Punch and Judy paid a visit to an end of term student party at Durham University. Students were celebrating the completion of their exams with a beach party at Collingwood College. The weather was fair and needless to say the revellers were enjoying plentiful alcoholic refreshment whilst relaxing in the meadow. The Punch and Judy Show was rather naughty and certainly not the same show that is normally performed for a family audience. Punch fans would tell you that the show was originally for adult audiences and only became seen as children’s entertainment in Victorian times. The victorians would have been shocked by the vulgarity of todays show but the students certainly seemed to be appreciating it.
Today was my first ever visit to Beamish Museum. All of my family have been several times and so I was feeling a liitle guilty but delighted to have been invited to take part in the Georgian Fair. The organisers wanted an authentic Punch and Judy Show and decided that mine fitted the bill. On arrival I had to report to the costume department to collect my custom made outfit. I’d sent in my sizes a few weeks before and they had made a costume specially for me. I tried it on and when I looked in the mirror it reminded me of David Essex, a pop star from the seventies. I gave the ladies a quick rendition of ” Gonna make you a star ” and contemplated applying for Britain’s Got talent but was advised not to bother. Some people just don’t recognise a good thing when they see it.
I was given a map and set off in my car to find the location of the Fair. Beamish is a huge place and the locations are spread out over a wide area. It was a lovely, warm sunny day and I could really appreciate the beauty of the place. Woodland, pastures, rolling countryside and winding pathways.
I arrived to find people busily setting up stalls and preparing for the arrival of the general public at 10am. I was given my pitch and quickly set up my Punch and Judy Show and then took my car back to the Resource Centre car park. I noticed that great attention was being paid to detail and everyone seemed very keen and interested in what they were doing.
Once the gates were open to the public Beamish came alive and there were large numbers of visitors arriving to join in the fun. There was a great atmosphere and everyone form the very young to the elderly were enjoying themselves. I did six shows and had a large appreciative audience everytime. Children and adults joined in enthusiastically.
The Museum closed at 5pm and it was time to pack up and go home. What a good day it had been. I would certainly recommend Beamish as somewhere to go for a great day out.
Many companies and organisations pay lots of money to have stands at outdoor events and shows in order to promote themselves. Naturally anyone investing in a this type of venture wants to be noticed. Well, if you really want to draw a crowd then hire a good Punch and Judy Show. I’ve been performing Punch and Judy for ever such a long time and it’s amazing how people react once the show starts. You can have an empty space one minute and as soon as the curtains open and the music strikes up people start to gather. Punch and Judy seems to have a magnetic effect on people of all ages. The kids will rush up and sit down in front of the puppet theatre and the adults watch from a distance. I’m not saying it works every time but nine times out of ten that’s what happens. Old Red Nose ( Mr Punch ) is a proven crowd puller! So, if you are embarking on a promotional event and you are wondering what kind of entertainment to put on your stand give me a call.
It’s as synonymous with the British seaside as the bucket and spade or fish and chips. And now one family is celebrating 150 years of Punch and Judy.
Passed down three generations, the show is run by Jacqueline Millband-Codman after she inherited it from her great-grandfather who started the tradition in 1860.
Mrs Millband-Codman, 67, said she has tweaked the slapstick comedy only slightly – cutting the duration by half due to ‘parents’ attention spans’ – over the years, but it remains true to the traditional plot.
See The Mail On Line for more on this story.
The tranquility of a beautiful Northumberland village was disturbed yesterday with the arrival of Mr Punch and his entourage.
The picturesque and historic medieval village of Blanchland nestles in the Northumbrian countryside and is popular with tourists. The peace and quiet was disturbed for a while yesterday when Punch and Judy were called on to perform at the Lord Crewe Arms Hotel to entertain wedding guests.
