haircuts, hersty and the ancient oak

haircuts, hersty and the ancient oak

 

Welcome welcome one and all, to yet another long awaited thrilling entry in the continuing saga on the times, trials and tribulations of life as a modern day medieval fool. Or as I prefer to call it “my blog”.

It’s been a busy summer, busier than normal, but that’s the way I want it. After all, to quote from the great prophet, “an unemployed jester is nobodies fool”. I could write 4 or 5 entries about the fun we’ve had this summer, but instead I’m going to concentrate on a couple of the best. I.E. “England’s Medieval Festival” (A.K.A. hersty) and “The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre” (A.K.A. the ancient oak medieval fayre).

England’s Medieval Festival

England’s Medieval Festival is a great event held over the August bank holiday at Herstmonceux castle near Hastings in east sussex. This was it’s 26th consecutive year, of which I think I’ve performed at the last 24. During that time it’s seen many changes and has grown from strengh to strengh. The most notable changes from my point of view is the inclusion of camping for the public (including some groovy glamping tents). This is a wonderful and unique chance to fully immerse oneself in 3 whole days (and nights) of medieval life. And lets face is, what child (aged 9-90) doesn’t want to spend the evening siting at a table, listening to some world class, kicking music, whilst chatting to knights, princess’s and of cause, the worlds sexeyist (and most humble) fool.

Best mead ever!

And if that’s not your thing, then there’s the outside cinema with an array of medieval themed films. Or maybe you want to really push the boat out and enjoy a medieval banquet held in the castles great banqueting hall. If you’re really lucky, then some knights might even invite you to join them in their camp as they sit around a fire, supping on ale or a bottle or two of mead from the greatest of all mead producers, The “Magic Mead” company. In my humble opinion they are purveyors of the some of the best meads I’ve ever tried (and over 30 years of medievaling means that, in my time, I have tried a mead or two).

The other main change from my point of view, is the inclusion of a wet weather contingency plan. This ensures that the fun continues regardless of the traditional bank holiday weather, but more on that latter, for I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let me start at the beginning, which for us was turning up on the Friday afternoon and, in a break from our normal hersty setting up routine, setting up in daylight. It’s so much easier (and a lot less painful) to hammer in 83 heavy duty metal tent pegs when you can see what your doing. And a lot easier to juggle in my shows when my thumbs aren’t swollen from misaimed mallet swings.

setting up

Over the years we and the adjacent shows and stalls have always set up in the same places and know exactly where to place ourselves. In our case we are between the 3rd and 7th posts of the fencing around kids kingdom. Unfortunately the site owners have removed the fence, meaning that I and my neighbours spent a good ten minutes standing there, scratching our heads, trying to work out who goes where. Luckily for us, although we only meet up once a year, we all class each other as good friends, so it was all sorted out without fistycuffs or lances at dawn.

Day 1

Saturday morning greeted us with brilliant sunshine and the promise of a fun filled, action packed day, and so it was with a spring in our steps that Jester Dragonfly and I headed up to the front gate, eager to meet and welcome that mighty hord known as “the public”. Now it’s a long walk from our medieval encampment in kids kingdom all the way up to front of house, but one of the unique things about England’s Medieval Festival is the “gatters”. These are a fleet of golf carts that travel around the site. They are not just there to transport mega stars like my own humble self, but also members of the public. Simply wait until a gatter comes along, stick out your thumb, jump aboard (making sure its stopped first) and tell them where you wish to go. This free service is perfect for the elderly, parents with tiered out kids or those who simply fancy a ride.

As expected, it was a busy day and I was soon enjoying performing my “welcome routines”. These are a variety of short routines designed to get people in the mood for a fun day whilst also giving them some info on whats happening where. It also gives me the chance to interact 1 to 1 with people, thereby giving them the personal touch that this festival is well known for. Then, after a couple of hours of “welcome to england’s medieval festival. The best festival in the whole field” and other witty intros, it was time to head back to camp and get ready for my first show.

After checking all my kit was ready, I wandered out onto the footpath to talk to passers by. Telling kids, adult, dogs and anything else that ventured by that it was nearly show time and asking them to come and watch (well it’s really embarrassing if I’m the only one there). I need not of feared, for I had a great crowd and as I gazed out at them I recognised many faces of fans who come to see my kids show year after year. Some of them even had children with them!

Children's entertainer ely
Performing at Hersty

After my show and a quick bit of lunch, it was time to do some walk about. I love doing walk about as you never know who you’re going to meet or what the kids are going to say. As such you have to be ready for any and everything. From kids who want to see magic, adults who want to hear a joke and people who need info or have a problem. As the face of the festival you need to be ready for it all. But walk about is also my chance to meet up with old friends, re-enactors, traders and members of the public who, over the years, have become true friends. Then, after my second show and yet more walk about, it was time to head back up to the gates and do the good byes.

Another thing I like about this festival is the fact that, even though it’s one of the largest of it’s kind, the orginisors still take the time to listen to ideas from us mere mortals. One idea I had was to build a platform for me inside the castle tower a the entrance/exit. Here I sit chatting to the public as they leave. Asking them if they’d had a good day (in all my years there no one has ever said no). Laughing and joking with them and performing various short good bye routines, including one where I portray rapunzel’s brother, repugnant.

Eventually the last of the daytrippers, pushing prams full of tiered out babes leave and its time to have a couple of hours down time before my final show of the day. For although the kids kingdom has closed, we still have all the glampers and campers to entertain. This includes a fire possession from the camp site to the beer tent, where many bands perform through out the night. But that’s not something I take part in. My job is to perform for the grand banquet in the castles grand banqueting hall.

The Grand Banquet

Here the room is filled with 3 long tables. The two longest tables are

king and queen
England’s Medieval Festivals king and queen

surrounded by banqueters (if that’s not a real word, then it dammed well should be). The 3rd table is reserved for the nobles of the house, including the festivals very own king and queen. A lovely couple who, when not kinging, queening and presiding over banquets, spend their spare time running “The Crossed Keys“. A lovely old fashioned pub in chatteris. If you’re ever in the area and want the very best in food and ales, all served in a old world setting, then you wont do better than visiting the crossed keys pub (tell them I sent you, I might make a free beer out of it). Then, at around 10pm, and only then, is my days work done and I can finally stop playing the part of the happy, care free fool and go back to being a misible, child hating what name. (That’s a joke by the way. The truth is I love my job. It’s a true passion and oh so much better than working for a living). And so it is that, work finished, it’s time for a quick drink and dance to some great live music in the tavern, then off to bed, for tomorrows another busy day.

Day 2

Sunday morning brought with it dark, heavy clouds and the promise of rain. But unlike other, lesser events, this doesn’t mean we remain shut, for here at england’s medieval festival the moto is “The show must go on”. For not only are there the campers and glampers to entertain, but over the years the daytrippers have also come to learn that we remain not only open, but also up and running.

The promised rain began to fall just as I started my first show of the day, but one of the percurlyatites that I’m known for, is my love of a challenge and the challenge was this. Do I stop my show and move it under cover (stopping part way through is never a good idea) or do I prove to myself that I’m good enough to be able to keep people standing in the rain for the next 20 minutes just to watch me? I’m proud to say that I raised to the challenge.

Now whenever I’m performing, at the back of my mind, there’s always the fear that, mid performance, I’ll mess up and my balls will drop. Add to this the slippery nature of my now wet balls and you can understand just how uncomfortable I felt. (should I pause awhile here whilst those of you with a childish mind stop sniggering). but that wasn’t the only problem. The stuffing in my horny hat isn’t waterproof and the added weight of the water in the stuffing meant that, as I jumped about, so I was constantly being slapped in the face by a soggy horn (oh please, stop laughing and just grow up).

Like I say, I love a challenge, so my 30 minute show lasted about 40 minutes, simply because it was so much fun to keep them there. But eventually I drew my show to a close, took a well deserved squelchy bow and quickly moved my equipment into the dry before venturing out once again into the rain, this time to perform walk about routines.

I’m lucky in the sense that I have a full length, woolen medieval coat which keeps all save my head not only dry, but also warm. So I was quite happy to wander around in the rain. As the rain got heavier and heavier, so I headed down towards the massive medieval market. Here I knew I’d find lots of traders who, due to the weather, weren’t going to do a lot of trade. So I amused myself by strolling around singing “summertime”, “oh what a beautiful morning” and other similar themed songs in such a happy manner that it was almost guaranteed to get on their nerves (hey, its one of the perks of the trade). and it was whilst strolling around that I saw a show the likes of which I’ve never seen before.

