winter past and spring to come

devilstick peat at the BBC

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

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

Melford Old Christmas Fair.

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

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

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

Santa Claus.

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

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

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

BBC INTERVIEW

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

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

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

 

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

Other highlights.

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

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

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

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

Up and coming events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Yours foolishly

DevilStick Peat

Birthday entertainment and special needs circus workshop

Children's entertainer ely
DevilStick Peat devilsticking his devilsticks (of doom)
DevilStick Peat devilsticking his devilsticks (of doom)

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

The booking;

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

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

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

Meet and greet;

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

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

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

The new magic cake (of doom) routine;

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

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

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

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

Adults joined in;

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

Circus skills workshops
Stormageddon teaching spinning plates

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

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

Why I can’t say no;

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

The workshop;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s next;

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

My review of The Cambridge living history fair

jester devilstick peat

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

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

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

What is a living history fair?;

October saw me working at “The Cambridge living history

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Saturday, day one;

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

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

were up for grabs.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Saturday night;

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

The fool on harp
The fool on harp

Sunday, day two;

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

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

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

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

Devilstick Peat going twang
Devilstick Peat going twang

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Maui Waui music festival

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

Maui Waui, What, Where, Who and When;

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

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

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

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

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

The calm before the storm
The calm before the storm

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

The body painting fashion show
The body painting fashion show

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

The crime scene
The crime scene

My first show at Maui Waui;

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

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

Inside the foolhardy big top
Inside the foolhardy big top

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

“What’s your name” I asked?

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

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

“Suzanne”

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

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

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

My morning magical malarky;

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

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

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

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

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

Night time magic for an unsuspecting crowd;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday morning in the chill out tent;

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

Towel jugglers;

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

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

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

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

The verdict;

So, marks out of 10 for the Maui Waui festival

Layout and organization = 12

Musical diversity = 12

Food prices = 9

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

an ode to England’s medieval festival

Children's entertainer ely

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

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

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

An ode to England’s medieval festivalflaglogo-734x120

We’re on the m11 zooming down the motorway

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

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

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

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

With knights hurting each other in a medieval way

it’s very educational to see them fight that way

as clad in shining armour underneath the baking sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With many a merry maiden and some buxom wenches too

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

then after the merry maidens I might even have a mead

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

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

Now we’re on the A21 driving over rolling hills

through ancient woodlands and past farmers fields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With a medieval market, living history and more

jousting jousters jousting and soldiers by the score

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

Jester festival entertainer with repeat bookings

jester, juggler and magician devilstick peat

About This Jester Festival entertainer;

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

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

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

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

Secret To Success;

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

Strong Beginnings;

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

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

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

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

First Aid Tent;

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

Toilets;

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

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

What’s On;

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

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

 

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

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

The First Sneaky Bit;

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

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

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

Strong Middle;

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

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

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

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

Strong Ending;

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

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

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

The Second Sneaky Bit;

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

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

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

 

Summary;

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

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

Forthcoming events;

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Best Medieval Festival Entertainment This Year

medieval festival entertainment by devilstick peat


Beach within reach;

Before I tell you about the best medieval festival entertainment this year, let me  ask you a question. How many of you have fond memories of taking your kids to the beach? Of helping them build sandcastles? Of enjoying their squeals of delight as they paddle amongst the waves?

Yep, me too. Now imagine that you’ve never been able to join them on the beach! Or worst still, they’ve never been able to join you on the beach! Why? Because wheelchairs and soft sand really don’t mix.

Enter “Beach Within Reach” A wonderful bunch of people with one simple aim. To lend out beach friendly wheelchairs to anyone that needs them. These come with special, wide wheels designed to stay on, as opposed to in, the sand. They can even go in the water. Thereby enabling not just parents and grandparents to join in the family fun, but also little Billy or Jane.

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All terrain wheelchair

Now personally I think that this charity is awesome. Not just in the simplicity of their aim, but also in the effect it can have on the whole family. Making memories that can last a lifetime.

They don’t charge for this service. Their only payment is the knowledge that they’ve helped make your day special. But there’s a problem

These all terrain wheelchair ain’t cheap. Plus there’s the cost of maintaining them to a high standard. That’s why Sandwich medieval fayre gave them a free stand at the event. It’s also why I’m giving them a big shout out on my blog.

Now I don’t expect you all to go empty your bank accounts to help them, but there are a number of other ways you can help.

If you’re putting on an event in the area, why not offer them a free stall to fundraise from. Better still, put on an event to help raise money on their behalf. If you do, and I’m free. I’ll even come along and perform free of charge.

