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

Birthday entertainment and special needs circus workshop

Birthday entertainment and special needs circus workshop
DevilStick Peat devilsticking his devilsticks (of doom)
DevilStick Peat devilsticking his devilsticks (of doom)

Before I tell you all about Birthday entertainment and special needs circus workshop, just a quick reminder that bookings for next year are coming thick and fast. So much so that in a couple of days time my first ever newsletter should be out. It will include a list of events that you can see me at and the latest details on how to get discount entry to many of those events. “How do I sign up for it”? I hear you cry. Simply scroll down to the very bottom of this page and look in the left hand corner, where all shall be revealed.

The booking;

My latest attempts to get booked for local birthday parties has so far met with mixed results. The wonders of internet technology means that it’s now a lot easier to advertise one’s wears. Not just locally but around the world. “Which”, I thought as we started the 3 hour drive, “may well be the reason I’m performing in Stafford today as opposed to Cambridgeshire”. However I later learned that they’d seen me perform at a festival, and were so impressed that they sort me out in the hope that I’d perform at their children’s medieval birthday party. Well, who am I to say no.

I’d been booked not only to entertain at the birthday party, but also to run a circus workshop, which is always popular after one of my shows. The party was in the village hall in a lovely country village (not that you get many city villages) and we arrived in good time.

The hall itself was laid out like a medieval banquet, complete with a head table for the birthday boy and girl. (Note to would be parents. If you’re going to have more than one child, have them around the same time of year, that way you save money on parties). I do so love it when the parents have taken the time to think about theming the hall as well as the cake etc. It really does add to the suspension of disbelief, which is what my jobs all about.

Meet and greet;

DevilStick peat and Woodbine, his friendly, pot noodle eating polecat
DevilStick peat and Woodbine, his friendly, pot noodle eating polecat

I met the proud parents and birthday kids, checked what we’re doing when, then got changed and set up my stand, ready for action. Then I got Woodbine (my burping polecat puppet of doom) ready to meet the children. As per normal he totally refused to behave, burping in kids faces, running up my arm etc. The kids loved him and he really helped them to get in the fun party mood before they’d even taken off their coats. Many of the kids were dressed as knights and princesses, which again only helped to add to the mood of the day. This was going to be one fun party and a true pleasure to perform at.

After everyone had arrived I messed about a bit, using some walkabout magic to entertain the children as they greeted each other with hellos and wildly swung wooden swords that somehow failed to cause any major injuries (always a good thing). Then it was show time.

The new magic cake (of doom) routine;

I must admit to being somewhat nervous as I gathered the children and got them to sit on the floor in front of me. Not because I was performing at a birthday party, but because I was going to use a new trick. One that I’d never performed live before. I’d practiced it and even put it on youtube as a wedding present for a friend, but until you try something live, you never know how the audience will react. I’m pleased to say that the look on their faces left me with the feeling that it’s money well spent.

Rather than be nervous all through the show, I decided to take the bull by the horns and open with the new trick. It’s a lovely classic bit of birthday magic, the effect of which is this;

I take what is clearly an empty baking tray and pour in some sugar, flour and an egg or two (including the shells). I then add a little flame from a lighter resulting in a sudden and unexpected bright flash. I put the lid on whilst it cooks for a couple of seconds, then remove the lid to reveal a large birthday cake The youtube clip is a very adhoc, spur of the moment thing which can be viewed here.

The performance at the birthday party was a lot more polished than the youtube one and the sudden flash caught everyone by surprise, including me. I’d decided to make the flash just a little bit bigger than the one in the video, so doubled the amount of “flashy thingy”! There was never any danger. The flash is bright, not hot. However it did make me take a large step backwards. Which was a pointless thing to do as I was holding the baking tray, so it just stepped back with me. However in hindsight, I think the fact that I looked so genuinely surprised at the flash added to the effect and shall now stay as standard.

Adults joined in;

The new trick over I could now relax and enjoy the rest of the show, as did the children and a fun, chaotic time was had by everyone, including the adults. Then we had a break for food, medieval banquet style (well, as medieval as sandwiches, crisps and jelly can be). As the children ate, so I retired to the kitchen area with other adults and, refusing the really nice offer of a beer (I don’t want kids smelling it on my breath), settled for a good old fashioned cup of tea before running the workshop.

Circus skills workshops
Stormageddon teaching spinning plates

Food over it was workshop time. I gave them a quick demo of not only how to use all the equipment, but also how to use it safely, then it was their turn to have ago whilst I wandered around helping and advising not only the children, but also the adults who were prepared to give it a go. It’s great when the adults join in. Oh so often mummy and daddy will sit there and refuse to try anything incase the other adults see them fail! Just what type of example do they think they are they setting for the next generation of possible olympic medalist?

Eventually the party came to a close and kids, knights and princesses all headed home. Again I was offered a beer and, as I’d now finished work and Jester Dragonfly had yet to collect me, so I happily accepted, not just the opportunity to have a beer with a proud daddy, but also the other beer he gave me for the long journey home. I know I’ve done a good job when the booker pays me a bonus, and what better was to pay a jester a bonus than in beers.

Why I can’t say no;

Our next gig was a somewhat different one as it was a workshop for a special needs group that meets in a town near our wonderful village of Manea. When they first asked my price and I quoted them my normal price I think the lady must of had a heart attack (we’re not expensive, indeed we’re cheaper than your local plumber and other skilled tradesmen, but still she seemed surprised). She told me more about the group, it’s size etc and I offered her what I believe was generous discount. However they are a small, self funding group and still couldn’t afford our price, so I asked what they could afford, and now it was my turn to call the crash team. However, I didn’t even hesitate in agreeing her price, and here’s why.