The world famous hersty mud stage wasn’t affected by the rain

The jousting field was deemed too slippery for the horses to perform safely on, but our motto here is, as stated earlier, “the show must go on”. And so it was that I gazed upon the sight of crowds of people thoroughly enjoying getting soaking wet as they watched the jousters jousting without the horses!

Grown men in full armour running at each other with great big, long wooden poles, often slipping and fulling in the mud long before they reached their target, as they done a truly brilliant job of entertaining the crowds. It was one of the funnest thing I’ve seen in a long time and proof of just how hard everyone at england’s medieval festival works to make it one of the best shows around. regardless of the weather.

Day 3

Monday was, thankfully another dry day and warm enough to cause steam to raise from soggy knights and damp damsels. The crowds were larger than normal and a great time was had by all as knights battled, jousters jousted (with horses this time) and I, your humble narrator, donned his spare, dry hat and spent the day fooling, juggling, magicing and all the other “ings” that one would expect from Britain’s premier humble fool. Then, after the last show was completed  and the last goodbye said, it was time to pack up our tents, wring out our soggy bits and finally head home from what must be one of the best and most enjoyable herstys we had in a very long time.

But our time at home was somewhat short lived. For we arrived home late tuesday night. Unpacked and washed kit Wednesday, then repacked Thursday ready to venture forth once more bright and early on the Friday. This time to a smaller, yet no less entertaining show known as The ancient Oak Medieval Fayre.

The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre

Based just outside of Cambridge, this is a wonderful medieval show put on by a friend of mine. In fact the show is so good that Jester Dragonfly and I are always more than happy to not only perform at it, but also help by crewing free of charge. I also supplied free advertising for them on both, TV and radio. You can watch and listen to them by clicking on the red links, but I wont as I hate watching myself

Out on a wing falconry

Like all good shows it had all the basic elements of a fun filled medieval re-enactment. I.E. knights in armour hitting each other on the head in a historical manner, jousting from the world famous “Horsemen of the knight“. living history camps with vikings, saxons and of cause medieval encampments from over 10 different reenactment groups! It had a medieval market where one could buy anything from mead to armour, wooden swords to full on, double-handed war axes forged by master blacksmiths and oh so much more.

There was a wonderful birds of prey display by tim and tina from “ Out on a Wing Falconry “. This lovely couple perform one of the best falconry displays I’ve seen in a very long time and are also really nice people who have a true love for their birds. So if you’re looking for a display for a show or birthday treat, or maybe you want to give someone special a one to one day flying birds. Then give them a call. You really wont be disappointed.

there was even a chance to tryout your skills as an archer care of the “Phoenix Warlords Medieval Reenactment“. The rather good and nicely priced beer tent was supplied by “The Trolls Bottom” and came complete with an array of fine ales and ciders as well as mead and a selection of their own flavoured spirits.

Our dear friends “The Pentacle Drummers” were there performing with ear splitting enthusiasm as they beat dried animal skins with lumps of wood and I, your poor humble narrator, performed comic skills of mystery and dysterity. All this and more was happening at east Anglia’s biggest and bestest medieval reenactment, all contained in a field just a few miles from the centre of Cambridge city.

Now every gig is different. They all have their strong points and their weak points. and the strong point about this event, the one thing that sticks out in my mind even more than the awesome entertainment, is it’s feel. It’s like being on your local village green with family and mates.

It was a sunny weekend and families set up house on the green surrounding the main arena. Spreading out blankets and picnics as they settled down for a fun filled day. Once settled they could let their kids run free, safe in the knowledge that they could watch them from a distance as, vorpal swords in hand, they challenged other kids to do battle. As the kids from one family made friends with kids from another family, so their parents would chat and new friendships were made.

Then the 5 kids fighting each other would decide to team up and fight the kids from a couple of other families At one point I sat at my tents, watching as this happened and thinking that it was like watching 11 year olds acting out “Game of thrones” (but with less blood and more clothing).

There was an array of food outlets, including one of my personal favorites “Dragonjaks“. A wonderful bunch of chefs who not only knock out great food at great prices whilst smiling and chatting with folk, but also kept me in a constant supply of coffee. Even the medieval market had a big family feel, for it was chock-a-block full of the “cream de la cream” of traders. All of them being the old school type of people who would always go that extra mile to help someone out, be they fellow traders or members of the public.

Next to our colourful, medieval encampment was a “have a go archery” stall, run by The phoenix war band. These are a wonderful bunch of reenactors who banded together to raise money for charity. Their have a go encampment has a range of bows of different size and strength to cater for all ages and the money they raise goes towards good causes. They also had a large, square medieval tent with the sides taken down so that they had some shade. And here it was that the true star of this blog, the stupendous Stormageddon, had his Stupendous haircut.

“But what” I here you cry “Is so stupendous about a haircut”? Well read on dear reader, for all shall be revealed.

Storms Sponsored Haircut

Our son, the fazmagorical Storm (A.K.A Stormageddon) is very nearly 7 (14th of September) in all those long years, he has never had, what my parents would call “a real haircut”! and he is very well known for his long, flowing blond locks. However, earlier this year he told us that he wanted, as he put it, “A boys haircut”.

Neither his mother, Jester Dragonfly, or myself wanted him to lose his rupunzalish look, but at the same time, he is now old enough to make the decision, and so it was that we begrudgingly agreed. After a talk with him about it he decided to do several things. The first was that he wanted to donate his hair to “The Princess Trust“. A wonderful charity that make wigs for children who, due to cancer and other illness’s, have lost their hair. Something that I personally feel is a wonderful idea made even more beautiful by it’s pure simplicity.

He also decided to see if people would sponsor his hair cut to raise money for 3 other good causes.

  1. Muscular Dystrophy UK are a wonderful charity who work in a number of ways with and for those who, like Storms cousin, suffer from this genetic condition. As we have the condition in our family it is, understandably, a subject close to our hearts.
  2. The Anne Harris Children’s fund are a small charity who raise funds for child related good causes. They were also the main funders for my work with children in conflict zones and, when we told them that we needed £2000 for a hoist to lift my nephews wheelchair into the car, offered to fund the whole lot!
  3.  Last but by no means lest, he wanted to raise money for his beaver pack (like cubs but for younger kids) as he wanted to give something back for all the fun.

We decided to set a goal of £1,000 to be shared equally between the 3 . I’ll be honest here and tell you that I was really worried that we had set the goal too high and he would be disappointed when we failed to reach it. I’m immensely proud to say that I need not of worried. For not only has he reached his goal, but he has passed it! I cant tell you how much yet, as the money is still coming in and people are still donating. Some in person with hard cash, others via his fund raising page https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stormshaircut

To all our friends, in-laws, nephews and total strangers who donated and/or shared his page on social media, we here at the fools house would like to send you our sincere thanks. Indeed “Thank you”  falls far short of the gratitude we feel for your amazing response. There are way too many of you to mention here, but what I will say is that “the phoenix warband” made the largest, single donation. Something that literally brought tears to Jester Dragonfly’s eyes (where as I, being a manly type of man, merely had smoke in my eyes).

The cutting of the hair was performed, free of charge by the lovely Sue from “Short Back And Sides” in March and was happening at the same time as one of my shows, so I didn’t see the work in progress, just the end result, and what a result! Truth is I hardly recognized him as he looked so…….well……..normal! And I’ll never forget the look on his face when I took a photo and showed him what he now looks like. I admit to having a fear that he wouldn’t like it and would ask for it to be put back on, followed by the tears when we say that we cant. However he was totally amazed by his new look and also (I’m relieved to say) impressed with it, and still is.

can you tell the difference

sadly sold out

Eventually this event had to do what all events do, I.E. come to an end. And so it was that, with heavy heart, I waved goodbye to happy parents and tired children. However, my sadness at their departure was short lived, as the event owner not only paid us cash, but even gave it to me rather than the better half! And so it was that, with a skip in my step, I headed at full speed towards a stall going by the name of “The king of Cups“.

I’d strolled by their stall earlier in the day and just happened to notice that they were selling their own brand of chilli mead. Now as anyone who knows me will tell you, I love chilli’s, so I sampled a wee taster. It is one of the best chilli meads I’ve had in a long time. Not only is it a lot hotter than most commercially available chilli meads, but (and this is what all chilli lovers look for) it had a real depth of flavor.

The king at the king of cups stall

I stood there as way after wave of flavor washed against the inside of my cheeks like a finely mixed napam and paintstripper cocktail, before swallowing and enjoying its warming feel slide down my throat, kicking my tonsils on route with all the subtleness of a welsh rugby team on a stag night. “Yes” I thought “I want a bottle of this”. So you can imagine my disappointment when my eagerly held out hand of hard cash was met with the news that they’d sold out! And so it was that, with a crushed heart I returned to our encampment, handed our wages over to Jester Dragonfly and broke camp, ready to head homeward.