Mr Punch said ” We was a little concerned about doing the show at this venue because the hotel is supposed to be haunted and as we already have a ghost we thought it might cause trouble. The resident ghost might not be happy with an outsider putting the frighteners on people on his turf so to speak”
Fortunately all was well and the Punch and Judy Show went ahead to the delight of the guests.
After the show there was time for a quick look round before heading back to North Yorkshire.
Mr Punch recommends a visit to Blanchland if you are ever up that way. It is a lovely place as you can see from the photos below.
The Lord Crewe Hotel is popular with ghost hunters so if you do go keep your eyes open for strange goings on…you have been warned!
ps Punch recommends the Deli ( nice grub and friendly service too )
Following the announcement yesterday that there is to be a General Election it has become known that one of our most famous comedy characters, Mr Punch, is considering running for office.
” Well The Ouse of Commons is like a Punch and Judy show most of the time so I shoulds fit right in. I don’t go much for kissing babies as you all know but the people of this country want straight talking and I don’t mess about. I believe in democracy and anyone who argues with me knows what they will get. I plan to drastically shorten the time taken to make decisions and put an end to lengthy debates. A few quick taps with my slapstick will soon sort things out. I’m a very fair man and what happened to Judy, The Policeman and the Doctor were all honest mistakes like any other MP could make like with their expenses and stuff like that. It was all within the rules! ”
When asked about transparency he replied:
” Of course there should be transparency. The voters don’t want a Parliament full of dodgy people who are lining their own pockets and saying one thing whilst doing something else. Look at my face. Do I look honest? Can you see any mischief in my eyes? Go on take a good look. Now compare me to Gordon, Dave or Nick. You see, we’re all the same. You can trust me just as much as you can trust them…honest! ”
Punch’s view on the voting system.
” Well I don’t agree with proportional representation as I am much smaller than everyone else, being just a puppet, so obviously my votes would be less. I would however change the system so that I got to count all the votes myself. This would be much easier than going through the hassle of boundary changes to rig the voting in favour of one party or another. The only way to be sure of winning is to do it all yourself and like I said before I believe in democracy and so I’d have to make sure people got the PM they really want…ME! ”
Punch’s opinion of “Red Tape”
” I don’t like red tape. There is far too much of it. My costume is mainly red and I’m sick of that too. I’ve been out on the hustings and folk are grumbling about the sheer amount of red tape we have to put up with. It makes me wonder if some cabinet minister has an undisclosed interest in a red tape company somewhere. My first act as Prime Minister would be to abolish all red tape. If you vote for me you will be voting for change. I promise there will be no more red tape. It will be either blue, yellow or green instead or possibly some kind of combination ”
Asked about other reforms he had in mind.
” It will be illegal to own a crocodile as they are nasty vicious creatures and I don’t like having my nose bitten. Also the laws on sausages need tightening up”
Gordon Brown can rely on Lord Mandelson to orchestrate his election campaign. Do you have a figure of similar competence and stature to run things for you.
” Yes, Joey the Clown is my number two. I’m confident that Joey will soon have the voters falling about laughing equally as much as Peter Mandelson or any of the other big shots. Joey knows how to tell a good porky so I’m leaving it up to him ”
What is your campaign slogan?
” I’ve chosen Oh I do like to be beside the seaside because it has a nice catchy tune that voters can sing along to and it doesn’t really mean anything because what I say I’m going to do and what I do once I’m PM will be different anyway…That’s The way to do it! ”
End Of Interview
This may seem a rather rude way to start a conversation. After all suffering from wind is a rather personal matter and when it manifests itself in public it can be embarrassing. As a Punch and Judy Man suffering from wind takes on a whole new meaning. For most people a sudden blast of wind results in a red face and possibly the words ” I’m terribly sorry” or else we blame the poor dog. For me a sudden blast of wind in the middle of a Punch And Judy Show can mean disaster. Now I’ve always fancied learning to fly but I’d rather do it in an aeroplane than in a Punch And Judy Booth. The problem I have is not my age or what I ate for dinner, it’s the size of my ” fit up”. I’m proud to say I’ve got a big one. No, I’m not bragging. It’s a whopper! My Punch And Judy show is a fair size. I like to be seen and I like my audience to be able to see me too. The down size of having a big one is that it acts like a sail and its natural tendency is to want to lift off in anything more than a strong breeze. I’ve never actually got into full flight but I’ve come pretty close to it.
