Bertie’s first Blog!

Greetings and Happy New Year. This is my very first blog. I have no high ideals or great claims for this blog – I see it as the equivalent of a catch up at the Pub. News and views and bits and pieces that happen during my week. The week began with a visit to the beautiful city of Wells with a lecture/demonstration to The Wells Society in the Town Hall. I was very impressed to have a sound technician on standby with an actual sound desk. In my world that is a luxury. All good fun and chuffed to stumble across a Dickens centenary catalogue in a charity shop for £1.25. I should mention that like the BBC I am completely immersed in Dickens ready for my new lecture. I am loving Claire Tomalin’s new book and also re-reading David Copperfield. The childhood sequence is staggering as he suffers under the ghastly Edward Merdstone and his sister Jane. Makes you want to weep. I also loved Sue Perkins’s Tv programme on Mrs Dickens. It was so sad. Sue is a legend and highly revered in this household.
From Wells I went on to New Maldon which was a bit of a contrast. At least I know where it is. In fact the family firm Higgs and Hill was based there. And then to Pewsey – Wiltshire is a Nadfas hotspot and as I always say the red trouser count was very high. It was great to catch up with a fellow Punch and Judy Professor in the form of Alix Booth. We saw one of her brilliant and creative puppet shows up in Covent Garden. The next day it was publicity photo shoot with a photographer called Mike Dwyer who is based in Battle in East Sussex. His studio is right below the battle field – to think I traipsed that battle field as a reluctant 18 year old doing a history project questioning whether Harold was far too hasty. I longed for a later period but was put in the Ancient history division – we were always reading about King Eric blood axe – puffed up with the profits of war and pillage.
Publicity photos are a nightmare – really need a director and a stylist. I packed up all my shiny suits, shoes and the bronzing powder and a few props I thought would look good. I’ll let you know the result.
On Thursday took the kids and sister Boo to a play centre in East Grinstead as the Bertie and Boo Company is about to set up a big play centre in Balham. Found myself crawling through balls and up slides and round tunnels – all research – you must understand – didn’t scare too many children.
Friday 13th could have been ominous but I found myself doing a show in a retirement block of flats in Chichester. Wearing my shiny suit I felt very at home when I saw that the place had been officially opened by Lionel Blair four years ago. What a pro – he knows how to work an audience. In fact the audience were a lovely crowd – the flowing champagne helped and a fun time was had by all.
A kids show in Penshurst yesterday. The view of the valley was out of this world. It was like a winter wonderland with every tree sparkling in the sun. I felt more like a wizard than ever despite driving a very noisy and ever so umble Citroen Berlingo. In fact it was more civilised than you can imagine drinking a nespresso while sitting on a pile of country life magazines and surveying the Farrow and Ball catalogue on the window shelf.
Back at the Farm all is good here. My chickens which have had a bit of a break down this winter – something has scared them – mink? or large rat? Like Michael Winner I say calm down dears every morning and it seems to have worked – they’re laying again and getting up early.
You may remember Alan Bennet’s play The Lady in Van. Well we have our own lady in the van. She’s called Zoe and she lives in a green carpet van which contains a canoe, filing cabinet , desk and a bunk bed. She appears and disappears like Mary Poppins. Well she’s just appeared and wanted to borrow a soldering iron and is very concerned about the birds nesting too soon. Talking of which we’ve got owls on the roof. We know this because they’re hooting loudly – they’re regurgitating pellets and there are pale droppings. Oh and wood peckers – heard three of them in different places – all going at it like bats out of hell. How they can take all that hammering.
Well tomorrow I’m off to the Goring Hotel. The 2nd time in four weeks. It is without doubt one of the nicest hotels in London. More next time.

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