When all is said and done, a day on the beach with your loved ones is hardly one of life’s greatest luxuries.

Unless of cause, you’re a child who’s never had the chance.

The best medieval festival entertainment this year;

A horny knight

Due to prior commitments we didn’t get to sandwich till very late on the Friday evening. So rather than wake the whole site up by hammering in tent pegs, we stayed in a travelodge instead. this was handy as it gave us a chance to fill up the tea caddy free of charge. Now I’ll tell you a little known fact about travelodge. Years and years ago radio 4 done a damming report all about travelodge. Obviously travelodge wasn’t to pleased about this. Which is why, to this day, their T.V.’s have only have radios 1, 2, 3 and 5. There’s not a travelodge in the land that has radio 4 on it’s tellies. Talk about holding a grudge.

I’ve called this blog entry “the best medieval festival entertainment this year”, because for us, that’s just what “The Sandwich Medieval Fayre” was. We arrived on site early Saturday morning and were met by Barrie and Kate. They were the two main organizers of the event and, considering the amount of stress organizers suffer on the opening day, so laid back they were almost horizontal. A real pleasure to work with. They even let us decide where to pitch our tents. This was great, as it meant that I could juggle 5 balls without being blinded by the sun.

We were performing our “Total Immersion” Show and the promise of a hot day meant that we had
loads of happy crowds and soon “The Jesters School Of……..well……..Jestering” was full of happy kids. Eagerly they tried and learned new skills and a larger than average amount of adults also joined in the fun. A sure sign that today was going to be a good day for both, them and us.

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Medieval muskets

The first performance was “The Medieval Siege Society” trebuchet. A giant medieval catapult that sent cabbages sawing into the distance to the cheers of the crowd. Then came the first battle of the day. People cheered and boo’d as the two armies, muskets, swords and pikes in hand, clashed in mortal combat (and sweaty armour). This was followed by jousting from “the knights of the dammed”, one of England’s best stunt riding and jousting teams. As per normal, they put on a great display, leaving both the public and reenactors alike, very impressed. Hyped up by an over load of mindless violence, the3 crowds were in the mood for still more fun and merriment. Which was handy for me as it was now time for my first show of the day.

The Knife Juggling Routine (of doom);

The knife juggling routine (of doom)

I soon gathered a crowd around our encampment. To the front of the crowd sat the children. Behind them stood the parents. behind them, standing back a bit from the crowd, stood the adults who wanted to watch the show, but didn’t want to be seen enjoying a children’s show. I enticed them closer, joking about how they can just pretend to be with the children. Most took the hint and moved closer, ready to see if I was worth watching or not.

Although I advertise as a children’s entertainer, I class myself as a family entertainer. This is because my show has jokes and skills that can be enjoyed by all ages. Not just the kids, but also those holding the cheque books. And when I stand there, waving 3 large, offencive looking knifes in the air shouting “who wants to see the weirdo hurt himself”? It’s always the adults who shout the loudest.

My knife juggling routine (of doom) is a funny piece of entertainment that combines both skill and comedy. The part where I go from juggling the knives, straight into balancing one on my chin always gets a great reaction. Today was no different and I fed off of the applause and cheers. Although I say so myself, today I was on form. I.E. the knife ended up point upwards on my chin. Not point downwards and sticking out of my eye. Always a bonus.

I must’ve done something right as after the show I got rid of most of my business cards. Always a good sign that they enjoyed the show. The organisers even allowed me to add some friends to the guest list. So they were also happy.

Great jousting from the knights of the dammed

The heat of the afternoon sun mellowed the crowds with many retreating to the shade of the large beer tent to hear the bands whilst sampling the cool beers and ciders that were on offer. Due to the positioning of the beer tent and it’s open front, it was possible to enjoy it’s shade whilst still seeing the jousting or birds of prey. More importantly, you could hide from the sun whilst still keeping an eye on the kids as they battled imaginary dragons with wooden swords brought from one of the many medieval stalls.

Dinner and music;

After the days festivities had ended, we quickly secured our tents and headed off site to Dover for food and a romantic touch of nostalgia.

Dover is where I lived when I met my wife. Whenever she’d come to stay I’d treat her to an indian meal. In my life I’ve traveled the world, including Asia. In my opinion the indian restaurant in dover was one of the best I’ve ever found. Beaten only by osho’s in Mandvi, India. All day long I’d mentally been savouring its pallet burning delicious delicacies. So I was a little disappointed to discover that it has now changed hands. The meal was still very nice but, unlike the romance that blossomed there, no longer the best ever.

