Monday, 25 April 2011

An egg is not just for Easter...

as I'm sure Humpty would agree.

As I think I've said before not everything that we plan for the Ffiesta actually makes it.  A combination of wildly impractical ideas and too many of them, too little money and time and a certain amount of either incompetence or a belated sense of realism means that sometimes events don't materialise.... though someday we might manage to get the sumo bishops in there somewhere.  Last year for example we had an idea for a game involving lots of plastic eggs.  Even I am not quite certain how it was going to work and anyway it didn't (work I mean)  but I think we still have them somewhere so we may yet find a way to use them. 

Whilst I'm on the subject of incompetence Rory has implied, without saying that I am a witless fool, that the Wonky Wheel of Fruit defaults to pineapple, not watermelon, and without climbing up into the loft, assembling it and giving it a trail run, I think she is probably right, so apologies if I have misled anybody.  Not that it really matters, because my point was simply that it persistently stopped at the same fruit, but if you were thinking 'Watermelon?  The woman has lost her mind, it used to stop on pineapple!'  Then you were right (I think)  (Not that I have lost my mind simply for getting a fruit confused)  (Now I'm woffling (even more than usual) so I shall shut up)

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Wonky Wheel of Fruit

As I have mentioned before I became embroiled in the Ffiesta when I happened to mention that I thought it would be a good idea to play a round of 'Name that fruit' and was instantly volunteered to organise it.

This meant that first of all I had to devise a format.  I think, from something Jasper said, that he envisaged something relatively mundane, with a couple of contestants with buzzers and 'I'll have a Pea please Frankie' (OK, I know a pea is not a fruit, but the opportunity to recycle a Blockbusters joke was just irresistible) (And if a pea is a fruit, then I really don't want to know!).  However I envisaged something glitzy but naff, with a suitably smarmy host.  (Think of a cross between Bob Monkhouse and Bruce Forsyth, or for those old enough to remember, Hughie Green!)  I think we can agree that at least I got the naff right, glitzy however it ain't!

My dad made the wheel of fruit for me out of a bit of hardboard, a couple of lumps of wood and some old shelf brackets he had hanging around in his 'useful cupboard'.  Rory and I painted it and stuck on some pictures of fruit, gussied it up with a fluffy flashing thing that Marissa unwisely left lying around the house and ..ta da!  Unfortunately however we soon discovered that it was ever so slightly unbalanced and defaulted to 'Watermelon'  We tried sticking small weights on the back to even it out, but it didn't work, and they fell off anyway, so we made a virue out of incompetence and fudged the questions slightly.

My original idea had been that there would be six categories of question, one of which was a blind tasting and one of which was pot luck.  When it became apparent that almost all of the questions would fall into the same category, I just made that one pot luck and sprinkled the 'Tasting' cards throughout the pack.  It made it much simpler for 'Adrian' anyway, he didn't have too remember which category was which.

For some reason we all got it into our heads that the host was Adrian Lush, when, as I'm sure you all know, it should have been Frankie Saveloy.  John, in a frightening rubber wig, with Jo as his lovely assistant, summoned up exactly the right blend of unctuous creepiness anyway, even if he was the wrong person and the audience, and the first ever participants, selected as a result of winning a quiz, all seemed to enter into the spirit of things.

John and his rubber wig, Jo and her lemon slice earrings, the wheel and the questions made a further appearance at the second Ffiesta and were just as well received.  By this time the contestants' failure to make the wheel stop anywhere but watermelon was already a running joke. 

Unfortunately by last year John and Jo had set off to seek a better life in New Zealand (a better life?  Ffiesta ffree? surely not!) so Gill's brother Neil and his wife, Katie, stepped in as Frankie Saveloy and assistant and a very good job he made of it too.  This year we have a new Frankie Saveloy, but the wheel remains the same, so brush up on your fruit knowledge and it may be your chance to Name That Fruit!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Call My Bluff

I have been reading the dictionary.  And not just a footling one volume thing that anybody might read either, but the huge twenty volume OED that is crammed full of words (OK, I know that all dictionaries are full of words, but not like this one, believe me!) 

I'm not reading it cover to cover or anything, just dipping in to it to find some good words for 'Call My Bluff'.  It's brilliant.  There are words in there that you cannot conceive of ever needing to use.  'Leep' for example - 'to wash with cow dung and water'  -  why would you do that, and if you did, would you talk about it?   Or 'tableity' - 'the state of being a table' (Neither of those are words that I have selected for CMB this year incidentally, but it may pay you to remember them just in case...)

