So the blog title, “Festivals, Jesters, Tutus and Filmwork”, shows just what a busy few months we’ve had since I last posted a blog. So let me tell you a little about what we at the fool’s house have been up to.
I, your ever humble narrator, has been busy working on various new routines to frill and entertain you all. I have a new Tommy Cooper style “glass bottle, bottle glass” routine care of one of my sponsors, the wonderful folk known as “Magic Mead”. You can find these wonderful folk at various events, including England’s medieval festival and their mead really is the nectar of the gods. Although sadly, all the bottles they donated were empty.
I’ve also been busy working on a unique version of an old con known as the pea and shell. But fear not, as this is a “no money, purely for fun” routine involving the biggest pea and shells you’ve ever seen, ever.
Shows and workshops
In between training and learning the skills needed to execute these “so exciting that the public might just wet themselves” routines, we’ve also been busy working and performing all over the country. This has included children’s Birthday parties in London, circus skills workshops, including a week long circus camp for home educated children (although how teaching juggling ended up with me wearing a tutu is another story, for another day), adult birthday parties in Lincolnshire, and our “Total immersion” show at various events. Including“Battle medieval fayre” a wonderful, free to enter event run by the local community and housed under a hot sun in the shadow of the towns impressive looking abbey.
At “templecombe medieval pageant”, deep in the heart of somerset (a wonderful event run for charity), I had the pleasure of performing outside a reconstruction of a genuine medieval tavern! Then, latter that night, I also had the pleasure of tasting some of it’s wears.
Closer to home we ran our total immersion show at The Famous “Cambridge town and country fair”. Again this is a free to enter event. It’s held on the fair green meadows of Parker’s piece in the city centre and, in our humble opinion, has something for everyone. There was a horse display (with real live horses), birds of prey (although who they were praying to, I know not), an array of live music care of the buskers stage, the goat show (this is a show involving, well, goats), steam engines, stalls and lots more.
There was even a stall run by “The cambridge pentacle magic club”. Here you could see a whole range of different types of magic and performance styles. It’s a shame I had to work, or I’d of spent all day at the stall, stealing ideas and routines. If you’ve ever wanted to learn magic, then this, amazingly friendly club is the place to start.
At midsummer we were again down south. This time at eastbourne for “The Pentacle Drummers” summer solstice celebrations. Imagine not just the sound, but also the earth shaking vibrations of over 30 mad drummers, each one of which is “going for it” with all the suttalness of a deranged dinosaur on hot coals!
This yearly celebration of all things eccentrically british (I.E. Morris dancing, warm beer, kilts, and a pagan celebration wherein the oak and holly kings beat the heck out of each other with pillows to the background roar of face painted adults all setting an example of reasonable behaviour for their kids by screaming for blood) is a wonderfully small and friendly event which we love performing at. The daytime performances were all free entry this year. Then in the evening there was a great selection of bands, including our good friends “Portcullis”. A great medieval band, perfect for handfastings, events and medieval re-enactments.
But it’s not just been about making money. we’ve also been busy doing free, educational stuff. Next month we’re running a free workshop for children in Ely, and only the other week we were at Manea primary school. Here we put up a small medieval encampment and taught several class’s about medieval life. Why did we do stuff for free? Because its our local community and therefore local children and we here at the fools house strongly believe in supporting our local community. Besides, the kids were great fun to work with and the look of awe in their eyes as Jester Dragonfly proved how many arrows she could shoot in a minute was a true joy to behold (in days of old an English archer was expected to be capable of shooting ten arrows in a minute, jester Dragonfly managed eleven!).
More recently I’ve been filming for American television! This was long hard work outside in the heat of the sun in a woodland clearing. They were filming a pretend medieval festival and I of cause, was playing the part of the festivals premier fool. This involved juggling for anything up to 2 minutes whilst the main stars walked around, or gazed in wonder at my gravity defying feats. Then we’d stop for a few minutes, then refilm the same bit again and again and again.
To put this into some kind of perspective, we started filming the first one minute long scene at around 9 30 am and finished filming it at around 12 15. Nearly 3 hours for a shot that, once edited, will last less than a minute, but that, as they say, is show business.
On the subject of filming, keep watching this space, as we are again filming in august. Not for telly vision this time, but for our new video all about us. A professionally made promo video highlighting what we offer and why you should book us above all overs (and we’ll cry if you dont). It’s being made on location at one of Britain’s best medieval festivals, none other than “The loxwood Joust”. This festival is based near Guildford and is so popular that it has to be held over not one, but two weekends. Obviously, being Britain’s bestest medieval festival, they need Britain’s bestest fools, Jester Dragonfly, DevilStick Peat and the jesters jester, Stormageddon. So why not come along and enjoy not just our shows and the jousting, but also the cooling shade of it’s ever increasing woodland areas. Who knows, you may even end up in our video.
We’re also planning on making some instructional videos. These are designed to help all you potential jesters, young and old alike, to learn juggling and circus skills so that one day. should you work hard at it, then you might be nearly as good as we are. Who knows, I may even teach some very effective, yet easy to master magic (that way I’ll have the privilege of being kicked out of the magic circle before I even join it).
Shows throughout Britian
But we’re not just filming this action packed summer. We’ll also be spreading merriment and laughter the length and breadth of the country. Next month we’ll be spending a week way up north in “Alnwick castle”. This lovely castle is one of the best in england. Not only is it one of the few castles still inhabited by it’s owner, but its also so beautiful that some of the scenes from harry potter was filmed there. we’re there for a whole week, so if you’re one of our more northern fans, then do come along and not only say hi, but also enjoy our award winning shows and circus workshops.
In August we’re way down south at “England’s Medieval Festival”. Held at Herstmonceux castle in the sussex countryside. This event has gone from your average medieval festival, to one where you can camp over and enjoy not just a day of jousting, battles and brilliant jestering, but also a night full of fun with it’s open air cinema (showing medieval themed films) banquets within the castles banqueting hall and live, medieval music within its tavern, crammed packed with knights in armour, wenches and princesses.
In september we’re off to the east of England for “The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre” in east anglia. This is not just east anglia’s premier medieval event, but also where our son, Stormageddon is going to undergo a life changing experience. That’s right folks. For the first time ever in his whole life, Stormageddon is going to have what my parents would call “a PROPER haircut”!!!
“But why is this going to be a life changing experience” I hear you cry. Well I’ll tell you.
Firstly, Storm has decided to donate his lovely long blond locks to “The little princess’s trust”. This is a truly inspirational charity who make wigs from real hair, then donate them free of charge to children who, due to cancer treatment and other illness’s, have lost their hair. A wonderful and life enhancing idea that can change a child’s life, made all the more beautiful by the simplicity of the concept.
Secondly his doing it as a sponsored event. The funds he raises will go to the following causes.
This wonderful small charity has not only supported my work with children in conflict zones, but has also offered to buy the hoist my nephew (who suffers badly from muscular dystrophy) needs to get in and out of his mothers car. Thereby making not just family days out easier and less trouble, but also more mundane things like the school run.
March 2nd Beavers
A precursor to cubs and part of the scouting movement, beavers is great for younger children and storm wants to raise money for his own pack as a way of saying thank you for all the fun.
Neither his mother or I want him to lose his locks. Indeed I can see his mother shedding a tear or two (although I, being a manly sort of man, will merely have smoke in my eyes). However, not only must we respect his choice, but we also feel truly proud of the way he wants to use it to help others.
Now I know that, in these times of austerity, not everyone can afford to sponsor Storm, but you can still help by spreading the word via social media etc, or talking to your boss about the company sponsoring him etc. By doing so, your be helping Storm help others and have our eternal thanks.
To see his sponsorship page and read more about it, just click on the photo below
Well that’s all for now folks, I have to step away from the computer now as it’s a wonderfully sunny day, the lawn is freshly cut and the paddling pool is filled with fresh cool water. All on which means that my kids are complaining that they’re bored and want to go on youtube.
So until next time I bid thee all hail and fare thee well
After a winter of performing magic and juggling at Birthday parties, Medieval banquetsandCircus workshops, (click on the red words for more info) birds are once again singing in the trees. Events are eagerly booking us for festivals and the overdraft is at its limit. All these things can mean only one thing. Spring is slowly springing, summer is awaiting its grand entrance and we here at the fools house are looking forward to a bumper season of fun, laughter, fun and fun (0k, so that’s actually 3 things, but hey, who’s counting).
Also, as always we have loads of new magic routines as well as all your old favorites. So say tuned for further updates on where and when we’ll be performing. Infact, one of the best ways to keep updated on where and when to find us is to like our super exciting “facebook page”.
But enough of that. Time for the main part of this blog about the trials and tribulations of a modern day medieval, fool. My never before revealed revelations on how anyone, yes, even you! can make a small fortune out of performing magic (I kid thee not).
As someone who performs magic as their main income, there are 3 questions that I get asked more than any others. They are, in order of commonality:
How did you do that magic trick?
Why did you become a professional magician?
How did you become a professional magician and what’s the secret of your success?
So in this chapter of my blog, I thought Id not only answer them, but in so doing, also give away, free of charge, my fail proof guaranteed secret to using magic to make a small fortune. And the beauty of this secret is that anyone can do it, yes, even you!
1) How did you do that magic trick?
This is the question both adults and children alike ask most. Normally after I’ve done some amazing piece of prestidigitation. The reply to which is normally “can you keep a secret? Well so can I”
2) Why did you become a professional magician?
Thats a good question and one that has a very simple answer. “Because I couldn’t afford to be an amature one”
3) How did you become a professional magician and what’s the secret of your success?
That’s another good question. However the answer to this one isn’t quite so simple. So why not go make yourself a cuppa, then sit back and relax as I tell you all not only how I became a professional performer, but also, for the first time ever, give away the fail proof secret to my success in the form of my latest ebook. A book entitled
AN EASY TO FOLLOW 6 STEP GUIDE GUARANTEED TO MAKE ANYONE, (YES, EVEN YOU) A SMALL FORTUNE FROM MAGIC, GUARANTEED
(By award winning magician, jester and all round good guy, DevilStick Peat).
“But what” I hear you ask “makes me feel qualified to right such a book in regards to performing and magic”?
Over 30 years in the trade, thats what. 30 years in which I have traveled the world. In Saint-Tropez I worked for some of the worlds richest and most powerful people. In a Gujarati mud hut I performed for some of the worlds poorest orphans. I’ve worked at the worlds biggest festivals and small village fetes. Banquets, birthdays and funerals. You name it and I’ve performed magic there. But before I tell you the secret to making a small fortune from magic (I kid you not). Let me answer the first part of that question.