People of all ages and from all walks of life enjoy our circus skills workshops
People of all ages and from all walks of life enjoy our circus skills workshops

It must of been ooooooh, maybe 27 years ago. I was still learning my trade and every month I’d head up to oddballs, a juggling shop in london. Here I would meet other jugglers and try and buy new equipment. One day the owner of the shop, a wonderful lady called suzy oddball, told me that someone was looking for a workshop teacher to work with his special needs group. At the time I’d never even spoken to someone with special needs, and the thought of teaching them scared me so much that I said no! Fast forward two days and I’m at my girlfriend’s house (yes, I had one once) and she gave me a choice. I could ring the man and tell him I’ll do it, or she’ll dump me, because she was fed up with my bad mood. She was right. I was in a bad mood. I was angry with myself for being scared. So I rang him up and took the job.

 

Like I said, I was scared when I turned up, but soon relaxed and realized that people are people, regardless of any disabilities. I noticed one youth, Peter was his name, and he was into repetitive motion. E.G. he would sit down then stand up, then sit down then stand up, over and over again. I got him using a diablo, which involves a repetitive arm movement. he was happy playing with it and I thought no more about it. Then someone called his name and, as he looked up to see who’d called him, so he accidentally threw the diabolo up into the air. By pure chance the diabolo landed back on the string again, and that was it. For the rest of the day he was happy throwing and catching the diabolo. A good day was had by all and I walked away feeling that I’d done a good job and thought no more about it.

It was about 6 months later that I was working at a banquet in Dover castle as a jester. There was a storyteller there called Tony Cooper and we got talking about juggling. He told me all about a special needs group he runs and how he got a juggler to run a workshop for them. I listened politely and somewhat amused by the fact that, in the candle light and my make up, he didn’t realize that it was me he was talking about. Then he told me about Peter. How his main problem was lack of confidence. How if he wanted to pick up a cup of tea he wouldn’t know if he was capable, so he’d just stand there, reaching out for the cup, them retracting his arm, time and time again. Then he told me how, because of that juggler, not only does he have the confidence to pick one up. He now has the confidence to go and make one!

And that’s why we took the job. That’s why we will always take those jobs, regardless of the price. I don’t think I’ll ever see another piece of magic like that again. Let alone be privileged enough to be part of it. But that ain’t going to stop us from trying.

The workshop;

We arrived at the venue early (to be early is to be on time,

A member of the public learning  club juggling at our circus skills workshop
A member of the public learning club juggling at our circus skills workshop

to be on time is to be late, and to be late is

unacceptable). Once there we chatted with adults and youths, some of which we already knew, unloaded the car and set up ready for action. We were ready about 15 minutes early and you could taste the anticipation in the air, so rather than just stand around we decided to extend the workshop by…….well…… about 15 minutes.

Normally we start our joint workshop with a 30 minute fun filled intro that is not only funny, but also shows everyone how to use the equipment safely. We didn’t know what the attention span of our clients would be, so were ready to cut out some of the comedy should minds start to wander. We needn’t of worried, both youths and adults alike enjoyed the show. Then, once chairs had been pushed to the sides, it was their turn to have fun whilst we helped and advised where needed.

I’m so lucky to have a work partner like Jester Dragonfly. Someone who see’s the person as opposed to the disability and can concentrate on how best to help them achieve their objective. Also, I’ve got to give credit where credit is due, and credit was due to the adults there. So often I’ve worked with special needs people only to have their carer say “there’s no point in him trying that, he’ll never do it”. At the risk of sounding controversial, those people don’t deserve their jobs, and their clients really don’t deserve that type of carer. It doesn’t matter if little billy can throw and catch a ball. What matters is the fact that he, like any child, is given the chance to try, and you’d be surprised at just how often I’ve proved those carers wrong. In the past we’ve even had a somewhat larger lady on a tightrope, complete with her wheelchair! O.K. so it took 4 of us to hold the chair, but the fact that she is chair bound, doesn’t mean she hasn’t got the right to try. Like I said, these adults were the types who, like us, had a “can do” attitude and only took breaks from helping the youths try stuff when they were trying it themselves. It was a great workshop with lots of laughter and more than one look of surprise when a youth or adult got a plate spinning, or a diablo going.

DevilStick Peat teaching a new plate spinner how to put it on his finger
DevilStick Peat teaching a new plate spinner how to put it on his finger

Near the end of the workshop we let the youths stand up and show off to the others what they had learnt. A plate spinner here, a diabolist there, and more than one stilt walker who, in attempts to give us all heart attacks, decided that rather than stilt walking, they would have a go at stilt dancing. Then the night ended with me showing them some of the things that it is possible to do with the equipment. All you need to learn it all is determination, a can do attitude and a few years of no social life.

As we were driving home Jester Dragonfly must had been reading my mind, for she told me how much she enjoyed the night and suggested to me that maybe, as they have no government funding, we could go back sometime and do something for free. I’m happy to report that today I emailed them with my suggestion.

What’s next;

When Jester Dragonfly came to visit Santa, guess which book I found her in?
When Jester Dragonfly came to visit Santa, guess which book I found her in?

Christmas is fast approaching, and I’ve been booked to perform at Melford Christmas fair on Sunday 27th of November. This will be the first time I’ve performed at this event. So if you’re around then come and say “hi”.

Then the Sunday after that I’m performing at snettisham Christmas market. I performed at it last year and had a great time.

And on December the 1st it’s my favorite Christmas gig. For that’s the day that I go to my daughters school, wear a red suit, shove a pillow up my shirt, and be Santa for the day. I don’t get paid for it, but it’s great to use a little bit of magic and prove to the children that Santa really is……. well…….. magic, and keeping that belief alive in the kids is worth so much more than money.

