Now and again I write blogs of stuff that we have been doing. Tours mostly.
Old Blogs:
'Fforde Ffiesta Blog 2010
'Eggs Benedict' 2010 book tour
Amazon and Penguin Blogs, 2007

Fforde Ffiesta 2010
29th-30th May 2010

My thanks to everyone who took part and for the inspired lunacy that everyone brought to the weekend. Not listed in the blurb below was the Magic Roundabout event, where a player shouted instructions to their blindfolded teammate who then attempts to negotitate a scale model of Swindon's magic roundabout on a spacehoppe (Children, don't try this at home)

Not listed here but unforgettable was 'Name that Fruit', the ever popular fruit-based quiz show hosted by none other than Frankie Savaloy. Also not listed is 'Feed the Dodo', 'Mycroft's Shed', 'Splat the Bat', 'fish in the text sea', and 'Spot the Lobster'.

If you spot any errors or want to submit a paragraph about one, many, or all of the events, email me at jasper(at)jasperfforde.,com

Opening Ceremony


Matt and Katie illuminate the eternal flames (Picture: Steve James)

The opening ceremony was an excercise in dignified simplicity. Two eternal flames either side of the symbol of our veneration - President for Life George Formby. Note ukelele and painting of Our George in full regalia. Everyone sang 'Leaning on my Lampost'. The Ffiesta had begun!

Lego Building

Fforde Ffiesta and the lego building gets underway

Fforde Ffiesta and the lego building speed trials gets underway

The task was simple. Two eight-person teams, two identical unopened sets of lego, and a stopwatch. The model was of the Taj Mahal, and at a shade below 6000 pieces, the largest lego kit ever produced.

In the Left Corner were Team Riffraff comprising of Clare Ollerenshaw, Phillipa Dunn, Gary Stratton, Ellie Randall, Steve Baxter, Jordan Fforde, Mark Bickell and Collenn Parkinson.

While on the right were Team Dodo, utilising the talents of Alex Carlton, Markus Johnson, Theresa Porst, Alex Fforde, Antonia Drumm, Myrtha, Caren Bergs and Lukas Laier.

Almost immediately Riffraff opted for a 'vertically integrated' system of team management, with designated builders and support staff, while Team Dodo opted for a more individualistic approach, with each team member, or group of team members tackling a particular section of the build. The 'modular' approach to the construction was something that was logical and indeed demanded by the manual, although one team - not sure who - divided the task further by cutting the instructional manual into sections.

Fforde Ffiesta and the lego building nears completion

Fforde Ffiesta and the lego Taj Mahal nears completion

After an hour's break for lunch where the two teams could dip their fingers in icy water and talk of the morning's triumphs, the construction continued after lunch. As the two models neared complettion, the teams started to work in an ever more frenzied level of hyperlegoing, although true to the spirit of the Ffiesta, no-one tried to attack anyone else or hide any pieces. The last few pieces came together about an hour and a half after lunch, with Team Riffraff finishing the model in 3 hours, 40 minutes and 27 seconds. Not to be outdone, Team Dodo finished just 37 seconds later at 3 hours, 41 minutes and 4 seconds. Was it a slam dunk for the Riffraff? Perhaps not.

Naturally, Speed Lego building is not just about speed - it's also about accuracy. Once the models were complete it was up to the judge - me - to decide what penalties should be given for bricks omitted or in the wrong place or orientation. A fevered level of criticism then followed where we discovered that Team Riffraff, while faster, had actually been sloppier. They had 30 pieces either missing or in the wrong place, and two windows the wrong way round - for which they earned a twenty second penalty - total penalties, 50 seconds, which brought their score up to 3:41:17.

lego prizewinners

The team collect their prize (Picture: Steve James)

The Dodos had been more accurate with their build, and had missed out only 16 pieces, which raised their score to 3:41:20, still three seconds behind Team Riffraff, who won the bout.

We'll be doing this again as it is a keen spectator sport as well, and next year we will have very precise rules about penalty points for misbuilding. We'll not be doing Taj Hahals again, of course - it will be a Star Destroyer or something. Congratulations to the winners, and all of whom took part.

The Legion of Danvers

The Legion of Danvers

The Legion of Danvers wake up the Devere with some early-morning square bashing

How many Mrs Danvers can you get in one place at one time? The answer: 23, and mostly a fine body of women. Can you get them to perform a Marines-style square-bash? Yes you can. We thought we only had eighteen for a while, but then as the Danvers finished their breakfast, they scurried onto the parade ground. Everyone got a certificate - the finest that the Pages template library could muster.

My Thanks to Colonel Richard Danvers and General David Danvers for upholding such a high degree of lunacy, and to the following Danvers who all made the difficult trip to be here: With the officers were:

Pt. Alex Danvers, Pt. Alison Danvers, Cpl. Helena Danvers, Major Gill Danvers, Pt 1st class Chris Danvers (Motorised Division), Cpl. Mary Danvers (Rhode Island Regiment) , sergeant Laura Danvers, Pt. Virgina Danvers, Pt. Kris Danvers, Cpl. Elisabeth Danvers, Pt. Steve Danvers, lce-Cpl Leslie Danvers, Pt. Alison Danvers, Major Steve Danvers (photojournalist), Sergeant Megan Danvers, 2nd Ltn. Ellie Danvers, Cpl Colleen Danvers, Major Lukas Danvers, Ltn. Theresa Danvers.

Spoon Engraving


Mr Roberts hunkers down for some serious spoon engraving (Picture: Steve James)

Just one of the many services offered to delegates. For a small fee Mr Roberts would kindly agree to engrave your own postcode on the back of your spoon. Some people brought their own spoons, but we had a stock for anyone who had forgotten. Which was a good thing, as the Yellows were giving demerits for anyone not producing a spoon or declaring a clean pocket handkerchief..

