Stormageddon’s view of it all

Stormageddon’s view of it all
Sir Stormageddon the cute

I apologise for the fact that it’s been so long since the last blog entry. This is because DevilStick Peat and Jester Dragonfly have been so busy performing that they just haven’t had the time to put pen to paper, let alone finger tips to keyboard. That’s why this entry is being written by the true star of our shows, the one and only Stormagedden.

Girl Guiding

Well since the last entry mummy and daddy have helped me at various events. We’ve ran juggling workshops for various brownie and guide groups and daddy even earnt his girl guides circus badge! These are diffrent from our normal circus workshops, as they a specially designed to get them through their respected badges. When we tought our local guides pack we were joined by two of my sisters, nat and Sophie. Nat is great at teaching diabolo, Sophie is great with poi and I’m great at looking cute and getting all the girl guides to fuss me and tell me how sweet I am (cause I is).

Birthday Parties

We’ve also worked at several birthday parties, where daddy performs his magic juggling show (the one that has juggling and magic in it). Then mummy and daddy teach all the girls and boys how to juggle, stilt-walk and plate spinning. I like birthday parties. O.K so having to watch daddies show and pretend to laugh at his jokes is boring, but there’s always cake, crisps and e numbers to eat before the car journey home. Quite why adults insist on giving me e numbers before putting me in a confined space is beyond me, but they’re adults, so they must know best.

Battle Medieval Fayre

Then daddy had a weekend away at the Battle Medieval Fayre. Although i didnt go this year, i know from previous years just what a great event this is.

It’s always held on the late may Bank holiday, is free to enter and has loads of things going on. There’s, drummers drumming, a parade that parades through the town, may pole dancing around the maypole, fighting knights in armour fighting with swords and lots more.

Daddy says that this was the first real proper paid gig he ever done, many moons ago when I was but a twinkle in his eye. “What” said I “when you still had hair and a six pack”? I was sent to bed early that night.

Home-Ed Circus Camp

Then Mummy and Daddy took my 3 sisters and I to the foolhardy home ed circus camp.

Held in the school holidays (although why when they are home educated is beyond me) this week long camp is where home educated children get the chance to train alongside professional circus artist. For 4 hours a day, every day classes are held in age appropriate groups. In the Foolhardy Circus  big top the older children train hard in skills such as trapeze, juggling, clowning and magic. In the 2 slightly smaller panic family circus big tops the middle and younger children also train in tightrope, juggling, clowning etc.  I even got to demonstrate how to use the tightrope to the younger kids. Then, in our very little big top  (a mere 14 foot across) parents can relax with a cuppa whilst thier babies enjoy the shade offered by our tents,  or practice thier own juggling skills care of our workshop equipment whilst kids listened to stories or raced on bouncy dragons (of doom).

Daddy says it’s not a well paid gig, but it’s an important one as some of these kids really will be the next generation of circus and festival performers. In deed, several of them already have the skills and stage presents of a pro. I don’t know about that, but I do know that next to the tea urn there’s always an endless supply of biscuits which, togeather with the nightly shows makes it the best circus camp I’ve ever been to ever.

Templecombe Medieval Pageant

Unfortunately daddy had to leave a couple of days before the camp finished as he was booked to perform at the Templecombe medieval pageant down in the west Country. It must be so hard for daddy, having to leave mummy and his 4 lovely children, just so that he can spend 3 nights surrounded by hardened drinkers. Oh how he must of missed us. Apparently the land owner has had a new sheep pen built that just happens to look like a medieval tavern. It was all paid for by donations from re-enactors. The names of which are proudly displayed on Shields that adorn the walls and ceilings. And there, hanging over the bar was the name of another jester, Firery Jack (who is not only my God daddy, but also nearly as funny as daddy). I understand that daddy is in negotiations with them about having a shield put up above Firery Jack’s. One that says

“DevilStick Peat, funnier than”!

Country Fairs

We’ve also been working at various country fairs. These included the Cambridge town and country fair. A really big, free to enter event on parkers piece, right in the middle of the city, and Dansan park country fair, in Dansan park in London and the Rockingham country fair at Rockingham castle.

I love the country fairs as some of my bestest friends ever go to them. There’s Stan, the bouncy castle man. I love stan almost as much as I love his really tall bouncy slides and one of my jobs at these festivals is to incourage other children to go on them. I do this by spending hours and hours running up and sliding down them. It’s really hard work but I don’t mind because I love Stan and want to help him.

Then there’s the land train. They always get me to ride on the back and help people get on and off. Again it’s hard work, having to smile and wave as we pass people, but it does give my legs a little brake before I go back to stans bouncy castles.

And of cause there’s Sue. I love Sue and when I grow up I’m going to marry her. She works for Totally Alive and let’s me help her feed some of them and put them away at night. Then, after we’ve finished work, if she’s been good, I take her to the beer tent and read her a story from one of my school books before I go to bed.

Totally Alive also have ferrets, goats, sheep, cute little rabbits that you can pet, birds of prey (that you cant pet), ponies, all sorts of weird and wonderful chickens and of cause, last but by no means lest, blue the wallaby.

Corporate Event

We even done a corporate event last month. It was the companies 30th birthday. So it’s owner hired out a country pub and put on a big medieval party in the beer garden. There was birds of prey and stocks where you could throw sponges at management and tug of war and bands. Mummy and daddy even done their fire juggling routines in the night time. But the bestest bit of all. Even better than the bouncy castles, was the padding pool. It was full of really cold water and had bottles of soft drinks in it, but that’s not what made it so great. What made it so great and even more awesome than the power rangers was the water pistols. Imagine a foam rubber bicycle pump filled with water. One that can shoot a jet of water 30 foot across a field. Add to this loads of hyper excited children and a really hot day. Within about 5 minutes of the event opening I was drenched from head to foot, as was every other child, and any adults silly enough to get within range.

They even gave me 2 to take home and daddy says his going to have loads of fun taking them to events where he can shoot friends whilst remaining hidden in his tent.  But apparently  I’m not allowed to tell you that,  so I won’t.

Charity work

We’ve also performed free of charge for various good causes like the kingsfield school summer fete. Daddy says it’s important to support your local community, but personally I think he does it for the box of chocolates they give him every year.

Well that’s just some of the highlights of the last couple of months. But before I sign off and go back to my other job (I.E. being the multi coloured power ranger,  but shhhhh,  that’s a secret) I best tell you a little about some up and coming events.

Loxwood Joust

Me, relaxing at last years Loxwood Joust

This weekend we’re at the 2nd of this years Loxwood Joust. Held over the first two weekends of August this is by far the bestest and most unique medieval event of the year. It’s got men in armour fighting for king and country, super cool jousting, lovely music from the medieval babes, a witches wood and lots more, including a brand spanking new torture area with blood, guts and all the other really cool stuff that us kids love.

My sisters and I will be there both weekends running my Total immersion Show (with a little help from mummy and daddy). And this year I’m going to try and remember not to leave the top layer of finger skin stuck firmly to the really really  hot fire box!

You can read all about last year’s joust and just how much fun it was here

The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre

We’re also performing at a brand new medieval event in September.  it’s  called “the ancient oak medieval fayre” and is being organised by the same people who used to run the Snailwell medieval festival. Mummy says that means it’s bound to be a fun filled gig with a nice family feel to it. Daddy says that one day all these event organizers will learn how to spell “fair”.

British Juggling Convention

Next April we’re all going to the British juggling convention in Canterbury. Daddies been asked to perform in the big, posh public show. He says its not the first time his been asked to perform at it, but it’s still a great honour to perform for some of the worlds best jugglers ever. Jugglers, clowns and circus type folk from all over the world will converge on Canterbury for 9 whole days of fun, juggling and circus type things. Apparently there will be lesions in everything from “this is how to juggle” right through to “this is how to juggle 9 balls behind your back”! And lots of shows, games, and fun fun fun.

On the subject of how to juggle, heres a little video of me teaching 3 ball juggling

Welll hats all for now as I have to go and fight the monsters in my bedroom.  The imaginary ones that only I can see (cause I’m a super hero)

Yours

Stormageddon

(Power ranger, super hero and jester)

Aged 5

(But very nearly 6)t

Diverse entertainment

Diverse entertainment

Wow, what a busy time we’ve had providing diverse entertainment at a variety of events and venues. All of which I shall tell you about in the following nail bitingly thrilling blog about the trials and tribulations of a real life modern day medieval fool.