Now, before I go, I’d like to remind you all that it’s now possible to subscribe to my blog. There by insuring that you never miss another thrilling instalment. Simply scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email address. Then, every time I get the time to blog, you’ll get a cute little email letting you know. so go on, you know you want too.

Lastly, it for you haven’t liked my Facebook page yet, don’t worry, there’s still time just go to Facebook.com/d.s.peat and  click on like.

 

 

My review of The Cambridge living history fair

My review of The Cambridge living history fair

Before I tell you all about “The Cambridge Living History Fair“, let me firstly apologize for the late posting of this blog. We’ve had massive computer issues here at the fool house. I.E. no computer. But, because I know how much you all look forward to my blog, and have no doubt been wondering if you’ve missed my latest chapter in the life of a modern day medieval fool, so those wonderful people at “Bridgit designs” have added a new app to my website. If you just look to the right of the main blog page, you will see a piece that says “subscribe to the blog”. Just add your email address and every time I write a new entry, you’ll get an email to let you know. Thereby insuring that you need never again panic over whether or not you’ve missed another chapter in this, thrilling insight into the world of foolery.

Lastly, I’d like to give a special thank you to Evi Watts for the wonderful photographs. More of her

work can be found on her Facebook page at “Evi Watts photography

What is a living history fair?;

October saw me working at “The Cambridge living history

I say magic words......... "Magic words"
I say magic words……… “Magic words”

fair”. Which isn’t actually held in Cambridge, but at Woodgreen animal sanctuary. Which isn’t actually in Woodgreen, but in Godmanchester.

“But what” I hear you ask “is a living history fair”? Well read on oh ardent reader, and all shall be revealed.

A living history fair is a themed market. A place where purveyors of all things historical gather together to sell their wonderful wares. Here you can buy anything from Viking arrows to Victorian antiques, full sized spinning wheels to fabulous silverware and a lot more besides.

If you want the juggling jesters (of doom) scream "yes"
If you want the juggling jesters (of doom) scream “yes”

Even if you’re not into history or re-enactment, there’s still lots of goodies guaranteed to tempt you. There’s medieval mead, period novels, beautiful handmade dresses, super soft sheep skins and surprisingly unique Christmas presents galore. Things like classic toys and games made from real wood (none of your cheap plastic rubbish here) and large unicorn bean bags that would look great in your little princess’s bedroom. You could even walk away having hired a roman legion or joined a period polish army.

And at this particular fair, unlike so many others, you needn’t worry about the kids getting bored as you wander around, awe struck by the goods for sale. For Bernie, the organizer of “The Cambridge Living History Fair” hires in some great family entertainment for…….. well, all the family.

 

The ninth legion of the roman empire was there, teaching young legionnaires skill at arms with short sword and shield. A story teller brought to life an age when dragons roared, heroes quested, and lovers? well they done what lovers do best. There was even an amazing harper playing ageless ballads and of cause, yours truly was there, performing a range of walk about and stage shows that appealed to to of all ages, from 4-400.

Saturday, day one;

I arrived on the Saturday morning and was pleased to see many familiar faces. Not just people I know, but people who I class as real friends, all gathered together under one roof. This weekend was going to be fun. All I had to do was perform, have fun and not spend too much money on all the glorious goodies that

Please let it work, just once
Please let it work, just once

were up for grabs.

In between shows I was performing walk-about routines. This gave me a chance to catch up with old friends. Reminisce about shows gone by and maybe try or comment on their latest products.

One such trader was the infamous Dr T. Bottom, owner of “The Trolls Bottom” bar and a man with a real passion for making fine flavored spirits. One of his latest concoctions is a smooth and deceptively mellow “honey rum”. He wanted my opinion on it and well, it’s good to help your friends, so I tried a little taster. Was it yet another one of his finer wonders? Well let’s put it this way. I walked away a little poorer and he was now minus one bottle and a little richer.

 

Martin from “Cowleys Fine Foods” was also there with his jerked meat and vegan thingies stall. With his “brake lights red” hair and “lieutenant sharp green” millitary tailcoat, Martain is a somewhat colourful and flamboyant person. He has a northern accent and the abillity to take what to you and I may, at first glance, sound like unlikely foods, such as horse, kangaroo and scorpion, and turn them into culinary delights such as kangaroo marinated in thai green curry sauce. Marketed as “Tank girl treats, Thai me kangaroo down”.

If foreign foods aren’t your thing, then how about his “My brittle pony, pony expressso”. Here’s what his website says about it.

The amazing knife juggling (of Doom) routine
The amazing knife juggling (of Doom) routine

“This is a new addition to our range, horse meat is lean, healthy and full of flavour. This jerky is made with espresso coffee, Dijon mustard, garlic and a dash of Soy Sauce and is guaranteed to contain no horse meat substitutes such as beef. Once opened it needs to be eaten within 5 years.

But my favourite thing about his stall. the thing that makes my mouth water every time I think about Cowleys fine foods, is his range of chilli thingies. From dried chilli mushrooms to thick moist chilli sauces, this stall has it all. His sauces come in a variety of strengths, from sissy weak to “ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch”, but all of them come with a decadent depth of flavour that washes over you in waves that, depending on the sauces strength, can be anything from ripples on the shore to surf that tsunami. Somehow I managed to enter his stall to try a taster, pay for one bottle, yet walk out with 3! Not that I’m complaining.