After the meal we headed straight back to site and enjoyed an evening comprising of lovely, cool cider, really good bands, and pleasant conversation with crew and reenactors. Eventually, tiered out by working in the heat of the sun, we retired to our tents and peacefully fell asleep as the music continued in the background.

Magic dealers And Credit Cards

Sunday was pretty much the same as Saturday, but with two major differences.

A) Zanes magic shop turned up with a stall

B) Jester Dragonfly allowed me to approach it with a pocket that contained not one, but 2 credits cards!

I like both, Zanes magic shop and it’s owner, Zane. He is a nice man, easy to get on with and more interested in making sure you’re a happy customer than he is in making a sale. End result? I’m now working on a routine based around a tightrope walking, acrobatic flea. More on that when the routine is ready.

As the show came to an end, so I wandered over to the exit. here I would joke with the public as they left site. This is important for several reasons. By laughing and joking with the public as they leave, So I put a strong ending to the day, meaning that they leave feeling happy and not sad because the days over. Something I call positive psychology. Also it gives me the chance to get any feed back from them and pass it on to the organisers so that they can constantly improve year after year. It came as no surprise to me that all the feed back was positive. After all, it has been the best medievfal entertainment this year.

The day ended but, rather than eagerly pack and leave, we instead took the unusual step of relaxing first. After all, not only had we been working in the heat all day long, but we’d also been doing it in woolen clothing! Or motley to give a fools costume its proper title.

As I sat there, enjoying a last cider (Jester Dragonfly was doing the drive home), so I looked at the new kit I’d brought from Zanes. My thoughts jumped back and forth between two things. One was the tightrope walking flea routine (Of doom) and the other was my greatest fear. Indeed it’s surly the greatest fear of every magician in the world. Not, as one might expect, that a trick will fail, but rather that, should I die before my wife, then she, in all innocence, will sell all my magic for the price I told her it cost!

Foot note
Foot note

Next week we’re performing our “Total Immersion Show” at “The Shugborough country fair”. We’ve never done this show before, but have had some good reports about it. There’s a medieval village, birds of prey, a horse display and loads more. So if your in the area then come and say hi to the cool fool and co. Go on, you know it makes sense.

Spectacular medieval entertainment

Spectacular medieval entertainment

Spectacular medieval entertainment;

This coming weekend 16th and 17th july) there’s going to be some spectacular medieval entertainment at “The Sandwich Medieval Fayre”. Where we will be performing our  “Total Immersion show.

The event has tried to book us in the past. The trouble is we’re so popular that we’ve always been booked elsewhere. So I was really pleased and excited when this year, they booked us before anyone else could.

Why was I so excited? Because I’ve heard great things about this particular show. Not only is it a well thought out show with loads happening, but it’s also attended by “The Medieval Siege Society (or MSS to those in the know).

the medieval siege society's trebuchet
The medieval siege society’s trebuchet

The MSS are a great bunch of lads and ladies. They put on not just great battles, including the use of a trebuchet, but also living history encampments as well.

You can wander round the bright colourful medieval tents. Smell the smoke that’s lazily raising from the camp fires. Watch as ladies prepare their brave knights for the battle to come. Their members are even happy to answer any questions you may have about life in days of old. Even the disgusting questions that only a child could think up. So it’s not just a fun filled day, but also highly educational for both children and adults alike.

The quaint english tradition of charging at your mate on horse back with a bleeding great big stick
The quaint english tradition of charging at your mate at break neck speed whilst on horseback, with a bleeding great big stick.

More spectacular medieval entertainment;

But that’s not all! There’s also jousting from England’s best loved jousting team. “The knights of the dammed” Not only are their stunt riders leaders in their field (and I don’t just mean fast riders), but their story lines are often bespoke, made just for that event. What ever storyline they use, the fact is they are the best for a reason, and guaranteed to have you sitting on the edge of your seat cheering for your favorite knight as they joust with all the force and speed of real knights of days of old.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s stunning displays of birds of prey and oh so much more. Including not just myself, but also the prestigious “Jesters School Of………..Well………..Jestering”. This is where you too can learn the skills needed to become as brilliantly great and famous as my own sweet humble self. Don’t worry, it’s not just you, but also the children who can have a go at juggling, plate spinning and other circus skills.

All this and more crammed into 2 action packed days of fun, merriment and of cause, the quaffing of fine ales. All served to the relaxing sounds of brave and heroic knights suffering agonising deaths on the field of honour. (On the subject of drinking. A lot of you will drive to this event. So it’s worth pointing out that one third of all road accidents involve alcohol. This means that you’re two thirds more likely to crash if you’re sober! But try telling the judge that).

So don’t delay, book today, and come along to the spectacular medieval entertainment known as “The Sandwich Medieval Fayre”.