The wedding:

It all started the other Friday.  I was booked to perform at a wedding in Bishops Stortford. Now normally the clients wants a magician to wander around performing close up magic for the guests, then maybe entertain the kids in another room as the speeches are made. But not this time. This client had seen our show at a festival and booked me to perform a one man stage show lasting 2 whole hours!

That means increasing the length of my stage show by 400 percent! No mean feat. Luckily for me my show has evolved over the last 30 years, so I have a wealth of discarded routines cluttering up the fools house. A few hours of rummaging through cupboards,  shelves and boxes. Occasionally interspersed with cries of “oh I’d forgotten about that trick” or “what the heck is that and how’s it work”, resulted in more than enough good, strong material. Then I had a week or so of reacquainting myself with the props. Making sure that my fingers still had the skills needed to work them. Then came the hard part.

An audience will happily sit and watch 4 people perform half hour sets. But for one man to keep them engaged for 2 hours, without a break, that was one of my biggest challenges yet. I must had written and rewritten my script 10 or more times before I finally came up with a set that I was happy with. One that would make their special day a truly awesomely special day.

I arrived at the venue, got changed and set to work. I must have only been working for a few minutes before 3 children decided to give me a hard time, and that was a blessing in disguise. A large part of my family show is based on the fact that children will heckle me, and the interaction between us. So thanks to those 3 children a one man show had now become a 4 man show. The adults enjoying the way I dealt with the children and the kids enjoying their part of the limelight.

Come 8p.m. my show was over and, although I was pleased with my performance! I was well and truly worn out, but this was no time to relax. I had to quickly get changed, then meet up with Jester Dragonfly and Stormageddon. They were picking me up and taking me to our next venue on the other side of London. We arrived at Morden hall park at around 10pm. Parked our trailer up then headed off to a hotel for the night and a few hours well earned sleep. But only a few hours. Come 6 am, we were up and running again. A quick coffee and shower, then off back to Morden hall where we had medieval tents to erect and 3 days of shows, workshops, Walkabout and fun at The Morden Hall Country Fair.

 

The Morden Hall Country Fair;

Stormageddon and our newest dragon, the good lady rosie, on the land train

We’ve performed our “Total Immersion Show” at this event for several years and it’s a firm favourite of ours. There’s lots happening all day and the public are a true pleasure to work for. Stormageddon was in heaven as not only was his favourite land train there giving people trips around the site, which meant lots of free rides for him. but Stan was also there with his inflatable slides.

Stan is a good friend and a true gentleman. Not only that, but he also has some awesomely tall slides. All of his staff know stormageddon and know that he has a free pass. Now whilst this may be good for stormageddon, it does provide us with a problem. Stormageddon’s motley (jester’s clothes) are only 2 months old, but he’s spent so long on stan’s inflatables that he’s already starting to wear a hole in the bum! Maybe I can sue stan for a new one.

We worked hard and fast, setting up by 9 30, ready for for 10pm opening and my 10 30 show. We do 4 shows a day at this event, plus walkabout and an all day circus skills workshop. So it’s a full on event for us.

Stormageddon wielding the big, heavy hammer (of doom)

 

Opposite us was “Odyssey Blacksmiths“. Run by a lovely young couple called James and Jenny they make and sell all sorts of metal work. They also provide demonstrations and “have a go” lessons, including a chance for children to stamp their names into soft metal necklaces. If you ever see them at a show, do take your kids over to them as they have a great way with children. Stormageddon had a go at this. He used the hammer whilst James held the punch for him. To his credit James didn’t swear once when stormageddon hit his fingers, although after the second time he did change the hammer for a somewhat lighter one.

Jester Dragonfly trying very hard not to look terrified, whilst Stormageddon takes it all in his stride

At one point Jester Dragonfly and Stormageddon were feeling brave and wandered over to a stall run by a group known as “reptile events“. They rescue and look after reptiles, all sorts of reptiles. Including a rather long and beautiful snake that somehow ended up draped over their shoulders. Why wasn’t it draped over mine as well? You think I’m a fool

I was surprised by the amount of faces in the audiences that I recognised from previous years and was more than a little flattered when public came up after a show to tell me that they come every year just to watch our shows and several people enquired about our costs for birthday parties and took our card.

Eventually,  after 3 days of walkabout, circus skills workshops and a total of 12 shows, it was time to break camp and head back to the fools house, arriving home around 11pm. Again it was a case of grab a few hours sleep and a shower before the next gig.

School circus skills workshop;

This was a gig we’d really been looking forward to. Today we were hired to run fun and educational workshops at Manea primary school. This is the school that stormageddon is lucky enough to attend, and I do mean lucky. It’s a wonderful little village school with great teachers who do a wonderful job. Not just teaching but also making learning fun. The way Stormageddon looks forward to school means that I really can’t praise them enough.

They’d hired us to work with the students who’d achieved 100 percent attendance.  A sort of thank you to them. We started the day with a fun demo of how to use the equipment safely, what you’re capable of achieving with it and the various learning stages. Then we spent an hour with groups of around 20 children at a time.

With these types of workshops and the age of the children what matters isn’t whether or not they learn to juggle. The important thing is to build their self confidence, show them what’s possible if you strive hard enough, and most importantly of all, to have a fun time. Having said that, I think that every child managed to achieve something. Be it moving a spinning plate from the stick onto their finger or the basic 3 ball juggle. They loved it and so did we.

Tuesday evening was spent doing nothing other than staring at the telly and having a well earned rest. Then Wednesday and Thursday was spent unloading the trailer. Cleaning and repairing equipment and cutting out around 100 braiding disks ready for Fridays work.

U.K. day;

The braiding disks are about 3 inches in diameter with a hole in the centre. They are made out of cardboard and have 8 slots cut into them. So by the time I’d cut 100 of them my fingers were well and truly aching. Once made we then had to thread various different coloured wools onto them and put each one into it’s own plastic bag. Why? Because Friday we were working at U.K. day.

U.K. day is an annual event (not only that, but it’s also held every year) for the school children of American forces based in the U.K. I daren’t say where it’s held as that’s probably an official secret and the last thing I need is a C.I.A. squad renditioning us to Guantanamo bay. Could you imagine Stormageddon there? The poor yanks would never know what hit them (“look, it’s waterboarding. You’re meant to me upset, not giggling”).

We arrived at the base, whizzed through the security checks so quickly that, unlike last year, I didn’t have time to put a clothes peg on any of the camp guards and set up a couple of tents. One, the largest of our tents was Jester Dragonfly’s work space. Here she would teach the children all about the life of a medieval lady, including medieval crafts. This would finish with the children learning how to braid (hence the braiding disks).

The other tent, a smaller bell tent, was my backdrop. Here I would play the part of her fool and teach them the history and role of the medieval fool, including not only various parts of my routine, but also lots of little known facts about and the various roles of the fool in medieval England (did you know that we were spies also bodyguards, or that St Bartholomew’s hospital was founded by a jester)?

We really enjoy working at this gig however, I do have one complaint. A large part of the fun in my show is the children heckling me. I love it as I never know what they are going to say, so it really keeps me on my toes. However the children on this base are always so polite. It’s all “yes sir” and “no mame”. It takes them a while to realize that not only can they give me hassle, but that I want them to. The other complaint is that they have never been to a pantomime, so things like “oh no I didn’t” just dont get the “oh yes you did” response that you’d expect. Having said that, I am very good at turning nice, polite children into first class hecklers and know better than to try any pantomime lines on this audience.

Saturday was a well needed day off and a chance for us to give in to the colds that we’d both caught. It’s not too bad when you’re performing, as you live off the adrenaline rush and are too busy to think about being ill. But when you finally have time to give in to the aches and pains of man flu, boy do they hit you. With all the subtlety of a speech by Donald Trump.

She checked the red bag (of doom), it was empty. She said magic words and a birthday card magically appeared inside the bag!