I would suspect the compilers of making up some of the words but why would they need to bother?  There are just so many words out there that just writing down the real ones, with all their variants, is a full time job.  Which is just as well if you are a lexicographer. 

I remember watching the old Call My Bluff with  my Granny, many years ago, when up popped the word 'Tharm'.  'Oh,' she said 'that's part of a pig's intestine that you'd use as a sausage skin'.  And then that's what Frank Muir said.  She was right, it's an old Lincolnshire dialect word, but that's the only time I've ever known anybody actually know a word, it's usually a case of guessing.

Mind you when we played CMB at the FFiesta previously even guessing wouldn't necessarily get you very far.  I handed out the cards for one of the words to the three volunteers and was very surprised when none of the definitions read out was the correct one.  Somebody, who will remain nameless for now, had not liked the definition I had passed to him, perhaps thinking it too pedestrian, or maybe not convincing enough,  and had not simply embroidered on it, but had changed it completely.  The look of guilt mixed with shock on his face when he moved his thumb and discovered that it had been covering the word 'True' written in the corner of the card, was a picture. 

Perhaps strangely, I was the only person to guess that the correct definition was something completely different to any of those that had been read out.  (Well, technically I didn't guess, since I knew the answer already, but I was the only person to get it right, and since I'm not allowed to play, I have to take my pleasures where I find them)

I hope that you are now all looking forward to the Ffiesta so much that you are fnding it hard not to tripudiate.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Time trials

Lego.  It seems that practically everybody loves it.  Except Gill who can obviously take it or leave it.  Last year Jasper organised the competitive team lego event.  Two teams and the Taj Mahal, or rather two separate Taj Mahals... 5922 pieces each. (I just had to look that up and the description of the kit reads 'requires assembly'...I rather thought that was the point.  It doesn't say if it contains nuts though, or if you can drive and operate machinery whilst putting it together.... but I digress)

Anyway, Jasper describes the competition elsewhere and rather better than I could, so if you want to read about it you can go to his site.

It was a keenly fought event and we had lots more people wanting to take part than we had space for.  So this year we are doing it all over again, but with Tower Bridge (only 4287 pieces, but that does include a London taxi and a double decker bus) (in lego, not real ones, or that would be a bargain).  Interestingly, according to Amazon, this doesn't require any assembly, so it should be a very short competition.  Assuming however that Amazon is wrong and there is some putting together to be done we will again be recruiting two teams.

This time though we intend to have proper selection criteria for the teams...time trials.  A competition against the clock and each other to build a small model out of lego.  Penalties for faults.  We are counting on you all to play fair.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Quiz night

This year we will be having a pub quiz in the bar on Friday night, before the Ffiesta starts.  It is not an official part of the weekend, just something to do for those who turn up early (entirely optional)  It won't be Fforde related, though as I am the quizmaster some of the questions are likely to relate to one or more of my current obsessions - so if you want to be sure of a decent score you might like to brush up your knowledge of housing finance reform.  (No, I wouldn't be that cruel)

Each of the other Fforganisers will be heading up a team and there is likely to be some healthy rivalry.  Either that or a fight to the death.  No doubt they will be recruiting people for their teams.

We are intending to allow entry to anybody at the hotel, not just Ffiesta-goers, but Derek has pointed out that on the Friday evening there is a Take That tribute night at the de Vere and I'm not entirely sure that we will be able to entice many of them away from the delights of an ersatz Robbie Williams.  Perhaps if we did another Strontium Goat gig....

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Pieces of eight, pieces of eight!

This year we have decided to do something different and have a treasure hunt.  I'm a bit worried about it because we are having it outside and we will be at the mercy of both the weather and of strangers.  However, even if it's piddling down I expect you to remember that this is England, we can cope with a little damp and we can soldier on with our upper lips stiff even if the rest of us is soggy.

Knowing how many of the lobsters went missing last year we are not going to be leaving clues about the place and you won't have to dig or anything to find the treasure, you'll have to come back to me with a list of answers and if you are right, and if you are first, you will win a prize.

Hopefully the weather will be fine and it will be an opportunity to take a pleasant stroll around the hotel and environs.  Or an opportunity to dash around hoping to identify things relating to your surroundings.  All very mysterious.  X marks the spot.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Day trip to Swindon - home again

Well, we had quite a fruitful Fforganiser meeting.  In ffact we are quite Fforganised.  At least it seems that way, which doesn't mean that there won't be a last minute panic.

