotten, you are all beautiful ladies and an honour to rule with.  To the Knights of Royal England - thanks for the fun, the companionship, the opportunities and forgiving my regular "strikes".  To the wonderful Matthew Applegate, for his friendship beyond the call of duty.  And to anyone I've forgotten - TA.
Good King Hal is now entering a very busy part of the summer.  I shall try and blog from time to time, but it won't be anything regular, but if something special happens, it will be mentioned.  And what with possible work in California, with a brand new massive Shakespearian database, and even teaming up with David Tennant shortly, I might be blogging more than usual!
Oh and can someone use a bit of weed killer on certain parts of Chatham and do everyone in the Tudor world a favour.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ilchester, Squire! Quite staggeringly popular...

A tense moment at the Chelsea Flower Show, when John Terry (just out of picture) brings down Monty Don on the edge of the area with a late sliding tackle, a kick on the butt and three savage rabbit punches.  When questioned by Police he grunted "I slipped."  No charges were brought but a petunia was squashed.
And so it was, with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart (a drugs test will be implemented shortly) Good King Hal sallied forth from his man cave in Crewkerne for the short jaunt to Ilchester and a return visit to Ilchester Primary School.  I had last visited a couple of years back and remember it being a very cold dark morning driving over there.  Today was completely different - bright, sunny and full of early spring promise.  I plumbed in the post code for the school into my sat nav and began the journey.  I was at first suspicious of the sat nav when it tried to make me turn off the A303 ages before the Ilchester exit.  It seemed to be hell bent on getting me to visit a small field on the outskirts of Ilchester where there was no buildings at all.  Now I know Michael Gove's management of schools in the UK has been about as effective as a condom machine in the Vatican, but surely even that incompetent rubber brained arse faced twat couldn't make a complete school disappear... could he?  No, he couldn't.  Michael Gove couldn't even walk upstairs and fart at the same time to be honest.  I remembered on my previous visit driving down through an estate and past a small Nisa store that looked like something out of an abandoned Soviet town from 1973 - and, ah yes!  There it was.  I drove past some very familiar looking houses and then found.... The INFANT school.  Not the Junior school like I wanted.  I went in and asked a breakfast club assistant where the Junior school was.  She informed me to go back to the next roundabout and go straight over.  I did this and now found myself in another completely anonymous faceless housing estate, with not a sign of any school.  My sat nav was by now doing the technology version of rocking backwards and forwards and stroking it's own arms repeating the words "go to a happy place" over and over.  I eventually surrendered and phoned the school.  Where are you? I cried, wiping away snot, tears and mascara.  It turned out I was about 20 yards away, but across the road away from the housing estate - and there it was.
Well, it was a fantastic day.  Terrific fun, a big group of about 80 children from years 3 and 4.  I was recommended to watch out for one little lad in particular who they said could be a handful.  Well, he certainly made himself known to me, but he was fine.  He had ADHD and to the extent that he just could NOT sit still.  It was honestly as if someone had just set fire to his trousers, he was up down, going to sit with the teachers, back with his mates, twisting here, there and everywhere.  And all the while looking like the dead spit of the Milky Bar Kid.  He was great fun.  The morning was great fun and seemed to be over very quickly.  During the lunch break I sat and chatted to a lovely red headed lady who I said would make an excellent Queen Elizabeth I if she was interested in history.  Was she interested in history?  Do ursine creatures defecate in sylvan glades?  Hell, yeah.  She had just finished an archaeology degree at Cardiff Uni and was utterly fascinated by the whole Tudor era and the fact I was making a living out of being Henry VIII. I urged her to get a Queen Elizabeth frock made and begin prancing round stately homes.  I will put her in touch with Judy Picton and Zarrina Bull, the two finest costume makers I know.
The afternoon went by at a terrific rate and we finished on yet another fine jousting tournament with yet another fine win for the ladies.  Is there any point keeping score any more?  The lads are being trounced this year.
Almost ten clear tournaments in front.  I had no trouble in getting home, though my poor old Mazda is sounding decidedly creaky these days.  Time for a change I think.  A bottle of wine put a big smile back on my face that evening.
I am back being Henry tomorrow at West Pennard School near Glastonbury, and then off to Essex for a few days before popping down to Leeds Castle with the Knights of Royal England for another jousting tournament down there.  It will be nice to see some familiar faces at the Castle.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Joust When I Thought That My Skies Were a June/July Blue...

Jasper du Barry attempts to discover a new erogenous zone of Sam of Hever with a bloody great sword.