Birthday party;

Sunday afternoon we were performing at a birthday party. I love birthday parties. Although the audiences are smaller than at festivals, they are more excited, they all know each other and there’s less distractions. All of which makes for a more intense show. Oh, and another reason I like parties is there’s always birthday cake.

The party went well, with lots of silliness from Jester Dragonfly and I. Not just during the show, but also before and after and jester Dragonfly made loads of her award winning balloon models. Enough for every child.

Corporate entertainment;

Then Monday was the kind of work I really REALLY enjoy. A business meeting with some corporate clients in a lovely pub. After 23 shows and workshops in 10 days (including the 2 hour long show), this was a lovely way to end the latest run of shows. Now we have a few days off before the next show. I say days off, but the truth is I never really have a day off as I’m always working on new routines and tricks for you, my loyal fans.

The trick I’m working on now is promising to be one of my most mind boggling ones yet and it’s very nearly ready. So I’ll do a deal with you all. My facebook page currently has a grand total of 993 likes. That’s just a mere 7 likes short of 1,000!!! Now I really want 1,000+ likes and I know that you all want to see this latest masterpiece of magic. So if you can convince 7 people to like my page, then I’ll put a video of me performing it on line for you to all gaze at with wonder.

Until then, on behalf of all here at the fools house, I bid thee all farewell

your brilliantly humble fool

Peat

P.S. To check my availability, or to see where I’m performing next, please check out our events page

Easter and St George’s day

Easter and St George’s day

Hi, hail and welcome to yet another breathtaking blog from yours truly, DevilStick Peat, the cool fool.

Happy belated St George’s day. Not just to my fellow Englishmen, but also to my dear friends in Beslan, North Ossetia.

It seems that those Hazy lazy days of summer have finally arrived, I.E. I’m actually doing gigs minus my long John’s.  We at the fool’s house are already in full festival mode. Performing at all sorts of weird and wonderful events.

Easter bank holiday;

Just a few of the historic war horses
Jez Avery, stunt rider

Only the other week we were performing at “THE Berkshire Easter country fair”. Held in Berkshire (no surprise there) over the Easter weekend (again, no surprise there) this was a fun and diverse event with all sorts of entertainment ranging from a historic display of war horses to Jez Avery, stunt rider par excellence.

 

Jez is one of my sons favourite entertainers (other than me). If you haven’t seen him captivate an audience with his motor bike and crazy car stunts then keep reading my blogs, as next time we’re at the same event, I’ll be sure to let you know.

However, I think the highlight of the whole weekend for Jester Dragonfly and our 4 kids must of been the Monday morning Easter egg hunt. The kids loved it as it involved chocolate. Jester Dragonfly loved it as it gave her the chance to take embarrassing photos of yours truly searching for Easter eggs whilst making a point of not finding them before the kids did.

The egg hunt begins, but I’m not allowed to win

Then it was back to the fool’s house. Hidden away deep in the heart of the fens. This is where we spend our spare time thinking up and practising all the new crazy comic magic and juggling routines that make us one of the best fool troops on the circuit.

Facebook and the jumping dragons (of doom);

And on the subject of new magic, I’ve been working hard on a new and unique magic routine. Some say that the old classics are the best. Others that magic should always be new and exciting. Well this routine promises the best of both worlds. It’s not ready for public viewing yet, but those chosen few who’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak preview have been left amazed,  amused and perplexed.

In fact I’m so proud of the routine I’ve written that, once it’s ready, I might even put a video of it on my Facebook page. Which brings me nicely to another subject. Those fans loyal enough to have liked my Facebook page, were able to take part in a pole (If you haven’t liked it yet, just click here) I gave them a choice of several routines and asked which one they’d most like to see? The overwhelming majority of fans voted for “Jumping Dragons” a wonderfully funny routine performed with some bespoke medieval props. If you’re intrigued then check out my Facebook page (see the link above). But don’t forget to click the like button. We’re currently on 982 likes and so want to make it a nice round 1k.

St George’s day;

Last weekend was St George’s day. So we headed down to Calne in the south West of England.

It’s here that The white Hart coaching hotel takes over

A build your own knight kit, care of the Bodrugan Household

the green near their pub and, at great expense to themselves,  put on a fantastic celebration of medieval wonder. Last year’s event was such a success that this year they made it a two day event. Run over the Saturday and Sunday it was truly an action packed event with living history from The Bodrugan Household (Lots of medieval tents, sweaty men in armour and buxom wenches). Hands on displays where you and your children could try on suits of armour etc. and ask all sorts of rude and personal questions about life in the days of old, and of cause, lots and lots of hand to hand combat, where brave knights would do battle in the name of King,  country and St George.

For king, country and St George

Considering that this was the first event that the Bodrugan Household has ever put on, I was mightily impressed, but also somewhat confused. You see reenactors do what they do for a hobby. They go out on the field of honour and get hit on the head with large, heavy blunt instruments for no pay what so ever. Me? I never take part in the battles. In fact I do nothing dangerous yet I get paid to be there. So how comes they call me the fool?

 

 

We took our Total Immersion Show with us, so when I wasn’t performing my show or walkabout acts, I was helping Jester Dragonfly run our circus skills workshop. The crowds were a lot bigger than last year and very appreciative. So much so that by the end of the weekend I’d picked up 3 more gigs!

 

Our evenings, like everyone involved with the event, we’re

The juggling knifes (of doom)

spent enjoying fine food, beers and company in The white Hart coaching hotel. Owned by two friends of ours this is a wonderful hotel. The walls are festooned with paintings, relics and artefacts from days of old. A knight’s helmet here, a mounted arrow there. All interspersed with deers antlers and paintings of noblemen. The banqueting hall sports a very large and grand feasting table and equally grand chandeliers that hang majestically from its high ceiling. And it was in the banqueting hall that the white Hart laid on a medieval feast for as all. There was enough food to feed a small army, which was handy as that’s just what we were. They even supplied veggie alternatives for me and the other meat free munchers, with wonderful hand sized pies that tasted divine.

Stormageddon and Jester Dragonfly were booked into the hotel for the weekend, but I, your poor, humble and awesomely brilliant fool was billeted in one of our tents to help keep them secure overnight. This suited me fine as Stormageddon tends to get up around 6 30 in the mornings, so it meant I could have a lay in till 8 (oh the decadence I hear ye cry). Well Saturday must’ve been good fun as neither Jester Dragonfly or Stormageddon arose much before 9.

A medieval loom,
being loomed,
by a loomer (that might not be the correct technical phrase).

After yet another wonderful breakfast, care of the white Hart,  it was time to head back to the green for another day of fun and frolicking,  with shows, walk about, our circus skills workshops, ferret racing care of a ferret rescue charity and of cause, the living history and battles, care of those wonderful knights and damsels known as The Bodrugan Household

The show finished at 4pm. Then it was time to take down our encampment, put Stormageddon back into his box and head back to the fool’s house. Once home it was a case of clean and check all of our equipment. Then start to get ready for our next show.

Whats next;

We’ve got a busy weekend ahead of us. Friday I’m performing at a wedding, then we head down to Morden hall in south West London.  Here we’ve got 3 days of performing our Total Immersion show for those wonderful folk at Oakleigh fairs. We’ve worked at this show for several years now and love it. I honestly believe that it’s a great, action packed event with loads happening all day, every day and is guaranteed to give you great value for money.

Now I know what you’re all thinking. You’re thinking “Oh, if only we’d known sooner, we’d of come along, but we’ve made other arrangements. Why oh why didn’t you give us more notice”?

Well I hear your cries and feel your pain. This is why we’ve added a new page to our website. Now, if you click on our future events page, you’ll see a calendar with all our bookings on it. Here you can check where we’re working, gain access to discounted tickets and also check if we’re free for your event, wedding, child’s birthday party etc. I’ve yet to get every gig on there, but it’s getting there.

Please take the time to take a look and leave us any feedback in the comments section of this blog  (We do so love your comments and feedback).

Well that’s all for now folks. Now it’s time for me to get back to learning my new, super duper illusion. But before I do, I’d like to send a special thank you to Vix. I’ll think of him every time I perform it.

Your humble and brilliantly awesomely talented fool

DevilStick Peat.

