Monday 10 October 2011

The Denbighshire Duo Take to the Hills

My new PA has been in post exactly 6 months, which means he is out of his probation period! As a reward for good(ish) behaviour, I thought we could have a little 'firm's outing'. I had a 3-day festival in North Wales to do last week, so I took him with me. 

I've been invited a few times before, but usually go on my own. I stay in the manorhaus in the historic town of Ruthin and from there visit as many different libraries in the region as we can fit in, meeting local school groups. 

The lovely Bethan at Denbighshire Library Service always looks after me really well and I have a lot of fun. The idea this time was that, while I was out strutting my stuff during the day, John could wrap up and head into the hills for some walking. 

That was the plan at least...

On the Monday, while I was having a great time with the children at Denbigh Library (above), John went for his 1st walk and managed to do his back in. No idea how: it just went. On Tuesday he found a physio, on Wednesday it was worse, so he hobbled to a GP. Painkillers, lots of painkillers. Still worse!

Conte experiment on the flip chart
Each day I had to abandon him after breakfast, to go and do my various workshops and storytellings. The manorhaus was at least a very comfortable hotel to be abandoned in (thanks Bethan).

I've developed a new technique for the flipchart by the way: instead of using a felt tip pen, I experimented with black conte. It's a far more 'honest', drawing style to show the children and conte shows up really well, even allowing for shading, without being as disastrously smudgy as charcoal.

On Wednesday afternoon, my festival events finished. We should have driven home, but John could barely stand, let alone drive. We couldn't stay on as the manorhaus was closing for a few days, but every B & B in town was either full or above a pub, with stairs John couldn't climb. Ruthin Library's caretaker offered us a bed in the caravan on his drive at home if we were desperate (the Welsh are so lovely).  

Eventually, Bethan found us a room at the grand Ruthin Castle - the only place with both a room and a lift (one of those cage-style ones, with the pull-across doors you get in Hitchcock...). John was so spectacularly crippled as we crossed the foyer, the staff immediately offered us an upgrade (every cloud...). We stayed 2 extra nights while John rested and drowned his sorrows:

I spent the whole time hanging around the hotel's various lounges with him as I felt too guilty to abandon him again. I helped pass the time by sketching the dead things on the walls and the general opulence. 

There were some extraordinary carved fireplaces, mostly dark wood but some stone:

By Friday lunchtime we decided to brave it. John shouldn't really have driven, but it seemed the only way and we couldn't stay forever without selling his body (which wasn't worth enough in it's present condition). 

We made it home safely and John does not seem to have suffered any lasting effects from the drive, although he is still hobbling around the house with a stick and can't yet manage the curved stairs up to the studio - how convenient is that? 

We'll have to see, but if he is permanently broken, I may have to get a new one...


Anonymous said...

How long do your P.A's normally last??

Lynne the Pencil said...

This is my first one. I know I'm a tough boss but, I'll be honest, I was hoping for a better shelf-life than this. Maybe there was some fault during his original manufacture..?

Caroline said...

One shouldn't laugh...poor chap :( but really, you've written such an amusing post here. Do hope that your poor PA's soon useable!

granny grimble said...

I wouldn't trade him in if I were you. They don't make anything like they used to, so the chances are, the quality of the replacement wouldn't be half as good as the original. Perhaps he needs a rub down with an oily rag.

Julie Clay Illustration said...

Hi Lynne, poor John doing his back in, it happens when you're getting on a bit Tee Hee! I got the sketchcrawl email, I am at the blooming hairdressers Sat am, can't see through my fringe at the mo! I will see if I can get to the Hepworth, it sounds good and right on my doorstep!!! Hope to see you there if only for a short while? Best wishes, Julie.

Unknown said...

I hope John is feeling better now.

I love the dead-things sketches and fabulous descriptions - Hitchcock like lifts oohh.