How did you become a professional magician
DevilStick Peat. The early days:
An ex soldier goes to Glastonbury festival
I was 24 and had not long left the army. I was living in a town in kent and spending my time going from one dead end job to another. Working in factories and the such like and hating every minute of it. I remember laying in bed and thinking “This cant be all there is to life. There just has to be more than work, drink, bills, rent and drink. There just has to be”
Occasionally a bit of colour would come into my life in the form of Tat and Ray. They were two traveling brothers who’d wander around europe busking with music and having loads of adventures. When they were in town I’d meet them in my local pub and they’d tell me tales of far off lands with sunshine, cheap wine and pretty girls. Oh how I envied them with their freedom and winter suntans, but I wasn’t musical and, if you’ve ever heard me sing, then you’d know why I now do comedy and magic for a living. So instead I just carried on going from job to job and getting more and more depressed.
Then one hot, sunny afternoon back in the 80’s I was walking home from the off license. In one hand I had a crate of newcastle brown ale, in the other a few bottles of thunderbird wine (as you do on a sunny afternoon in june). A van pulled up with a friend and two beautiful identical twins in the front. “Hi pete” he said with a grin “thats a lot of booze you’ve got, and we’ve got a spare ticket to glastonbury”
“Great” I said jumping in the vans side door. As we drove down the road I knelt behind the front seats, leaned over so that my head was between the young ladies and said “just one question. what is this glaston-thingy your on about”?
They laughed and one of the ladies said ” You’ve never heard of Glastonbury! Oh Pete, you’re going to have soooo much fun”. And she was so right.
Touched by the hand of fate
Fast forward a few days and Im having a great time, what with the music, hippy fields, pretty ladies and sunshine. I staggered somewhat drunkenly into a field and there was a man playing with what I now know to be devilsticks. I sat watching him for ages as he would get them tick tocking up into the air for a few minutes then they’d fall back to the ground. I was fascinated and asked him how long he’d been doing it. When he said “about an hour” I asked him where he’d got them from.
“over there” he said pointing further into the field
I looked towards where he was pointing and noticed several things. There was a circus big top, lots of people playing with juggling equipment, lots of pretty young ladies and a stall selling juggling kit. Above the stall was a sign saying “ODDBALLS”.
I wandered over and saw my friends sitting on the grass so I joined them and watched as people played with all types of juggling equipment, most of which I’d never seen before. One man had several sets of devilsticks and let me have a try. For the next hour I just played and played. Then I suddenly had a still slightly drunken revelation and knew what I was going to do. I still look back on that moment as the moment I was touched by the hand of fate. But the picture was suddenly so vivid in my mind that I turned around to my friends and said “If I got a set of those sticks and a red and yellow jesters suite, I could travel the world”. One of the twins laughed and said something like “You…… Juggle! You’d never get it together enough to learn something like that”
That made me so angry (mainly because she was right) that I borrowed £13 off of my mate and went over to the stall and brought my first set of devilsticks. The rest of the festival was spent sober and practising in the sunshine (well, more sober than I had been).
The Black Mountains
I returned to my home town with a plan which, now I’ve sobered up, seemed crazy, but I’d told everyone what I was going to do, so couldn’t back out now.
There was a temp agency that I’d sometimes use if I couldn’t find work. The manager knew that I was not only a good worker, but also one with a brain. They had a temp job going that was good money, very good money. It was 12 hour nights Monday-Thursday at £13 an hour. A nice rate now, but back in the 80’s it was real, serious money. If you done more than four days the extra was time and a half (£26 an hour). I worked 5 nights a week for several months. It was a horrid job in a horrid factory, but it paid the bills and allowed me to save a fair bit of money.
Then one spring morn I told them I’m leaving the job. He boss man asked what I was going to do that was worth giving up that type of money and I’ll never forget the look on his face when I said “I’m going to go sit on a mountain in wales, learn to juggle, then travel around putting my hat on the floor and seeing if anyone will throw money into it”! I then had a great leaving home party that lasted two days longer than intended before my mother-of-all-hangovers and I left town and headed down to south wales. I had no idea where I was going to end up, only that I wanted a clean break with no distractions, lots of green countryside, a couple of aspirins for my headache and somewhere to pitch a tent. I ended up in the black mountains near Brecon.
My time in the infantry meant that I was quite happy camping in the woods. Infact, once I realized that I didn’t have to be as camouflaged etc as I was in the army, it seemed quite comfortable and I loved waking up to the sound of the birds singing
A little way down hill was the village of Talgarth. Talgarth was a small village who’s biggest employer was the large mental health facility based on the edge of the village. It was the sort of village where no one seemed to know who was a doctor, who was a nurse and who was a patient that had managed to escape for a few days. The sort of place where a nutter living next to the waterfall that fed the woodland surrounded small lake known as “the witches pool” seemed quite normal. Here I trained, using books Id brought from my many trips to oddballs shop in london. Then one day I headed into Brecon town to do some shopping and maybe meet a few of the locals that Id got to know for a beer or two.
I didn’t know until I got there but it was the weekend of the Brecon Jazz festival. This meant that town was a lot busier than normal. It also meant that a lot of those people had had way too much to drink. As always I had my juggling equipment with me, I never went anywhere without it just incase someone found my tent and robbed me. So I made a decision. I was going to do my first ever bit of busking!
For ages I stood there, devilsticks in hand, telling myself that I could do this, just as soon as I stop shaking. But still I couldn’t actually find the courage to put my hat out and busk. Then a young lady walked past. she stopped and came back again.
“Are they devilsticks”? she asked. I told her they were and she asked me to show her what I could do with them. I started playing and a group of about 4 people who were walking down the street stopped to watch. I played for a few minutes then stopped to talk to the lady (after all, she was very pretty and I was young and single).The others clapped and one of them held out a coin asking where my hat was. I was surprised as I wasnt busking, just showing off to a pretty lady, but thinking quickly I held out my hat and got a coin off of each of them.
After that I came back to kent and got a friend to make me a jesters suit, a red and yellow one just like the one I’d imagined that day in glastonbury and decided to head south, down towards the mediterranean sea and all the wonderful towns, women and adventures that Tat and Ray had told me about.
Traveling and busking and war zones
For legal reasons I wont go into too many details, but surface to say I had a great time traveling Europe. Italy was a good place to make money. Spain really wasn’t (Although I once spent a winter living in a wonderful 5 roomed cave there. One that came with a garden, front door and letterbox. No postman, but still it had a letter box) . France was a good party, especially along the mediterranean, where the tourist paid in the day for the beers and partying that my fellow buskers and I would enjoy that night. And as for Amsterdam! Well the truth is I don’t remember a lot about my time there, which just goes to prove how much fun it really must of been. I even met up with Ray and spent a summer in business with him, running a bar at festivals (often without the festivals knowledge).
I was waking up on beaches to the sight of the sun rising over a deep blue sea. Sleeping on mountain sides in thick, lush woodland and just loving being able to spend days at a time in a forest, far from the madding crowd. Manys a time I’d say “The gods have blessed me. I don’t know why, but they have”. Then one day, on my way from Southern Ireland to somewhere else, I stopped off for a few days to see some friends in Glastonbury town.
Whilst there I met a young lady and ended up settling down for a few years. I even got a flat! Not just a bedsit, but a real live flat with more than one room. I remember sitting in the front room at night and thinking what an effort it is to walk all the way to the bedroom, just to sleep. Then, way back in 1999, Arabella Churchill, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill and the founder of a great charity called “Children’s World” asked me if I’d go to war torn kosova for a few weeks to work with the children there, care of her latest charity, “Children’s World International”. It was 72 days after the end of the war and the country was still in chaos with bombings and revenge shootings and all sorts of things happening and in the middle of all this was severely traumatized children, all being looked after and taught by severely traumatized adults.
I’m not going to use this blog to rant on about it, surface to say it was a horrible situation both for the children and us. But it was a situation in which I could make a small difference and that’s when I realized just why it was that the gods had blessed me. For the next decade or so my obsession was working with children affected by violence. not just war, but all sorts of violence including war, terrorism, blood feuds and sexual trafficking. It took me to lots of fun places such as Ossetia, Iraq and Tamil Eelam. Places full of big guns, fun kids and cheap alcohol. I went from performing shows for the children to writing projects, sourcing funding and running teams that worked in these places. And my paper of parachute games in relation to refugees was adopted by several UNICEF departments (something that I’n actually quite proud of).
My first paying gig
In the winter I’d do my charity work, and in the summer Id not only go busking, but also perform at medieval events. I’d been busking in kent one day and a man approached me and told me that he was incharge of a medieval street event in Rye the next weekend. He couldn’t pay me but I was welcome to busk at it and maybe they’d hire me for the next year. I’d never been to, or even heard of reenactments, but thought that it sounded like the sort of place that a jester should work, so decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did. The event itself was not only fun, but in future years they even paid me to perform at it. I also got another offer of work from it and picked up my first ever paid gig!
In the winter Id do my charity work, and in the summer Id not only go busking, but also perform at medieval events. I’d been busking in kent one day and a man approached me and told me that he was incharge of a medieval street event in Rye next weekend. He couldn’t pay me but I was welcome to busk at it and maybe they’d hire me for the next year. I’d never been to, or even heard of reenactments, but thought that it sounded like the sort of place that a jester should work, so decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did. The event it’s self was fun and in future years they paid me to perform at it. I also got another offer of work from it and picked up my first ever paid gig!
I was booked to perform at a free to enter street event in Battle known as “The Battle Medieval Fayre”. It was, and still is a lovely event where the whole local community comes together to put on a medieval street market with stalls, maypole dancing, fighting knights in armour and lots of other entertainment, including of course, yours truly.
I say “still is” as the event is not only still happening (the late may bank holiday sunday and monday) but they still, after all these years, they still book yours truly to perform at it! and they call me the fool. I often wish that I’d recorded my yearly shows there so that I could see how I’ve progressed from a juggler in a jesters suit, to a performing jester, with magic, juggling, comedy and wit.
One medieval event lead to another (which is just as well as an unemployed jester is nobodies fool), my nylon jesters suit turned into authentic clothing. Other festivals and banquets started booking me. Soon it was becoming like a real job, but I was also getting older.
Settling down and learning magic
It doesn’t matter how hard you try to hold back time, it catches up with you in the end and I was hitting that age where doing a 30-45 minute, high energy comic juggling show several times a day was beginning to hurt. Also my juggling was at a level where is wasn’t really worth taking it any further. By that I mean that the public wasn’t going to get any more enjoyment out of a comic 7 ball routine than they would a comic 5 ball routine. So i decided that it was time for a change, time to learn something different, something less energetic yet still magical. Time to learn magic.
It was around this time that I also decided to make another change in my life. I woke up one day in a lovely piece of woodland in kent and thought “you know what Peat? When you’re 20 something and living in a wood, you’re cool. When you’re 40 something and living in a wood, you’re just plain weird. Time to put down some routes”. So I got myself a flat on the coast, about 20 miles from Canterbury, became a director of the prestigious Kent Circus School and started to research comic magic. I soon realized several things. Firstly, that there are several skill levels and tricks designed for that level of skill. The amount of money I spent of tricks that I hadn’t any chance of learning yet was frightening. Imagine a 6 year old child spending his sweet shop money on a copy of war and peace, then trying to understand it. That’s what I felt like trying a lot of the tricks I’d brought.