Another one of those old friends is “Bernie The Bolt“. bernie isn’t just the organizer of this event. he also runs a historical haberdashery. Selling rolls of felt, cotton and the finest silks. All of which are needed by re-enactors from all periods. Oh, and there’s one other thing bernie is known for. Bernie is what I call “one of nature’s gentlemen”. A nicer, more honest chap you’d be hard to find anywhere.

 

As I stopped to chat with him, so I couldn’t help but notice a large roll of bright red felted wool. The type that would look really good in my next motley. I knew that I had no choice but to buy some. Not so much because I wanted it, but because I knew that my wife, Jester Dragonfly would also spot it, and it takes a braver man than me too stand between her and my hard earned wages.

So far the not spending too much of my wages part of the plan wasn’t actually going to plan, but hey, you know what they say about a fool and his money. As for the rest of the plan, I.E. perform and have fun, that at least was going well. So two out of three aint bad.

Saturday night;

Saturdays work came to a close and I was given a lift home by Rachel of “Brighid Designs”, our favorite seamstress of choice. She has made some wonderful creations for Jester Dragonfly, but the main reason we use her is because it’s hard to improve on perfection. Her two children had spent the day at the fool house, playing with Stormageddon and we arrived home to find a lovely home made meal, all piping hot and waiting for us. Andy the storyteller had also joined us and was staying the night at our house. It felt quite Walton-esk as children and adults crammed around the dining table passing bowls of munchies from person to person. Plates became laden with food, cleared of food, then re-ladened again. Then, with bellies bigger than Donald Trump’s mouth, we retired to the sitting room for an evening of polite chat before bed.

The fool on harp
The fool on harp

Sunday, day two;

Sunday was very similar to the day before, but with one difference. Sunday I took my harp “Leanne Shee” with me.

Leanne is a 26 string lever harp made by “Starfish Designs” up in scotland. Although they are not the cheapest of harps, and last time I checked there was around a year’s waiting time between ordering and collecting your harp. The fact is Starfish harps are more than a practical, performance grade harp. They are practical, performance grade works of audio art, and the after care you receive from their small team of experts is second to none. I’ve never had a harp like her, she is worth every penny and then some.

I gave her the name “leanne Shee” as it’s a play on the Irish words “Leannan Sidhe”. The leannan Sidhe are irish fairy folk. They are generally depicted as a beautiful muse who falls in love with and offers inspiration to a bard in exchange for for his love and devotion. However, although this results in him composing wonderful works of music, it also drives him into madness and premature death. But hey, that’s the celts for you. They love a happy ending.

Playing harp in a hall full of my peers, as well as more than one historical musician wasn’t scary. It was terrifying. So I found a quiet spot and sat with my back against the wall. Then I placed Leanne on my lap and my fingers on her strings. I then waited a few seconds as I took a deep breath or two, then started to play.

Devilstick Peat going twang
Devilstick Peat going twang

Thankfully I got many compliments for my playing and more than one person was surprised when the fool proved that he could actually knock out a half decent tune or two. Hitting all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order. One stall holder was so impressed that he felt compelled to leave his stall and come over and compliment me. Telling me that I was the best live music he’d heard all weekend! It was only latter that I realized that I was the only live music he’d heard all weekend.

A good friend of mine, Chad, was so impressed that he put a clip of it on youtube. Which can be viewed here

Dr T. Bottom must of seen how nervous I was as he offered me yet another taster to calm my nerves. This time it was a drink known as “Cloudy water”. My view of which is thus:

If you had a good night last night and awoke with a cloudy head, then cloudy water is what you need. It will not only clear your head with all the vigour of a blackboard eraser, but also (if drunk in sufficient quantity), knock you out again until tal pain has past. An aniseed based drink that is not so much a pernod, more of a per-yes. As in “purrrrrrrr yes, oh yes, I need a bottle of that”.

It's not easy, trying to be taken seriously as you play sweet, moving music, whilst wearing curly up shoes
It’s not easy, trying to be taken seriously as you play sweet, moving music, whilst wearing curly up shoes

I must say that I was quite impressed and surprised by people’s reaction to my harp playing and, encouraged by their compliments, spent the day swapping between walk-about, shows and harp playing.

Then 4 o’clock came and the fair came to a close. So, with harp in hand and goodies galore, I headed home, not as rich as I’d hoped (for I’d spent more than I’d meant to) but happy and (dare I say it, yes I dare) proud, not of my harp playing skills, but rather of the fact that I’d been brave enough to try playing in front of my peers.

So, having read my review of one of Britain’s best living history fairs, are you sorry you missed it? Well fear not oh ardent readers, for this momentous event is now so popular that it happens not just once, but twice a year! Always in October and February, and always with loads and loads of free entertainment. So dig out your diaries and make a date for the 18th and 19th of February when woodgreen animal centre will once again pay host to The Cambridge Living History Fair.

Lastly, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page. You will see that there is an app that allows you to sign up to my newsletter. Don’t worry, I’ll not inundate you with loads of rubbish, but I will occasionally contact you with a list of events I’m attending. Many of which are free. It will also contain links to websites offering discounted entry to events as well as previously unseen clips of yours truly in action. So go on, take the plunge. I dare you.

Finally, if you’re enjoying these blogs, please leave a comment on the comments part. It’s not only nice to get feedback, but it also helps with my google ranking.

So until next time I bid you all adue and fare thee well.

 

 

 

Maui Waui music festival

Maui Waui music festival
Maui Waui music festival 2016
Maui Waui music festival 2016

Maui Waui, What, Where, Who and When;

Early September saw me working at Maui Waui music festival, a small but very nice and friendly festival set in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Unlike most of the festivals that I work at, this one isn’t medieval or a country fair. it’s actually a music festival (hence its name), with all the Paraphernalia you’d expect to see at such an event, but I’m a mercenary jester and will go wherever the money is. So when Cosmo from the foolhardy circus contacted me and asked if I’d perform in his evening cabaret I jumped at the chance. Partly because I need the money, but mainly because it was a chance to work with and catch up with some old friends.

