Today I attended the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show near Builth Wells in Powys. The Royal Welsh Show is one of the largest agricultural and livestock shows in Europe and is organised by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society and the show has been held for the 110 years.
As well as the various displays of livestock and farming, which as a city boy, hold very little interest to me beyond the novelty value, there are a great number of traders from businesses across the length and breadth of Wales, and since it is first and foremost a farming show, a good number of these traders have something to do with the food industry. So for me much of the day was given over to sussing out which would be the best examples of food and drink to partake in after our official lunch. This was also interspersed with hunting out the stalls giving out things like free pens and bag.
It was however a very tiring day, with a lot of walking, not aided by Marianna who was becoming quite restless by the end of the day, and rather unfairly for a pale skinned ginger, she wound up getting a fairly impressive tan.
After rolling in at about 2:30 this morning after more than a fair few drinks, I, along with Jessica and Marianna got to go and open the fete at the Cold Barn Farm Community centre, with lots of activities like face painting and coconut shies, raffles, tombolas various stalls selling things and the typical fete like foods like burgers, slush puppies which I found to my delight were a great hangover cure.
As you may already know, my absolute favourite TV show is Doctor Who. You may also be aware that the BBC’s showrunners have decided to recast the position of the titular Doctor as a female.
The Role is going to actress Jodie Whittaker who will be taking over from veteran actor Peter Capaldi. Now I’m not against the idea of a female take on the classic character, unlike almost every part of the internet that I’ve see relating to the subject. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen Ms Whittaker’s work so I don’t know what she’ll bring to the role, and for her sake, but more important for the sake of the fans, I hope she does well in the show, and more power to her.
My only gripe is this, aside from the Doctor, there have been very few good male role models on TV, who act with compassion and use their intellect to solve problems rather than their first instinct being to blow something up, or fire a gun. I hope this addressed by the BBC in the very near future for the sake of young men and boys everywhere. And that little moan aside I look forward to the continued success of my favourite TV show.
A few weeks ago we were at Blaenavon’s World Heritage Day and there was a Punch and Judy show so we decided to stay and watch it, because we thought Marianna would love it. To say we were wrong would be an understatement. Marianna was so terrified of Mr Punch and his cohort of victims that the mere mention of the little bugger will actually make her shake with terror. But I on the other hand seem to have developed a little morbid fascination with Punch and Judy and Co.
Everyone knows the story of Mr Punch, or at least the key elements. Mr Punch kills his child and his wife Judy, and the policeman who tries to arrest him, gets attacked by a crocodile, then beats the doctor who saves him for giving him a bill (although seeing the sort of bills from American doctor’s I can see why) after finally facing trial Mr Punch manages to trick the hangman into hanging himself, and is then haunted by a skeleton, before beating the devil himself, all the while exclaiming “That’s the way to do it”.
Its a show that has been going on since 1662 (with Mr Punches birthday being recognised as May 9th) the diarist Samuel Pepys saw an early version of the Punch character in Covent Garden in London. It was performed by Italian puppet showman Signor Bologna. Pepys described the event in his diary as “an Italian puppet play, that is within the rails there, which is very pretty.” Punch chases his roots back to the Italian Commedia dell’arte appearing as a hunch back in a jesters motley characterised mostly by his jutting chin and hooked nose (giving him almost the shape of a crescent moon) he carries a stick almost the size of himself called a slapstick (where the term slapstick humour derives). Originally performed as a marionette show it wasn’t until the mid 18th century that it gave way to the more well known glove puppet.
A more substantial change came over time to the show’s target audience. The show was originally intended for adults, but it changed into primarily a children’s entertainment in the late Victorian era. Ancient members of the show’s cast ceased to be included, such as the Devil and Punch’s mistress “Pretty Polly,” when they came to be seen as inappropriate for young audiences.
The story changes, but some phrases remain the same for decades or even centuries. For example, Punch dispatches his foes each in turn and still squeaks his famous catchphrase: “That’s the way to do it!” The term “pleased as Punch” is derived from Punch and Judy; specifically, Mr. Punch’s characteristic sense of gleeful self-satisfaction.
In modern times Punch and Judy is often chided as violent and inappropriate for children, for its glorification of domestic violence and death, and Mr Punches gleeful malignance, but if your going to put on a Punch and Judy show, “That’s The Way To Do It”.