I also discovered that there are different types of magic. E.G. close up, stage and parlour. Plus there is all the different genders like Coin magic, sleight of hand, self working and cards to name a few. Not to mention all the sub genders such as card manipulation verse card forces and so on. It took a long time and a lot of mistakes, often very expensive mistakes to discover what magic was best for me, or rather for my persona.
Another thing I decided on early in my magical venture was that just learning another performers routine was something I just couldn’t do. Don’t get me wrong. There are some great magic routines out there and the books and dvd’s that teach them, move by move and word by word are truly awesome. The trouble is this. I think (and I hope I’m right on this) that My DevilStick Peat persona it a truly unique character and because of this it needs unique magic routines, what works for other performers characters won’t work for mine. Also there are jokes and gags that I can use that others cant. This means that there are 3 sides to my magic routines.
Finding the magic effects that are of the right skills level that work for me.
Learning the various moves and sleights needed to perform the various magic effects possible with that prop.
Writing and choreographing a magic routine based around those effects.
Number one is done by trial and error, talking to other magicians and just watching other magicians at every possible opportunity.
Number two is a combination of hard work, more hard work and a distinct lack of any form of social life
Number 3 is a case of working out which moves lead most natully to which move. Banging one’s head against walls whilst trying to think up the spoken parts of the routine, and always keeping something I can write ideas and sudden bits of inspiration on nearby, especially when I’m in bed. Trust me on this. The importance of having that notebook by the bed can not be over rated. As waking the wife up at 3am and saying “hey, if I done this whilst saying that then the effect would be such and such”, does not lead to a happy, pain free marriage (Please, just trust the voice of experience on this one).
So as you can see, an effect that amuses you for a few minutes isn’t just the result of spending a hundred or more pounds on props and a quick back stage read of the instructions. It’s so much more than that.
It’s the result of months, and in some cases years of hard work, research and practise. It’s the result of all that time, money and effort spent on all those tricks that just didn’t work or which weren’t right for me.
It’s the result of all those sleepless nights stressed out and worrying that my wife might find out how much that magic trick really costs (Indeed, my biggest fear is that, once I’m dead, she will sell my magic, not for the amount it’s worth, but for the amount I’ve told her it cost).
It’s the result of days, nights, weeks months and years of blood, sweat and tears.
So as you can now understand, it’s taken years to learn how to be successful enough to make a small fortune out of magic. And over those years I have learnt many short cuts and lesions born not just of advice from my fellow magicians, but also of mistakes (often very expensive and/or reputation and soul destroying mistakes).
I’d hate to see you, my faithful readers suffer the same trials and tribulations that I have and so, after careful deliberation, I have decided to publish my full, easy to follow, step by step guide on how to, quite literally, make a small fortune from magic. A guide that does exactly what it says on the tin. A guide that’s simply called
AN EASY TO FOLLOW 6 STEP GUIDE GUARANTEED TO MAKE ANYONE, (YES, EVEN YOU) A SMALL FORTUNE FROM MAGIC, GUARANTEED
(By award winning magician, jester and all round good guy, DevilStick Peat).
Start off with a large fortune
Spend it on hundreds of magic tricks, most of which you’ll discover aren’t any good, many of which don’t do what they say they will, a lot of which aren’t right for you, a few of which you like, of which one or two are of use to you.
Join the many second hand magic groups on facebook and sell all save the ones you like for a fraction of what they cost and use the money to repeat steps 1, 2, and 3.
Give up any notions of having a social life whilst you spend a year or more learning the 7 tricks you’re now left with
Contact agents and events, tell them how much you charge then, after endless emails, end up working for a mere pittance (and of cause the none existent great publicity and exposure that they said the event will give you and your magic)
Get a real, Monday to Friday job that pays the bills so that you can put the money from performing magic in the bank until you have amounted a small fortune.
Easy, job done.
Until next time
D. S. Peat
P.S. All the people named in this brief history of my life are true, only the events have been changed to make it more believable.
Whats that? you were expecting a proper, genuine sensible ebook!!! Just which part of the job title “Jester” don’t you understand
As we wish each other a happy new year, the last mince pie is reduced to crumbs and screwed up tin foil and the Christmas decorations that she insisted go up in August, forcing you to choose between adopting a perpetual stoop or risk garroting yourself as you move around the house, finally give up their gravity defying fight, one end floating softly downwards, dangling it’s glittery end in your last pint of Christmas beer. So we at the fools house have been nostalgically reminiscing on the last year’s fooling.
I’m pleased to say that the ups have more than outweighed the downs. The laughter drowned out the tears, and the income paid for my C.U.P.s (for those of you not in the know, C.U.P.s is a magical term that stands for Compulsory Unnecessary Purchases. E.G. I know I already have 5 wands and only ever use 2 of them, but I need that new one because it’s shiny and has a deeper shade of black than the others and, and, and I just need it). A common affliction amongst members of my trade and a point of constant “discussion” between Jester Dragonfly and myself. Indeed one of my biggest fears is that, after my death, she will sell my magic collection not for its true value, but rather for the amount I told her I paid for it!
Goals, past and future:
like a lot of people I set certain goals last year, including the following;
Stay alive. √
Well the fact that I’m writing this blog means that I can, despite being married, tick that box.
Although I still want/need more (especially in the autumn and winter months) the amount we are getting is increasing (so that’s another tick).
Have at least 2 new magic routines ready for the 2018 festival season. √
One is ready and practised, the other is being made as we speak and will be ready for the first festival of the season. So that’s a tick, and in the case of the latter, I’d like to give a big shout out to “The Magic Mead Company”, not just for making the best mead going, but also for agreeing to sponsor it. “What are these two new routines” I hear you ask? Well come see me this summer and you’ll find out.
Convince Jester Dragonfly that using a working mantrap in the show isn’t really that dangerous (stupid yes, but not necessarily that dangerous). Failed
Well so far that’s a big, red failed, but I’m not giving up, as the idea I have could well be a reputation maker (especially if it all goes horribly wrong). But more on that idea when I either convince her that I’m allowed do it, or decide that her statements about divorcing me should I ever attempt such a stupid stunt are more of a promise than a threat.
Increase our website presence. √
Although that’s a tick and has been helped by those wonderful folk who have given us a 5 star rating on our “google business page” (if you haven’t yet, then it’s really not to late), our rating place on Google etc is still far from where I want it, very far. So if any of my blog reading buddies happen to work in SEO and are looking for a pet project, then please give me a shout and then you too could enjoy the many benefits of being one of our sponsors.
As for my goals for 2018, they include the following;
First and foremost, enjoy that wonderful blessing called friends and family.
For life without either isn’t life, merely existence.
Get myself a custom made elf suit.
I feel that I would make a good Christmas elf and could get a fair bit of Christmas work out of it. Lights turn on etc. This would of cause also have to include buying and learning some Christmas themed magic (see C.U.P.s above). Maybe I should talk to that creative genius and costume designer known as “Brighid Designs” about knocking one up for me
Add a new page to the website full of teaching videos.
These will be made at various events throughout the summer with a view to teaching you, my faithful fans, how to become as skillful as my own sweet self and is inspired by the following video of the true star of our shows, the one and only Stormagedden.
Have a new promotional video made.
This should be happening at this years “Loxwood Joust”(the best medieval event since medieval times), as the one featured here here is not only very old, but also very amateurish looking. Which is hardly surprising when you consider that a lot of it was shot by our children.
Highlights and not so highlights;
Although there were many highlights to our year, there was also some lows, most notably the unexpected passing of our close friend, Gandelf Strutt.
Gandelf was one of the first reenactors I ever met. An awesome mate who had the knack of giving wise words of wisdom interjected with just enough humour and mead to stop him sounding pompous. There’s many a tale I could tell about gandelf, however not everyone who reads this blog is old enough to hear them, so instead I shall save them for sharing around this years numerous campfires.
Another loss was Nils Poll. Nils was a juggler and friend from Denmark who invented what to me and many others, was the best ever juggling hats in the whole world, ever. I personally own 4 of them. They are well over ten years old. Have been thrown around, kicked and dropped thousands of times, yet still look as good as the day I brought them. The first time I met Nils was many moons ago at a juggling convention. I’d only just started to try and learn hat juggling and was standing in a corner, struggling to learn the most basic of moves. Nils, an expert with hats saw me and came over and spent at lest an hour with me, showing where I was going wrong and how to learn the moves correctly. Over the years we met at various events and it was always a pleasure to work and play with him. One of natures gentlemen and sorely missed within the circus community
Of the many highlights the most notable (for me) was being asked to perform at the 2018“British Juggling Convention”. This is a week long gathering of jugglers, performers and circus type folk from all over Europe and beyond. Everyone from folk who’d never juggled in their lives but want to learn, up to those considered to be amongst the best in the world will be there. So for me to not only be asked to perform, but also perform in the prestigious “public show”, alongside some of my personal circus heroes! You have no idea of not only how proud I was when they asked me, but also how mind numbingly scared I was when they asked me.
On a side note. The last time I went to this convention was for my honeymoon. That’s right, I’m one of the few people to invite several thousand mates to join him on his honeymoon (well that way we wouldn’t get bored at night). It’s being held in Canterbury in Kent this year, my old stomping ground. So if you’re in the area then please come along and say “Hi”.
up and coming events;
Although the year has only just began, we already have some exciting shows lined up for the summer season. But before then it’s worth mentioning that next month (February) Is the “Cambridge Living History Fair”. This is a wonderful event that’s held twice a year at woodgreen animal shelter in Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire pe29 2nh.
Here you’ll find an array of wonderful and strange oddities, both inanimate and human. For the re-enactor it’s a chance to buy anything from medieval armour to WW2 uniforms. For those who prefer L.A.R.P. you’ll find everything from giant latex war hammers to winged helmets, and for the general public there’s dress makers, mead retailers, and so much more, including the chance to learn about all the weird and wonderful objects on display, their place in history and how they helped to shape and forge that nation that we so lovingly call home.
But it’s so much more than just a place to buy and sell. For there’ll also be an array of entertainment for the whole family. Stories of old from real story tellers. An ancient and noble art that is as enticing now as it was a thousand years ago. Medieval music from a harp playing minstrel. The Romans will be there, not only giving talks and demonstrations, but they’ll also be giving you and your children the chance to get hands on experience in the weapons training of their famous legions, and of cause your’s truly will be there with shows and walk about routines to amaze, amuse and bamboozle you all.
Latter in the year we’re doing all our old favourites, including the Cambridge town and country show. A free to enter event in the heart of Cambridge with multiple shows happening all day every day.
The loxwood Joust. Held near Guildford on the first two weekends of August, this must surely be the best medieval event since medieval times and not just because I’m there.