I can’t say how good this festival is and also how much bigger than last years. If it keeps on growing at this rate then some of the more established local events had better watch out and up their game. As this has all the promise of becoming one of East Anglia’s major attractions.

Future events

But enough of times past and onto up and coming events

Cambridge Living History Fair

October 20th and 21st

I’ve been performing at “The Cambridge Living History Fair” since it first started, many moons ago. Since then it has simply gone from strengh to strengh. “But what it a living history fair” I hear you ask “And would I, a mere member of the public enjoy it”? Again you can check out the link above or read My review of The Cambridge living history fair in my blog entry entitled “My review of The Cambridge living history fair“.

King Henry’s Christmas Court

This year King Henry the 8th will be holding a christmas court at the mary rose museum in Portsmouth. The quite sensibly named “King Henry’s Christmas Court” will be held over several weekend in the build up to and over the christmas period. And what king would dare to hold court without his trusty fool, yours truly the one and only DevilStick Peat. I’ve never performed here before, but a couple of years ago we took the kids to the museum and everyone, adults and kids alike, had a great time.

 

And on the subject of christmas. Booking are coming in fast. So if you’re charged this year with finding great entertainment for your works christmas bash, medieval banquet, or christmas market, then why not hire the best. The one and only DevilStick Peat.

Well that’s all for now folks, but before I go I’d just like to wish our son and the trus star of our show, the one and only Stormageddon a very happy birthday.

The Loxwood Joust

The Loxwood Joust

Held over the first 2 weekends of august, The Loxwood Joust is quite simply the best medieval event since medieval times. If you want to know why I say that, check out this review here from 2 years ago, but bear in mind that the event isn’t just 2 years older now, it’s also 2 years better and bigger.

If you’re a reenactor or household, you might want to also check out this review here

But whether you’re a reenactor or a member of the public, trust me when I tell you that this is the medieval event of the year.

This event has special viewing areas around the arenas for disabled people, but please bear in mind that it is an outdoor, grassed event so ground my become soft in certain climates. To the best of my knowledge, all areas can be accessed by wheelchairs, however as the event area grows larger every year I advise checking access with the organizers via the website listed below (don’t be shy, they are really nice people).

Pentacle Drummers Summer Solstice 2018

Pentacle Drummers Summer Solstice 2018

My write up on this event in past years can be found here 

However, here is what the event organisers say about this years event (which I do believe is all wheelchair accessible, however, please bear in mind that it is an outside event of grass, which may get soft in certain climates).

We are back with our Summer Solstice Festival 2018
This time with a few BIG changes. 🙂

This year, the daytime event is FREE for all.
We are providing FREE ENTRY to the day time event – with a suggested donation of £1.
This year again we are supporting the Children With Cancer Fund, a local charity that grants wishes to children suffering from cancer. You can find out all about them here. www.childrenwithcancerfund.org.uk

We will be releasing tickets for the evening event shortly and will update the event accordingly with prices.

Taking place over the weekend of 15th – 17th June

Music, fun, food, stalls, plenty of safe space, and FULL CAMPING available.
Come and join us, The Pentacle Drummers, Lords of Earthen Drums at our spectacular Summer Solstice Festival in our home town of Eastbourne.

Friday evening will be for setting up your tent, and hanging out with friends new and old. Perhaps even an impromptu acoustic session will arise.
You are welcome to arrive from 5pm on Friday to set up your tent.

Saturday is the main day of the event. A fun filled, family friendly day, with ceremony & celebration, drumming, morris dancing, jesters bouncy castles and slides, sand pit, fancy dress, combat displays, the Pentacle Drummers Stone-age games, belly dancers and much much more.
For the evening, we move indoors again so we can go on for longer.

Again, we will bring you great, dancing, fun and friends.

Bands will be announced in due course.

Sunday is recovery day. Wake up late, hear the chatter from all the other campers, share stories from the day before, and get ready to travel home.

We work very hard to ensure the best value from our events, and we do not seek sponsorship, we want it to be your event and free of corporate branding.
We are pleased to let you know that prices are the same as last year.

Camping is available on the Friday and Saturday night, bring your own tent of course. The cost for camping on our secure site is £10 per person, whether that be one or both nights.
Children under 14 camp FREE.
On site shower facilities are available too.

FREE parking & FREE children’s activities throughout the day including the amazing Devilstick Peat back with us again.
This event will be held on secure private enclosed grounds, so the whole family can play in a safe environment.
There will be an abundance of refreshments available to keep you going throughout the day, and a bar open till late. Please make use of these facilities if you can and do not bring alcohol on site.

Dogs are most welcome however must be kept on a lead and are the responsibility of their owner at all times. Owners are also responsible for cleaning up after their dog promptly.

Please get in touch if you would like to perform or to book a space at the market.

For more information on stalls email stalls@pentacledrummers.co.uk
or events@pentacledrummers.co.uk for everything else.

We look forward to seeing you all again.
Peace.
PD

 

Templecombe Medieval Pageant

Templecombe Medieval Pageant

Well, what can I say about Templecombe Medieval Pageant, deep in the heart of sommerset that hasn’t already been said.

I used to perform at this event years ago, way back when I still had hair and am so pleased and thrilled to be welcomed back again (and they call me the fool). I do believe that Stormageddon (the jesters jester) mentioned it here

Here is just part of what the event says about itself. For more info please check out their website:

This event, and others like it throughout the nation, present you with an opportunity to see history in a way television, museums and books simply can’t. Reading history, seeing exhibits and watching historical dramas or documentaries are all worthy ways to learn, but when you can actually speak to people who have learnt for themselves lessons about things as small and specific as how to actually strap on and rig armour, how important it is to care for their weapons or how cooking on cast iron and trying to bake at a fire presents unique ways of perceiving our history. We present these things with a borderline obsessive enthusiasm. We want to entertain and educate you, but we never sacrifice comedy for dry information or vice versa. We present factual information in a way to make you laugh, because if it amuses you, you are more likely to learn something. Also we have Vikings. They are loud..

Battle Medieval Fayre

Battle Medieval Fayre

Battle medieval fayre is a wonderful community event put of in the heart of the british countryside.

My review of this event in years gone by can be found here

Held in the centre of this historic town, in the shadow of battle’s famous abby, this event is packed full of entertainment including maypole dancing (yes, you and your kids can join in), Knights in armour battling to the cries of you, their supporters and fans and of cause, that master of mayhem, the one and only DevilStick Peat and oh so much more.

There is also stocks for the unruly, games for the gameful and loads of stalls selling local products.

All in all a great day out for all the family, and it wont cost you a penny to enter

This event is also all held at ground level and as such is wheelchair accessible.

The Lee Valley Easter Country Fair

The Lee Valley Easter Country Fair

Lee Valley Easter Country Fair Sunday 1 & Bank Holiday Monday 2 April 2018 – Good Morning – Due to safety reasons caused by the recent and ongoing weather, we have taken the decision to CANCEL this weekend’s Lee Valley Easter Country Fair. (Statement from the bookers)

The Lee Valley Easter Country Fair is now in its 5th year, there’s something for everyone to enjoy with all day entertainment, including new for this year,  the amazing Equestrienne Horse Stunt Team, Jez Avery’s Stunt Bikes & Buggies, birds of prey & owl flying displays, terrier racing, and to keep your younger team happy and amused – our children’s entertainer Devilstick Peat including Circus Skills Workshop. The goat show which includes bottle feeding lambs and kids, will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about these curious and engaging animals and more besides. Children’s petting pens, historical re-enactment groups and much much more including demonstrations of rural skills will all add to your enjoyment.

You can also browse sample and buy from our range of arts, crafts food drink and gifts marquees as well as outside trade stands

Fully catered & with a licensed bar

And on Monday at this event we are proud to host The Companion Dog Show. so bring along a canine friend and have a go (all proceeds from entries go to Marie Curie care)

How to make money out of magic

How to make money out of magic
cambridgeshire childrens magician
DevilStick Peat performing his jumping ring (of doom)

After a winter of performing magic and juggling at Birthday parties, Medieval banquets and Circus workshops, (click on the red words for more info) birds are once again singing in the trees. Events are eagerly booking us for festivals and the overdraft is at its limit. All these things can mean only one thing. Spring is slowly springing, summer is awaiting its grand entrance and we here at the fools house are looking forward to a bumper season of fun, laughter, fun and fun (0k, so that’s actually 3 things, but hey, who’s counting).

We’re already booked for our favorite events such as “The loxwood joust”  and “The cambridge town and country fair”. We’ve also got new events like “The British juggling convention” and for all our friends and fans up north, a week long booking at “Alnwick castle”.