The foolhardy circus big top at Maui Waui festival 2016
The foolhardy circus big top at Maui Waui festival 2016

Cosmo is one of those old friends, in fact we’ve known each other for the best part of 30 years. He was the first real clown I ever met, when I was booked, many many moons ago, to help out with a few days of juggling workshops for Norwich university.

That event was organized by a then young student called ken, or Dr Ken as he is now known. He uses juggling, comedy and the such like to run very funny yet highly educational science shows. So if any teachers or home ed folks read this, he is well worth the money and can be found here. He was also booked to do shows over the weekend and, as I stood in the shadows watching his performance, I couldn’t help but feel a touch of pride  at the thought that maybe, just maybe, meeting me and learning about my lifestyle was a life changing moment that helped to inspire him to follow in my footsteps.

It was just me at this festival as Stormageddon and Jester Dragonfly were off doing other things. So all I had with me was a small two man tent which I quickly set up behind the foolhardy big top. Then Thursday evening was spent chilling with the rest of the troop as we listened to Wilson, a very funny and talented musician, playing his new computerised squeeze box (similar to an electric yamaha organ, but nowhere near as annoying). Then an early night as tomorrow the public would arrive and chaos would commence.

The calm before the storm
The calm before the storm

I wasn’t booked to perform until late friday evening so that day was spent relaxing, catching up on sleep and exploring the festival. It was set up in an oval shape that could be walked around in about 15 minutes and comprised of stalls, cafes, and around 5 stages where one could see anything from one man and his guitar to full on bands. There was even a body painting show on one stage! Here young ladies would parade eroticly on a catwalk wearing nothing but body paint. The nudity of which shocked me so much that I felt compelled  to sit in the front row and take it all in. Just to be sure that it was the sort of show that I disapprove of and wouldn’t want to watch.

The body painting fashion show
The body painting fashion show

Another stage was called the “crime scene”. This had a large front painted up like a run down building in a dodgy part of town. You entered through a door that led to a winding alleyway festooned with wanted posters and at the end of the ally you had a choice. You could either turn left and enter the dance tent with its heavy “BOOM BOOM BOOM” of hard rave music, or you could carry straight on and into the chill out tent. Although it’s not my type of music (for starters I play a folk harp) it is the tent that I spent most of my free time in, but more on that latter.

The crime scene
The crime scene

My first show at Maui Waui;

10 30p.m. saw my first show of the weekend. Cosmo gave me a great intro and I walked out onto the stage and into the glare of the lights. Now there’s a big difference between performing in a field and in a big top. The main advantage is that, with a big top, you don’t have to be so loud, as the walls not only keep other sounds out, but also bounce your own voice back. Also there’s no wind to worry about when balancing things like my razor blunt knifes (of doom) on my chin. However, the main disadvantage is the lights. With two sets of sidelights (one set each side of me, hence the name “sidelights”) and a full set of around 8 lights in front of me, it was impossible to see either the audence or, if I’d positioned myself wrong, anything I’m juggling.

I remember back in my early days as a superstar I was booked to perform contact juggling in a theater show. Come my turn to perform all the lights were turned off in the hall and a spotlight was shone onto me. The result was that I couldn’t see a thing and spent more time picking the ball up than I did juggling it. Because of this I always insist on a pre show lighting check, using chalk if need be to mark where best to stand for which part of my show. This I’d done earlier in the day and so the lighting wasn’t a problem. The problem was engaging with an audence that I couldn’t actually see (and looking them in the eyes when you can’t actually see if they have any, isn’t easy)!

Inside the foolhardy big top
Inside the foolhardy big top

Luckily for me there’s numerous tricks of the trade that I’ve learnt over the years to not only engage with an unseen audence, but also to gage their mood and reactions. Then came the part of my linking rings (of doom) routine where I needed a volunteer. normally I’d ask the children for a volunteer, but at this time of night I doubted that there would be any children in the audence. I could of asked the adults who wanted to volunteer, but they rarely do, so instead I just walked into the crowd and picked one at random. Well, I say random. All through my show I’d been listening to the audence and had pinpointed where the most mouthy person was. I wanted to use them partly because the fact that they were heckling me meant that they were someone I could interact with, hopefully in a humorous manner. Partly because they sounded like they would enjoy the limelight, so were unlikely to refuse to join me on stage (there’s few things worse than a volunteer who point blank refuses to volunteer). However, the main reason that I picked on them, I mean picked them, was because they were heckling me, which meant they deserved whatever I decided to throw at them.

“What’s your name” I asked?

“I don’t know” she said, trying to be witty, “what do you want to call me”?

“I know what I want to call you, but this is a family show so let’s just stick with your name”

“Suzanne”

“Thats funny” I replied “that’s my wife’s name. well, I say wife, we’re not married yet. In fact, we’ve only just met”.

It took a second or two for her to realize that it was her I was talking about and then she must of decided that she’d met her match, as she suddenly stopped being so lippy. Shame really.

It was around midnight by the time I’d finished and got changed. I sat in my tent and thought “I’ll just take 5 minutes rest, then I’ll go enjoy the festival. Then promptly fell asleep, completely missing the first nights fun.