More information and updates can be found via the following links

Twitter: Sandwichshowgr

Facebook: sandwichshowground

 

puppet psychology

jester, juggler and magician devilstick peat

This coming weekends event;image1(1)

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

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

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

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

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

Puppet psychology;

Hello
Hello

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

Woodbine meets a friend
Woodbine meets a friend

The puppet set up;

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

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

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

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

Getting them closer;

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

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

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

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

 

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

Getting the children to sit;

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

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

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

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

Rum and fun;

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday;

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

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

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

I love my job, I really do

circus skills workshop in chatteris

Circus skills workshops march

This coming weekend I’m performing on my own (no circus skills workshop, Jester Dragonfly or encampment) at “The Danson park country fair” in Bexleyheath, Kent. Postcode DA15 9PW. There’s loads of other acts booked to support me including; birds of prey, steam engines, medieval reenactments, have a go terrier racing and loads more. I’ve never done this gig before so if you’re in the area then please come and give me some support.

The circus skills workshop gets a helping hand (or 2);

Stormageddon teaching spinning plates
Stormageddon helping daddy teach spinning plates

Last weekend we were performing and running our circus workshop, “the jesters school of…….well…..jestering” at “the chatteris midsummer festival“. This is a gig that’s close to our hearts as until quite recently, we used to live in the town. Also, my partner in crime (Jester Dragonfly) helped to start it up several years ago. The festival has gone through many changes since then. Originally it was a medieval reenactment festival, then a multi-period festival. Now, every year the town has a public meeting where the locals can decide on that years theme. This year the theme was “the Rio Olympics”.

Now I know what you’re all thinking. You’re thinking “what on earth has a medieval jester got to do with the Olympics”? Well the answer is not only a very simple one, but when you think about it, it’s also a very obvious one. Nothing, but the fact is that over the years we’ve become firm favorites at the festival. Enjoyed by both, adults and children alike. So it was a true pleasure to be invited back again. This year however the booking was different. This year I was booked not to perform, but to run a circus skills workshop with our jesters school of…….well……..jestering.

circus skills workshop at chatteris midsummer festival
circus skills workshop at chatteris midsummer festival

 

However, before we could arrive and set up, we had two major problems too over come. The first being that, due to problems with one of our trailers (see my last blog post) we needed some urgent welding doing to it. The second was that, due to the hire car that replaced the hire car (again, see my last post) not having a tow bar, we had no way of moving a trailer. Enter the wonderful world of reenactors.

 

 

The reenactment world is a small, close knit community of lovely (if somewhat strange) people who really do help each other out when needed. Within minutes of posting on Facebook I had two offers of help. One from a member of “the phoenix medieval group”, (a wonderful local reenactment group who are well worth seeing/booking if you get the chance). He offered to weld our trailer back together. The other one was from a member of “A moment in time“. Another reenactment group who were booked to run the have a go archery at the event. They reenact various different times in history and can even supply you with some unusual foreign armies. They offered to pull the trailer for us and we really cant thank those groups enough. Your true stars.

So it was that I arrived on site Friday morning and eagerly set up our medieval encampment. Then had a lazy evening sitting around a camp fire with some old friends from the pentacle drummers, before retiring for the night as tomorrow was going to be a busy day.

Parades, performers and a party in a park;

Stormageddon practising for when I'm older
Stormageddon practising for when I’m older

Saturday morning was spent putting the finishing touches to our encampment before taking Stormageddon and his younger cousin up town to the parade. The parade passed through he town center and was, as always, a noisy, colourful affair. It consisted not only of performers, but also lots of local groups, including brownies, preschools, army cadets etc. All dressed up as athletes, Brazilian parrots and the such like. Except the army cadets, they were dressed up like army cadets.

Taking the kids for a stroll jester style
Taking the kids for a Saturday morning stroll jester style

 

People cheered as the parade passed through the town with majorettes twiddling their batons, drummers drumming and preschool kids not having a clue what was happening, but happy to take part anyway. As we passed the crowds, so they would join onto the end of the parade and follow us down to the festival site. (Note to other events. This is a really good way of getting lots of attendance and the sudden influx of people, all full of excitement, really helps set the mood for the day).

Once at the site I stayed near the entrance, using my skills to entertain the queues and keep them amused as they waited to enter. Then I opened up the circus skills workshop, and I must say that I was genuinely impressed with how busy it was. All day long I was kept busy with teaching juggling, diabilo, devilsticks and lots of other circus skills. It wasn’t just children who enjoyed the circus workshop, but also parents and other adults had a go. Due in part to some comic one liners that I’ve come up with specially designed to entice the adults in.