England’s Medieval Festival. Held over the late August bank holiday at Herstmonceux castle in East Sussex, this is the largest event of it’s kind in Europe. You can even camp or glamp at it, ensuring that the fun never stops.
And loads more events, way too many to mention here.
Well that’s all for now folks other than to say that we at the fools house all hope you had a very merry Christmas and wish you all a very happy new year. May it bring you all that you need to keep you smiling.
Once again we’ve had an exciting few months with not just events, but as a children’s entertainer, also birthday parties.
The queen of hearts;
It all started with a birthday party down in London. The birthday child had seen me performing at Templecombe medieval pageant down in the west Country and decided there and then that I, your sweet humble narrator, was the the man she needed to entertain her friends (even at that tender age, she had good taste).
I decided to train it to London as it worked out cheaper and less hassle than driving and arrived in London with plenty of time to spare. Finding the venue and the right bus to it was easy. It was paying for the bus that proved the problem.
London busses no longer take cash! Only oyster cards and contactless debit/credit cards. The problem is, being in entertainment and sharing dressing rooms and all, I won’t have a contactless card. Luckily for me the young lady driving the bus, taken by my dashingly handsome looks and realizing that I am but a poor country bumking, let me on for free!
Once at the venue (before the booker, which is always good). I changed into my motley (that’s the proper name for a fools costume) and set to work meeting all the young guests and getting them in the mood to party.
I should say here that the birthday girl looked awesome, all dressed up as the Queen of hearts, which given her reputation for head removals was a little disconcerting. Lucky for me that both, the Queen and her subjects, loved the show, with all the adults joining in the shouting of “oh yes you did” and the such like. It was a true pleasure to perform for them all, but for me the best bit was yet to come.
My performance over it was time to do the birthday cake and what a cake it was. Topped with lashings of thick cream, covered in sweet tasting fruit and mini marshmallows and festooned with candles it looked good enough to eat. But for me personally, the icing on the cake (pun intended) was the pictures of yours truly that towered above it all. Yes, I know that’s egotistical of me, but then that’s all part of being a performer. Silly little things like that just add to the beauty of what we do.
They even had “thank you for coming to my party” stickers with a photo of me on it. If I’d known that before hand I’d of asked them to include my website on it, but hey, you cant win them all.
Special needs workshops;
Recently we’ve been doing some circus workshops with special needs children via the NHS. These are children with conditions like autism and the such like. We do them at a special, discounted price for several reasons. Partly because we know how underfunded mental health is in this country. Partly because the work is rewarding and loads of fun. But mainly because we feel that it’s actually quite important. Not only because it helps them with spacial awareness and concentration, but also because it gives them something that is sadly often lacking in our society, the chance to interact with adults members of our community. O.K. so the adults in question are two professional fools, but hey, you cant win them all!
Cambridge Living History Fair;
Next was the Cambridge living history fair. Now although it’s called the Cambridge living history fair, it’s not actually in Cambridge. It’s held twice a year at the woodgreen animal shelter. Now although it’s called the woodgreen animal shelter, it’s not actually in Woodgreen, but Godmanchester. But despite these misleading labels it was very well attended by both public and traders. It’s one of the few gigs that book me for both, my skills as a fool, juggler and magician and my skills with the cláirseach (that’s fancy talk for folk harp). She’s a 26 string Colombo harp from “starfish designs” who, in my humble opinion, are not one of, but the best harp makers in the UK.
The Cambridge living history fair is a wonderful event where all sorts of weird and wonderful folk gather to buy and sell all sorts of weird and wonderful goods. Should you wish to purchase a new bow or arrows, then there’s several stalls to meet your needs, including “Arbalist Armoury”. Run by my friend Nick Winter, he sells a wide range of products and is a wonderful guy who’s more interested in making sure you get what’s right for you than in making a sale (oh, and I’m also impressed with the way he interacts with children). Or maybe you want a period costume made to measure and unique to you, or something special for your wedding or party. If this is the case then make your way over to “Brighid Designs”. Run by a lovely lady with a real passion for her art (and trust me on this, her works are pieces of art) she can advise you and make your dream dress a reality. One you’ll treasure for ever.
But it’s not just a place to buy and sell. Oh no, it’s also a place to meet people and learn about our history in a way that a school or book just cant ever compete with. You can even find out about joining a re-enactment group care of groups like “A Moment In Time”. A wonderfully friendly bunch of nutters who enjoy re-enacting days of old and are always up for a laugh.There’s also loads of entertainment laid on, all free of charge! Including myself, a story teller and hands on demos from“The Ninth Legion Hispana”. Here both adults and children alike can learn the fighting skills of the romans. Arguably one of the best fighting armies in history.
And if you’re feeling peckish, then make your way to“Cowleys Fine Foods”. Their website says “We specialise in all things edible” and when they say “all“, they aint kidding. Here you can try and buy anything from vegan and veggie goodies such as “Suzie’s Vegan Jerky : Sweet Potato Texan BBQ” to more exotic goods like their “Gourmet Chilli Jerky Trinidad Scorpion”. As a veggie I’ve never tried it, but I know those who have and it comes highly recommended.
Sorry you missed it? Well fear not, for this fine event is so popular that it now happens twice a year. So there’s no reason why you cant come along and see my show at the next one on the 17th and 18th of February 2018.
Children’s entertainer and pirate in Manea;
Then it was time to get ready for another birthday party, this time a little closer to home. In fact it was a lot closer to home as it was being held in Manea village hall, which is in the same Street as our house.
The theme for the party was pirates, so I resurrected an old character that I used to play at larp events. A character I lovingly called “shipwrecked again peat”. I must admit to being a little bit nervous about this party, as most of the guests were of preschool age. Younger than most kids I work with. I’m pleased to say that I needn’t of worried. We split my show into two parts, so as to allow for a shorter attention span and put the birthday meal in between the shows (and unlike many children’s entertainers, I don’t charge for the extra time this involves). They loved it and the look on the birthday child’s face when a birthday card magicly appeared in an empty bag was priceless. Again the adults joined in, some of them laughing as much as the children. But then I always say that, although folk book me to entertain children, I class myself not as a children’s entertainer, but as a family entertainer, with good, clean wholesome fun for everyone. Besides, I realised very early in my career that it’s the adults, not the kids, who hold the cheque books.
Children’s entertainer in Huntingdon;
This time the party was in the metropolis known as Huntingdon. Apparently they, like so many of my bookers, had seen me at an event and decided that I’m just what they are looking for. I like it when that happens as it means they know what they are booking and what to expect. They’d tried to book me the year before, but I was already booked up (if only i could clone myself, I’d make a fortune), so they booked me very early this year. Maybe you should do the same and guarantee having the best in the business perform at your child’s/wife’s/husbands birthday party. Again, the party went well and even the adults looked surprised when, with a sudden flash of light, the large brightly coloured birthday cake appeared from a container way too small to hold it. I would tell you how I do it, but then I’d have to kill you! (I said that to a man once and he replied “great, tell my wife”).
When not performing I’ve been busy working on various projects, including getting sponsorship for a whole new routine that will be showcased next festival season (April time). I’ve spent a long time designing and redesigning some of the equipment I need for this, but that was the easy bit. The hard part was affording the props needed to perform it (nothing in my trade is cheap).
But being forever resourceful I decided to look for sponsorship. First thing I did was make a list of possible sponsors. The trick involves several bottles, 20 to be precise, so a company that sells it’s products in bottles seemed the most obvious choice. I divided a list of likely sponsors into two sections, those most likely to sponsor a trick and those I’d be proud to endorse.
I emailed the first company on the “proud to endorse” list. I’ll be honest here and tell you all that I didn’t hold out much luck. It’s only a small company, but their product is awesome and in my humble opinion, the best around. I thought I’d give them a week to reply, then move on to the second best. So imagine my surprise when they replied within a couple of hours. Not with a “thank you but no thank you”, but with an email stating that they’d love to sponsor me to the full amount!
For the next few days I must of been pure he’ll to live with. Everything I said ended with the words “I’ve got a sponsor”. I was like a kid on Christmas Eve, a Christmas eve that lasted 4 or 5 days.
So the props are being made as we speak and should be ready next month. Then I’ve got to make the necessary changes to some of my stuff. Then practice, practice and practice, so that it’s all ready for next season.
What is this new trick? That’s a closely guarded secret, but if you subscribe to this blog (don’t worry, we wont give or sell your details to any 3rd party) then you’ll be one of the first to know.
Who are my new found sponsors. They’re a company who I’ve mentioned in several of my past blogs. Even before they became my official sponsor I was praising their skills, which shows how good I think they are. It’s a company called
As their name suggests, they make and sell mead, but not just traditional mead, also lovely and excitingly flavoured meads, including new flavours such as their rhubarb and liquorice and my personal favourite, the world famous magic mead chilli mead (the perfect winter warmer and Christmas present for your favourite fool). Please check out their website and if you ever see them at an event or market, ask for a free sample and mention my name. I tell you now, you really wont be disappointed with their products. Your only problem will be deciding which flavour to buy (my suggestion it buy one of every flavour, that way you wont be disappointed).
Up coming events;
Well that’s all for now folks. Other than to say that if you’re down in the west country in December, then you can see me at the “Dunster By Candlelight”. Held on the evenings of the 1st and 2nd of December, this promises to be a lovely event celebrating everything that’s great and magical about Christmas. After talking to the event organisers and looking at the website, I’m actually quite excited about this gig. It looks like loads of fun, fun and fun. A truly great way to get into the spirit of Christmas.
Once again I’m going to be standing in for my old friend Santa at several local events and of cause, I’ll be fooling and harping at The Cambridge Living History Fair in February. If you’re local, or in the area, it really is well worth attending, even if you’re not into history or re-enactment, you’ll find something you like (maybe even a bottle of mead from magic mead).
We’ve also got several“birthday parties” coming up, both local and further afield that also include our world famous “circus skills workshops”. Always a favourites with both children and adults alike. So to avoid disappointment, best you book me for yours now.
And lastly, I’ve just received a text message from the mother of the queen of hearts birthday girl asking if I can attend her sons birthday party. Apparently he is adamant that it’s got to be me. So I must be doing something right.
So if I don’t see you beforehand, I’d like to wish you all a very merry Christmas from all of us here at the fools house and hope to see you all next year (or at a birthday party somewhere).
As the summer turns to autumn, and the leaves, once a dark green canopy, now turn vibrant yellow, so the festival season draws to a close for yet another year. But before we look forwards towards the Christmas season, let me tell you about our last few festivals and events.
Cherry Hinton Festival;
On September the 16th we were invited back to the “Cherry Hinton Festival” This is a wonderful community based event in a part of Cambridge known as, Cherry Hinton (Which is handy when you consider that it’s also the festivals name).