Also, as always we have loads of new magic routines as well as all your old favorites. So say tuned for further updates on where and when we’ll be performing. Infact, one of the best ways to keep updated on where and when to find us is to like our super exciting “facebook page”.

But enough of that. Time for the main part of this blog about the trials and tribulations of a modern day medieval, fool. My never before revealed revelations on how anyone, yes, even you! can make a small fortune out of performing magic (I kid thee not).

As someone who performs magic as their main income, there are 3 questions that I get asked more than any others. They are, in order of commonality:

  1. How did you do that magic trick?
  2. Why did you become a professional magician?
  3. How did you become a professional magician and what’s the secret of your success?

So in this chapter of my blog, I thought Id not only answer them, but in so doing, also give away, free of charge, my fail proof guaranteed secret to using magic to make a small fortune. And the beauty of this secret is that anyone can do it, yes, even you!

1) How did you do that magic trick?

This is the question both adults and children alike ask most. Normally after I’ve done some amazing piece of prestidigitation. The reply to which is normally “can you keep a secret? Well so can I”

2) Why did you become a professional magician?

Thats a good question and one that has a very simple answer. “Because I couldn’t afford to be an amature one”

3) How did you become a professional magician and what’s the secret of your success?

That’s another good question. However the answer to this one isn’t quite so simple. So why not go make yourself a cuppa, then sit back and relax as I tell you all not only how I became a professional performer, but also, for the first time ever, give away the fail proof secret to my success in the form of my latest ebook. A book entitled

AN EASY TO FOLLOW 6 STEP GUIDE GUARANTEED TO MAKE ANYONE, (YES, EVEN YOU) A SMALL FORTUNE FROM MAGIC, GUARANTEED

(By award winning magician, jester and all round good guy, DevilStick Peat).

Children's entertainer march
DevilStick Peat uses “the wand of doom” to tap the tubular tubes of wonder.

“But what” I hear you ask “makes me feel qualified to right such a book in regards to performing and magic”?

Over 30 years in the trade, thats what. 30 years in which I have traveled the world. In Saint-Tropez  I worked for some of the worlds richest and most powerful people. In a Gujarati mud hut I performed for some of the worlds poorest orphans. I’ve worked at the worlds biggest festivals and small village fetes. Banquets, birthdays and funerals. You name it and I’ve performed magic there. But before I tell you the secret to making a small fortune from magic (I kid you not). Let me answer the first part of that question.

How did you become a professional magician

DevilStick Peat. The early days:

An ex soldier goes to Glastonbury festival

cool biker
me, not long after I left the army, way back in the early 80s

I was 24 and had not long left the army. I was living in a town in kent and spending my time going from one dead end job to another. Working in factories and the such like and hating every minute of it. I remember laying in bed and thinking “This cant be all there is to life. There just has to be more than work, drink, bills, rent and drink. There just has to be”

Occasionally a bit of colour would come into my life in the form of Tat and Ray. They were two traveling brothers who’d wander around europe busking with music and having loads of adventures. When they were in town I’d meet them in my local pub and they’d tell me tales of far off lands with sunshine, cheap wine and pretty girls. Oh how I envied them with their freedom and winter suntans, but I wasn’t musical and, if you’ve ever heard me sing, then you’d know why I now do comedy and magic for a living. So instead I just carried on going from job to job and getting more and more depressed.

Then one hot, sunny afternoon back in the 80’s I was walking home from the off license. In one hand I had a crate of newcastle brown ale, in the other a few bottles of thunderbird wine (as you do on a sunny afternoon in june). A van pulled up with a friend and two beautiful identical twins in the front. “Hi pete” he said with a grin “thats a lot of booze you’ve got, and we’ve got a spare ticket to glastonbury”

“Great” I said jumping in the vans side door. As we drove down the road I knelt behind the front seats, leaned over so that my head was between the young ladies and said “just one question. what is this glaston-thingy your on about”?

They laughed and one of the ladies said ” You’ve never heard of Glastonbury! Oh Pete, you’re going to have soooo much fun”. And she was so right.

cambridge Children's entertainer
Performing my famous devilstick routine (of doom)

Touched by the hand of fate

Fast forward a few days and Im having a great time, what with the music, hippy fields, pretty ladies and sunshine. I staggered somewhat drunkenly into a field and there was a man playing with what I now know to be devilsticks. I sat watching him for ages as he would get them tick tocking up into the air for a few minutes then they’d fall back to the ground. I was fascinated and asked him how long he’d been doing it. When he said “about an hour” I asked him where he’d got them from.

“over there” he said pointing further into the field

I looked towards where he was pointing and noticed several things. There was a circus big top, lots of people playing with juggling equipment, lots of pretty young ladies and a stall selling juggling kit. Above the stall was a sign saying “ODDBALLS”.

I wandered over and saw my friends sitting on the grass so I joined them and watched as people played with all types of juggling equipment, most of which I’d never seen before. One man had several sets of devilsticks and let me have a try. For the next hour I just played and played. Then I suddenly had a still slightly drunken revelation and knew what I was going to do. I still look back on that moment as the moment I was touched by the hand of fate. But the picture was suddenly so vivid in my mind that I turned around to my friends and said “If I got a set of those sticks and a red and yellow jesters suite, I could travel the world”. One of the twins laughed and said something like “You…… Juggle! You’d never get it together enough to learn something like that”

That made me so angry (mainly because she was right) that I borrowed £13 off of my mate and went over to the stall and brought my first set of devilsticks. The rest of the festival was spent sober and practising in the sunshine (well, more sober than I had been).

The Black Mountains

I returned to my home town with a plan which, now I’ve sobered up, seemed crazy, but I’d told everyone what I was going to do, so couldn’t back out now.

There was a temp agency that I’d sometimes use if I couldn’t find work. The manager knew that I was not only a good worker, but also one with a brain. They had a temp job going that was good money, very good money. It was 12 hour nights Monday-Thursday at £13 an hour. A nice rate now, but back in the 80’s it was real, serious money. If you done more than four days the extra was time and a half (£26 an hour). I worked 5 nights a week for several months. It was a horrid job in a horrid factory, but it paid the bills and allowed me to save a fair bit of money.

Then one spring morn I told them I’m leaving the job. He boss man asked what I was going to do that was worth giving up that type of money and I’ll never forget the look on his face when I said “I’m going to go sit on a mountain in wales, learn to juggle, then travel around putting my hat on the floor and seeing if anyone will throw money into it”! I then had a great leaving home party that lasted two days longer than intended before my mother-of-all-hangovers and I left town and headed down to south wales. I had no idea where I was going to end up, only that I wanted a clean break with no distractions, lots of green countryside, a couple of aspirins for my headache and somewhere to pitch a tent. I ended up in the black mountains near Brecon.

My time in the infantry meant that I was quite happy camping in the woods. Infact, once I realized that I didn’t have to be as camouflaged etc as I was in the army, it seemed quite comfortable and I loved waking up to the sound of the birds singing

A little way down hill was the village of Talgarth. Talgarth was a small village who’s biggest employer was the large mental health facility based on the edge of the village. It was the sort of village where no one seemed to know who was a doctor, who was a nurse and who was a patient that had managed to escape for a few days. The sort of place where a nutter living next to the waterfall that fed the woodland surrounded small lake known as “the witches pool” seemed quite normal. Here I trained, using books Id brought from my many trips to oddballs shop in london. Then one day I headed into Brecon town to do some shopping and maybe meet a few of the locals that Id got to know for a beer or two.

I didn’t know until I got there but it was the weekend of the Brecon Jazz festival. This meant that town was a lot busier than normal. It also meant that a lot of those people had had way too much to drink. As always I had my juggling equipment with me, I never went anywhere without it just incase someone found my tent and robbed me. So I made a decision. I was going to do my first ever bit of busking!

peterborough based childrens entertainer
A one off, custom made medieval magic routine called the run dragon run trick (of doom)

For ages I stood there, devilsticks in hand, telling myself that I could do this, just as soon as I stop shaking. But still I couldn’t actually find the courage to put my hat out and busk. Then a young lady walked past. she stopped and came back again.

“Are they devilsticks”? she asked. I told her they were and she asked me to show her what I could do with them. I started playing and a group of about 4 people who were walking down the street stopped to watch. I played for a few minutes then stopped to talk to the lady (after all, she was very pretty and I was young and single).The others clapped and one of them held out a coin asking where my hat was. I was surprised as I wasnt busking, just showing off to a pretty lady, but thinking quickly I held out my hat and got a coin off of each of them.

After that I came back to kent and got a friend to make me a jesters suit, a red and yellow one just like the one I’d imagined that day in glastonbury and decided to head south, down towards the mediterranean sea and all the wonderful towns, women and adventures that Tat and Ray had told me about.