My morning magical malarky;

I awoke around 6 a.m. (I’m always an early riser) feeling refreshed and ready for the day. I walked out into the arena to see what, if anything, was happening. There was a group of around 20 people around a large “off the ground fire box” in which several large logs were smoldering away. I joined them around the fire and, as I listened to them talking total rubbish I soon realized that they were all suffering the after effects of what we shall politely call “self inflicted chemical imbalances” (read into that what you will).

“perfect” I thought “time to have some fun”

I was wearing my long red and yellow medieval coat, the one that always has some ping pong balls in it’s pockets.

Now don’t ask me why, but 6 in the morning after a good night’s raving is, for reasons unbeknown to myself, not the time of day when most people expect to come face to face with someone who’s busy regurgitating 50 odd ping pong balls! The mixture of shock, horror, disbelief, manic laughter and confusion it created amongst what until then, had been a peacefully chatting group of festival goers was music to my ears as, balls still spewing forth, I wondered off in search of more heads to play with.

The rest of Saturday was spent chillaxing backstage, chatting with fellow performers and working on some new and frustratingly difficult linking ring moves. I don’t know if I’ll ever put them in to my routine, but that’s not the point. The point is I’ve been trying to learn them for ages. To long to give up now.

Night time magic for an unsuspecting crowd;

It was about 11p.m. by the time I’d finished work and got changed, but this time I actually made it out into the festival in search of “fun” and found it in the crime scene tent.

The tent was crammed packed full of ravers. All facing the stage and dancing to the repetitive beat of music blasting out at a stupidly loud volume. I made my way to the front left-hand side of the stage, then slowly made my way across to the right-hand side. This was a slow and laborious task as I had to watch out for flailing arms and bopping ravers that were packed tighter than lemmings on a cliff top. Luckily this is just what I wanted as it gave me a chance to move slowly, doing heads in as I moved.

Ravers raving in the rave tent
Ravers raving in the rave tent

I have a magic illusion the effect of which is this. I can pull a small yet bright light out of thin air, then make it disappear at will. Add to this a paper bag and little bit of imagination. The result is that I’m eating lights like a kiddy eats sweets. Taking them out of the paper bag and putting them into my mouth (Oh, and occasionally snorting them up my nose). The reactions I got as I slowly made my way through the crowd with a dead pan, nonchalant look on my face was great Several times I weaved my way through the crowd with this gag. Then, bored with the lights, I retraced my steps, this time regurgitating ping pong balls (of doom).

Some people’s idea of a fun night out is dancing to a repetitive beat, others like to get wasted on beer (or whatever). Me? my idea of a fun night out is doing magic when it’s just not expected. The reactions are totally different from performing on a stage. Most people laugh and a few totally freak out over it, which just adds to the amusement of their friends.

Eventually I tired of these games and retired to the chill out tent. Here I sat of a sofa and joined in a conversation or two whilst enjoying a rather exquisite bottle of chilli mead, a gift from the magic mead company. Next to me a young man happily snored away, oblivious to the face paint that his so called friends were applying to any and all exposed parts of his body. Some games are just timeless.

Not just the best mead at the festival, but the best mead anywhere, ever. check out their chilli mead. It's so yummy).
The best mead anywhere, ever. check out their chilli mead. It’s so yummy.

Sunday morning in the chill out tent;

As always, I awoke early on the sunday and wandered out into the arena in search of a cup of tea. Then, tea in hand (actually it was two teas, one in each hand) I made my way back to the chill out tent. I wasn’t surprised to see the same people sitting in the same chairs, even the paint plastered young man hadn’t awakened, or even moved. In fact the only thing that had changed about him was the amount of face paint that was plastered all over his body. Well, that and the fact that, bored with painting him, people had started to see what they could balance on him without waking him up, a sort of human buckaroo. This included beer cans, ashtrays, a full sized wooden barrel, a hay bale and a really nice looking arm chair. All balanced with the precarious precision that I, as a juggler, could really appreciate. Like I said, some games are timeless. Which presumably is why they’s also tied his shoelaces together! I finished my teas, placed some cushions where I hoped he’d fall (I’m nothing if not kind) then headed on my way safe in the knowledge that I’ve done my good deed for the day.

Towel jugglers;

Sunday night was the last show of the festival and Cosmo had given us all a free hand to do whatever we wanted. The only stipulation was that it had to be obscure and obscure it certainly was. The highlight of that show for me was a hilarious routine by Lucas, Jack and Wilson. Clad in nothing other than a towel each (in Wilson’s case, a towel and a squeezebox) they proceeded to use the towels to perform various juggling maneuvers whilst doing their best not to reveal too much of themselves. It was the sort of routine that Jim Morrison would of been proud of*. Considering the fact that they’d never tried it in front of a live audence before (or, I suspect, since) none of them showed just how nervous they really were.

*(if you get that joke, then you’re an old hippy).

Monday morning was spent breaking camp and saying my goodbyes to friends both old and new. Then I just sat and waited until Stormageddon and jester Dragonfly came to pick me up and take me home to a warm bed and a hot bath. Oh luxury.

Night time in down town Maui Waui
Night time in downtown Maui Waui

The verdict;

So, marks out of 10 for the Maui Waui festival

Layout and organization = 12

Musical diversity = 12

Food prices = 9

All round entertainment = 9 (it loses one point as I feel it could do with some roaming walk about acts, both day and night time)

Friendliness = 15 (one of the most friendly festivals I’ve been to in a very long time)

Is it worth going to if you’re a punter……… HELL YES.

 

 

 

 

 

an ode to England’s medieval festival

an ode to England’s medieval festival

Before I recite “an ode to England’s medieval festival”, I’d like to apologize for the late publication of this blog post. It’s been a very busy August. One minute we’re heading south to a medieval festival, the next we’re heading north to a hippy festival and in between I’ve been helping to build a timber framed house, teaching at workshops and learning loads of new magic for next year’s festivals (more on that at a latter date).