The public, undeterred by the traditional summer rain, turned out in surprisingly large numbers, but then those who know this festival, know just what great fun it is. Like any community based event, it has it’s fair share of community performances, including everything from Irish dancing to Yi Zhong Yang-style Tai Ji (I can spell it, just don’t ask me how to pronounce it).
In the activities marquee was an assortment of activities ranging from messy play for the under 5’s to archaeological activities. Run by 2 archaeologists from Cambridge university, here you could dig through the different layers of ‘soil’ and discover artefacts in the ‘Excavation chest of drawers’, including 9th century pottery, animal skulls and all sorts of things. They even had “The Brickologists” there with their lego building challenges and some doctor type folk who would help you make your very own “brain hat”
Outside there was a music stage with music and on the sports field there was demos and a chance to try out a whole range of sports. Everything from football to Zumba. Climbing walls and caving pods. Face painting and crazy giant balloon modelling, and all free. That’s right folks, everything on offer was free. A whole field filled with fun and all put on by volunteers from the local community. And to those volunteers I’d like to give a great big thank you. For this is what all community fun days should be like. I take my hat off to each and every one of you.
Upon finishing my days work there, Jester Dragonfly, Stormageddon and I headed south to Faversham, deep within the mountainous countryside of Kent (Hey, I live in the fens, one of the flattest parts of England. Compared to here, the north and south downs are two mountain ranges).
Faversham Food Festival;
This year the theme for “Faversham food festival” was medieval. Hence the reason I was booked (well that and the fact that they wanted entertainment that was of the same high standard as the food on offer). Although this part of Kent is my old stomping ground where I grew up (I’d tell you more, but wouldn’t want to shock you) the food festival started soon after I left, so I had no idea what to expect. Was it going to be one or two stalls with grannies selling home made cakes and the local girl guides selling brownies (the biscuits that is, not their younger sisters. That would just be wrong)? Or loads of market stalls from all across Europe and nothing to do with Faversham? More importantly, would there be a good performance space in which yours truly could perform his repertoire of gravity defying juggling, marvellous magic and “lace my corset tighter less I split my sides laughing” comedy?
I needn’t have worried, for the Faversham food festival was a pure delight of orally sensual overload. All laid on with local business’s and local produce. After sampling the free tasters (and not just the chilli sauces) I can put my hand on my heart and say that I now know why Elizabeth Carter, editor of the good food guide, once described this area as The east Kent triangle, an area of excellence.
As for the performance area? As you can see from the photo, they couldn’t of given me a better spot, or a more responsive audience.
It was a lovely sunny day and once the Puppet show had finished I soon had both, kids and adults seated before me. At the risk of sounding egotistical, I can say that the show went down a storm. I judge how good my show is by how much hassle the kids give me (something that I actively encourage) and even the adults joined in, shouting “oh yes it is” etc. in the right places. And the jumping dragons (of doom) fooled all of them, including the adults. There’s even a video of it on their Facebook page. It starts with a 3 ball juggling routine (The likes of which most jugglers would give their right arm to perform). Then concludes with the jumping dragons (of doom). When not performing one of my stage shows, I was engaged in one or more of my walk about routines, including the somewhat apt repeating bananas (of doom) and of cause, woodbine with his pot noodle and another type of repeating.
Other entertainment included a great traditional Punch and Judy show, may pole dancing (in September), little red riding hood and my old friend “Flora the singleton giant”. Always a favourite with the crowds as she leads the parade. Today the parade consisted of all the children entering the fancy dress competition. To my absolute horror, I was asked to be one of the judges. I hate judging the fancy dress as I’m always worried that those who don’t win will cry, or worse still, hate me even more than they hate my jokes!
Then, after the day had finished, it was full speed ahead as we headed home to get ready for the next show
The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre;
We’d been really excited about this gig. Not only because it’s more money in our pockets, but also because it’s run by some old friends of ours. Many moons ago, when I still had hair (well, more hair than I have now) there was an event called “the Snailwell medieval fayre”. Run by friends of ours this event had a real village green feel to it and was always a favourite, not just in our calendar, but also in the calendars of most local re-enactors and with good reason. Put simply it was a good, well organised event. The type where everyone, families, traders, performers and re-enactors could relax and enjoy a weekend of all that’s best about medieval England. So when they contacted us and said they were thinking of running a new event, well how could we say no.
The set up;
It was held at Stow-Cum-Quy, which is quite local to us, enabling us to arrive early on the Friday. Once there we didn’t just set up and relax, oh no, that would be too easy. Instead Jester Dragonfly took over arranging the traders and allocating pitches and I lent a hand with the ground crew, erecting tents, putting up signs etc. This meant that the main organiser had more time in which to run around whilst muttering that most famous of all event organisers incantations “never again, not ever doing this again ever” ( we don’t call her stress free shaz for nothing). Come night fall the event had come together and was now looking like a medieval event should on the night before opening (I.E. the beer tent was open and full of strange folk in strange clothing shouting things like “hussar” and “Oi watch where you’re poking that sword”).
I’ll be honest here and tell you that when I saw the beer tent, I panicked! During our consultations with the organisers we’d recommended what we consider to be the best medieval beer tent on the circuit. The world famous “Crimson Moon Mobile Beer Tavern” (Never ever call it a beer tent. It’s so much more). They, knowing that we see a lot of beer tents at events had taken our advice and booked the best. So why did I panic? Because it wasn’t until we’d got there that we realized that it was now under new management! “What” I thought “if the range of drinks aren’t as good as they were? What if the staff are a grumpy bunch of folk who aren’t into these events? What if”??? I need not of worried. The beer was good, The cider, very good (I checked it several times, just to make sure). A full range of spirits and kids drinks were all at hand. And all served by lovely friendly staff who were in character and more than “up for it”. Indeed I was so impressed that I’m still happy to call them the best mobile medieval tavern this side of the 16th century (and no offence meant to my good friend Iain, but it takes a lot less cider to find it’s new owner sexy than it ever did him).
Saturday morning we were up early, getting the last few things sorted (I.E. putting up our tents as we were too busy helping out Friday to set up our own camp). As often happens at these types of events, there was a few last minute changes to the program, resulting in a bit of a slow start to the day. But once it got going it was a great two days of medieval mayhem, music and civilized members of the public teaching their children that is socially acceptable to screem for blood whilst watching a bunch of fully grown men beat the hell out of each other with offensively big, heavy weapons.
Music was provided by some old favourites of ours, including “The pentacle Drummers” . A lovely bunch of nutters with a thunderous repertoire of deafening drumming that puts the likes of Cozy Powell to shame (if your saying who? then you’re too young) and the perfect way to wake up a sleepy village on a sunny morn.
“Serpentyne” were also performing with their perfect mix of modern and medieval instruments, all combining to create a magical mixture that perfectly combined the best of both worlds, old and new.
Blood, guts and battles and living history were provided by several re-enactment groups including “The Knights of Honour”,“Wuffa Saxon and Viking re-enactment”, “Ealdfaeder Anglo-Saxons” and our very good friends from your local medieval re-enactment society “Phoenix Warlords medieval re-enactment society”. This wide range of households meant that you had the chance to experience a whole range of different battle tactics. For the fighting style and moves of a fully armoured knight is vastly different from that of a Viking who, although wearing less protection, has the advantage of more speed and mobility. Not that I, as a poor humble fool (all be it Britain’s best poor humble fool) know a lot about fighting. My speciality is entertainment and as such I can say that these heroic warriors were very entertaining and not just on the field of battle. For they came equipped with every thing you’d expect war bands to have. Medieval tents, women cooking around the camp fires. Phoenix even brought their very own cannon with them! It was housed next to their “have a go archery”. Probably one of the most popular side shows in the event. This was where members of the public, both young and old alike, could practice their skills with the famous English longbow. All under the expert guidance of Some of England’s premier archers.
But what would a medieval event be without that most quintessential of medieval sports, jousting? That’s right folks, not only was all the above housed upon this, most green of England’s green fields, but they even had jousting and awesome stunt riding from none other than “The horsemen of the knight”. A foolishly brave troupe of medieval stunt riders who kept us all spellbound as, clad in shinning armour, they took part in death defying duels, charging at each other with lance in hand to the cheers, gasps and applause of public, both young and old.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they displayed amazing acrobatic feats of skill. Hand stands on galloping horses and many another feat of daring horsemanship. The sight of which would not only get your heart pumping, but also leave the stoutest members of your local pony club reaching for their large bottle of vodka.
The most violent and bloodthirsty battle England’s ever seen, ever;
Both days ended with an awesome, furious battle, the likes of which have rarely, if ever, been seen on England’s fair lawn. These were no ordinary battles, oh no. For these were battles fought by the most fearless and blood thirsty of heartless, hardened warriors. A band of marauding rabid killers known collectively as “the children”.
Armed with long lengths of pipe cladding, soft enough to do no harm. All the children present were invited onto the field of honour to wage war upon each other. We did try to get the knights to join in, but upon seeing the unabated bloodlust and violence unleashed by these future warriors (of doom), what knights we could find were suddenly way to busy shinning shields, or hiding in the toilets saying things like “don’t send me out there. I’ll be good”. or softly sobbing “I want my mummy”.
All joking aside, the kids loved it as it was a chance to run riot and practice all the fighting skills that they had learnt through out the day. And from the parents point of view, they could laugh at their child’s antics knowing not only that the weapons were too soft to cause any damage, but also that, worn out by this last surge of mindless violence, their children were going to sleep well that night.
But I’ll give you a little bit of insider information. The dates for this, East Anglia’s finest medieval event, may well change next year! “What” I hear you cry! “Then how will we find out the new dates”? Fear not my trusty followers. For all you need to do is click on and like this link to “The Ancient Oak Medieval Festival Facebook Page”. Then be you a trader, re-enactor, family looking for a day out, or just someone who enjoys supping on fine ales whilst watching big hairy men beat the living daylights out of each other. The truth is you’ll be able to sleep soundly, knowing that you’ll receive updates with the new dates etc. sent straight to your very own Facebook news feed.
What’s next I hear thee cry;
But enough about battles past. For the fighting/festival season is over. Our tents are once again cleaned and stored away till next year and Stormageddon, his batteries removed, is placed safely back in his box until next spring springs upon us once more.
So what will we do now the seasons are a changing? Lots is the simple answer. We have a whole range of birthday parties we’ve been invited to. Both here in our own sweet village of Manea and further afield in London and beyond. Indeed we’ve more parties than past winters, due partly to the ever growing reputation of our entertainment and birthday circus workshops, but also possibly to the constant tweaking I’ve been doing to our website.
Now although I’m a magician, who’s just won his second world wide magicians competition (Dear Brian Watson, thank you so much for donating the coveted 1st prize wand holder trophy) I’m no website wizard. So I’m going to ask a wee favour of you all. Could you please take a few minutes to click on the “Birthday parties link” and look at the latest changes. If you’ve any suggestions then simply add them to the comments section on this blog and in return I promise to love you dearly. Each and every one of you.