Traveling and busking and war zones

My I.D. from War child, one of the various N.G.Os I worked with around the world (in this case, Kosovo).

For legal reasons I wont go into too many details, but surface to say I had a great time traveling Europe. Italy was a good place to make money. Spain really wasn’t (Although I once spent a winter living in a wonderful 5 roomed cave there. One that came with a garden, front door and letterbox. No postman, but still it had a letter box) . France was a good party, especially along the mediterranean, where the tourist paid in the day for the beers and partying that my fellow buskers and I would enjoy that night. And as for Amsterdam! Well the truth is I don’t remember a lot about my time there, which just goes to prove how much fun it really must of been. I even met up with Ray and spent a summer in business with him, running a bar at festivals (often without the festivals knowledge).

I was waking up on beaches to the sight of the sun rising over a deep blue sea. Sleeping on mountain sides in thick, lush woodland and just loving being able to spend days at a time in a forest, far from the madding crowd. Manys a time I’d say “The gods have blessed me. I don’t know why, but they have”. Then one day, on my way from Southern Ireland to somewhere else, I stopped off for a few days to see some friends in Glastonbury town.

fenlan childrens entertainer
Working for Children’s world in kosovo. The man next to me is the late great Booper the clown.

Whilst there I met a young lady and ended up settling down for a few years. I even got a flat! Not just a bedsit, but a real live flat with more than one room. I remember sitting in the front room at night and thinking what an effort it is to walk all the way to the bedroom, just to sleep. Then, way back in 1999, Arabella Churchill, granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill and  the founder of a great charity called “Children’s World” asked me if I’d go to war torn kosova for a few weeks to work with the children there, care of her latest charity, “Children’s World International”. It was 72 days after the end of the war and the country was still in chaos with bombings and revenge shootings and all sorts of things happening and in the middle of all this was severely traumatized children, all being looked after and taught by severely traumatized adults.

I’m not going to use this blog to rant on about it, surface  to say it was a horrible situation both for the children and us. But it was a situation in which I could make a small difference and that’s when I realized just why it was that the gods had blessed me. For the next decade or so my obsession was working with children affected by violence. not just war, but all sorts of violence including war, terrorism, blood feuds and sexual trafficking. It took me to lots of fun places such as Ossetia, Iraq and Tamil Eelam. Places full of big guns, fun kids and cheap alcohol. I went from performing shows for the children to writing projects, sourcing funding and running teams that worked in these places. And my paper of parachute games in relation to refugees was adopted by several UNICEF departments (something that I’n actually quite proud of).

jester visits war zones
performing for war traumatized children in Kosovo 1999

My first paying gig

In the winter I’d do my charity work, and in the summer Id not only go busking, but also perform at medieval events. I’d been busking in kent one day and a man approached me and told me that he was incharge of a medieval street event in Rye the next weekend. He couldn’t pay me but I was welcome to busk at it and maybe they’d hire me for the next year. I’d never been to, or even heard of reenactments, but thought that it sounded like the sort of place that a jester should work, so decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did. The event itself was not only fun, but in future years they even paid me to perform at it. I also got another offer of work from it and picked up my first ever paid gig!

In the winter Id do my charity work, and in the summer Id not only go busking, but also perform at medieval events. I’d been busking in kent one day and a man approached me and told me that he was incharge of a medieval street event in Rye next weekend. He couldn’t pay me but I was welcome to busk at it and maybe they’d hire me for the next year. I’d never been to, or even heard of reenactments, but thought that it sounded like the sort of place that a jester should work, so decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did. The event it’s self was fun and in future years they paid me to perform at it. I also got another offer of work from it and picked up my first ever paid gig!

cambridgeshire childrens entertainer
The worlds only card trick performing duck (of doom). Why is it looking over the blindfold? Because it’s peeking duck (sorry about that joke)

I was booked to perform at a free to enter street event in Battle known as “The Battle Medieval Fayre”. It was, and still is a lovely event where the whole local community comes together to put on a medieval street market with stalls, maypole dancing, fighting knights in armour and lots of other entertainment, including of course, yours truly.

I say “still is” as the event is not only still happening (the late may bank holiday sunday and monday) but they still, after all these years, they still book yours truly to perform at it! and they call me the fool. I often wish that I’d recorded my yearly shows there so that I could see how I’ve progressed from a juggler in a jesters suit, to a performing jester, with magic, juggling, comedy and wit.

One medieval event lead to another (which is just as well as an unemployed jester is nobodies fool), my nylon jesters suit turned into authentic clothing. Other festivals and banquets started booking me. Soon it was becoming like a real job, but I was also getting older.

Settling down and learning magic

It doesn’t matter how hard you try to hold back time, it catches up with you in the end and I was hitting that age where doing a 30-45 minute, high energy comic juggling show several times a day was beginning to hurt. Also my juggling was at a level where is wasn’t really worth taking it any further. By that I mean that the public wasn’t going to get any more enjoyment out of a comic 7 ball routine than they would a comic 5 ball routine. So i decided that it was time for a change, time to learn something different, something less energetic yet still magical. Time to learn magic.

It was around this time that I also decided to make another change in my life. I woke up one day in a lovely piece of woodland in kent and thought “you know what Peat? When you’re 20 something and living in a wood, you’re cool. When you’re 40 something and living in a wood, you’re just plain weird. Time to put down some routes”. So I got myself a flat on the coast, about 20 miles from Canterbury, became a director of the prestigious Kent Circus School and started to research comic magic. I soon realized several things. Firstly, that there are several skill levels and tricks designed for that level of skill. The amount of money I spent of tricks that I hadn’t any chance of learning yet was frightening. Imagine a  6 year old child spending his sweet shop money on a copy of war and peace, then trying to understand it. That’s what I felt like trying a lot of the tricks I’d brought.

glass bottle bottle glass
My version of Tommy coopers glass bottle bottle glass (of doom) With a large nod to Lance Burton.

I also discovered that there are different types of magic. E.G. close up, stage and parlour. Plus there is all the different genders like Coin magic, sleight of hand, self working and cards to name a few. Not to mention all the sub genders such as card manipulation verse card forces and so on. It took a long time and a lot of mistakes, often very expensive mistakes to discover what magic was best for me, or rather for my persona.

Another thing I decided on early in my magical venture was that just learning another performers routine was something I just couldn’t do. Don’t get me wrong. There are some great magic routines out there and the books and dvd’s that teach them, move by move and word by word are truly awesome. The trouble is this. I think (and I hope I’m right on this) that My DevilStick Peat persona it a truly unique character and because of this it needs unique magic routines, what works for other performers characters won’t work for mine. Also there are jokes and gags that I can use that others cant. This means that there are 3 sides to my magic routines.

  1. Finding the magic effects that are of the right skills level that work for me.
  2. Learning the various moves and sleights needed to perform the various magic effects possible with that prop.
  3. Writing and choreographing a magic routine based around those effects.

Number one is done by trial and error, talking to other magicians and just watching other magicians at every possible opportunity.

Number two is a combination of hard work, more hard work and a distinct lack of any form of social life

Number 3 is a case of working out which moves lead most natully to which move. Banging one’s head against walls whilst trying to think up the spoken parts of the routine, and always keeping something I can write ideas and sudden bits of inspiration on nearby, especially when I’m in bed. Trust me on this. The importance of having that notebook by the bed can not be over rated. As waking the wife up at 3am and saying “hey, if I done this whilst saying that then the effect would be such and such”, does not lead to a happy, pain free marriage (Please, just trust the voice of experience on this one).

Children's entertainer ely
A crowd enjoying a 2 minute routine (of doom) totally unaware of the months of work involved in getting it to performance standard.

So as you can see, an effect that amuses you for a few minutes isn’t just the result of spending a hundred or more pounds on props and a quick back stage read of the instructions. It’s so much more than that.

It’s the result of months, and in some cases years of hard work, research and practise. It’s the result of all that time, money and effort spent on all those tricks that just didn’t work or which weren’t right for me.

It’s the result of all those sleepless nights stressed out and worrying that my wife might find out how much that magic trick really costs (Indeed, my biggest fear is that, once I’m dead, she will sell my magic, not for the amount it’s worth, but for the amount I’ve told her it cost).

It’s the result of days, nights, weeks months and years of blood, sweat and tears.

So as you can now understand, it’s taken years to learn how to be successful enough to make a small fortune out of magic. And over those years I have learnt many short cuts and lesions born not just of advice from my fellow magicians, but also of mistakes (often very expensive and/or reputation and soul destroying mistakes).