Things are slowing down now. I’ve a couple of weeks of private events (birthdays and the such like) then we’re at Rockingham castle for their annual country fair. If you’re in the area, then do come along as it’s a great, fun filled event. If you click on this link, then you can even get discounted tickets from their website.

Anyway, enough of that. Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. My foolish attempt at poetry, entitled

An ode to England’s medieval festivalflaglogo-734x120

We’re on the m11 zooming down the motorway

the kids are hot and sweaty cause it’s a hot and sweaty day

but we love this sunny weather and we really hope it lasts

cause we’re off to England’s medfest and it’s gonna be a blast

Medieval men at arms, ready to hit each other on the head with large, heavy weapons in the name of "fun"
Medieval men at arms, ready to hit each other on the head with large, heavy weapons in the name of “fun”

With knights hurting each other in a medieval way

it’s very educational to see them fight that way

as clad in shining armour underneath the baking sun

they roast like christmas turkeys till they are well and truly done

A brave commander leading his army onto the field of battle
A brave commander leading his army onto the field of battle

Now we’re at the dartford tunnel and the traffics at a halt

my wife is hot and irritable and says it’s all my fault

that the cars in front aren’t moving so I snarl as I say

Look we’re off to England’s medfest so just smile bitch, ok

Not just the best mead at the festival, but the best mead anywhere, ever. check out their chilli mead. It's so yummy).
Not just the best mead at the festival, but the best mead anywhere, ever. check out their chilli mead. (It’s so yummy).

With many a merry maiden and some buxom wenches too

all serving cooling honey mead, I’m gonna have a few

then after the merry maidens I might even have a mead

that’s if my darling wife ever lets me off my lead

Id just like to point out that these two pentacle drummers are merry maidens and definitely NOT wenches
In the name of self preservation, Id just like to point out that these two pentacle drummers are merry maidens and definitely NOT wenches

Now we’re on the A21 driving over rolling hills

through ancient woodlands and past farmers fields

we’re tired and we’re hungry but we won’t stop and rest

till we’re at England’s medfest because medfest is the best

A bespoke piece of medieval magic known as "The run dragon run trick of doom)"
A bespoke piece of medieval magic known as “The run dragon run trick (of doom)”

With it’s own jolly jester he’s the highlight of the show

he’s witty and he’s skillful and the main reason that we go

his show is oh so funny we all laugh until we hurt

(it’s just a shame that jonathan won’t pay him what his worth)

The putting the ball on the head very very quickly trick of doom)
The putting the ball on the head very very quickly trick (of doom)

Now we’re here at Herstmonceux and I am so delighted

the drivings done, we’re gonna have fun and the kids are so excited

pass through the gate, then down the hill and 600 years back in time

to england’s medieval festival, the best one of it’s kind

A living history demonstration of how to make medieval fishnet stockings
A living history demonstration of how to make medieval fishnet stockings

With a medieval market, living history and more

jousting jousters jousting and soldiers by the score

there’s camping and there’s glamping and there’s shows both day and night

so if you wanna come and have loads of fun, then just click here for their website

 

Two grown adults poking each other with great big long poking sticks
Two grown adults poking each other with great big long poking sticks

P,S, dont forget to like my facebook page; WWW.facebook.com/D.S.PEAT

 

 

Loxwood Joust Review

Loxwood Joust Review

This blog entry is called The loxwood joust review as its a review of an unique event that’s called (surprise surprise) The loxwood Joust. “But what is the Loxwood Joust and what makes it so unique” I hear you ask. Well I shall tell you.

What is The Loxwood Joust;

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

The Loxwood Joust is fast becoming the best and most unique medieval event of the year. Not just a firm favorite with re-enactors, many of whom come year after year, but also with the public, for they know a good event when they see one. In fact it’s become such a popular event that they had no choice but to extend it from one, to two weekends! Always the first two weekends of August.

Firstly, unlike many medieval events, they don’t simply hire a field near a castle. Instead the owner hunted high and low, scouring the country for the perfect venue. Then, once he’d found it (at loxwood, which is quite a coincidence when you consider that it’s called the loxwood Joust), he didn’t just rent a field or two, he brought them! and not just the meadows, but also the woodland surrounding the meadows.

Every year he clears more and more of the undergrowth, creating new and different areas for even more fun filled entertainment. This is an important and (in my humble opinion) a much understated attraction of the festival, and here’s why.

Why is The Loxwood Joust unique;

Two of the jousting jousters jousting
Two of the jousting jousters jousting

Picture the scene if you will. It’s a sunny sunday in August and you’ve taken the whole family to the loxwood joust. To add to the fun the kids are dressed as knights and princess’s. Even daddy has joined in the fun and brought himself a cheap fancy dress knights costume. A fact that he is now regretting. For as you watch the loxwood jousters charging towards each other at break neck speed. Their lances lifting knights clean from their saddles and planting firmly on their backsides, or face down in the grass. So you’ve become aware of several things.IMG_2399

Firstly you realize that the black nylon of your costume is absorbing the suns heat and turning into a mobile one man sauna. And as for the tin foil helmet? Well that’s now baking your head crisper than a christmas turkey. Despite your best efforts, the children are dehydrating, and as for the smell. You’re now acutely aware that, what you thought was piped in medieval smells, is actually a result of the wife’s sweaty armpits!