P.S. Don’t forget to like our Facebook Page. When we make the 1k mark, we’ll celebrate by adding a new video

Happy Aprils fools day

Happy Aprils fools day

A slightly belated “happy aprils fools day” to  all our readers. And what a great Aprils fools day we had. But before I tell you all about it, let me start by telling you that we’ve recently made some changes to our website and would love to hear your views on them.

Our “birthdays page has new, more up to date photos and we now also have a special page for our “brownie circus performers badge workshop“. Please take a look and give us your views etc via the comments section at the end of this blog.

East of England food festival:

It only seems like yesterday that we put all of our festival kit away for the winter. Yet already we’ve had to clean the kit, take the dust cover off Stormageddon and change his batteries. “Why”?. Because it’s festival season again. Indeed we’ve already got a few under our belts.

Only last weekend we were performing at the “East of England food festival”. This is a well established show with a great reputation and despite the wind, it was well attended by both the public and traders.

I was in oral heaven as various stalls took it upon themselves to keep the cool fool fed. A wonderful lady selling succulent Indian food would accost me several times daily with bags of freshly cooked pakora and spicy samosas.

Farr Brew porter. You’d be a fool to say no

Those wonderful folk from “A moment in time” were doing a display of medieval cookery and, on discovering that we’re vegetarians promptly decided to make their display medieval vegetarian cookery, and very yummy it was.

The “Farr brew” brewery thought it would be good to have a photo taken of me holding one of their bottles of Porter.  Obviously I couldn’t be seen to endorse a product I haven’t tried, but I can now tell you that their Porter is a true work of art. As are both their dark and light bitters. I’ve heard a rumour that they will soon be releasing a new “joker ale”. I so hope that they want me to endorse that as well. Maybe I can do a deal with them where they use my logo on the bottles and I get a lifetime supply of joker ale.

But it wasn’t just fine food and drink that was on offer that weekend. There was also several marquees of craft stalls, including the lovely lads from “Lord and lama“.

These two gentlemen specialise in wooden, handmade works from far off exotic lands. Here you can pick up anything from a bespoke flower vase to a large teak table, or maybe you’d like a set of hand carved garden chairs with 7 foot high backs, all carved like giant oak leaves?

Stormageddon and jester Dragonfly weren’t at this event, so we didn’t have the full set up, but the fool was set up and running over the two days, performing his own brand of zany humour and magic. If you missed it then dont worry, as at the end of this blog I’ll tell you where we’re performing next (cause I’m nice like that).

Festival of fools:

Stormageddon in his new motley (that’s the correct term for a fools clothes)

This weekend, being April’s fools day, we headed up north to “Alnwick castle” in Northumberland.

We traveled up there via nottingham so as to pick up Stormageddon’s  new motley from those wonderful wizards of costumes and creations, “Brighid designs“. Who just happens to be one of the best creative costumers in the business. If you want anything from a handmade, unique wedding dress to a 17th century pirate coat (or even an amalgamation of the two), then these really are the folk to see. Please, dont confuse them with “bridget designs“. Although they are both outstanding in their fields, the latter is an amazing website designer. Funnily enough, I knew a scarecrow who was also called bridget, and he was outstanding in his field as well (think about it).

“But why” I hear you ask “did we choose to spend Aprils fools day at Alnwick castle”? Well I shall tell you. Alnwick castle is not just the ancestral home of the Duke of Northumberland  (who still lives there) and where several of the quidditch and broom flying parts of Harry Potter were filmed, but also one of the last castles to have a residential fool! So where else could be more symbolic than the lawns of Alnwick castle.

Oh, and the other reason is that they paid us to be there. Indeed this weekend they hired in a total of 4 fools (5 if you include our zany, the infamous Stormageddon) to partake in their festival of fools. An event that they hope to put on around this time every year!

On one part of the lawn was 2 fools known collectively as “Zooted”. I’ve known them for a good number of years and can say in all honesty that they are nearly as good as myself. On the other side was ourselves, with 3 of our medieval tents, the jesters school of…….well……….jestering and my magic and juggling shows.

The highlight of the shows for me was getting the chance to gatecrash a really posh wedding banquet that was happening in another part of the castle and perform a couple of quick impromptu routines for the bride and groom. But the highlight of the whole weekend must have been the B&B we stayed at.

Like father like son

Wedding anniversary:

We arrived at “The Alndyke farm ” B&B friday evening and were greeted by its owner, Laura.  She’s the type of woman that you instantly feel at ease with and, upon learning that we’d be leaving before breakfast time, said she’d leave milk and cereal out for us. The room was lovely, with a single bed for storm, a massive double bed for so many pillows, we could of used a different one every day.

The next day was Saturday, the first of April. Now this date isn’t just special to us because it’s April fools day. It’s also special because it just happens to be the day I got married! And funny enough, it also just happens to be the day that my wife also got married. Well, when else could a fool do something so foolish? Besides, it’s a date I can remember.

Work went well with large crowds for both, our shows and our workshops. So when we got back to Alndyke farm we were well and truly tiered (except for stormageddon who runs on duracell batteries). Unbeknown to me, my wife had told Laura that it was our wedding anniversary and given her some banners and balloons to put up in the room. To get back to that was a wonderful surprise for me. Then we noticed the bottle.

Thank you Alndyke farm B&B, it was a lovely surprise

Laura,  upon discovering that it was our wedding anniversary had gone out and brought us a bottle of champagne! It was a lovely gesture and something that I’ll remember for years to come. It’s little things like that which make special days magical and one of the many reasons why I really can’t recommend this lovely, family run business highly enough. If you’re ever looking for a relaxing break in some wonderful english countryside, at a B&B that looks and feels a lot more expensive than it is, then check out Alndyke farm. You really won’t be disappointed.

Sundays weather was a lot warmer than Saturdays, so the crowds were even larger. James, the castles events manager came to watch my show and was impressed, not only by my linking rings (of doom) routine (of which I am immensely proud), but also by some of our bespoke, custom made magic props, designed to look medieval and professionally made just for us. After all, you can’t have plastic props in a medieval show, that would just be wrong.

 

Eventually the day came to an end, the crowds went home and we were left to break camp, pack the trailer, then head back to the B&B where Stormageddon  and Jester Dragonfly fell asleep in front of the telly, leaving me to relax, practising my latest trick. I don’t want to say to much about it yet, but if all goes well then this summer I’m going to be performing a close up magic routine that really will blow your minds. All I’ve got to do now is practice, practice and practice.

Having fallen off of my broomstick, it then hovered back down to me.

Monday morning came along and, after checking out of the B&B, we headed back to the castle to play at being members of the public. The state rooms are truly stunning and give a big insight into the “upstairs downstairs” life of times gone by. I was particularly moved by their display about employees who joined the forces to fight in the 2 world wars.

Then Stormageddon and I took part in the Alnwick castle “broomstick flying lessons“. These are great fun and very well taught. They also include some great tips for photos of the students flying. Both Stormageddon and I loved it. Infact, Stormageddon loved it so much that he took part in it not once, but twice!

The morning quickly turned into the early afternoon. So, with a long way to go, we decided to head homeward, back to Manea and the fools house. Once home it was time to unpack and clean the equipment before reloading, ready for our next event.

“But what is your next event”? I hear you cry. Well we’ve got an action packed summer full of events, including some old favourites, such as “The loxwood joust“. This is surely the best medieval event in the country. Infact it’s so good that it happens not once but twice! Always on the first two weekends of August. There’s also some new ones like “The Berkshire easter craft and country fair” near reading. Held on easter Sunday and monday, this is an action packed show with entertainment all day every day. Then, on 22nd and 23rd of April we’re performing at the Calne ST Georges day medieval reenactment in, well,  Calne. This is a wonderful event. It’s put on by our dear friends from “The white hart coaching hotel” and is guaranteed to bring you all a taste of life in medieval times. Not just the excitement of Knights fighting for honor on the field of valour, but also living history where you can see and chat to all sorts of folk from days gone by.

Well that’s all for now folks. Please take a look at the new improved “Birthdays page” and make any comments via the comments link below. Also, my facebook page “DevilStick Peat” now has 949 likes. That’s so close to the magic 1,000. So if you haven’t liked it yet, please do so and in return we at the fools house promise to love you for ever


 

winter past and spring to come

winter past and spring to come

As spring is in the air and Christmas is now nothing more than a distant memory, empty biscuit tins and sellotape marks on the ceiling, so I thought that it’s about time I enthralled you with yet another riveting blog describing the life, times and tribulations of a modern day medieval fool.