I once nearly blew into the Manchester Ship Canal whilst working at the Imperial War Museum North. We were set up on the quayside and fortunately Hazel was with me. As the day went on the wind grew stronger and although IWM staff had provided big metal weights for us to tie down to we were still straining at the leash to be up up and away. Hazel was hanging onto the frame for grim death behind me and I had one hand in Mr Punch and the other clinging onto the frame at the side a bit like a chimpanzee hanging onto a branch. I got through my last performance by the skin of my teeth and then with Hazel’s help we managed to break down the show before we were picked up and deposited in the icy waters close by. The main stage was not so lucky. We witnessed a most extraordinary sight. The entire structure was lifted off the ground. Now I’m not talking about a tiddly little thing, this was a proper stage where moment before a full swing band had been performing. It had an an aluminium structure with a roof over the top. At the exact moment of lift off Hazel and I were lying spread eagle on Mr Punch’s cover trying to fold it up. I saw men running towards the stage from all directions, eveyone grabbing a hold and hanging on tight. Luckily there were enough people to stabilize it…but only just. It too very nearly ended up in the canal.
Another memorable occassion was on the beach at Saltburn By The Sea in North Yorkshire. When a carried my gear down onto the sands it was a perfectly lovely summers day. Blue sky, warm and sunny. As the day went by and the tide started to come in behind me I noticed the breeze picking up. I realised I needed extra anchorage and so started collecting rocks to use as weights. As the breeze increased in strength the more rocks I needed. I started to wonder wether I should be going on a Dry Stone Walling course. By the time I did my last show it really was a battle with the elements, trying to work the puppets and hang onto the booth in the face of an impending gale with my little Sanger of rocks around me, and the sea coming up fast behind. I’m sure that the audience were taking bets on how far into the North Sea I would be blown. It sure beats wind surfing. Fortunately I avoided being swept away and the audience left perhaps slightly disappointed as a flying Punch and Judy Show is not something you see every day.
My most recent experience of near flight came last August at the Wensleydale Show. In past years they have put me inside a marquee so contending with the elements isn’t a problem. Unfortunately this time due to budget constraints there was no marquee and the person in charge put me on top of the hill. If you have never been to the Wensleydale Show then I strongly recommend it. There is so much to see and do and the view from the top of the hill is splendid. Unfortunately the top of the hill is not a good place to site a Punch And Judy Show when its windy and boy was it windy. Now I like a challenge so when the man told me this was my location the army training kicked in. I was determined to hold my ground at all costs. Although it was a struggle just to set up, I managed it and I used all my ratchet straps and ground anchors to lock myself down. My saving grace was that my fit up has a metal framework and is therefore reasonably strong. The entire afternoon was a massive struggle not only to perform but just to avoid being carried away. I had visions of folk down in Leyburn looking up and saying ” is it a bird? Is it a bee? No…it’s…it’s…it’s a Punch And Judy Show! Against all the odds I did do my four shows and I did stay on the field. It was a relief to hear that next year they are moving me to somewhere less exposed. Oh joy!
As its winter I’m not suffering from wind at the moment. When summer comes and you are struggling to keep your hat on just think of me. I might be on a beach or on top of a hill somewhere facing a far greater problem. Keep smiling!
Has anything like this ever happened to you? ie tent blowing away on a camping trip, embarrassing moments with clothing in the wind etc. If you have a funny story to tell please share it with me.