I’d hate to see you, my faithful readers suffer the same trials and tribulations that I have and so, after careful deliberation, I have decided to publish my full, easy  to follow, step by step guide on how to, quite literally, make a small fortune from magic. A guide that does exactly what it says on the tin. A guide that’s simply called

AN EASY TO FOLLOW 6 STEP GUIDE GUARANTEED TO MAKE ANYONE, (YES, EVEN YOU) A SMALL FORTUNE FROM MAGIC, GUARANTEED

The classic linking rings (of doom)

(By award winning magician, jester and all round good guy, DevilStick Peat).

  1. Start off with a large fortune
  2. Spend it on hundreds of magic tricks, most of which you’ll discover aren’t any good, many of which don’t do what they say they will, a lot of which aren’t right for you, a few of which you like, of which one or two are of use to you.
  3. Join the many second hand magic groups on facebook and sell all save the ones you like for a fraction of what they cost and use the money to repeat steps 1, 2, and 3.
  4. Give up any notions of having a social life whilst you spend a year or more learning the 7 tricks you’re now left with
  5. Contact agents and events, tell them how much you charge then, after endless emails, end up working for a mere pittance (and of cause the none existent great publicity and exposure that they said the event will give you and your magic)
  6. Get a real, Monday to Friday job that pays the bills so that you can put the money from performing magic in the bank until you have amounted a small fortune.

Easy, job done.

Until next time

Yours truly

D. S. Peat

P.S. All the people named in this brief history of my life are true, only the events have been changed to make it more believable.

Foot note

 

 

Whats that? you were expecting a proper, genuine sensible ebook!!! Just which part of the job title “Jester” don’t you understand

Birthday parties with award winning fenland children’s entertainer DevilStick Peat

Birthday parties with award winning fenland children’s entertainer DevilStick Peat

Once again we’ve had an exciting few months with not just events, but as a children’s entertainer, also birthday parties.

The queen of hearts;

ely childrens entertainer magician and juggler devilstick pear
A young volunteer for my mysterious Egyptian rings of mystery routine at a birthday party for the queen of hearts.

It all started with a birthday party down in London. The birthday child had seen me performing at Templecombe medieval pageant down in the west Country and decided there and then that I, your sweet humble narrator, was the the man she needed to entertain her friends (even at that tender age, she had good taste).

I decided to train it to London as it worked out cheaper and less hassle than driving and arrived in London with plenty of time to spare. Finding the venue and the right bus to it was easy. It was paying for the bus that proved the problem.

London busses no longer take cash! Only oyster cards and contactless debit/credit cards. The problem is, being in entertainment and sharing dressing rooms and all,  I won’t have a contactless card. Luckily for me the young lady driving the bus, taken by my dashingly handsome looks and realizing that I am but a poor country bumking, let me on for free!

Once at the venue (before the booker, which is always good). I changed into my motley  (that’s the proper name for a fools costume) and set to work meeting all the young guests and getting them in the mood to party.

I should say here that the birthday girl looked awesome, all dressed up as the Queen of hearts, which given her reputation for head removals was a little disconcerting. Lucky for me that both, the Queen and her subjects, loved  the show, with all the adults joining in the shouting of “oh yes you did” and the such like. It was a true pleasure to perform for them all, but for me the best bit was yet to come.

My performance over it was time to do the birthday cake and what a cake it was. Topped with lashings of thick cream, covered in sweet tasting fruit and mini marshmallows and festooned with candles it looked good enough to eat. But for me personally, the icing on the cake (pun intended) was the pictures of yours truly that towered above it all. Yes, I know that’s egotistical of me, but then that’s all part of being a performer. Silly little things like that just add to the beauty of what we do.

Cambridgeshire children's entertainer, devil's tick peat on a cake
Me, still smiling even with a plank of wood stuck up me!

They even had “thank you for coming to my party” stickers with a photo of me on it. If I’d known that before hand I’d of asked them to include my website on it, but hey, you cant win them all.

Special needs workshops;

Recently we’ve been doing some circus workshops with special needs children via the NHS. These are children with conditions like autism and the such like. We do them at a special, discounted price for several reasons. Partly because we know how underfunded mental health is in this country. Partly because the work is rewarding and loads of fun. But mainly because we feel that it’s actually quite important. Not only because it helps them with spacial awareness and concentration, but also because it gives them something that is sadly often lacking in our society, the chance to interact with adults members of our community. O.K. so the adults in question are two professional fools, but hey, you cant win them all!

Cambridge Living History Fair;

Next was the Cambridge living history fair. Now although it’s called the Cambridge living history fair, it’s not actually in Cambridge.  It’s held twice a year at the woodgreen animal shelter. Now although it’s called the woodgreen animal shelter, it’s not actually in Woodgreen, but Godmanchester. But despite these misleading labels it was very well attended by both public and traders. It’s one of the few gigs that book me for both, my skills as a fool, juggler and magician and my skills with the cláirseach (that’s fancy talk for folk harp). She’s a 26 string Colombo harp from starfish designs” who, in my humble opinion, are not one of, but the best harp makers in the UK.

The Cambridge living history fair is a wonderful event where all sorts of weird and wonderful folk gather to buy and sell all sorts of weird and wonderful goods. Should you wish to purchase a new bow or arrows, then there’s several stalls to meet your needs, including “Arbalist Armoury”Run by my friend Nick Winter, he sells a wide range of products and is a wonderful guy who’s more interested in making sure you get what’s right for you than in making a sale (oh, and I’m also impressed with the way he interacts with children). Or maybe you want a period costume made to measure and unique to you, or something special for your wedding or party. If this is the case then make your way over to “Brighid Designs”. Run by a lovely lady with a real passion for her art (and trust me on this, her works are pieces of art) she can advise you and make your dream dress a reality. One you’ll treasure for ever.

some of the stalls at the Cambridge living history fair

 

But it’s not just a place to buy and sell. Oh no, it’s also a place to meet people and learn about our history in a way that a school or book just cant ever compete with. You can even find out about joining a re-enactment group care of groups like “A Moment In Time”. A wonderfully friendly bunch of nutters who enjoy re-enacting days of old and are always up for a laugh.There’s also loads of entertainment laid on, all free of charge! Including myself, a story teller and hands on demos from “The Ninth Legion Hispana”. Here both adults and children alike can learn the fighting skills of the romans. Arguably one of the best fighting armies in history.

And if you’re feeling peckish, then make your way to “Cowleys Fine Foods”. Their website says “We specialise in all things edible” and when they say “all“, they aint kidding. Here you can try and buy anything from vegan and veggie goodies such as “Suzie’s Vegan Jerky : Sweet Potato Texan BBQ” to more exotic goods like their “Gourmet Chilli Jerky Trinidad Scorpion”. As a veggie I’ve never tried it, but I know those who have and it comes highly recommended.

Sorry you missed it? Well fear not, for this fine event is so popular that it now happens twice a year. So there’s no reason why you cant come along and see my show at the next one on the 17th and 18th of February 2018.

Children’s entertainer and pirate in Manea;

Then it was time to get ready for another birthday party, this time a little closer to home. In fact it was a lot closer to home as it was being held in Manea village hall, which is in the same Street as our house.

The theme for the party was pirates, so I resurrected an old character that I used to play at larp events. A character I lovingly called “shipwrecked again peat”. I must admit to being a little bit nervous about this party, as most of the guests were of preschool age. Younger than most kids I work with. I’m pleased to say that I needn’t of worried. We split my show into two parts, so as to allow for a shorter attention span and put the birthday meal in between the shows (and unlike many children’s entertainers, I don’t charge for the extra time this involves). They loved it and the look on the birthday child’s face when a birthday card magicly appeared in an empty bag was priceless. Again the adults joined in, some of them laughing as much as the children. But then I always say that, although folk book me to entertain children, I class myself not as a children’s entertainer, but as a family entertainer, with good, clean wholesome fun for everyone. Besides, I realised very early in my career that it’s the adults, not the kids, who hold the cheque books.

Children’s entertainer in Huntingdon;

This time the party was in the metropolis known as Huntingdon. Apparently they, like so many of my bookers, had seen me at an event and decided that I’m just what they are looking for. I like it when that happens as it means they know what they are booking and what to expect. They’d tried to book me the year before, but I was already booked up (if only i could clone myself, I’d make a fortune), so they booked me very early this year. Maybe you should do the same and guarantee having the best in the business perform at your child’s/wife’s/husbands birthday party. Again, the party went well and even the adults looked surprised when, with a sudden flash of light, the large brightly coloured birthday cake appeared from a container way too small to hold it. I would tell you how I do it, but then I’d have to kill you! (I said that to a man once and he replied “great, tell my wife”).