Held twice yearly the up coming autumn fair is being held at it’s usual venue in the Woodgreen animal shelter in Godmanchester, PE29 2NH. Every year this event goes from strength to strength, With more stalls, entertainment and customers than ever before. But although it’s a place to perchures all things historical, it’s not just a fair for re-enactors. For here you may see, taste and buy a number of items you’ll never find at any other market anywhere. Toys, as in real wooden wont be broken by new year cause they’re made of cheap plastic toys that, come Christmas morning, will delight children of all ages (even the grown up ones). Mead, the perfect winter warmer for those long, cold winter nights. Beautiful hand made dress’s, sown with love and care. The type that will look splendid on your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend (hey its the 21st century and who am I to judge). All these unique and splendid artefacts and many more can be found all under one roof. There’s even entertainment with story telling, my own sweet self jestering and yet more that we’re awaiting confirmation on. But it’s only on for two days, so make sure you bookmark October the 18th and 19th in your diaries and pick up some bargains galore at The Cambridge Living History Fair.
Well that’s all for now folks. So I bid thee all a fair farewell. If you’re children are lucky enough to be coming to a birthday party I’m performing at, then do yourself a favour and stay and watch. For although billed as a children’s entertainer, I personally look on our shows as family entertainment, with gags that appeal to all ages. If you’re an event organiser looking for good wholesome entertainment, then get in touch, but hurry as we’re already getting booking for next year and are unable to clone ourselves. And if you’re looking for some excellent entertainment for your childs birthday party (or indeed, your own) then please take a look at our “Birthday parties page” and let us make your child’s birthday party so special that it not only becomes the talk of the playground, but also the envy of all the other parents.
So until next time, I bid you all, fair thee well.
Set within the 300 acres of woodland and beautiful landscaped gardens that surround Herstmonceux castle in East Sussex, England’s Medieval Festival is the biggest medieval event of it’s kind. But don’t let the size of the grounds put you off. For the festival, ever vigilant of your needs, has a whole fleet of golf carts laid on with the sole purpose of transporting you to where ever you need to go. So if, after watching the amazing DevilStick Peat in kids kingdom, you wish to quickly travel to the jousting field, just put out your hand, stop a cart and say “Good day good knight, merrily I do ask thee to transport myself and family to the jousting field of honour”, and your wish will be granted.
With the availability of camping, glamping and even rooms, you get the chance to fully immerse yourself in a by gone age of chivalry, honour and (as you don’t have to drive) mead and fine ales. Not just for a few hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon, not just for 3 whole days, but also for 3 whole nights!
“But what” I hear thee cry “Makes England’s Medieval Festival worth visiting for the entire late August bank holiday”? Well I’m glad you asked. Pour yourself a drink and sit back whilst I tell you all about an average day in the life of an England’s Medieval Festival attendee.
Imagine the scene if you can. You arrive on the Friday evening to the sight of field after field full of brightly coloured medieval tents, their banners flapping in the gentle cooling breeze. You drive right up to your already erect tent and quickly unload as your children, full of excitement, play outside on the grass. Fighting black knights and invisible dragons that only they can see. Then, once sorted, you wander down, pass kids kingdom and living history encampments to the long marquee that houses one of the bars and a stage onwhich a band is merrily playing. Here you sup on one of the many ales on offer. Your wife tries a glass of honey mead and your kids, still fuelled by the energy born of youth, run riot on the soft green lawn, stopping only to gaze in awe at some of the knights frequenting a table.
Your son timidly approaches the knights and asks to see their swords. You’re about to tell him not to bother them, after all the event doesn’t actually start till tomorrow. Too late, the largest of the knights is standing tall, slowly pulling his heavy sword from its scabbard and showing it to your son. He even allows him to hold it and pose for a photo surrounded by the other knights. A photo that he will cherish for ever and the event hasn’t even opened yet!
After the long drive to England’s Medieval Festival and a couple of surprisingly nice ales, your ready to call it a day. The trouble is your children aren’t. This isn’t a problem as you decide on a compromise. You head back up towards the campsite, then take a quick stroll down behind kids kingdom to the outside cinema. Here your kids have the chance to calm down whilst watching a medieval movie. Not only that, but it also just happens to be right next to yet another tavern, giving you the chance for a last night cap before bed.
Come Saturday morning your kids are up with the sun. It’s only 5 30a.m. but they’re so full of excitement that they’re fit to burst and your painfully aware of two things;
It’s 5 30a.m.
Your neighbours don’t have children and are very probably still asleep! Or worst still, now awake and planning how to get your kids, or you into the stocks.
You throw some clothes on and take the kids for a stroll whilst your wife goes back to sleep. Outside there’s a mist that wraps around you and the festival. removing you from the modern world and, like the mists of Avalon, magically transporting you back in time to a long gone age. You find yourself in one of the living history encampments. It’s eerily silent as you and your children talk in hushed tones, discussing the various implements outside the camps. Maybe you stroll through the beautiful gardens, or up into the woods, your kids wide eyed at the sight of a squirrel scrambling around on the ground before running up an ancient oak tree (the squirrel that is, not your kids). Maybe you head up to the swings and wooden play area far from tents and sleeping people (which, judging by the time of day and amount of weapons here, isn’t such a bad idea). Eventually you decide that its now a slightly more civilized hour and head back to camp. Here you meet up with your wife and head down towards the festival stalls and the wonderful smells of bacon, sizzling sausages and well needed coffee.
After a breakfast fit for a king you return to your tent and get ready for a day filled with fun, fun and fun. Your daughter is dressed in a blue and black dress with a purple cloak and looks surprisingly similar to princess Anna. Your son is dressed as a knight in armour, complete with plastic sword in hand and as you look at him, so the child inside you wishes that you too had a costume to wear.
Suddenly there’s the loud bang of a cannon firing. Rooks fly squawking from trees. You jump. Your kids scream and your wife, who’s just emerged from the tent, dives back in to change her underwear. “What was that”? your daughter asks with wide eyes. “That” you say as a smile slowly spreads across your face “means the festivals open”.
The fun begins;
As you hurry down to the festival your wife cant help but wonder who’s more excited, the kids or you. Your first port of call is the living history encampments that you wandered through earlier. Now they are a hive of activity. Smoke rises from innumerable camp fires. Here a maid is working a spinning wheel. There a lady is platting her daughters hair, as was the fashion in those days. A knight is sitting on a wooden stall, gazing intently at the long sword blade that he is running an oiled cloth along. Next to him, laid out on the ground is his armour and you stop to look at it. Another, younger knight emerges from the medieval tent, looks at your son, then says “Would you like to try it on”? Your son looks at you for the ok, his eyes wide in wonder. You nod and watch as the breastplate is put carefully over his shoulders and the full faced helmet on his head. In 5 minutes he has learnt more about medieval knights than any school history lesson could ever teach him.
You become aware that the first knight has stopped cleaning his sword and has now turned his gaze towards you. “”Sir Fredric” he says to his fellow knight “I think the young man isn’t the only one who’d like to try it on”. Any attempt to play the responsible adult has now long since left you, replaced by that inner child we all secretly house. Dressed in breastplate, chainmail and helmet and with sword in hand you turn towards your wife for a photo and as you stand there, beaming like a chester cat, so you cant help but notice not only your wifes look of approval, but also the glint in her eye as she stares at her very own knight in armour.
After the living history encampments you decide to head back towards the front of the castle and sit on a slope to its side. Here you’ll get a perfect view of what’s about to happen. The area in front of the castle is roped off and you all watch, spell bound as an argument breaks out between the leaders of the two armies. An argument that results in an epic battle known famously as,
The siege of Herstmonceux;
A giant catapult, or trebuchet to use it’s proper name, launches projectile after projectile towards the castle. The sky darkens as arrows fill the air. A blood curdling cry rings out from the armies as screaming, they charge towards each other, each side set on the demise of their foes. This is no staged battle, with rehearsed moves and pulled punches. The soldiers on this field are fighting a real fight. When a sword smashes into a mans breastplate you can hear the resounding crash of metal beating upon metal, with a force that makes one wince in sympathy for his poor victim. These reenactors are men, real men, who are partaking in real fights with real, heavy weapons. They don’t get paid for it. They do it as a hobby, because that’s what they do. Where as me? I do nothing dangerous, I do it not for a hobby, but for money, and they call me the fool! (There’s something wrong there). Your sitting safely to the side, high up on a grassed bank, but still you feel a surge of adrenaline pulsating through you as spell bound, you watch as men fall whilst others roar in triumphant victory. All this and it’s not even dinner time yet.
The battle over and the dead miraculously brought back to life by the crowd shouting that most magical of spells.” The beer tents open”. It’s time to enjoy the rest of the festival. Your wife wants to peruse the medieval market. Your kids want to investigate the apply named “kids kingdom”. You want to check out the medieval band that’s about to start in the beer tent. It’s not a problem, for what you miss today, you can enjoy tomorrow, or the next day. So your wife heads off towards the medieval market and you’re left in charge of the kids. You take them to the kids kingdom where, on a stage set between two oak trees, surrounded by hay bails and with a backdrop of medieval tents, a jester is getting ready for a show. Your kids head for the front row and you sit yourself at the back with the other adults.
The stage set, the jester walks on, arms raised as the crowd claps. He cuts them short, telling them that was rubbish. That his wife makes more noise than that on the toilet. Again he walks on, this time to clapping and cheers. Again he tells them it’s still not loud enough. “This time you have to clap, cheer, scream, throw little kids in the air and go crazy” he says. Again he walks on. The crowd goes truly crazy, and he hasn’t even started yet.
You thought you were going to spend half an hour bored, whilst your kids watch a children’s entertainer in a jesters costume. How wrong you were. For this is no children’s show. This is a family show. Good wholesome family entertainment for everyone. Performed not by a children’s entertainer in a costume, but by Brittan’s best ever real live jester. The one and only DevilStick Peat. But don’t be surprised, for that’s exactly what England’s Medieval Festival is all about. Good family entertainment for everyone, regardless of age.
The show is a mixture of tommy cooper type magic (all with a medieval feel) and highly skilled juggling. All of it bound together with a unique sense of humour that has you laughing as loudly as your kids. After the show Peats wife, Jester Dragonfly runs “The Jesters School of Jestering“. A juggling workshop where you and your kids can learn many of the skills DevilStick Peat used in his show. As you watch, one of her children teaches your daughter how to use a diablo, and you find yourself thinking that nothing is more authentic than a child following in her parents footsteps.
Drums, Hog Roast and Never Ending Bananas;
Then it’s dinner time and you make your way down to the front of the castle where you’ve arranged to meet your wife. She’s watching the musicians on the castle stage. You give her a peck on the cheek but say nothing. After all there’s no point in trying to talk, not while the 30 plus drummers from “The Pentacle Drummers” are playing like there’s no tomorrow. The sound of their drums is awesome. It fills your whole body. Entering via the ears it travels down to the stomach where it vibrates like thunder. Awakening some strange primeval instinct that forces your whole body to bop to the deep beat of beating drums.