One of the things that we are all quite excited about is croquet lessons and demonstrations.  Apparently one of the stalwarts of the local croquet club is a big ffan and they are coming along with some equipment so that people can have a go, and can receive some hints and tips.  I rather suspect that the equipment that they bring along will not include a picnic table, or shrubbery, but one never knows!  I believe that Penelope Hrar will also be in attendance.

Day trip to Swindon

I'm just off to Swindon for a Fforganiser meeting.  It's getting close now, and there aren't many more meetings.  So I hope that our enthusiasm (read:stupidity) doesn't get the better of us so that we decide to introduce 4 more events.  Anyway, I shall report back later with an update! 

Friday, 15 April 2011

Lobster Space Invaders

I'm not entirely sure what this has to do with lobsters, perhaps it was just that it's wet, perhaps it was just that we got carried away by the whole lobster thing, but Lobster Space Invaders it is.

That's me banging the drum that you can hear.  I said that I should have been Ms Beats in Strontium Goat, but here was another opportunity to show off my drumming talent.  Though you will no doubt have noticed the complete absence of paradiddles.  Or indeed of any talent.

We did have some trouble getting all of those water balloons filled and this year I have deputised young Ted to do the job, but I think I will need to keep an eye on him from a distance or otherwise I suspect that a great many of them won't make it to the game.  I'm not sure whether he shoud be allowed to take part given that last year he started to throw the unbroken bombs back.  Completely alien to the spirit of the thing! (alien...see what I did there?)

If you take part you will be allocated a team poncho at random.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The play's the thing

In the beginning was Richard III at The Ritz.  Only it was The Beehive.  So when we had the Ffestival we invited the Swindon Players along to do it all over again. 

At the ffirst Ffiesta we decided that we'd do something a little different so John and Jo chopped Shakespeare about a bit and we had an extremely condensed version of Richard III, with added audience participation.  We pulled names out of a hat to see who would play which part - I was first messenger I remember.  It went down very well, although it was a little stilted because everybody had to read their lines.

Then last year Jasper came up with the idea of Hamlet, Prince of Zombies, which was all very well, until about a week before the Ffiesta it became apparent that nobody had done anything about it.  We decided that as we had advertised this as one of the main attractions we had to go ahead and write it ourselves.  Somehow I found myself volunteered for this job.  Doing 'Name That Fruit', the quiz, writing the rule book, swan warnings and translating the menus into Ffiestaspeak wasn't enough it seemed.  Anyway, glutton for punishment that I am I agreed.  Matt came up with some really good ideas and in line with my usual talent for procrastination I wrote 'To be or not to be', (you didn't know that was all my work did you?!) together with an introduction, came up with a plot line of sorts and decided that we would do it as improv.  And thanks to all the brilliant Ffiesta-ites it worked! 

We had the footnoterphone, Jasper and others doing the dance from 'Thriller' an extremely cute zombie baby (unbiassed opinion here!), Danversclones, extreme knitting and some serious misspelling.  Jordan was a very theatrical Hamlet and, amazingly for a tragedy, it had a happy ending.

This year we are doing 'A Midsummer Night's Dream - The Panto' rewritten for minotaur and Danvers.  It could be a tragedy.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Lies, damn lies and just plain rubbish

OK, I admit to making up at least one thing in each of the blog posts about my ffellow Fforganisers.  Prize of a packet of Crusty Cards to the first person to correctly identify all the fabrications - and only the fabrications.

And all the stuff about me is correct.


Police in Rochester, New Hampshire are looking for a woman accused of stealing 14 lobsters..Police said the woman asked for a selection of lobsters  and then left the store without paying for them.  She walked out with about 16 pounds of lobster meat, with a value of more than $100.  Security said she was only in the store for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Meet the Fforganisers Part 7 - Me!

I'm the other original Fforganiser.  Somehow I volunteered to help out.  At the first meeting I mentioned that it might be fun to do an episode of 'Name that Fruit' and Phil said 'Oh, well, you can organise that then!'  So I did.  And I got my dad to build the wonky wheel (though it wasn't originally intended to be wonky, it's just a bit crap!)  and the rest is history.  I also write the quizzes and do some other stuff - mainly to do with lobsters.

If you came last year you will have met my family, including Zombie baby.  Poor child, he's probably mentally scarred for life, but he loved having a fuss made of him.

Interesting facts about me are few and far between, because really I'm a very boring person.  I work in Local Government and am writing a dissertation on Housing Finance. (Told you!)

I used to have a habit of getting bits of my anatomy stuck in things and had to be cut out of an article of clothing by a fireman.  A different fireman had to extricate me from a desk.