At any other event you’d be tempted to call it a day and head home, but not so at the loxwood joust. Here you just about turn and take a slow walk down the gentle slope. Then, in under two minutes, you find yourself within the sweet shade of a wooded glen. Once in the glen you see a clearing that’s shaded by a canopy of green oak leaves. On one side of the clearing is a large, rustic looking stage with an abundance of hay bales sprawled in front of it. You sit on one and watch the show. Maybe it’s a juggler who’s nearly as funny and skillful as myself, or actors performing a centuries old mummers play. Or maybe, just maybe, the stage is adorned with those heavenly elfin like maidens known as “The Medieval Baebes”. You sit a while transfixed as, with voices clearer and sweeter than a mountain spring, England’s premier medieval band verbally caress your very soul with enchanting ballads from days gone by.

Or maybe you sit at the cafe situated opposite the stage and treat your wife to that most quintessentially English of herbal potions, a nice hot cup of tea. Then, as she sits there contentedly watching the stage show whilst the kids sup on ye olde coca-cola. So you wander over to the conveniently placed tavern and sample a glass or two of loxwood mead, nectar of the gods.

Fortified by it’s sweet, honey based properties and feeling a lot cooler, you ask the kids if they’re brave enough to venture further into the woods? and brave they must be, for once you’ve crossed over the wooden bridge, you leave behind the woodland stage and enter an area known as

The Wytches Wood;

The feared Loxwood Dragon
The feared Loxwood Dragon

Now like any self respecting witch, the witches that live here have a large cauldron that bubbles a murky brew of secret herbs. The magical powers of which are known only to the most wise of witches. But unlike those fabled witches from your childhood story books, these ones don’t wear black pointy hats or have an evil cackle for a laugh. These are true traditional witches who can give you a true rune reading should the urge take you. Alternatively they can also curse you to the 3rd generation should the urge take them.

You loiter a while and chat with the witches. Then you’re distracted by a deep, menacing growl. You turn to look for what ever made such a evil sound and there, through the trees and rearing up from behind some ruins, is a dragon! Before it, chained to a tree is a helpless princess. A sacrifice sent to appease the demon serpent from hell. “Fear not” says a witch, and she explains to you not only the hypnotic powers of dragons, but also how to ensure that you don’t fall under its hypnotic spell.

The witches of loxwood
The witches of loxwood

Then, as one, you all turn towards the sounds coming from the footpath. As you gaze through the trees so you see that the sounds of clanking metal comes from an army of soldiers that, with grimly set faces, advance through the trees and on towards the battle ground.

Your kids are rehydrated, the wife’s arm pits have calmed down and stopped singing to you quite so painfully and your helmet is now cool enough to place on your head as, with more excitement than the children. You lead the family back through the woods, following the army towards

The battle of loxwood;

The crowd gathers around the battle field as excitement and anticipation fills the air. For today, there’s going to be a battle of epic proportions. The type that the bards will sing about for years to come. A battle so marvelous that even the Morrigan, that ancient celtic goddess of battle madness has come to watch. You know this as you hear her voice, louder than any mortals, as she not only tells you the background to the battle, but also gives a running commentary as the battle unfolds. using her divine magic to make her voice come out of the strange black boxes that are conveniently placed around the battle field.

two great armies face each other, both ready to fight to the death. Suddenly a great cry raises up from one army and they charge, swords and axes raised high. The opposing army responds with an equally blood curdling cry as they too charge forwards. With a mighty crash the two foes meet in mortal combat as sword meets not just sword, but also shield, flesh and bone.

Before you stand two brave knights. they have broken away from the main melee and now fight man against man. They fight for their kings, for honour, but most of all, they fight to stay alive as each tries to kill the other.

One knight retreats as the other, his vorpal blade going snicker snack, advances. Your son tells you the names of the various cuts and thrusts used by each knight. He knows them because earlier in the day you spent some fun filled hours in

The Bowlore sword school invite you to learn the art of swordmanship
The Bowlore sword school invite you to learn the art of swordsmanship

The children’s kingdom;

Here he attended the knights training where, for a few groats, a  mighty soldier from bowlore and veteran of many a battle took your son under his wing and taught him the knightly art of swordsmanship. Whilst your daughter, too lady like to partake in such base activities, tried out the face painting stall. here your cute little princess sat with a beaming smile whilst the artistic painters used their skills to give her a lovely sword wound to the face. From there you wandered over to the jesters school of…..well……jestering. Here, in front of our brightly coloured medieval encampment, Jester Dragonfly helps not just knights and princess’s learn circus skills, but also their mothers and fathers. After a while the school shuts for a break as it’s arena becomes a stage for yet another highlight of The loxwood Joust.

DevilStick Peat;

The area in front of our tents soon fills with people. Adults standing at the rear and children of all ages sitting in front. then my show begins and I open with the regurgitating ping pong balls (of doom). This is followed by the jumping dragons (of doom). A bespoke piece of magic that I commissioned especially for medieval festivals and themed parties. Next comes the 3 ball juggling routine (of doom). A routine so skillful that most jugglers would give their right arm to be able to perform it. but whether your favourite part is the razor blunt knives (of doom), the 5 ball juggling (of doom) or the worlds only card trick performing duck (of doom). The fact is that my show is just like The Loxwood Joust. I.E. good family entertainment for the whole family.

So whatever your highlight is. Be it the battle or the medieval baebes, the jousting or the jester, the truth is that the Loxwood joust really is a fun packed day. Its not just a medieval festival, it’s a medieval experience. One that will leave not just the kids, but also the adults dreaming of a time when knights rode free, dragons roared, and ancient lovers………well, they done what lovers do best.

Such is the magic of England’s premier medieval festival. The infamous

Loxwood joust

Our next event is Englands Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux castle in east sussex. This is englands largest medieval festival. One that we’re proud to have been part of for well over 20 years!

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