Eventually their set is over and they collapse in a heap of fatigued, sweaty bodies and you go over towards the “buxom wench” beer tent. Outside and to one side, roasting over a wood fire, is a hog. It’s golden brown meat and wonderful smell makes your mouth water. You don’t care if there’s 20 people in the queue. You don’t just want, you need a roast hog bun.
You join the queue and watch as your kids play at sword fighting with other children. Suddenly they stop playing and watch gob smacked as the jester from kids kingdom comes strolling down the road. As he walks, so he removes a small white ball from his mouth. Then another one and another and another. By the time his reached you he’s taken maybe 30 balls out of his mouth and still others appear. He stops and looks into the beer tent, seemingly oblivious to the attention he’s got from the queue. Another 10 balls are removed from his mouth before he notices the children. He gives them an embarrassed smile, then another balls slowly appears in his mouth. The group of children are in hysterics as ball after ball is removed from his mouth. Then he takes a banana from his bag with his left hand. He looks at it confused, shrugs and transfers it to his right hand. As he puts it in the bag, so he notices that another banana has magically appeared in his left hand. Again he transfers it to his right hand. Again another banana appears in his left hand. Again and again, every time he takes it with his right hand, another banana replaces it in his left. He looks at the children and does it slowly, really slowly so that they can see how he does it, but of cause they cant. You look at the wide eyed look of wander in your daughters eyes and are about to point it out to your wife but stop as you realise that she too is watching with wide eyed wander and disbelief. Suddenly your aware of someone talking to you. It’s the man serving the hog roast. Your now at the front of the queue and you didn’t even notice the wait.
The Mud Stage and Jousting;
Your lunch over you decide it’s time to slowly make your way up to the top field where the jousting happens. As you make your way there, so you see a stage unlike any other you’ve ever seen. Sure it’s large and square with hay bails around it, like all the other stages, but this stage isn’t made of wood. it’s made of mud. Thick, gooey, dark mud. The actors on, or rather in this stage are performing a comic slapstick routine and you stop, take a seat and watch a while. Then they ask for a volunteer. With a bullet like speed your on your feet. Unfortunately your wife’s hand is faster than a bullet and she pulls you back down again. You look at her with pleading eyes, but it’s of no use. She’s giving you “that look”. The silent one that says everything. For a second or two your disappointed, but then you remember that not only are you here for 3 whole days, but so is the mud stage. Inside you secretly smile as you decide that tomorrow you’ll make dammed sure that your here without her.
Blacksmith, movies, cider and mead;
The show over, you wipe mud from the children and head towards the jousting. You soon realise that, like the battle, this is not a staged show. Neither the commentator or the knights in armour know who will win this championship, or who will be planted firmly on the ground as, at lightning speed, they charge towards each other armed only with a shield and lance. This really is as true and authentic jousting as you’re ever going to see anywhere, ever.
After the joust you hail a golf cart to take you and your son over to the blacksmiths. There are many activities that you and your children can take part in at England’s Medieval Festival, and blacksmithing is just one of them. Run by James from “odyssey blacksmiths”, this is a great yet fun educational workshop and you’ve had the good sense to book it in advance. Whilst you’re there, your wife and daughter walk through the medieval market where they stumble across a stall called “Magic Mead”.She knows that mead is made from honey, but never imagined that there were so many types of mead. Yet this stall is filled with row upon row of different flavoured meads. Raspberry mead, cherry mead, rhubarb mead and my personal favourite, chilli mead. All laid out before you with samplers on request. By the time they sit down to watch the birds of prey soaring and swooping around the royal arena, your wife has a bag with several bottles of mead. All of which I’ve tried and give my personal seal of approval too. Magic meads meads really are, well, magic.
Eventually the afternoon turns into the early evening. For those silly enough to only have day tickets, the day is over, but not for you. For you were wise enough to buy a weekend long glamping pass. You lucky man you.
The sound of the rousting band playing in the buxom wench tavern, although raucous, in no way interferes with “A knights tale”, the movie the kids are watching at the open air cinema as you relax with a glass of cider from the adjacent tavern. You smile as your children, now experts in all thing medieval, point out inaccuracies in the costumes. “We should think about getting some food” says your wife. You look at your watch and, in an attempt to stall for time, suggest that you let the kids watch the movie first. Then, before she can argue, you make a suggestion. “why don’t you go and put on that dress you brought today. I’ll stay here and keep an eye on the kids”.
Your wife returns just as the movie finishes. “well” she says, “what do you think”? She’s wearing the crimson medieval style dress she’d brought from one of the stalls. “radiant” you say in all honesty. “You need a necklace with that dress” says your son and he pulls out the pendent he made at the blacksmiths earlier. Its a twirly black piece of iron work and not badly made either. Your wife wears it with pride and you look at your watch. “come on kids” you say “time for dinner”.
A Meal Fit for a King;
You lead your family past the food stalls and around to the castle. You cant help smiling as you just know they’re going to enjoy this meal. A meal like no other. “are you sure we’re allowed in here” asks your wife as you enter the castles drawbridge room. “Oh yes” you say as you produce some tickets that you hand over to the young maiden at the door “quite sure”. You take two glasses of mead, one for each of you and pure fruit juice for the kids. Then you lead the way up the grand staircase and into the castles banqueting hall, which is all laid out for a medieval banquet. The look of surprise on your wife’s face as she realises that you’ve booked 4 seats at the banquet makes it more than worth the money and you beam with pride as you take your seats. The meal it’s self is several courses long and between each course there’s entertainment. Sometimes minstrel’s, sometimes dancers. Near the end of the evening the king, sitting at the high table calls for his jester and in enters none other than yours truly, DevilStick Peat, the very best in“banqueting entertainment”.
Your children, who only minutes earlier were yawning sleepily are now wide awake as the highlight of their day performs another set, with different yet equally amazing and amusing magic, including his very own medieval version of the infamous “glass bottle, bottle glass” routine. Then the banquet draws to a close and you head out of the castle. Your son is dead on his feet, tiered out from the days fun filled activities and you daughter? Well she’s already asleep in your arms as you carry her back to the tent. You have no idea what she’s dreaming of, but it’s a sure bet that it involves castles, knights in armour and a certain red and yellow jester (who just happens to be available for “birthday parties”). Your wife wraps her arm around your waist, pulling you close as she whispers a thank you into your ear. It’s only two simple words, but it’s said in a way that makes you walk tall and proud.
The perfect end to a perfect day;
Once back at the tent you put the kids to bed, then head over to the campfire. It’s only a few feet from your tent, so you can keep an eye on it as you chat with other revellers. Sharing tales and highlights of the day with each other. Eventually your wife yawns sleepily and suggests that maybe it’s time to hit the sack. The campfire is warm and inviting, but so is your bed. You walk back to the tent and tell your wife that you’ll be in in a minute. You just want to enjoy the warm clear night. As you sit outside the tent, thinking about how much fun its been, you open your programme. On the timetable you cross out the bits you’ve seen and circle the bits you still want to see (or in the case of DevilStick Peat, want to see again). Then you hear your wife calling you to bed and something in her soft tone tells you that the nights entertainment is still far from over.
And that folks, is a very condensed view of just one day at England’s medieval festival. The first day, when the festivals still just warming up. So what are you waiting for? Just follow the following link and book yourself into 3 days of fun, glamping and fun at “England’s Medieval Festival”. The best medieval festival in the whole of Herstmonceux.
Up and coming events
In two weeks time we’re taking our “Total Immersion Show” to a completely new show called “The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre”. We’re actually really excited about this event as, although it’s a new event, it’s run by the same people who used to run the Snailwell medieval fayre. This means that it promises to be a great, action and fun filled event for both public and reenactors alike. Its being held on September the 23rd and 24th at Quy Park, Stow Road, Stow-cum-Quy, Cambs, CB25 9AF, United Kingdom. So if your looking for a good end of season event, then come along and say hi.
Next week we’re at not one, but two events. On Saturday the 16th I’m performing my show and walk about routines at“The Cherry Hinton Festival” in Cambridge. This is a free to enter event and full of loads of different types of things happening all day long. I performed here 2 years ago and was well impressed not only by the variety of entertainment, but also by the professional way it was run.
Then that night we head down to kent ready to again perform shows and walk about, this time at “The Faversham Food Festival”. I’ve never performed at this event before so cant comment on it, other than to say that, judging by the write up on their website they are also having a lot of none food related entertainment there. So if you’re in the area, then why not come along and say hi. You know you want to.
Today we had my sons 6th birthday party. Can you believe that Stormageddon is 6 already! It only seems like yesterday that he first appeared in my show, performing the hand balance (of doom) routine. It was a pirate party and the D.J. was a very good mate of ours who goes by the name of “Andy the clown”. Not only did he dress up in a pirate costume, but he also had loads of pirate themed music. He was a brilliant D.J. and when it comes to clowning, he is nearly as funny as me.
Lastly I’m going to leave you with a song by my good friend, Vollsanger. Why? Well it’s in honour of a good friend who recently passed away. He was one of the first reenactors I ever met and very respected in the trade. So fill up your tankards, turn up the volume and join me in a toast to our good friend “Gandelf Strutt”
I apologise for the fact that it’s been so long since the last blog entry. This is because DevilStick Peat and Jester Dragonfly have been so busy performing that they just haven’t had the time to put pen to paper, let alone finger tips to keyboard. That’s why this entry is being written by the true star of our shows, the one and only Stormagedden.
Well since the last entry mummy and daddy have helped me at various events. We’ve ran juggling workshops for various brownie and guide groups and daddy even earnt his girl guides circus badge! These are diffrent from our normal circus workshops, as they a specially designed to get them through their respected badges. When we tought our local guides pack we were joined by two of my sisters, nat and Sophie. Nat is great at teaching diabolo, Sophie is great with poi and I’m great at looking cute and getting all the girl guides to fuss me and tell me how sweet I am (cause I is).
We’ve also worked at several birthday parties, where daddy performs his magic juggling show (the one that has juggling and magic in it). Then mummy and daddy teach all the girls and boys how to juggle, stilt-walk and plate spinning. I like birthday parties. O.K so having to watch daddies show and pretend to laugh at his jokes is boring, but there’s always cake, crisps and e numbers to eat before the car journey home. Quite why adults insist on giving me e numbers before putting me in a confined space is beyond me, but they’re adults, so they must know best.
Battle Medieval Fayre
Then daddy had a weekend away at the Battle Medieval Fayre. Although i didnt go this year, i know from previous years just what a great event this is.
It’s always held on the late may Bank holiday, is free to enter and has loads of things going on. There’s, drummers drumming, a parade that parades through the town, may pole dancing around the maypole, fighting knights in armour fighting with swords and lots more.
