— July 6th, 2010
Finally, the fifth heroical and stupid life threatening saga of FitzHigham.
A 400 year old joke started it, Shakespeare nearly ended it and only a Morris Dancer called Dave was any help at all.
FitzHigham braves life, feet and the wrath of the police constabulary to make his audience laugh and grimace.
The Show premiered in Edinburgh 2008 as The Bard's Fool, was mostly sold out, was pick of the festival in the Gaurdian Newspaper, and received more stars than an American General's epaulette from the other newspapers and websites. The show went on to play London as part of the Southbank Festival in 2010.
"Tim is a rare talent indeed, brave, determined and the very embodiment of the great English Eccentric"
"You're doing what FitzHigham? Morris Dancing? Now I can't wait to hear about THAT!"
— July 27th, 2008
By Tim's mate Abs…
A poem for Tim's Herculean effort.
With apologies to Andrew Marvell, Will’ Shakespeare, any other decent sonnet writers (and even William McGonnegal!)
The Tonsured Prince commanded bath nor boat
Nor Brassy armour did he wear like latter day Don Quixote,
And before the reader says ‘That’s pro-nounced Qui-Ho-Tee’
It would not fit this rhyme describing Tim’s Terp-sic-cor-ree.
From Bankside’s Globe he skipped and hopped
‘till London’s walls were but a vanished dream,
And motorists would pass the man and say….
‘I saw that Tudor Morris man row boats with Baldrick on Time Team’
In doublet, hat and hose he is well girded head to toe,
In period apparel- of good Queen Bess’s day,
Oh, all except his feet, which are by Nike clad
And in his ear, an I-pod, Galliards to play.
The world of Morris dancing is a’fire,
with talk of pin-up Tim’s tremendous notion.
Great admiration for the man who’d Norwich dance
And all the while, in Morris motion….
Fitzhigham boldly steps the miles like master Kemp
The mate of Shakespeare who’d conceived the dance,
And coin and funds received upon the route
would give the not so lucky better chance.
So huzzah, huzzah and thrice huzzah for Fitzhigham’s nine days wonder.
Though he a Kemp in training shoes no man may steal his thunder
For in these days of Broadband and of Satellite Navigation
I doubt your average Englishman…would have enough…Imagination….
— July 23rd, 2008
In 1599 Shakespeare's greatest clown Will Kemp had a blazing row with The Bard.
Kemp stormed off on a quest to discover the true nature of comedy by Morris Dancing to Norwich in 9 days.
In 1600 he wrote a poem about it - in 2008 Tim read it. Come and hear live what happened next...
The Bard's Fool - Tim's new show, will debut at Edinburgh. Details and how to book tickets are here.
Tim's past Edinburgh shows have sold out, been critics choice in the Times, Sunday Times, Telegraph, Evening Standard, Scotsman, Time Out, Observer, Independent, and Metro. He has burnt duck on Ready Steady Cook, played in the mud on Channel 4's Time Team and recently attempted to ruin a film with Sir Anthony Hopkins.
— July 8th, 2008
I stayed in the white hart inn - where Dave and Jan's Disco throbbed into the night for the amusement of 5 people - the disco emptied at 5 minute intevals for the 5 to have a cigarette. The human body is an amazing thing - it's something i noticed when i did the bath trip - it will adapt to whatever pressure you force on it - this time endurance morris, my ankles, knees, calf muscles etc had all adapted brilliantly to morris - however under no amount of pressure would my body adapt to the strains of shakin' stephens (not even when Dave over ruled Jan and put on 'green door') and Adam (my batman) and I turned in for the night.
Sleep is a very good thing and in the morning i woke early and felt entirely cross that i'd felt so unlikely to finish the night before. Adam dropped me at the corner of the lane and I set off on the last 17 miles of the journey. Adam wondered why we started so early, experienced by the bath, I answered 'always allow for a crisis on the last day'. No crisis came and I covered good ground with my now sometimes hobbly but indefaticable morris double step. Also to help me the rain only came in showers - none of the comedy bad down pour rain of the day before. Just three miles short of Norwich - Adam phoned 'the van is broken', 'arse...'
