One of my many roles as a modern day medieval jester is that of children’s entertainer, and it was in this role that I was booked to perform at the pentacle drummers summer solstice celebrations in Eastbourne.
We arrived Friday evening about an hour before sunset, which was perfect timing as we only had the one tent to put up and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and catching up with family and old friends.
Saturday morning we awoke to heavily overcast skies and a dawn chorus made up of thousands of seagulls all screeching madly like a gathering of wild banshee’s with attitude. but we didn’t let this dampen our spirits as we knew this was going to be a special day of celebration.
Drumming and dancing
The show opened with a spectacular drumming display by the pentacle drummers, all beating their drums with the type of enthusiasm rarely seen outside of a bible belt gospel meeting. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever witnessed loads of drummers before, but the sound was awesome (it even put the seagulls to shame) and the vibrations rattled around our tummies like lottery balls before they come out of the machine. Add to that the particularly high skill level of the pentacle drummers and you’ll realize just why this was such a great way to kick off the celebrations.
After the drumming there was various other performances including Morris dancing, belly dancers (several groups of) and loads more. Then came my turn.
The crowd gathered around my tent as I purposely took my time getting ready, letting the tension
mount as people waited in antici……………………..pation.
Then, when the crowd was suitably excited enough, I began the show.
I performed one of my children’s shows which, although I call it a children’s show, it’s not just aimed at children. A better description would be “family show” as there’s gags and stuff in it that everyone will enjoy, even the adults (after all, they are the ones with the cheque books). So I was not surprised to see that the adults out numbered the children 3-1.
I walked out onto the stage and the crowd clapped, cheered and threw little children in the air with excitement as I started with a routine of my own creation called “the regurgitating ping pong balls (of doom). I love this routine as it baffles both old and young alike, then, just as they think they have figured out how it’s done, I prove them wrong.
After my show there was the solstice day ceremony. The summer solstice is a celebration of the longest day of the year and has been celebrated in a multitude of ways by countless civilizations since prehistoric times. It is after all, an important date in the farming calendar.
for this particular ceremony we all gathered around in a circle and watched as two performers staged an ageless play about the oak and holly kings who represent the lengthening and shortening days. Through the play they reminded us all that the high heat of summer will all to soon give way to the cold darkness of winter, which in turn will once again give way to summer. An important fact of life, not just to ancient peoples, but also relevant to modern man, although we’re now seemingly somewhat removed from mother nature and forget (or should that read “deny”) that, despite all our modern inventions and cleverness, we are still as reliant on her for life as we’ve always been.
Stone Henge games
After the ceremony we had the “stone henge game”. This is where they produced a large, lightweight plastic stone, like the standing stones of old. It was fixed to two wooden sleigh like runners which in turn rested on several pieces of plastic piping. The idea was to have timed races, seeing which team could go from A to B the quickest, taking the pipes from the back and replacing them at the front as the stone rolled along them.
Then, in the evening the bands started to play. I’ve finished work now and could relax and enjoy the music, safe in the knowledge that the free bouncy castles that the kids had been on all day long meant that they were now sound asleep.
It started with jimmy lee morris, a one man and his guitar, next was a kicking Irish group called feckless, which included a unique guitar who got folk up and dancing followed by the first of not one, but two fire shows next was a band called mad magdalen that, for reasons I cant recall, I managed to miss. Then came a great folky type band called love street and last was a rocking band called WojtekGodzisz, but don’t ever ask me how to pronounce it. Unfortunately the time was getting on by now and someone complained to the council who sent the environmental health officer round.
He decided that we had to stop the amplified music and that we could only have acoustic music. The look on his face when I loudly suggested to the crowd that it’s not a problem as we have over 30 drummers here was a mixture of shock, horror and hatred. It’s good to know that my skills as a fool are appreciated.
Daddies day drama
The next day was fathers day. A day when tradition says that fathers should be woken up with breakfast in bed, and so it was that I was awoken with the news that it’s time to get up, pack up, drop the tent and head home. This I duly did and by 10 a.m. we were on the road home, stopping off at a friends on route so that we could pick up one of our kids who’d had a sleep over with her mate.
The friends house was in a thin lane and so to turn around we had to disconnect the trailer from the car. It was at this point that the hire car (ours is in having it’s mot done) decided that it liked reverse gear so much that it refused to go into any other gear. We called the garage and got an answer phone message telling us the out of hours number to call in an emergency. This we eagerly called, several times. At first the calls went unanswered, then they just went straight to engaged, so I sent a text message. A few minutes latter i got a text in reply telling me that they are out of the country but that someone will contact us soon. 5 minutes latter we got a call from the owners father and explained the problem. It was decided that, as we have AA recovery, we’d call out the AA. An hour latter the AA arrived and fiddled with the engine before ringing for a flatbed to tow us home. Our friend offered to take Jester Dragonfly and the children home whilst I waited for the flatbed to arrive, and so I waved goodbye to my family and spent fathers day not with my loved ones, but with my friends boyfriend. However he did have an ample supply of cider, so the day wasn’t a complete loss.
The flatbed arrived about an hour latter, loaded the car onto the back and hitched the trailer behind it, then off we went back to sunny old Manea as his stereo blurted out tunes by the who, Lynad skinard, and other classics. About a mile or so from home he slowed right down, explaining to me that the road was very bumpy and he didn’t want the trailer coming off, which sounded fair to me. Then, about half a mile from home we heard a strange noise coming from behind us. We pulled over to investigate and discovered that the welding holding the trailer box to the frame had broken, resulting in the box flapping about like a goldfishes mouth. He strapped the box down and slowly, very slowly crawled along until we eventually got home. he unloaded the car, parked up the trailer and departed, leaving me to explain to the other half that we now have a broken trailer. I done what any sane man would do in this situation. I expressed my frustration on Facebook, and was somewhat surprised and relived when a friend sent a message offering to weld it all back together again. And so it was that, relieved yet tiered I crawled into bed, leaving the fathers day bottle of beer that I know the family have brought me, but still haven’t been given, unopened till another day.
Good news for Chatteris midsummer festival
The good news is that the trailer is now repaired and we have another hire car that has forward gears as well as backwards. This means that there’s nothing to stop us heading to chatteris next week for the chatteris midsummer festival. details of which can be found on it’s Facebook page
This festival has a very special place in our hearts, for not only was Jester Dragonfly one of the main driving forces in starting it, but she has been involved in the organizing of it ever since. It started off as a medieval event. Then became a multi period event and is now a festival with a different theme every year. This year its the Rio Olympics.
We’re booked to bring just our circus school to it (the jesters school of……well…. jestering) but because we used to live in Chatteris and we are very community minded, so we’ll take everything, tents, performance stuff the whole lot, as described in our total immersion show. It really is a great show, so if your in the area, please drop by, enjoy the show and come and say “Hi” to Jester Dragonfly and myself.