Sponsorship;

When not performing I’ve been busy working on various projects, including getting sponsorship for a whole new routine that will be showcased next festival season (April time). I’ve spent a long time designing and redesigning some of the equipment I need for this, but that was the easy bit. The hard part was affording the props needed to perform it (nothing in my trade is cheap).

But being forever resourceful I decided to look for sponsorship. First thing I did was make a list of possible sponsors. The trick involves several bottles, 20 to be precise, so a company that sells it’s products in bottles seemed the most obvious choice. I divided a list of likely sponsors into two sections, those most likely to sponsor a trick and those I’d be proud to endorse.

I emailed the first company on the “proud to endorse” list. I’ll be honest here and tell you all that I didn’t hold out much luck. It’s only a small company, but their product is awesome and in my humble opinion,  the best around. I thought I’d give them a week to reply, then move on to the second best. So imagine my surprise when they replied within a couple of hours. Not with a “thank you but no thank you”, but with an email stating that they’d love to sponsor me to the full amount!

For the next few days I must of been pure he’ll to live with. Everything I said ended with the words “I’ve got a sponsor”. I was like a kid on Christmas Eve,  a Christmas eve that lasted 4 or 5 days.

So the props are being made as we speak and should be ready next month. Then I’ve got to make the necessary changes to some of my stuff. Then practice, practice and practice, so that it’s all ready for next season.

What is this new trick? That’s a closely guarded secret, but if you subscribe to this blog (don’t worry, we wont give or sell your details to any 3rd party) then you’ll be one of the first to know.

Who are my new found sponsors. They’re a company who I’ve mentioned in several of my past blogs. Even before they became my official sponsor I was praising their skills, which shows how good I think they are. It’s a company called

MAGIC MEAD

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

 

As their name suggests, they make and sell mead, but not just traditional mead, also lovely and excitingly flavoured meads, including new flavours such as their rhubarb and liquorice and my personal favourite, the world famous magic mead chilli mead (the perfect winter warmer and Christmas present for your favourite fool). Please check out their website and if you ever see them at an event or market, ask for a free sample and mention my name. I tell you now, you really wont be disappointed with their products. Your only problem will be deciding which flavour to buy (my suggestion it buy one of every flavour, that way you wont be disappointed).

Up coming events;

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

Well that’s all for now folks. Other than to say that if you’re down in the west country in December, then you can see me at the “Dunster By Candlelight”. Held on the evenings of the 1st and 2nd of December, this promises to be a lovely event celebrating everything that’s great and magical about Christmas. After talking to the event organisers and looking at the website, I’m actually quite excited about this gig. It looks like loads of fun, fun and fun. A truly great way to get into the spirit of Christmas.

Once again I’m going to be standing in for my old friend Santa at several local events and of cause, I’ll be fooling and harping at The Cambridge Living History Fair in February. If you’re local, or in the area, it really is well worth attending, even if you’re not into history or re-enactment, you’ll find something you like (maybe even a bottle of mead from magic mead).

We’ve also got several “birthday parties” coming up, both local and further afield that also include our world famous “circus skills workshops”. Always a favourites with both children and adults alike. So to avoid disappointment, best you book me for yours now.

And lastly, I’ve just received a text message from the mother of the queen of hearts birthday girl asking if I can attend her sons birthday party. Apparently he is adamant that it’s got to be me. So I must be doing something right.

So if I don’t see you beforehand, I’d like to wish you all a very merry Christmas from all of us here at the fools house and hope to see you all next year (or at a birthday party somewhere).

Your favourite fool

Peat

food festivals, festivals, fayres and fairs

food festivals, festivals, fayres and fairs

Food festivals, festivals, fayres and fairs:

As the summer turns to autumn, and the leaves, once a dark green canopy, now turn vibrant yellow, so the festival season draws to a close for yet another year. But before we look forwards towards the Christmas season, let me tell you about our last few festivals and events.

Cherry Hinton Festival;

On September the 16th we were invited back to the “Cherry Hinton Festival” This is a wonderful community based event in a part of Cambridge known as, Cherry Hinton (Which is handy when you consider that it’s also the festivals name).

The public, undeterred by the traditional summer rain, turned out in surprisingly large numbers, but then those who know this festival, know just what great fun it is. Like any community based event, it has it’s fair share of community performances, including everything from Irish dancing to  Yi Zhong Yang-style Tai Ji (I can spell it, just don’t ask me how to pronounce it).

In the activities marquee was an assortment of activities ranging from messy play for the under 5’s to archaeological activities. Run by 2  archaeologists from Cambridge university, here you could  dig through the different layers of ‘soil’ and discover artefacts in the ‘Excavation chest of drawers’, including 9th century pottery, animal skulls and all sorts of things. They even had “The Brickologists” there with their lego building challenges and some doctor type folk who would help you make your very own “brain hat”

Outside there was a music stage with music and on the sports field there was demos and a chance to try out a whole range of sports. Everything from football to Zumba. Climbing walls and caving pods. Face painting and crazy giant balloon modelling, and all free. That’s right folks, everything on offer was free. A whole field filled with fun and all put on by volunteers from the local community. And to those volunteers I’d like to give a great big thank you. For this is what all community fun days should be like. I take my hat off to each and every one of you.

DevilStick Peat performing the mysterious Egyptian rings of mystery (and doom)

Upon finishing my days work there, Jester Dragonfly, Stormageddon and I headed south to Faversham, deep within the mountainous countryside of Kent (Hey, I live in the fens, one of the flattest parts of England. Compared to here, the north and south downs are two mountain ranges).

Faversham Food Festival;

This year the theme for “Faversham food festival” was medieval. Hence the reason I was booked (well that and the fact that they wanted entertainment that was of the same high standard as the food on offer). Although this part of Kent is my old stomping ground where I grew up (I’d tell you more, but wouldn’t want to shock you) the food festival started soon after I left, so I had no idea what to expect. Was it going to be one or two stalls with grannies selling home made cakes and the local girl guides selling brownies (the biscuits that is, not their younger sisters. That would just be wrong)? Or loads of market stalls from all across Europe and nothing to do with Faversham? More importantly, would there be a good performance space in which yours truly could perform his repertoire of gravity defying juggling, marvellous magic and “lace my corset tighter less I split my sides laughing” comedy?

I needn’t have worried, for the Faversham food festival was a pure delight of orally sensual overload. All laid on with local business’s and local produce. After sampling the free tasters (and not just the chilli sauces) I can put my hand on my heart and say that I now know why Elizabeth Carter, editor of the good food guide, once described this area as The east Kent triangle, an area of excellence.

As for the performance area? As you can see from the photo, they couldn’t of given me a better spot, or a more responsive audience.

Performing my custom made “jumping dragons (of doom)” routine.

 

Flora, the Singleton giant.

 

It was a lovely sunny day and once the Puppet show had finished I soon had both, kids and adults seated before me. At the risk of sounding egotistical, I can say that the show went down a storm. I judge how good my show is by how much hassle the kids give me (something that I actively encourage) and even the adults joined in, shouting “oh yes it is” etc. in the right places. And the jumping dragons (of doom) fooled all of them, including the adults. There’s even a video of it on their Facebook page. It starts with a 3 ball juggling routine (The likes of which most jugglers would give their right arm to perform). Then concludes with the jumping dragons (of doom). When not performing one of my stage shows, I was engaged in one or more of my walk about routines, including the somewhat apt repeating bananas (of doom) and of cause, woodbine with his pot noodle and another type of repeating.

Other entertainment included a great traditional Punch and Judy show, may pole dancing (in September), little red riding hood and my old friend “Flora the singleton giant”. Always a favourite with the crowds as she leads the parade. Today the parade consisted of all the children entering the fancy dress competition. To my absolute horror, I was asked to be one of the judges. I hate judging the fancy dress as I’m always worried that those who don’t win will cry, or worse still, hate me even more than they hate my jokes!

Then, after the day had finished, it was full speed ahead as we headed home to get ready for the next show

The Ancient Oak Medieval Fayre;

We’d been really excited about this gig. Not only because it’s more money in our pockets, but also because it’s run by some old friends of ours. Many moons ago, when I still had hair (well, more hair than I have now) there was an event called “the Snailwell medieval fayre”. Run by friends of ours this event had a real village green feel to it and was always a favourite, not just in our calendar, but also in the calendars of most local re-enactors and with good reason. Put simply it was a good, well organised event. The type where everyone, families, traders, performers and re-enactors could relax and enjoy a weekend of all that’s best about medieval England. So when they contacted us and said they were thinking of running a new event, well how could we say no.