The suspention spring in the front left tyre had snapped, knicking the tyre, wrecking the shocks and lacerating a break cable. I called the RAC, left Adam with the van and carried on with the wild morris (delay here would have meant being late for the Lord Mayor - unforgivable). In a mile I was joined by the Squire (leader) of Kemps Men Morris Side (a Norwich side), a man called Peter who had also brought along a squeeze box to play me into the town. In another mile or so I reached St Giles Church where Kemp actually finished the Nine Days Morris (he comes back later to go into the town when he's organised the feast he thinks worthy of him). There I was joined by members of Bury Fayre (wich whom I'd danced at Lavenham a few nights before) and formed up, Peter kicked off the tune 'Kemps Jig'. It's actaully a really good tune and if there had been a top 40 in 1600 would certainly have made it in (perhaps even knocking greensleves off the top slot). We danced through the ancient streets of Norwich: people's response diveded into three - clapping and cheering, looking baffled or emergency trips to shops they didn't want to go into to avoid getting caught up in the Morris. Adam had got the van towed to the RAC garage (a new prototype garage that only exsists in Norwich (now that's a real fluke)) and re-joined me by now. Norwich town centre is splendid - if ever you get a chance - go - i'd only been when i was small (it's not changed much) but it's great. I was hobbling badly now but realised that i was getting close and would make this spurred me on.
Finally ahead - I could see the Cathedral. Nearly there. The there was torrential rain again and I was told I couldn't get through the Cathedral gate ahead of me to the Bishop's Garden. Pausing only to put the squeeze box under cover we capered round the Cathedral walls to a pub for shelter. Entering the pub in full formation. The Squire told the landlord of the Wig & Pen what i'd done and beer was on the house (thirsty after Morris - and in the full tradtion of Morris) it went down in one.
Then a man arrived with a wooden sword 'I'm a Whiffler - I'm here to clear your way to the Lord Mayor'. The Mayor had arrived - I was on time. Then one of the most excentric scenes I've ever been involved in started (and it's up against some pretty stiff competition). The Whiffler (Lord Mayor's Body Gaurd) led the way shouting 'make way for Tim FitzHigham and his Nine Days Wonder' swiping at traffic with his sword, the morris dancers and I following behind entered the bishops garden where the Lord Mayor appeared surrounded by more Whifflers holding banners. Meeting the Mayor I gave him a copy of In the Bath. The morris dancers and whifflers assembled and with me, we performed 'old lady tossed up in a blanket' (which Dave had taught me - what seems like a long time ago) before one of the Kemps Men in honour of Norfolk and my maritime connections performed Nelson's Jig. In the crowd, laughing happily through all of this and shaking her bells was a small girl with lovely curly blonde hair - she's called Daisy-May and has EB but is very bright - as sometimes happens with EB no one else in her family has the condition, but as he told me proudly, her older brother protects her and stop her from getting hurt too much.
After all this excitement I went back for a final ale in the Wig & Pen before off for a lovely supper to celebrate the trip - impluaibly, I had made it to Norwich through the ancient method of Morris Dancing, the van - with all the technological advances of centuries - did not.
— July 6th, 2008
Have made it to Hingham, which is the small village... might be a very small town of course... that Will Kemp made it to on his last night before entering Norwich.
My ankles are in a very bad way and I have a blister on the sole of my right foot bigger than two 2p pieces.
Although it's 15 miles to Norwich it's going to be touch and go I make it at all, and especially difficult to make it on time to see the Lord Mayor at 2:15. If you fancy coming along it would certainly lift my morale.
I'm hoping to arrive at the Bishop's Garden near Norwich Cathederal at 2:15 where there'll be a garden party going on.
The last few days have been a gritty and gutsy horrid grind but as ever I will not give in. Please do give some money to DebRA if you can and it'll make this agony worthwhile.