Here at the fool house we’ve had a great winter season. Some of the highlights of which were as follows:

Melford Old Christmas Fair.

devilstick peat performs at christmas fairs
The long melford olde christmas fair lantern parade

This was a wonderful event put on by the local people of long Melford. I must say that they really know how to push the boat out. There was a Santa’s grotto, reindeer, stalls galore, wondering magicians and of cause, yours truly was there. Performing shows and walkabout routines. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, at the end of the day they had a lantern parade through the town. This was a particularly nice touch as it gave the local children (including the grown up ones) a chance to show off their home made lanterns and really put everyone in a christmassy mood.

You can see photo’s and find out details about this year’s fun packed event via this red coloured link to their facebook page.

Santa Claus.

devilstick peat performs as a magic performing santa claus
When Jester Dragonfly came to visit Santa, guess which book I found her in?

This year I had the privilege of being allowed to play santa, not once, but twice! (and only one child was heard to say “hey, Santa sounds just like storms daddy”). O.K. so I didn’t get paid for it. Well, not in money anyway. But this job isn’t just about the money. It isn’t just about the look on their faces when Santa does some magic (although that is one of the best parts). It’s about playing with and feeding a child’s imagination. And with that comes both, great satisfaction and great responsibility.

Do it right. Feed his imagination in the correct way, and he’ll grow up to be an imaginative adult. Just like the ones who had the imagination to dream of a world where telephone lines could link computers, or of incubators to help keep newborn babies alive. O.K. that might sound extreme to you but, as some of you may know, in my role of a humanitarian, I have done around a dozen tours of conflict and war zones. Here I’ve met children whose imagination has been fed the wrong way. Children who quite literally havent even smiled in over a year. How many of them are now members of Islamic state is anyone’s guess. Look at it that way and you realize just how important our job is.

BBC INTERVIEW

And that brings me to yet another of my winter highlights. I was approached by BBC radio cambridgeshire and asked if I’d be willing to talk about my work in war zones live on radio! It was broadcasted at 9A.M. on the 22nd of January on a program called “Nic Conrad on sunday”.

Devilstick peat about to be interviewed by the BBC about performing in war zones
DevilStick Peat at the BBC studio’s

This is like a local radio version of desert Island disks. Nic played a selection of my favorite tunes (ranging from “Puff the magic dragon” to “The time warp”) and in between we chatted about my life. I openly admit to being very nervous at the start. Not least because the last time the BBC interviewed me about my work in war zones they asked the sort of questions that you really shouldn’t (E.G. what’s the worst thing you’ve seen!). However I have to say that Nic was brilliant. Not only was he sensitive to the subject matter, but he really made me feel relaxed. It felt more like a natter with a mate than an interview.

 

You can hear the whole thing here. But hurry as it’s only available for another 11 days

Other highlights.

our circus skills badge session starts with our demo and ends with the students demo
Stormageddon and DevilStick Peat teaching Brownies how to use the equipment safely.
whole brownie, girl guide and scout packs get their circus skills badge in one session with devilstick peat
Juggling 3 scarves.
Scarves are perfect for learning the basic juggling pattern as they are so slow and floaty

We’ve been doing a fair few workshops over the winter. Including brownie and rainbows circus badge workshops. When not jestering, Jester Dragonfly volunteers as the local girl guiding district commissioner. So we do a special, discounted rate workshop aimed at getting whole brownie packs through their circus badge (including the art section) in one night. I love doing these as the ladies who run the packs always seem to get more joy out of the sessions than their brownies do. More than once we’ve had a brownie leader squeal with delight as they get a plate spinning or a flowerstick up and flying. In Fact they’re so much fun that we now have a new page on the website, especially for the Brownies circus performers badge workshops

We also ran a workshop for a special needs group of young adults in the town of March. We’d been paid to run a workshop for them earlier in the year and it was just so much fun, that we offered to come back again for free around christmas time.

Again, it’s not just about the money in this trade, it’s also about enjoying the work and this group are a real pleasure to work with. Both Jester Dragonfly and I were surprised by just how much they’d remembered from our last visit. A sure sign that they’d had fun.

Up and coming events.

But enough of this nostalgic reminiscing. For winter is past, and spring, with its daffodils and snowdrops is once again upon us (Hence the reason their threatening snow). So it’s time to look forwards and let you know not only a little about what we’ve got planned for this coming year, but also how to get those all important discounted tickets!

Once again we will be performing at all our regular events, including, but limited to;

Battle Medieval FayreA lovely little event that’s held outside Battle Abbey in east sussex every year on the late may bank holiday. There’s no discounted tickets avalible for this event, but that’s because it’s totally free to enter.

The loxwood JoustHeld at loxwood near Guildford over the first two weekends in August. This event ranks as one of the best medieval events in the country. It has everything you’d expect to see and a lot more besides. A great day out for the whole family. Discounted tickets can be found on their website (Follow the red link above).

England’s Medieval FestivalThis year the event, which is held at Herstmonceux castle in east sussex, is celebrating it’s 25th year. This has always been a big, spectacular event, but this year they’re really pushing the boat out to make it the best ever. It even has camping, glamping and bed and breakfast as well as a wonderful nightly medieval banquet. Discounted tickets can be found on their website (Follow the red link above).

The Cambridge Living History Fair. Well attended by traders, re-enactors and the public

But the very next event we’re performing at is “The Cambridge Living History Fair” on the 18th and 19th of February. I’m not going to go into too much detail about this event as there’s already a review of it in one of my earlier blogs. If you missed it, then you can view it hereFor more info about those attending, or to book yourself a stall, please check out their facebook pageSurfast to say that there’s not just stalls galore selling goods from all historic periods, but there’s also some wonderful entertainment guaranteed to amaze and amuse the whole family. So if you’re looking for an unusual valentines present for your partner, why not treat them to a day at the fair.

Then, on the 25th and 26th of March, we’re performing our “Total Immersion Showat “The east Of England Food Festival”. This is a wonderful event that’s held at The herst county showground, AL3 7TP.

This is a fantastic, fun filled festival of food, crafts and good wholesome family entertainment. There’s even going to be various personalities from masterchief attending.

So if you’re looking for a cheap, fun filled day out for all the family, then come along and join in the fun.You can even buy discounted tickets simply by following this link.

 

After that we pack up and head up north to Alnwick castle. here we’ll be spending April the 1st and 2nd celebrating Aprils fools day with various other fools. More info on that festival to follow latter.

As for all the other events we’re performing at. Well, I’ll tell you about them nearer the date. For now we’ll going to keep you in suspense.

“But What if I miss the next blog” I hear you cry. “Then I wont know where to see you”!

Fear not my friend. For all you need do is join that merry band of faithful followers who have subscribed to my blog. It’s really easy to do. Just enter your email address into the link at the top right hand side of the blog home page then click on the bit that says “sign up”, easy-peasy. That way you’ll get an email every time I post a blog and don’t worry. We at the fool’s house take privacy very seriously and promise not to sell or give your details to anyone else.

Well that’s all for now folks. I’m going to bid you all “hail and farewell”, switch off the computer, then stare out of the window at the snow clouds over head and think about how lucky I am to spend the winter in england with a wife and kids, as opposed to those horrible long gone winter days of freedom spent traveling around the beaches of India.

Yours foolishly

DevilStick Peat

Jester festival entertainer with repeat bookings

Jester festival entertainer with repeat bookings

About This Jester Festival entertainer;

Although this weeks blog is entitled “Jester festival entertainer”, I’m actually a festival entertainer who gets a lot of repeat bookings. Many go back over 10 years. Some go back over 20 years! That’s nearly a quarter of a century of performing at the same festival year after year. So in this blog entry I’ve decided that, for the first time ever, I’m going to tell you some of the ways I insure repeat bookings.

Like I say, some shows have used me for over 20 years! So trust me when I say these ideas work. Adapt them to your persona and they will work for you as well.