This was a better way to start the jousting season!  Not like last year at Knebworth with driving snow, icicles, dreadful hotels, projectile vomiting and some deceitful lying little REST OF THIS SENTENCE OBSCURED ON LEGAL ADVICE. The day dawned bright but cold on Saturday 3rd May and I was up and out of the front door on the roughly 130 miles drive to the lovely town of Woodstock in Oxfordshire, and a return visit to Blenheim Palace with the Knights of Royal England Jousting Team.  Blenheim is a gorgeous site, the stunning Palace sitting looking down over broad lawns, with mature trees clumped here and there and fine views down across what appears to be a multitude of water features.  I was due to meet Michelle Coda in Woodstock so I could show her the easy way into Blenheim Palace, however while I was still about 20 miles from my destination I got a text from Michelle telling me she had arrive and Kim already had the kettle on.  Blimey, this was well before 10am so she must have left Folkestone about two weeks ago to get there that early, knowing the way Michelle drives!  (Love you!).  Michelle was so excited about appearing at Blenheim as it was her first stately home to work at other than Hever Castle or Leeds Castle.  On my arrival I was warmly welcomed by all the team, but there were a few absentees this year - most notably Sir William of Antioch.  Dear old Bill Monaghan (as he is known in civvies) had decided to retire and spend more time with his family, and he is a big loss to the team as his larger than life character of Sir William was always hugely popular with the audiences we played.  But out with the old and in with the new, we welcomed aboard Oliver, a friend of Sir Ashley's from Hampshire, fresh from a four year stint in the army, he was immediately swamped with female attention as he seemed to have perfected the art of growing muscle upon muscle upon muscle to the extent that Michelle immediately Christened him Popeye.  God help us if he takes a liking to spinach.
The first show back was a bit of a shock to the system.  I was in my new Medieval Merchant's outfit, just recently made for me by the brilliant Judy Picton of Martock in Somerset.  It had been decided at the end of last years season that any castle or venue we visited that DIDN'T have a direct connection with Henry VIII would need to see me in a different costume as a different character, as having a 16th Century monarch like Henry presiding over a generally 13th century style jousting tournament would be enough to give most historians the anachronistic bends.  And so for this weekend, and a few more this summer, I suddenly became Lord Anthony of Bollingbroke, Lord Chancellor, milk monitor, member of the Tufty club and 1st class idiot and bar.  But all went well, the big crowd seemed to enjoy themselves and we all managed to even get sun burnt.  That evening Jeremy treated us all to a night out in Oxford at a very swish restaurant in the Jericho area of the town, called Branca.  It was mostly to celebrate Jeremy and Kim's daughter, Lucy's 21st birthday. Well we had a fabulous meal in a superb restaurant - but Oxford is a funny place.  It is (A) massively expensive (see the house prices - you will weep) and (B) appears to be more full of pretty people obsessed with their looks than any other spot on the planet.  We noted that the restaurant seemed jam packed with mirrors, but it seemed that they had been placed there as none of these drop dead gorgeous and beautifully attired human beings, whether they be male or female, could stand up or do anything without first clocking themselves in one of these mirrors, subtly brushing away an errant hair or something, before smirking smugly to themselves and then carrying on with their dull little lives. 
The following morning Michelle and I emerged from our burrows (actually the Travelodge up near Bicester) took out a mortgage, and purchased two drinks from Costa Coffee at the service station.  I know you are a captive audience at these service stations, but by God, they come as close to mugging you as is legally possible without being arrested.  I wanted to purchase some Nurofen in case my bad ankle started to play up.  How much?  A pack of 16 tables £4.95.  What?  A small bottle of apple juice?  £2.19.  A can of Lynx body spray (normally already pretty stupidly expensive in supermarkets at about £3.75 a can)?  Here it was over £5.  The shows at the Palace were very well attended again today, and this time we even managed to cop our first injury of the season, and of course it had to go to new boy Oliver, didn't it?  And was it during the middle of a brutal fight with another of the Knight Marshall's?  No.  At the very end of the second show, as Sam, James and Oliver were mucking about air guitaring in the arena with their swords, Sam thought it would be hilarious to leap on top of Oliver, just as Oliver was pretending to play his sword with his teeth.  Oliver luckily missed his mouth and teeth, but somehow managed to cut the very edge of his lower eye lid, so that by the time the music had finished he had plenty of the red stuff pouring down his face.  Several anti-septic swabs and a steri-strip later and he seemed right as rain.  For this evenings din-dins Jeremy was treating us to a meal at The Star Pub in Woodstock itself, and again it was delicious.  I was driving and so as the evening, and shrieking grew louder, I ended up more and more side-lined as the only sober person there.  Not much fun!   By the time we were due to leave, Michelle was four huge Bacardi and cokes and an industrial amount of Irish coffee down the line, so I virtually had to guide her, like a Labrador with a blind person, firstly back to my car, then through the incredibly busy car park at the Travelodge and finally up to her room. All she kept repeating the whole time was "I can't feel my top lip....  I can't feel my top lip..." She also discovered to her horror that the jousters had stolen her camera while we were outside having a cigarette and had taken some very interesting studies in the gents.
If Michelle was feeling a little delicate on our last morning, she didn't show it.  However, young Oliver had apparently peaked a bit early on their arrival back at the camp site last night but he got through the two shows without barfing up a lung, so he is obviously a man made of stern stuff.  We were filmed by a BBC film crew from BBC South during the shows today and I was interviewed by Witney TV, a TV station just for Witney in Oxfordshire.  At least seven people will have probably seen it by now.  I was delighted today to also get a visit from the simply gorgeous Sarah Morris who popped in very briefly just to say a big "hi" to me and all the jousters after her appearance with them a couple of years ago.  She was as beautiful and charming as ever.  And so we finished the final show, helped tidy up with the Knights, bid our fond farewells and hit the road.  I was back in Somerset by 6.30pm and Michelle got home some time after that, so we both made good time.  It was great to be back with the jousters and it was the usual fun madness that weekends with them always are.  I can't wait for Leeds Castle at the end of this month to see them again.
Henry is back at School tomorrow with a return visit to Ilchester School near Yeovil for a full Tudor Day.  I can't wait!