Eight 17 mile hopping jogging hankie waving days down, one more to go! Not sure if the landlord at the pub in Hingham will be the boon companion Kemp remembers but we'll see...
— July 3rd, 2008
With musical encouragement from Abs the Flautist, Tim made good progress today covering around 15 miles from somewhere-near-Sudbury to Poslingford near Bury St Edmunds.
Not, however, before he took time out to teach the Mayor of Sudbury a few essential Morris steps.
On his travels he stopped of in Clare to see a young chap called Henry who is suffering from EB. One of Tim's nominated charities, DebRA, support people with this rare skin condition.
In the evening Tim enjoyed a Morris Festival, and performed some dances with the Little Egypt Morris, and Bury Fair. Though by this time Tim's ankles were black and blue (literally!) from all the impacts so he spent a good deal of the evening with his feet in a bucket of ice!
If the ankles hold out, Tim is hoping to finish his journey in Norwich this Sunday at 2:15. More details to follow!
PS. He's also promised to send me the text of a short Ode that Abs wrote, so you can look forward to that on here soon too...
— July 1st, 2008
Tim is far too hot and tired to type today (and apparently the East of England isn't so hot on wireless Internet), so he heavy-breathed a few rushed words to me over the phone.
He took tea with the Mayor and Mayoress of Chelmsford today. It was a lovely experience and they were only a litle bit confused when he presented them with a garter from "Chelmsford's Favourite Hosier". Apparently Will Kemp did this very thing when he was morrising his way across East Anglia, so there is at least some historical basis for it rather than Tim just thinking it'd be appropriate.
He also gave them a copy of his Fine Book, should the Mayor and Mayoress have had any lasting doubts about his sanity.
Tim's hoping to be somewhere around Halstead tonight.
— July 1st, 2008
A couple of pictures of the morrising:
— June 29th, 2008
I have made it to Romford just as Kemp did on his first day.
It was tough.
This is going to be a very tricky challenge ... Oh dear ... Currently am moving with all the grace of a particularly arthritic 97 year old but at least am still moving... ankles have born the brunt of it.
Was joined in relay by Dave and Wayne from the Woodside Morris Men and managed to make it into 2 shops to sign books which made a lovely break!
Off to bed soon but to report: Romford is still much as Kemp found it ... Filled with "strong ladies beating and biting each other" - it's a great saturday night out!
I'll write again tomorrow but for now thanks for reading this and if you fancy doing so please give to the charities involved too.
— June 27th, 2008
The Stats - 9 days, up to six counties - in that time 6 half marathons, 2 marathons (and one easy day of just 7 miles) - from London To Norwich - Running? No - Morris Dancing...
The Inspiration - The year – 1599. The place – the Rose Theatre, London. Shakespeare is about to premiere his new masterpiece Hamlet.
William Kemp was Shakespeare’s favourite clown (he’d created the roles of Dogberry, Bottom, Peter the Clown). Shakespeare’s Favourite, that is, until a blazing row in 1600 when Shakespeare turned down Kemp’s idea for a comedy dog on wheels in Hamlet (to be fair Hamlet’s not a barrel of laughs!). Incensed at Shakespeare’s reluctance to allow him centre stage, Kemp threw all his hilarious toys (including the dog on wheels) out of his Jacobean pram and stormed out, determined to prove to Shakespeare the true nature of comedy. To this end in 1600 – he set out to Morris Dance to Norwich - which is approximately 150 miles.
That’s an hour and a half on the train, two hours in the car, three days on a bike or nine days with bells and brandishing hankies. In 1600 Kemp wrote a poem about his Nine Days of Morris Dancing called the "Nine Daies Wonder". In 2008, Tim read it…
This will be a road trip unlike any other...
||Distance in Miles
|28/06/2008||Sat||The Globe Theatre, London
||Melford via Clare
||Bury St Edmunds
||Bury St Edmunds
||Thetford via Rockland