The set up;

It was held at Stow-Cum-Quy, which is quite local to us, enabling us to arrive early on the Friday. Once there we didn’t just set up and relax, oh no, that would be too easy. Instead Jester Dragonfly took over arranging the traders and allocating pitches and I lent a hand with the ground crew, erecting tents, putting up signs etc. This meant that the main organiser had more time in which to run around whilst muttering that most famous of all event organisers incantations  “never again, not ever doing this again ever” ( we don’t call her stress free shaz for nothing). Come night fall the event had come together and was now looking like a medieval event should on the night before opening (I.E. the beer tent was open and full of strange folk in strange clothing shouting things like “hussar” and “Oi watch where you’re poking that sword”).

I’ll be honest here and tell you that when I saw the beer tent, I panicked! During our consultations with the organisers we’d recommended what we consider to be the best medieval beer tent on the circuit. The world famous “Crimson Moon Mobile Beer Tavern” (Never ever call it a beer tent. It’s so much more). They, knowing that we see a lot of beer tents at events had taken our advice and booked the best. So why did I panic? Because it wasn’t until we’d got there that we realized that it was now under new management! “What” I thought “if the range of drinks aren’t as good as they were? What if the staff are a grumpy bunch of folk who aren’t into these events? What if”??? I need not of worried. The beer was good, The cider, very good (I checked it several times, just to make sure). A full range of spirits and kids drinks were all at hand. And all served by lovely friendly staff who were in character and more than “up for it”. Indeed I was so impressed that I’m still happy to call them the best mobile medieval tavern this side of the 16th century (and no offence meant to my good friend Iain, but it takes a lot less cider to find it’s new owner sexy than it ever did him).

Saturday morning we were up early, getting the last few things sorted (I.E. putting up our tents as we were too busy helping out Friday to set up our own camp). As often happens at these types of events, there was a few last minute changes to the program, resulting in a bit of a slow start to the day. But once it got going it was a great two days of medieval mayhem, music and civilized members of the public teaching their children that is socially acceptable to screem for blood whilst watching a bunch of fully grown men beat the hell out of each other with offensively big, heavy weapons.

Music;

Music was provided by some old favourites of ours, including “The pentacle Drummers” . A lovely bunch of nutters with a thunderous repertoire of deafening drumming that puts the likes of Cozy Powell to shame (if your saying who? then you’re too young) and the perfect way to wake up a sleepy village on a sunny morn.

“Serpentyne” were also performing with their perfect mix of modern and medieval instruments, all combining to create a magical mixture that perfectly combined the best of both worlds, old and new.

The re-enactors;

Blood, guts and battles and living history were provided by several re-enactment groups including “The Knights of Honour”, “Wuffa Saxon and Viking re-enactment”, “Ealdfaeder Anglo-Saxons” and our very good friends from your local medieval re-enactment society “Phoenix Warlords medieval re-enactment society”. This wide range of households meant that you had the chance to experience a whole range of different battle tactics. For the fighting style and moves of a fully armoured knight is vastly different from that of a Viking who, although wearing less protection, has the advantage of more speed and mobility. Not that I, as a poor humble fool (all be it Britain’s best poor humble fool) know a lot about fighting. My speciality is entertainment and as such I can say that these heroic warriors were very entertaining and not just on the field of battle. For they came equipped with every thing you’d expect war bands to have. Medieval tents, women cooking around the camp fires. Phoenix even brought their very own cannon with them! It was housed next to their “have a go archery”. Probably one of the most popular side shows in the event. This was where members of the public, both young and old alike, could practice their skills with the famous English longbow. All under the expert guidance of Some of England’s premier archers.

Jousting;

Jousters Jousting

 

But what would a medieval event be without that most quintessential of medieval sports, jousting? That’s right folks, not only was all the above housed upon this, most green of England’s green fields, but they even had jousting and awesome stunt riding from none other than “The horsemen of the knight”. A foolishly brave troupe of medieval stunt riders who kept us all spellbound as, clad in shinning armour, they took part in death defying duels, charging at each other with lance in hand to the cheers, gasps and applause of public, both young and old.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they displayed amazing acrobatic feats of skill. Hand stands on galloping horses and many another feat of daring horsemanship. The sight of which would not only get your heart pumping, but also leave the stoutest members of your local pony club reaching for their large bottle of vodka.

The most violent and bloodthirsty battle England’s ever seen, ever;

Both days ended with an awesome, furious battle, the likes of which have rarely, if ever, been seen on England’s fair lawn. These were no ordinary battles, oh no. For these were battles fought by the most fearless and blood thirsty of heartless, hardened warriors. A band of marauding rabid killers known collectively as “the children”.

Armed with long lengths of  pipe cladding, soft enough to do no harm. All the children present were invited onto the field of honour to wage war upon each other. We did try to get the knights to join in, but upon seeing the unabated bloodlust and violence unleashed by these future warriors (of doom), what knights we could find were suddenly way to busy shinning shields, or hiding in the toilets saying things like “don’t send me out there. I’ll be good”. or softly sobbing “I want my mummy”.

The only person brave enough to face the children’s war band was a female stall holder. Which says so much about our fearless knights.

All joking aside, the kids loved it as it was a chance to run riot and practice all the fighting skills that they had learnt through out the day. And from the parents point of view, they could laugh at their child’s antics knowing not only that the weapons were too soft to cause any damage, but also that, worn out by this last surge of mindless violence, their children were going to sleep well that night.

Next year;

But I’ll give you a little bit of insider information. The dates for this, East Anglia’s finest medieval event, may well change next year! “What” I hear you cry! “Then how will we find out the new dates”? Fear not my trusty followers. For all you need to do is click on and like this link to “The Ancient Oak Medieval Festival Facebook Page”. Then be you a trader, re-enactor, family looking for a day out, or just someone who enjoys supping on fine ales whilst watching big hairy men beat the living daylights out of each other. The truth is you’ll be able to sleep soundly, knowing that you’ll receive updates with the new dates etc. sent straight to your very own Facebook news feed.

What’s next I hear thee cry;

But enough about battles past. For the fighting/festival season is over. Our tents are once again cleaned and stored away till next year and Stormageddon, his batteries removed, is placed safely back in his box until next spring springs upon us once more.

Birthday parties;

So what will we do now the seasons are a changing? Lots is the simple answer. We have a whole range of birthday parties we’ve been invited to. Both here in our own sweet village of Manea and further afield in London and beyond. Indeed we’ve more parties than past winters, due partly to the ever growing reputation of our entertainment and birthday circus workshops, but also possibly to the constant tweaking I’ve been doing to our website.

Now although I’m a magician, who’s just won his second world wide magicians competition (Dear Brian Watson, thank you so much for donating the coveted 1st prize wand holder trophy) I’m no website wizard. So I’m going to ask a wee favour of you all. Could you please take a few minutes to click on the “Birthday parties link” and look at the latest changes. If you’ve any suggestions then simply add them to the comments section on this blog and in return I promise to love you dearly. Each and every one of you.

The Cambridge Living History Fair;

But not only do we have birthday parties a plenty, we also have one more final yet fun filled medieval event. Namely “The Cambridge Living History fair”.

Held twice yearly the up coming autumn fair is being held at it’s usual venue in the Woodgreen animal shelter in Godmanchester, PE29 2NH. Every year this event goes from strength to strength, With more stalls, entertainment and customers than ever before. But although it’s a place to perchures all things historical, it’s not just a fair for re-enactors. For here you may see, taste and buy a number of items you’ll never find at any other market anywhere. Toys, as in real wooden wont be broken by new year cause they’re made of cheap plastic toys that, come Christmas morning, will delight children of all ages (even the grown up ones). Mead, the perfect winter warmer for those long, cold winter nights. Beautiful hand made dress’s, sown with love and care. The type that will look splendid on your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend (hey its the 21st century and who am I to judge). All these unique and splendid artefacts and many more can be found all under one roof. There’s even entertainment with story telling, my own sweet self jestering and yet more that we’re awaiting confirmation on. But it’s only on for two days, so make sure you bookmark October the 18th and 19th in your diaries and pick up some bargains galore at The Cambridge Living History Fair.

The only period event in England that can spell the word “fair” correctly.

Well that’s all for now folks. So I bid thee all a fair farewell. If you’re children are lucky enough to be coming to a birthday party I’m performing at, then do yourself a favour and stay and watch. For although billed as a children’s entertainer, I personally look on our shows as family entertainment, with gags that appeal to all ages. If you’re an event organiser looking for good wholesome entertainment, then get in touch, but hurry as we’re already getting booking for next year and are unable to clone ourselves. And if you’re looking for some excellent entertainment for your childs birthday party (or indeed, your own) then please take a look at our “Birthday parties page” and let us make your child’s birthday party so special that it not only becomes the talk of the playground, but also the envy of all the other parents.

So until next time, I bid you all, fair thee well.

Your fabulous fool

Peat