Yesterday just after the final battle between Robin Hood, and the Evil Sheriff I returned to the inner circle of faire to find a group of people staring up at the sky and worrying. The sky looked ominous, you could see the line from the front passing directly over the circle, and the sky to the west looked dark with disturbing cloud formations. I asked a few people if they had heard if there were any special orders, are we supposed to be seeking shelter? etc? No one had heard anything so, After a little discussion I decided to make the best of it. I knew the patrons would all be fleeing for their lives and the only thing to do would be to get out there in the streets and entertain them while we had them, and hope that they might decided that if the cast was still playing around, that it couldn’t be to bad and they might just stick around.
I’m not sure what point Andy arrived during the deliberations but right after I had resolved to go out and make the best of it, we glanced at each other, a flicker of insanity sparked in our eyes, and he suggested, “Hey do we have a rope!?” “There’s all sorts in the pole barn” I replied. “Wanna go row?” As if I would say no?!?!? “Hell yes!”
Andy disappeared into the barn, and returned with a long rope, and proceeded to tie it around my waste, he then did the same to himself, I handed him a paddle and we headed out to the streets. When we stepped through the gates there were patrons fleeing everywhere, and we jumped into the frey rowing, improving our arses off. “No one worry, we’re safe, we lashed ourselves to the nearest large object we could find! Ourselves!!!” Worried looks turned to smiles and laughter. Everywhere we went people rushing to escape the perceived doom began to laugh and smile, point, or offer comments. In top form and not missing an opportunity for comedy, Andy Looped us around a tree so that it looked like the two of us had been tied to it. We leaned out from the tree, and began to row, “No one panic! We are rowing the festival to safety”, “STROKE! STROKE! STROKE! STROKE! …. if we keep this up we are going to have a STROKE!! STROKE STROKE!” We looked for groups of patrons huddled in shops and did our best to entertain. “Don’t worry! In case of an emergency these two idiots can be used as a safety flotation device!” We lashed ourselves to trees in front of shops where patrons were huddling to stay dry, as we did, something amazing happened. Patrons became excited about the nonsense, and wanted to be involved. They would run out into the rain they were so desperately trying to avoid just to get pictures with us. Countless “Captain Morgan” poses were struck by patron after patron posing with us. Some played along assuming the role of a captain, barking out orders. Others just quickly got their picture and ran for cover again.
We wound our way haphazardly towards the gate following the patrons, offering boat rides, and other advice, all the while tied to the end of the rope. “ROW ROW ROW YER BOAT! GENTLY THROUGH THE STREAM!!!” We invented, and promptly forgot new versions of that song all the way to the gate. As we neared the gate we passed the Town Square Public house where the Bristol buskin frolic and others had gathered upon its balcony to sing. “…and the ocean waves do roll…” We hammed it up on the street, doing an impromptu dance worthy of being used as an example illustration of how “white guys can’t dance” and then moved on to leave the BBF and company to entertain folks there, not wanting to eat up focus.
We moved ever closer to the gate, next encountering the Earl of Bedlam, whom we promptly wrapped up in the rope between us, and quickly ran through all the previous bits about lashing things to ourselves for safety. Again not wanting to steel audience or focus from another performer we moved on leaving the Earl to his patrons. We next encountered a couple members of fight cast, one of which decided to dive over our rope and do a roll into the street. We let him, and then moved on to the gate as the storm continued to dump buckets of rain upon us. Once we arrived at the gate we found some patrons, huddled in the remembrance shop, as well as a steady stream exiting the faire. we once again lashed ourselves to a tree, this time by the gate, and started rowing. More random verses of ROW ROW ROW yer boat were bellowed, more reassurances that we were fine , more insistence that we were rowing the festival to safety. As the patrons passed they smiled, they laughed, they occasionally joined in. The last thing they saw as they exited the gate on their rainy day was the two of us making the best of a bad situation. “Look I’m doggie paddling”, I then stuck the paddle in my mouth, leaned out from the tree using the rope as support, put my hands up and panted around the paddle. At times during our fun I even caught the security people laughing at us.
As the rain let up we claimed credit for saving the festival from the storm. As we began working our way back to the pole barn we encountered two patrons, a man and a woman, one insisted on crossing over the rope between Andy an I, We refused, and made him go under, we then insisted that the woman climb over, and we lowered the rope. They chuckled, and as we walked away, Andy turned and shouted “Congratulations! You are now married!”. I nearly lost it, the patrons doubled over laughing, and high five-ed each other and then held hands happily laughing their way to the gate. Andy fell overboard off the imaginary ship, and had to be hauled back up by his rope, as he re-boarded his thankful manly hit to my shoulder caused me to fall overboard, requiring me to be hauled aboard. It was that moment that eventually triggered my favorite bit. I took the 2nd paddle back from Andy and whispered “Water ski!!!”, not missing a beat, he began water skiing off me as I rowed like a man possessed. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Andy was in rare form, he was performing jumps, daring poses worthy of Tommy Bartlet, and all sorts of crazed daring-do. As I rowed I began to shout “We’ve invented a new sport, we are calling it Water Skiing! It’s sure rough on the guy rowing though!” people responded with laughter. Cameras flashed, people pointed. We continued this all the way back to the barn, occasionally switching places.
When we finally returned to the barn we collapsed in a fit of laughter.