I often receive enquiries from people who are in the process of organising an outdoor event for the first time. Sometimes it is a Family Fun Day for their company, sometimes it is a Fund Raising Event or it could be a Community Event etc. Usually they start by telling me that they have never organised an event like this before and don’t know exactly what they want. These days they are probably contacting me because they are interested in booking a Children’s Entertainer, Magician, or a Punch and Judy Show. They are not seeking advice on the overall planning of the event.
Invariably the conversation leads to a discussion about where the children’s entertainment will be sited and what happens if it rains. The idea of having a wet weather plan has not occurred to them. We all hope it’s going to be a hot sunny day with just a light breeze,we imagine a perfect summers afternoon. Occasionally it is like this but more often it’s not.
Inclement weather can have many adverse effects :
Never underestimate the power of the wind. Gazebos, stalls and inflatables can all be lifted and blown over or blown away. This can be a serious risk and should not be ignored by organisers.
Surfaces become wet and slippery which can result in people falling over.
Electrical equipment can be dangerous in a damp / wet environment
Clothing, props and equipment which are soaking wet can be ruined or become useless
Performers and staff can’t do their jobs efficiently
Vehicles can become bogged down
Snow and Ice
Surfaces can be hazardous to walk on for performers and the public
Very cold or freezing temperatures can prevent proper use of fingers and hands when engaged in intricate work such as Face Painting or Balloon Modelling. The former could put the public at risk because if the artist can’t control the brush properly it could easily go into some one’s eye. Face Paining out side in very cold weather should not take place.
For many years I ran a company which specialized in providing entertainment at corporate events. I worked closely with my clients and I always planned carefully and tried to cover every eventuality including producing a wet weather plan.
It’s a good idea to make an overall, outline plan of the event first, before going into detail. Decide what facilities you are going to require ie marquees, portable toilets, a stage, public address, parking, refreshments, arena, first aid, side shows and entertainment. Make out a rough timetable, including set up times for everything and draw up a site layout.
At this stage I would recommend a few ” What if ” questions.
What if it rains, what if it snows, what if the wind gets up?
In making your wet weather plan you will have to take account of the effect inclement weather will have on every aspect of your event. Some things may not be affected. Others may only be able to function partially and some not at all.
If the event has to be cancelled because of inclement weather you will probably still have to pay for some of the services you have hired in. Even if the event proceeds during bad weather there may be certain suppliers who are unable to work in the prevailing conditions i.e. stilt walkers can’t work safely when it’s windy. You may still be liable to pay your suppliers in these circumstances. You should ask if there is an inclement weather clause in their contract so that you know where you stand. It is quite normal in the outdoor events business to have an inclement weather clause and it is fair and reasonable for suppliers to expect to be paid if they are at the event and ready to perform but can’t do so because of the elements.
Consider every aspect and decide what you can prepare for and what you can’t. Can some things be moved into a tent or marquee instead of outside. Which attractions will operate and which will close. Can the event go ahead or will it have to be cancelled? When will I have to make a decision on opening or closing?
It is possible to take out cancellation insurance. Here are a couple of insurance brokers I found on Google. I am not recommending these companies, you would need to consult them to see what they can offer:
Hiscox Events Insurance
Hole In One Insurance
Greenbee Events Insurance
Copy and paste these names into the Google Search Box or run a search on “Event Cancellation Insurance”
You should also review your wet weather plan when making your risk assessments.
Finally I do recommend that the organiser should check the site prior to the event to ensure that all necessary precautions relating to the possible onset of inclement weather are in place. Pay particular attention to anything that could be affected by strong winds. Make sure you are aware of objects and structures that might be a problem. Check anchorage on marquees, bouncy castles and inflatables. Don’t assume that you can trust everyone. There may be staff who are inexperienced, untrained or even lacking in motivation. Things can go wrong. Always check yourself for peace of mind. I always found this to be the best policy.
In summary having a wet weather plan is essential when organising an outdoor event in the UK.
I hope these notes are useful and I would appreciate your views on the subject or hearing about your experiences. Please feel free to comment. Thanks