I have never run a marathon, but I once knitted a teacosy.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Meet the Fforganisers Part 6 - Derek

First of all I meant to link to Elizabeth's blog yesterday, but I forgot, so I've done it now (I think).  She's really getting nervous now, and I'm not surprised.. it's a long way to run.

Anyway, on to Derek.

Derek is also a new Fforganiser, and he is Elizabeth's brother.  And he lives in Swindon, which is very handy, because it means that this year we have somebody who knows the plalce a bit and can make sure things go smoothly (I know it's the Ffiesta, but we shall see).

Derek is 99 years old, at least that's what it says on his facebook profile and I'm sure you'll all agree he looks very good on it.

Derek is an environmental scientist, but he always wanted to be a train driver and he has built a quarter scale steam engine and track in his back garden. He is also an amateur chef and has actually made Apples Benedict.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Meet the Fforganisers Part 5 - Elizabeth

Elizabeth is one of our new Fforganisers this year, so if it all goes wrong, it's probably all her fault! 

There are lots of interesting things I can tell you about Elizabeth, but the most impressive is that she only started running in May last year but is competing in the London marathon nest weekend.  She is running for Aspire and you can read all about it in her blog.

She's a primary school teacher in London and the children in her class speak 27 languages.  As a result she has become fluent in Xhosa, which is a click language and can say 'Sit down and pay attention!' and 'Do you need a wee?' in all 27.

She was once in an award winning film, but hasn't told me which one.  She may have been an ewok!  She has worked for various theatre companies, and as a result can whip a man's clothes off in 20 seconds (and get him dressed again almost as quickly.

She is obsessed with medieval history and has written a novel, but has not yet had time to edit it.

Finally she can read the Tarot cards.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Meet the Fforganisers Part 4 - Matt

The Ffiesta has always been lucky with its Treasurers.  Previously we had Jo who always kept the accounts in order and when she (and John) left us for pastures new (abandoned us for New Zealand) we were very worried that we wouldn't be able to find anybody else to do such a good job, but then Matt volunteered and has managed to keep up the same exacting standard.

Matt is a man of many talents, not only can he add up (I hope) he is a dab hand at making things.  From minature croquet lawns complete with tea parties to full range colour swatches the Ffiesta has been the richer for his handiwork.

In his spare time Matt likes to shake a hankie and bells and is leader of his local clog morris group.  He also keeps geese and is hoping to breed one which will lay golden eggs.  So far his finest achievement in this field is a pale yellow egg, which, when aligned with magnetic north, glows a brighter colour.  This may have some use as a compass which can be eaten if you are too badly lost to find civilisation before tea time, but unfortunately this strain has failed to breed true.

Matt has a good stock of aniseed balls and flying saucers for sale if you are interested.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Meet the Fforganisers Part 3 - Laura

The first thing I need to tell you about Laura is that she is Welsh.  She is also invaluable to the Fforganising team.  When I said yesterday that Gill practically runs the Ffiesta that wasn't meant to denigrate the work of the other Fforganisers and Laura does a brilliant job with the publicity and the programme and stuff.  I think she is also the official keeper of President-for-Life Formby.  Even though she's welsh, and therefore from the Socialist Republic, she still has enormous respect for the great man. (Despite folding him up and fitting him her suitcase) 

Anyway, she is the only one who gave me some info about herself for this blog and it's far more interesting than anything I could make up, so all of this is true.

As a guest lecturer in Creative Writing at Oxford she once taught Sir Roger Bannister.  She's welsh, and from the same village as Joe Calzaghe, Steve Strange and billionaire Terry Matthews.

Her hobbies are walking, cooking and singing, though not necessarily all at the same time (though she can multi-task) and she says she's obsessed with folklore and mythology.  She's welsh, from Wales.

Laura's ambition is to create world peace and she is involved in a project to create a reproduction of the Bayeux Tapestry from pasta.

Oh, and did I mention she's welsh?

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Meet the Fforganisers Part 2 - Gill

Whenever I meet Gill I am always surprised that she is not wearing her knickers over her trousers as she is some kind of Superwoman.  In fact, if I didn't like her so much, I'd be scared.  She is spookily efficient and practically runs the Ffiesta.  She certainly keeps us all organised.  This is so far from my usual modus operandi of procrastination and barely concealed panic as to make us seem like different species. She is another of the original Fforganisers, was there at The Beehive and has been there ever since.