Last weekend we were performing our “Total Immersion” show at a country fair on the grounds of Shugborough Hall. We arrived early on Saturday morning and eagerly set about putting up our brightly coloured medieval encampment. Then, once we were set up I headed down to the main gate, or “front of house” as we say in the trade. here I’d meet the public as they enter.

The show didn’t open until 10 a.m. I knew that there’d be no public there until 9 45 a.m. and my first show wasn’t until 10 30 a.m. But still I was there at 9 30 a.m. and here’s why.

Secret To Success;

I want every show that books me too want to book me next year as well. As this isn’t just good for my ego, but also my bank account. To do this the show needs to be a success and I need to be seen making it a success. So this week’s blog is an in depth look at some of the ways I achieve this. That doesn’t mean I’m going to tell you all about the routines I use. After all, what works for my persona may not work for yours. Instead I’m going to tell you the theory behind what I do and why it works. That way you can take the bare bones and add your own skin to it. As a stand up performer I know that the secret to a successful show is to have a strong beginning, middle and end. Well believe it or not, this also applies not just to your performance, but to the whole event.

Strong Beginnings;

Meet and greet routines ensure that the public are smiling before they even enter the event
Meet and greet routines ensure that the public are smiling before they even enter the event

Having polite car parking attendants and enough cash tills to negate any long queues is an ok beginning, not a strong beginning. A strong beginning is where the public are laughing before they even enter the event. Where someone can answer simple questions whilst keeping the queues amused. A strong beginning means that they will only remember the funny man at the entrance, not the cost of entry.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve got there early. I now have time to look at the program and see what’s on. Talk to the gate crew and ask a few questions (even if you already know the answers, ask anyway as it makes you look keen). Most importantly of all, if they aren’t rushing around in a last minute panic, have a quick laugh and joke with them. Get them on your side. Why? Because they are going to help get you that repeat booking, they just don’t know it yet.

By the time the public start turning up you need to know the following;

First Aid Tent;

In over 29 years of performing, I’ve never once needed to tell someone in the queue where the first aid tent is, but it’s always a good thing to know. Afteral, one day it might be me that ends up needing it (have you seen my knife juggling).

Toilets;

Where the nearest toilets to the gate are. After all, there’s no telling how far they have driven to get to the show and no one wants them to have to turn around again and go home just because little billy has had an accident. Well, not before they have paid to get in anyway.

Sure, they can ask the person on the till once they get to the front of the queue, but if little billy is bursting, then it’s much better if you escort billy and a parent to the toilet (if the event is well laid out then there will be one just inside the gate). Then escort them back to their place in the queue.

What’s On;

meeting the public as they enter the showground
Keeping the queues happy as they wait to enter.

One of my meet and greet routines involves telling the queues what on and “bigging them up”. This does two things. It not only adds to the excitement and expectation, but also helps convince people that the shows worth the money. You’d be surprised at how many families turn up, look at the entrance fee, then turn around and go back home. Thats a lot harder to do if the funny man has just told little billy about the jousting etc. However, never…… NEVER tell them what time the other shows are on, or where in the show ground they are performing.  This is really important. If you want to know why, then read on.

 

Now if you’ve done the above right and if you’re good at your job. Then it’s not just the public who are going to talk about how funny you were, but also the gate crew. Also, they’ll talk about how you made their job easier. Something that will get back to the event organiser, and that’s good news for you.

All of the above has taken around 45 minutes. Sure, it’s more than they booked you to do, but look at it this way. You can spend more than 45 minutes looking for a booking for next year. Then you have to add on to that the time taken to email and ring a new event that may or may not book you. Truth is that 45 minutes has saved you a lot of time, guaranteed your financial well being and impressed not just that client, but also any other potential clients that have turned up to see what the oppositions booked.

The First Sneaky Bit;

5 balls, 2 hands, no problem
5 balls, 2 hands, no problem

When you told the queues what’s on and “bigged them up”, you didn’t tell them when and where they are performing. However, you did tell them where and when your first show is. Also, you “forgot” to mention that you’re doing 3 shows a day. You only mentioned your first show.

So far you’re the best (and only) thing they’ve seen. The kids are amazed by your magic and the parents are amused by your jokes. They know where and when you’re doing a show. All these things will help to ensure that your first show is a big one, and that’s important as the events only just opened, so the field isn’t at full capacity yet. This means that the event organiser can stand in the middle of the field and see all the stages and if you’ve got the biggest and loudest crowd, then that’s going to stick in his mind. In fact that’s one of the main reasons he is going to book you for this show again. Not in 6 months time, but at the end of this weekend.

Strong Middle;

The strong middle is basicly your shows and walkabout routines. There’s no point in me telling you what to do there as it’s your show, not mine. but here’s some advice on how to use your performance to your advantage.

If like myself, you’re booked to perform walk about as well as shows, always make sure that, whilst interacting with the public, you not only let them know where and when your next show is, but also invite them to come and watch it. Make the invite sound genuine and personal. This last bit really makes a difference with the children. They love the fact that the funny man invited them, personally.

comic juggling from the first show of the day
comic juggling from the first show of the day

When you’ve done your shows, don’t just say “thank you” and walk off. Always hang about and talk with one or two kids. This is important for two reasons. It gives the adults a chance to ask for a card, contact details etc (you’d be surprised at how many birthday parties I get via country shows). But more importantly, it gives kids and adults a chance to say how much they enjoyed the show and that’s something you can use to your advantage. When they’ve finished complimenting your show, don’t just say “thank you”. Instead be brazen. say something like “thank you, but if you really mean it, when you leave, if anyone asks what your favorite bit was, tell them it was me”. Because of my persona, I can make a joke out of this. It doesn’t matter if you sound like you mean it or not. What matters is putting that thought into their head. OK, so normally most people won’t say anything when they leave, but you’ve put a seed of thought into their heads. One that you’ll use at the end of the day. Most importantly of all, remember their faces, as they are going to make you look amazing.

Strong Ending;

The shows over, the public have had a good day and you’re worn out from a hard days work. There’s just one last thing to do to help ensure that repeat booking. You’ve got to be down by the gate as the people leave, ready to do the good byes. The goodbyes are probably even more important than the hallos, as it’s going to really stick in the people’s minds. I always take two sets of routines with me for the good byes. One set is quick stuff for people who don’t want to stop, the other set involves slightly longer routines for those who aren’t in a hurry to get home.

I never do the goodbyes in a static position as this makes me look too predatory. Like one of those charity chuggers you get in the high street. Yes I’m around the exit area, but moving around as I perform for the exiting public.

What ever routine I’m performing I always ask the person I’m doing it for if they had a good time and what their favorite bit was. this is valuable information for the client that booked you, and if you want a repeat booking then you need to be valuable to him in every way possible.

The Second Sneaky Bit;

Woodbine the burping polecat puppet (of doom) meets a somewhat confused dog
Woodbine the burping polecat puppet (of doom) says goodbye to a somewhat confused dog.

Remember how you told that child to tell the gate crew how wonderful your show was? Remember how I

told you to remember their faces. Well now you’ve noticed them walking towards you on the way out. As you’re moving around interacting with the public, so you’re going to move closer to the gate crew. When you do your goodbyes for that child, you’re going to ask him what his favorite bit was. You’ve already planted the answer in his mind but the gate crew don’t know this. All they know is that every time they have heard you ask the question, everyone’s given the same answer. YOU!

 

Summary;

If it’s a good event, then it stands to reason that it’s been put on by a good events organiser. Good event organisers alway have a crew debrief after a show. They will always ask for and listen to all the crews feedback.

If you’ve done your job right. Then the gate crew have seen you working the queue before the event even opens. They’ve noticed how you took the time to check what’s on and used this to entice people in. They’ve not only seen you working the public as they leave, but also heard lots and lots of public feedback, and it’s all been about you. Add to this the fact that your first show was bigger and louder than any of the others. All this makes you not just valuable, but invaluable to the event. and that folks, equals a repeat bookings. Some of which have lasted me nearly a quarter of a century.

Forthcoming events;

loxwood joust
Me, about to be trampled to death by a knight in armour.