Our encampment and circus skills workshop
Our encampment and circus skills workshop at the chatteris midsummer festival 2016

Some had never tried circus skills before, others wanted to improve their circus skills and learn more tricks, or the chance to show off to their mates etc. Whatever their reasons for joining in, join in they did. All day long. So by the end of the day I was a tired but happy jester who was proud of the fact that I’d managed to teach so many children and adults so many circus skills. My only regret was the fact that so many people asked what time my show was going to be and I had to tell them that it wasn’t happening because there were so many other acts booked this year. So once I’d finished for the day I went and spoke to the organizers who reorganized the Sunday program so that I could do two performances, and I didn’t even charge them for it, but then you know what they say about a fool and money.

Learning archery with "A moment in time"
Learning archery with “A moment in time”

Although the circus skills workshop finished at 5 p.m. the festival didn’t, as on the Saturday night they have “the party in the park”. A long mobile stage (I.E. a lorry trailer) is set up at one end of the festival and here local, yet highly talented bands and musicians can showcase their skills with a wide variety of music ranging from country to rock. One man and his guitar to complete bands. The weather was good and the night air warm, so people relaxed in chairs under the large half moon listening to artist performing both original works as well as covers.

Whilst enjoying the music, they also enjoyed a pint or two from the  sportsman beer tent, including some lovely real ales. The sportsman supports the festival all through the year, running fund raising nights etc. So if you’ve enjoyed the festival, please show it by using their pub, especially on fund raising nights.

Just chilling
Just chilling

Tug of war shenanigans;

DevilStick Peat being manly and Joining in the tug of war
DevilStick Peat being manly in the tug of war

Sunday the event changed somewhat. There was still lots of entertainment, but also lots of competitions. These included an archery competition ran by “a moment in time” in which my partner in crime, Jester Dragonfly came third. I should add here that she is also a medieval archer, which is why I’m always happy when I get home and she says that she missed me. There’s also a dog show with lots of different categories. A silly yet fun “it’s the knock out” type of games, and a tug of war.

This year the first two teams in the tug of war was the sportsman (Now I think I’m right in saying that in all the years that the tug of war has been held, they have always won it), and the festival crew. The crew team was made up of mainly ladies. The sportsman’s team was made up of fit, burly men with a giant of a man on the end. Jester Dragonfly, who was helping to run the competition wasn’t too happy with this. She thought it was somewhat unfair. So did she offer to join the ladies? Oh no, instead she volunteered me!

I strutted out to the middle of the field in a manly manner. Well, as manly as one can in curly up shoes and a horny hat. I took hold of the rope and leaned back, ready to pull for the crews honour. Then, after someone pointed out that I was facing the wrong way, I about turned and awaited our chance to do what every team has done over the years. Lose to the sportsman. So I was somewhat surprised when we won the first of the best of 3 rounds. Then came the second round. Win this and we’ve finally broken their years long winning streak.

The sportsman’s team eyed us like a pack of lions eyes an injured zebra as we, bolstered by our surprise win, took the strain. Others, encouraged by our British trait of reveling in the face of certain disaster, decided to lend a hand and came running across the field to join us. And so it was that, in a totally fair match (well, as fair as possible when your team has 7 more members than your opponents) the festival crew team won first place in the tug of war. Hooray.

My second show;

After our win it was time for my second show of the day. Some of the audience had come to my first show, so I decided to change some of my routines for this one. Amongst the different routines I put in was a routine I call “the blindfolded card trick performing duck (of doom)”. I really enjoy this routine as it not only involves a child volunteer, but also a quick one liner gag that, in true Tommy Cooper style, is guaranteed to make the adults groan out loud. Today was no exception and the whole show went down a storm. I even got a couple of enquiries for birthday parties out of it. A sure sign that I’m doing something right.

Then, after the last of the competitions had been won (and lost). The last show performed and the last child with an ice cream smeared face was led sleepily home, it was time to pack up the circus skills workshop (much to the disappointment of the adult who’d spent most of the weekend perfecting his club juggling). Drop the tents and head off site and back to the real world.

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

Because it was a local event it didn’t take that long to get back home and I must say that it made a pleasant change to arrive back at base at a civilized hour. Once home I kicked off my boots, put the telly on and watched the news. It seemed full of people reeling with shock and horror and saying how horrible it was that the British voters had got their own way regarding Europe. As I watched this it occurred to me that the British people view politics much the same way as they do the summer. I.E. they spend most of the year saying how good it will be when it happens, then come the day they complain that it’s too hot

But hey, what do I know after all, I’m just a fool.