She lives in Chippenham with her husband and two daughters and works in the Wiltshire County Archives.  She keeps a mummified cat at work and two living breathing cats at home. 

She is very talented and crafty (in the sense that she makes things, not that she is sly) and all of the crotched dodos were her work. 

Gill also plays the spoons and can recite the alphabet backwards in Spanish.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Meet the Fforganisers Part 1 - Phil

It is Phil you have to blame for the Ffiesta.  The first time I met him (and also Gill incidentally) was at the first ever public performance of Jasper's work (I know that because I have a signed flyer from him saying exactly that) - Richard III at the Beehive, 

Phil and I had 'met' on line previously and arranged to meet up in person.  When I got there he was busy chatting up a journalist and was laying out his plans for a Ffordian event to top all others.  He refused to call it a convention though. 

Anyway we had a top evening, but I heard no more about this idea for some months - although we did get a (quite flattering) mention in the Times weekend magazine supplement - I think I was described as 'shy, highly articulate' - and much younger than I was.  Entirely accurate characterisation I'm sure you will agree!  (For some reason my friends fall about laughing at the 'shy' bit)  Some time later the idea did resurface on the Fforde Fforum though and the rest is history.

Anyway, Phil.... ( I think I should say here that I asked the other Fforganisers to provide some biographical detail about themselves, threatening that if they didn't I would make it up.  Some or all of this may not be true)

Phil's fforum name, for those of you who frequent the place, is Ptolemy, named after a tortoise.  He is a stalwart of his village cricket club and was very helpful to me once in working out a cricket related puzzle.  He enjoys psychedelic music and organises musical tea parties.

Phil has a lovely, long-suffering wife and two grown up children,  He keeps hens and has a very cute dog.

In his younger years Phil was taught to knit by the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

When you see him at the Ffiesta come up and chat.  He doesn't bite (that last bit really is true)

Monday, 4 April 2011

Whose stupid idea was THAT?!

Sometimes things we plan for the Ffiesta just don't work.  The prime example of this was the magic roundabout game we had last year.    Jasper originally made the suggestion in one of our meetings that it would be good to have a game based on the Magic Roundabout involving one participant in a blindfold being guided round by another person shouting directions, somebody else suggested doing it on spacehoppers and it all took off from there.  I have to admit that it sounded hilarous when we were talking about it and we all thought it would be great fun.

And it just...wasn't.  It was too hard.  Do you have any idea of how physically exhausting it is to bounce around around six paddling pools filled with plastic balls - and how disorientating it is when blindfolded? Well, of course some of you do, because you did, but it was a bit of a disaster really.  It was generally too slow to watch so the spectators got bored and wandered off, and people fell off or just got fed up.  Anyway we won't be doing that again, though on the plus side the winners, Ine and Yvonne, completed the course in spectacular style and a time hours faster than anybody else.

On the other hand sometimes events are far more popular than we anticipate, and these are often just little sidelines -  extreme knitting for example and throwing paper airplanes, which seem to keep people amused for hours.

We still have lots of ideas though, not all of which we have managed to shoe-horn into the weekend - sumo bishop wrestling anybody?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Lobsters again!

Thanks to the Ffiesta I have become slightly obsessed with lobsters, as I'm sure you've noticed.  Those of you who have been following this blog (and I know there are a few of you, so thank you) probably groaned when you saw the title of this post, and thought 'Not blimmin' lobsters again, the woman is obsessed!' Which just proves my point. 

Anyway, whilst not quite living in a shrine to lobsters, I do seem to have quite a few about the house.  And not just the box of Swindon lobsters sharing my bedroom,  which I mentioned the other day.  I have, in no particular order; a lobster dog toy (which the dog is not allowed to play with), a lobster bath toy (which Tyke is allowed to play with) a lobster bath sponge, a lobster teether, a lobster rattle, a cuddly lobster, lobster T shirts and several lobster ornaments. I even had a lobster tattoo (temporary obviously) for a while last year!

My kids, who used to cringe with embarrassment at my excitement at spotting yet another lobster, have now become inured to my cries and even join in the hunt.  I'm a bit surprised that I didn't get a lobster of some sort or another for Mother's day, but we've proably exhausted the supply locally!

I am also a repository of strange lobster facts, and if there is a song or poem referencing them that I am not aware of I shall be amazed.

I realise that I am probably setting myself up for being accosted at the next Ffiesta and asked lobster trivia questions, which I shall probably not know the answer to and thereby look a fool!  Ho hum!

(but I do know that the biggest lobster ever caught weighed over 44lbs)