From the 5th of August until the 15th of August we’ll be away at one of Europe’s premier medieval festivals. “The Loxwood Joust“. This is a totally amazing concoction of everything medieval and I do mean everything. There’s jousting, living history, a gruesome executioner, knights and soldiers competing in battles and lots more. Including authentic witches (you’ll find them in the woods), enchanting music from the “Medieval Baebes” and of cause, our “Total Immersion” show, staring myself, Jester Dragonfly and the adorable Stormageddon.

Held every year at The Loxwood Meadow, WEST SUSSEX, RH14 0AL, this event has proved so popular with the public that it now happens for not just one, but two weekends! The 6th, 7th, 13 and 14th of August. If you only make it to one medieval event this year, make it this one. You really won’t be disappointed. It truly is awesome and a big point of pride that every year they choose us to be the jesters.

For a look at what’s in store, check out this video of last years event

 

 

 

puppet psychology

puppet psychology

This coming weekends event;image1(1)

Before I tell you about puppet psychology, let me tell you about next weekend.

This Saturday, the 9th of July I’ll be performing in Earith. It’s the primary School’s summer party. Ran by Friends Of Earith School.

It’s a fun filled day where you can enjoy yourselves safe in the knowledge that you’re helping a good cause. I.E. the education of children.

It’s being held at Earith Primary school, School Road, Earith, PE28 3QB

I’m performing there all afternoon, so do come and say “Hi”.

Puppet psychology;

Hello
Hello

I’m going to share with you a little trick of the trade that I like to call “Puppet psychology”. I was booked to perform at a 2 day country fair in Danson Park in Bexleyheath. The show opened at 10 a.m. and my first show was at 10 30 a.m. Doing a show half an hour after the event has opened can be somewhat problematic, as most people don’t want to stop for a show. Their instinct is to look around first and see what’s where. Luckily for me, over the years I’ve developed several strategies to convince them otherwise. This time I decided to use my favorite way. It’s my favourite way as it’s a little bit devious, in the sense that they wont know that they are stopping to watch a show until it’s too late.

Woodbine meets a friend
Woodbine meets a friend

The puppet set up;

I set up my stand in my allotted place, on the side of the walkway and stood in the middle of the path facing the entrance. In my hands was a puppet I call “Woodbine“, my pot noodle eating, burping polecat (of doom) and waited. I made a point of not looking at anyone, preferring instead to look into the distance, behind them. My head was bobbing about a little as I tried to look over and beyond the people heading my way. This head bobbing was important as it really helps to get their attention, even from a distance.

After a couple of minutes a family stopped, transfixed by Woodbine, trying to work out if he was real or not. After a few seconds I pretended to suddenly notice them, but only the children. I moved closer as I spoke to the two children, making a point of not looking the adults in the eye. Then, once woodbine was a few inches from the oldest boys face, he suddenly pulled his head out of the pot and burped in the child’s face. It was a long, loud, deep burp that made both children jump back in surprise, before bursting out in laughter.

The loud burp, sudden movements of the children and their laughter, all worked to make a few more people stop and watch as I held Woodbine out for them to stroke. Then, when the mother went to stroke him, that’s when he shot up my arm, resulting in her giving a little scream. This was just the reaction I’d hoped for as it caused even more people to stop and watch. Up to now I’ve totally ignored all the adults, concentrating solely on the two children. This was important as, if I’d spoken to or even looked at the parents or other adults, half of them would of smiled politely and walked away. Something that obviously I didn’t want, as these people were going to help me get an audience. They just didn’t know it yet.

I asked the two children if they wanted to see a quick little magic trick, they of cause said yes. The use of the words “quick” and “little” were vital here as they implied to the adults (who still wanted to look around first) that it wont take long. I went to my stand and produced a little blackboard. It was imperative that it was a small trick as this not only strengthened the idea that it’s a quick trick, but  also encouraged people to move closer when asked. I walked part way back to the children before motioning to them and the other children that have stopped to watch to come closer. Still I hadn’t looked at or acknowledged any adults. The children came a little closer, followed by their parents.

Getting them closer;

I started a routine that involves chalk lines that jump around the blackboard, disappearing then reappearing. Then, just before the magic actually happened, I paused. Now it was time to finally acknowledge the adults.

“If you come closer” I said, looking at the ones near the back, “I get bigger”. This not only got a laugh but also, because those at the back tend to stand there in the hope that the strange man wont pick on them, it also convinces them that they are actually safer in amongst the crowd. As everyone moved closer, so I took a couple of steps backwards until I’m in line with my stand. There was now only about 15 people watching the trick, but the fact that they were all laughing and loosely grouped together (almost a crowd) soon attracted others to stop and briefly watch to see whats happening. After all, humans are nothing if not inquisitive.

The jumping ring (of doom)
The jumping ring (of doom)

At the end of the routine people were going to clap and walk on, an idea that I had to remove from their minds. So as soon as I’d finished that routine and they started to clap I reached behind my stand. My hand reappeared holding the next routine up proudly in front of me as I paused. Pauses are as important to visual art as they are to music. Done right, at the correct length and tempo and they can double the laughter, make an audience relax, or simply increase their antici……….pation. Done wrongly and you’ll ruin your whole performance as surly as you would a song (and if you’ve ever heard me sing, you’ll know why I do comedy for a living).

 

There are two reasons why I paused here. one is to acknowledge the applause and wait for it to die down. The other is to give the people a chance to look at the object I was holding. A carved length of wood with 3 pieces of rope hanging from it. On the end of one piece was a large ring. I wanted them to look at it so as to arouse their curiosity. Sure, some folk walked off, but most were happy to hang on for a minute or two just to see what it does.

Getting the children to sit;

“Here I have a piece of wood” I said, and again I paused as a thought suddenly occurred to me. “hey kids, the grass is dry so take a seat and watch whilst I perform some high tech magic”. I didn’t say “do you want to sit” as this implies that they have a choice, and I didn’t want them to choose to stand. If they were standing then there was more chance that their parents would get them to leave.

Once seated I looked at the back of the crowd of maybe 20-25 people. “Adults, can you just move a bit closer as we’re blocking the walk way”. They weren’t, but the closer knitted they were, the more they would laugh (strange but true). Also, it meant that more people would come over to see what I’m doing if there’s a crowd blocking their view (again, strange but true).

“That’s it, just come close enough to throw money”. This last line does several things. It makes them laugh and it convinces them that everyone else is already moving closer. “Only joking” I said, “I’m paid to be here, that’s how comes I can afford to pay these children to sit here”. This line is again important as I didn’t want them to think I’m busking. Also, as I mentioned the kids, so I looked at them. There were still one or two standing and it gave me a chance to politely ask them to sit so that the children behind can see.

The show had only been open 40 minutes. I’ve only been working for 5 minutes and already I’ve got a reasonably sized crowd. One that’s big enough for me to start my show. Job done, and I hadn’t even announced that a show was going to happen. Now how cool is that?

Rum and fun;

You'd have to be a fool not to try this rum
You’d have to be a fool not to try this rum

I done 4 shows that day and lots of walk about in between them, so it was a busy day. But even so I made a point of doing little bits for the stall holders.

One of the stalls was selling “morant bay spiced rum” and its owner asked me to pose for a photo holding a bottle. Of cause I obliged. “Do you drink” he asked? “Occasionally” I replied. I knew he was giving away free tasters and was all set to decline an offer to try it (I never drink whilst working), but rather than offer me a thimble sized glass of rum, he gave me a small bottle to try latter! I drank it on the train Sunday night and can honestly say that it’s one of the nicest spiced rums I’ve ever tried. If you like your rum, you’ll love this one. I give it 10 out of 10 for smoothness and flavor.

The day came to a close and tiered but happy I retired to my tent, sitting outside and enjoying the late afternoon sun. Then about 7 p.m. I headed down to the beer tent for food.

On Saturday nights the beer tent puts on a roast meal for those staying on site. Tonights meal was roast turkey, complete with all the trimmings. As per normal there was more than enough to go round. I’m a strict veggie, so I didn’t have the turkey, but richards roast spuds are legionary and a good hearty meal is just what one needs after a hard days work. Now not only does he do good spuds, but he also runs a good beer tent, with several real ales (I counted 5 at this event) as well as lagers, ciders etc. He also has all the spirits that you’d expect to see in a pub. Not just the basics but all the girly ones like archers etc. So if you’re looking for a beer tent for a wedding or event, give richard a shout. I think you’ll be quite impressed.