Daddy says that this was the first real proper paid gig he ever done, many moons ago when I was but a twinkle in his eye. “What” said I “when you still had hair and a six pack”? I was sent to bed early that night.
Home-Ed Circus Camp
Then Mummy and Daddy took my 3 sisters and I to the foolhardy home ed circus camp.
Held in the school holidays (although why when they are home educated is beyond me) this week long camp is where home educated children get the chance to train alongside professional circus artist. For 4 hours a day, every day classes are held in age appropriate groups. In the Foolhardy Circusbig top the older children train hard in skills such as trapeze, juggling, clowning and magic. In the 2 slightly smallerpanic family circus big tops the middle and younger children also train in tightrope, juggling, clowning etc. I even got to demonstrate how to use the tightrope to the younger kids. Then, in our very little big top (a mere 14 foot across) parents can relax with a cuppa whilst thier babies enjoy the shade offered by our tents, or practice thier own juggling skills care of our workshop equipment whilst kids listened to stories or raced on bouncy dragons (of doom).
Daddy says it’s not a well paid gig, but it’s an important one as some of these kids really will be the next generation of circus and festival performers. In deed, several of them already have the skills and stage presents of a pro. I don’t know about that, but I do know that next to the tea urn there’s always an endless supply of biscuits which, togeather with the nightly shows makes it the best circus camp I’ve ever been to ever.
Templecombe Medieval Pageant
Unfortunately daddy had to leave a couple of days before the camp finished as he was booked to perform at theTemplecombe medieval pageant down in the west Country. It must be so hard for daddy, having to leave mummy and his 4 lovely children, just so that he can spend 3 nights surrounded by hardened drinkers. Oh how he must of missed us. Apparently the land owner has had a new sheep pen built that just happens to look like a medieval tavern. It was all paid for by donations from re-enactors. The names of which are proudly displayed on Shields that adorn the walls and ceilings. And there, hanging over the bar was the name of another jester, Firery Jack (who is not only my God daddy, but also nearly as funny as daddy). I understand that daddy is in negotiations with them about having a shield put up above Firery Jack’s. One that says
“DevilStick Peat, funnier than”!
We’ve also been working at various country fairs. These included the Cambridge town and country fair. A really big, free to enter event on parkers piece, right in the middle of the city, and Dansan park country fair, in Dansan park in London and the Rockingham country fair at Rockingham castle.
I love the country fairs as some of my bestest friends ever go to them. There’s Stan, the bouncy castle man. I love stan almost as much as I love his really tall bouncy slides and one of my jobs at these festivals is to incourage other children to go on them. I do this by spending hours and hours running up and sliding down them. It’s really hard work but I don’t mind because I love Stan and want to help him.
Then there’s the land train. They always get me to ride on the back and help people get on and off. Again it’s hard work, having to smile and wave as we pass people, but it does give my legs a little brake before I go back to stans bouncy castles.
And of cause there’s Sue. I love Sue and when I grow up I’m going to marry her. She works for Totally Alive and let’s me help her feed some of them and put them away at night. Then, after we’ve finished work, if she’s been good, I take her to the beer tent and read her a story from one of my school books before I go to bed.
Totally Alive also have ferrets, goats, sheep, cute little rabbits that you can pet, birds of prey (that you cant pet), ponies, all sorts of weird and wonderful chickens and of cause, last but by no means lest, blue the wallaby.
We even done a corporate event last month. It was the companies 30th birthday. So it’s owner hired out a country pub and put on a big medieval party in the beer garden. There was birds of prey and stocks where you could throw sponges at management and tug of war and bands. Mummy and daddy even done their fire juggling routines in the night time. But the bestest bit of all. Even better than the bouncy castles, was the padding pool. It was full of really cold water and had bottles of soft drinks in it, but that’s not what made it so great. What made it so great and even more awesome than the power rangers was the water pistols. Imagine a foam rubber bicycle pump filled with water. One that can shoot a jet of water 30 foot across a field. Add to this loads of hyper excited children and a really hot day. Within about 5 minutes of the event opening I was drenched from head to foot, as was every other child, and any adults silly enough to get within range.
They even gave me 2 to take home and daddy says his going to have loads of fun taking them to events where he can shoot friends whilst remaining hidden in his tent. But apparently I’m not allowed to tell you that, so I won’t.
We’ve also performed free of charge for various good causes like the kingsfield school summer fete. Daddy says it’s important to support your local community, but personally I think he does it for the box of chocolates they give him every year.
Well that’s just some of the highlights of the last couple of months. But before I sign off and go back to my other job (I.E. being the multi coloured power ranger, but shhhhh, that’s a secret) I best tell you a little about some up and coming events.
This weekend we’re at the 2nd of this years Loxwood Joust. Held over the first two weekends of August this is by far the bestest and most unique medieval event of the year. It’s got men in armour fighting for king and country, super cool jousting, lovely music from the medieval babes, a witches wood and lots more, including a brand spanking new torture area with blood, guts and all the other really cool stuff that us kids love.
My sisters and I will be there both weekends running my Total immersion Show (with a little help from mummy and daddy). And this year I’m going to try and remember not to leave the top layer of finger skin stuck firmly to the really really hot fire box!
You can read all about last year’s joust and just how much fun it was here
The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre
We’re also performing at a brand new medieval event in September. it’s called “the ancient oak medieval fayre” and is being organised by the same people who used to run the Snailwell medieval festival. Mummy says that means it’s bound to be a fun filled gig with a nice family feel to it. Daddy says that one day all these event organizers will learn how to spell “fair”.
British Juggling Convention
Next April we’re all going to the British juggling convention in Canterbury. Daddies been asked to perform in the big, posh public show. He says its not the first time his been asked to perform at it, but it’s still a great honour to perform for some of the worlds best jugglers ever. Jugglers, clowns and circus type folk from all over the world will converge on Canterbury for 9 whole days of fun, juggling and circus type things. Apparently there will be lesions in everything from “this is how to juggle” right through to “this is how to juggle 9 balls behind your back”! And lots of shows, games, and fun fun fun.
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.
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 pagecurrently 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
P.S. To check my availability, or to see where I’m performing next, please check out our events page
Everyone wants their child’s birthday party to be the best party ever. That’s only natural. After all, that’s why I’m so popular and busy. But ensuring that you’ve booked the best entertainer money can buy isn’t the be all and end all of making a great day special. There’s so much more that you can do to guarantee that your child’s birthday party isn’t just the talk of the playground, but also of all the other parents.
And that’s just what this blog is going to be about.
I’ve been performing at birthday parties for 30 years and the following simple to implement party tips are based on that 30 years of experience. Some of them might sound obvious to you. Others you might not of thought about. But if you only get one simple idea from this blog, then today’s mission has been a success.
These party tips are offered to you free of charge. Regardless of whether you book myself, or the world’s second best children’s entertainer. Why? Because it’s my honest belief that your child not only deserves their special day, but also that their special day should be one that’s never forgotten. Not just by you, the other parents and their children, but most of all by the birthday child. And following these few simple party tips will really help to do just that.
Avoid a clash of dates with a classmate whose party might fall on the same day by getting your party invites out in good time. Many parent follow this up with a reminder invite a week or so before the big day.
If you tie a bunch of balloons to the front door, fence etc; it guides not just Peat, but also all your guests to the party house and helps to build up the excitement and set the party mood before they even enter the building.
Let other parents know what’s happening when. Peat likes to get set up before the children arrive, so he can greet them on arrival. Also it’s horrible for a child to arrive knowing he has missed part of the show, or worse still, having to leave part way through the show! So please put the times that he has been engaged for on the invitations.
Get a BIG cardboard box and, as the children arrive, put the presents that they bring safely into the box so that they may be opened AFTER THE PARTY. This way not only will you know who brought what so that thank you letters can be sent, but this also ensures that nothing gets lost or broken during games etc.
Save squeakers, hats, blowers and balloons till the end or they could spoil the party! Hang the balloons up (out of reach) and give one to each child as a going home present. Don’t leave them on the floor as they won’t last long and may result in a crying child!
Seating the children around a table to eat in another room is always preferable because you isolate the food and drink in one area. This gives the children a subconscious message that it’s time to calm down and eat.
Don’t serve ice-cream, sweets or other refreshments once the show has begun it’s asking for trouble! Most of the food will end up on your carpet and sticky fingers will get everywhere.
Having a party outside, without a large marquee and a solid floor IS NOT a good idea. Rain and mud can ruin not only my props, but also someone’s best part dress. Hot sunshine can often result in restless children, or worse still, short tempered children. A sudden change in the weather can mean that children are running for cover whilst I franticly pack up my props before moving under cover and birthday photos of little sally with a ruined hair do and a soggy jester just aren’t nice for anyone. However, you might find it more convenient to feed the children in the garden should the weather be warm and dry (but be aware of wasps).
If you have hired a bouncy castle, please let it down before I start my show. This will not only help me to gather them into an audience, but also insure that they all watch the show that you have paid for. After all, if one child goes off for a bounce, all the other children will follow, and we both really will want them to watch and get the most out of my show.
Parents and other adults are very welcome to watch the show providing that they sit at the back and behave themselves!
If the children have to leave a show before the end they, quite naturally, get very upset and it disturbs the other children too. So try to get any parents that arrive early to wait until the performance is over.
When you want Peat to return for another party, he will give a different show, but you need to let me know that it’s a return visit. The truth is that I do so many birthdays that I cant possibly remember every one. However I do keep a data base of what shows were performed for which booking.
Peat loves animals, but some pets find a room full of excited children very alarming and not all children are comfortable around animals. For both their sakes, please keep all animals in a separate room.
Do you really want the party at home? Think carefully about this. Is the room Peat’s to perform in wide enough (I alone need a 6 foot wide by 10 foot deep area)? Is there enough ceiling height (minimum 10 foot)? Are there lots of fragile Ming vases etc. just waiting to be knocked over? A village or church hall only cost a few pounds, yet offers enough room for all the children to run around and wear themselves out, ensuring you a peaceful night. Also, it’s a lot easier to remove ice-cream, jelly and sticky goodness knows what up from a halls floor than it is from your new white carpets, sheepskin rugs etc.
So that’s my party tips. Like I say, many of them might seem obvious to you, but if no one says them, then how will folk know? Also, if you’ve got any that I haven’t mentioned, please feel free to add them in the comments as we here at the fools house love reading all your feedback.
For more information on our unique birthday parties, including our ever popular circus skills workshops, please click here
Lastly, if you’ve liked this blog, then please share it as you might just be helping other parents, and if you’ve really really liked it, then why not scroll back up to the top and look to the right of the page. There you’ll find a link by which one may subscribe to this blog on the life, trials and tribulations of DevilStick Peat. A modern day, medieval fool
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.
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;
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.
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.
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.
We arrived at the venue early (to be early is to be on time,
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.
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.
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.
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