Sunday;

My victim, I mean volunteer
My victim, I mean volunteer

Sunday brought glorious sunshine and even larger crowds. Everyone, showmen, stall owners and public were in good spirits, which always makes my job so much easier. Even so, working in that heat and jumping around in a woolen motley (that’s the correct name for a jesters clothes) meant that I had to stop at regular intervals to take on water. It was during one of these quick breaks that I got talking to the owner of one of the miniature steam engines that were on display. % minutes later I had a massive grin on my face as I proudly sat on it’s seat, driving it around site, beaming like a school kid in a sweet shop. It’s just a shame that we didn’t get a photo of it.

The day came to a close, the public left and we started to pack up. I was on a tight schedule due to train times but made it to the station with minutes to spare. My train came in and I sat in my seat. I was feeling very tired and wondering how on earth I was going to keep myself awake. It was then that I remembered the bottle of rum I’d been given the day before. As we left london I sat there, sipping away on a wonderful bottle of rum. Thinking about driving steam engines and how incredibly lucky I am to do what I do.

I love my job, I really do

Blessed reminders in Cambridge

Blessed reminders in Cambridge

Before I tell you all about last weekends fun, I want to tell you about this up and coming weekend. There’s an amazing bunch of drummers I know called The pentacle drummers, and they have a very special place in my heart. I have a disabled nephew who’s ambition when he grows up was to be both me and darth vader.  Then one day he was at an event with us and heard the pentacle drummers drumming. 30 odd men and women with drums and attitude, he loved it. he got talking to one of them (don’t worry Adam, I wont embarrass you by naming you), and Adam let him have a go on his drum. Next time we meet them my nephew has his own drum and ends up joining in with one of their sets. Well to cut a long story short, my nephew is now a member of the pentacle drummers and loves it. It’s done his confidence the world of good, his mum a world of good, and believe it or not, but his actually a surprisingly good drummer, who’s ambition now is to be me, performing children’s birthday party entertainment, darth vader and Adam (I kid thee not).

Well this weekend they are holding their yearly summer solstice gig at langney sports club, Priory Lane, Eastbourne, bn23 7qh. There’s camping on site from Friday evening, loads of music, vikings, belly dancers, and lots more happening, including their stone age games! For more info check out their Facebook page here12717653_10153374508462727_3183717243936643879_n

https://www.facebook.com/events/187249254972982/

Anyway, because they’ve looked after my family, so this year we’re headed down there and I’m performing cheap for them. If you’re in the area and wondering how best to celibate the solstice, then you really cant do better than this gig. We went the other year and had a fantastic time.

Cambridge country fair

Enough about next week. Let me tell you all about the brilliant time we had last weekend at the Cambridge country fair. This is one of my favorite gigs. Partly because its one of Oakleigh fairs larger events, with loads of side shows and entertainment happening all the time, but mainly because its close to home, which means that Jester Dragonfly and Co go home at nights, leaving me to my own devices (or should that read vices).

Amongst the many shows that are there are large steam engines, Sue and her unpredictably funny goat show, loads of farm animals, ponies etc,

medieval re-enactors hitting each other on the head with large heavy weapons in a historical and educational manner and of cause DevilStick Peat, Jester Dragonfly and the star of the show, the one and only Stormageddon, performing our Total Immersion show, complete with medieval encampment, circus skills workshop (the jesters school of……well…..jestering) and myself, DevilStick Peat, performing shows and walk about.

I set the tents up early on Friday morning and, as I headed out of town to pick up Stormageddon, so I was impressed to see that other people had taken photos of our bright, red and yellow tents and were already posting them on Facebook. Anyone would think that they’re not used to seeing medieval tents in the city center. After I’d pick up Stormageddon and delivered him safely to Jester Dragonfly I headed back to Cambridge, arriving there around 6 p.m.

Our medieval encampment
Our medieval encampment

So far all was going to plan and I now had around 3-4 hours of sunlight in which to slowly put the finishing touches to our encampment. No problem, or so I thought.

It was just as I started that Steve turned up on site. Steve is 60 something years old and has only ever had one job in his life, making cider. Not just any old cider, but Norfolk’s finest cider, the best I’ve ever tasted. Well I couldn’t let someone old enough to retire set up camp on his own now could I? So as per normal I offered to lend a hand unloading his wagon, and as per normal his reply was “lets not rush things, have a cider first”. 4 or 5 ciders latter he was set up and ready to open in the morning, so it seemed only fair to help him celibate this fact with, yep, you’ve guessed it, another 4 or 5 ciders.

Now the first time I ever met Steve he made an outrageous claim. He said that if I only drunk his cider all night long I wouldn’t wake up with a hangover. Well obviously I just had to put his theory to the test and was somewhat surprised to discover that it was in fact true, but in the name of science I thought that I’d best repeat the experiment, several times over just to be sure, including this weekend.

For some reason I didn’t get to put the finishing touches to the encampment that night, but I did awake Saturday morning with a clear head, beautiful sunshine and the promise of a fun filled weekend ahead of me. What more could a jester ask for? So by the time that Jester Dragonfly and Stormageddon arrived back on site everything was ready and I was enjoying a hearty breakfast before my first show which, as always with Oakleigh fairs, was booked for 10 30 a.m.

Highlights

Mine

a hand sown portrait of me on my work stand with the tubes of doom
A hand sown portrait of me on my work stand with the “tubes of doom”.

Concerning how early it was I was somewhat surprised by the size of my first audience, indeed all weekend long I had large crowds, but that’s Cambridge for you, they know a good deal when they see one, and that’s just what oakleigh fairs are, a good deal for a fair price.

The highlight of the weekend for myself was the mouthy young man of about 10 years old who, all through my linking ring routine, proudly told everyone in a loud voice that one of the rings has a hole in it. So when it came to the part of the routine where I chose a volunteer to find the hole in the two rings that they have just watched me magically link together, of cause I just had to chose him, didn’t I.

Try as he might he just couldn’t find the hole (mainly because there isn’t one). So when I then proceeded to unlink them again in front of his eyes, the look of shock and surprise on his face was not only Pericles and, I suspect, one of the reasons that several parents asked for my card afterwards, but also a real reminder of the reason I feel so privileged and blessed to be allowed to do what I do.

Stormageddon’s

Stormageddon and one of Jester Dragonfly's dragons
Stormageddon and one of Jester Dragonfly’s dragons

I suspect that the highlight of the weekend from Stormageddon’s perspective was Stan, the bouncy castle man. We’ve known Stan and his crew for a few years now and meet him at several shows throughout the season. Not only does he have some amazing inflatables, but he also allows Stormageddon on them for free. Stan has even been known to put up a large inflatable in the evenings when the public has gone home, just so that my son can play on it. How cool is that, your very own giant slide.

At this event he had amongst his inflatables a large slide that you dragged a rubber ring up (or in Stormageddon’s case, got one of the crew to drag it up for you). Once at the top of the slide you sat in the ring and whizzed down. This proved to be his favorite ride, the trouble was that, after a few goes, the static electricity built up on the ring, so that every time he sat in it his long blonde hair stood up on end, making him look more like an albino hedgehog than a blonde 4 year old child.

The sight of him screaming with delight as he quickly descended the ride, hair standing up like Toya Wilcox’s isn’t just a memory that I’ll treasure for a very long time to come, but also a reminder of just how blessed I am in my friends. Not just because of what they do for me, but also because of what they do for my family.

Jester Dragonfly’s

I don’t even need to ask jester Dragonfly to know what her highlight of the weekend was. As always she smiled most when, on the Sunday afternoon, she and the site manager played her favorite game. It’s called ” always giving the money to her and never to me, not even when I ask for it”. She then went for a stroll around site, buying whatever she’d spotted over the weekend.

She eventually arrived back at our tents with a large, wooden toadstool and a big, satisfied smile and, as I gazed with love upon her beautiful face, smiling that smile that can melt my heart quicker than a blowtorch melts Cheddar cheese, I couldn’t help but smile as I realized just how truly blessed I am to have a wife how, after disappearing with the weeks wages, not only returns with a wooden toadstool as opposed to a mink coat, but does so happily