Real Life Space Invaders

Real Life Space Invaders

I love this photograph (Picture: Steve James)

The court of King Louis XIV had real life people dressed up as chess pieces to which he would play in the staggering beauty of the sculptured gardens of Versaille. Well, we manged something close. Human Space Invaders. The rules are simple. The Invaders jumped down a step at a time while moving to left and right, and the player gets to chuck balloons filled with water. it's that simple. I expect there was a bonus saucer zipping past in the background, but I was busy with other matters.

The Fastest Hamlet In Swindon

The Fastest Hamlet In Swindon

Nathalie Eeckhout, Hamlet Speedster. (Picture: Steve James)

Many moons ago I considered myself a pretty fast Hamlet. I once did the soliloquy in under 40 seconds. I was young and reckless at the time - I'd do anything for a laugh. So I got to thinking whether anyone else would like to have a go and see how fast they could rattle out the 'To be or not to be'. Olivier took nearly four minutes and Mel three and a half, so there was clearly room for improvement.

Nathalie demonstrated that there was. On her first attempt she clocked in at 40.54 seconds, but this was only a warm-up. After going away to let other, lesser, mortals attempt the record and with no serious takers - since she was doing this from memory - she swept up and delivered a faultless 37.32 second rendition. The crowd went wild. The trophy was hers.

Hamlet Speed Trials

Hamlet Speed Trials

The German Contingent have a go at the Hamlet soliloquy (Picture: Steve James)

A triumph in unsychronised Hamletting. All four, in German, in under one minute twenty. I think I could be right in saying that this was a unique occurence, unparalelled anywhere in the universe.

The Support Act

The support act

A Major talent in the offing (Picture: Steve James)

Jordan leads the support act, bringing the crowd up to fever pitch before the main event..

Strontium Goat

Strontium Goat

Two thirds of the Goatees and Wayne Skunk get down and boogie (Picture: Steve James)

High point of the evening was the debut performance of the new Strontium Goat album, 'Hosing the Dolly'. The Band:

Paddy Bear: Wayne Skunk - lead vocals and guitars
Clara Bear: Cassandra Skunk-Head - backing vocals and keys
Phil McMullen: Mr Beets - drums
Katie Kiely: Wyld Cat Stryke - bass
Matt Williams: Alexander Spaysbarr - Keys
Gill Neal, Laura Maisey, Siobhan Peeling: The Goatees - backing singers/dancers
Friday Next - Guest guitar (missing, presumed lost in time)
Teddy Kiely - Sound man
Sir Russ Russell - Producer

Strontium Goat

The band get down (Picture: Steve James)

Strontium Goat

Mr Beets (Picture: Steve James)

Strontium Goat

Wayne Skunk and Cassandra Skunk-Head (Picture: Steve James)

The Generics

Generics get a front seat for once.

This is the Somersettians, naturally, and they took up their positions very quietly for the Q&A session. They tried to stay stock-still and exhibit no emotions at all, but it was a tall order given the room was hot, and an hour being unable to scratch, move or shuffle was quite an achievment. From Left to right: GH-6457-P, MN-6378-K, RE-89760-L, KK-53221-F, YK-89172-D.

Hamlet, Prince of Zombies

Hamlet Prince of Zombies

Hamlet, Prince of knitting Zombies (Picture: Steve James)

Hamlet Prince of Zombies

Jurisfiction battle the Zombies (Picture: Steve James)

The script for the much publicised Hamlet, Prince of Zombies event turned out to have an exsistence problem (sorry about that; got busy), so the talented Katie put together a 'scratch' version replete with zombies, jurisfiction, Danvers and a dance routine - all at short notice.

Charity Auction

Charity Auction

The riches on display surpass all expectations (Picture: Steve James)

A galaxy of stars turned up for this year's charity auction which featured all manner of Ffordiana - signed books, old postcards, books, postcards, books, a Taj Mahal (built with 16 faults and still warm), a spacehopper, various bags of sweeties, Formby videos and some books.

We raised over a thousand pounds for the RNIB, which we intend to use for a book to be added to their Talking Books library. It will be recorded in its entirety by one of their professional narrators and have the 'Contributors to the Fforde Ffiesta ' recorded at the start of the book for everyone to hear. So a big hoorah for that.



Most Meritorious Arrival: Jane Ren, who emailed the Fforganisers on the Friday before the weekend, then, without waiting for a confirmation, hopped on a plane from the States. Such impetuosity cannot go unrewarded! (Picture: Steve James)


Least Meritorious Arrival:Loraine Weston, who was one of five Swindon residents who turned up. After a flurried show of hands, Loraine who walked here in under four minutes, was unanimously declared the winner. (Picture: Steve James)


Special Award for Danvering: Richard Bince and Dave Ward, who made the Legion of Danvers event truly surreal. (Picture: Steve James)


Fancy Dress: Winner Kimberley Airey, who had come all the way from Australia. (This isn't her costume. She was dressed as an eighties fashion icon.) (Picture: Steve James)


Fancy Dress: 2nd Prize Kris Russell, for her Granny Next gingham outfit (and the many others she regaled us with over the weekend). (Picture: Steve James)


Fancy Dress: 3rd Prize Claire Ollerenshaw with her 'Twister' costume (Note spinner on hat) (Picture: Steve James)


Name That Fruit:Mary Mitchell, who won the coveted 'Nextian Brain' in 2008. (Picture: Steve James)


Magic Roundabout Winning Team: Ine Dippman and Yvonne McLean (Picture: Steve James)

Not pictured but also won valuable prizes:

Tallest delegate: Mike Morrison (6'6")
Find The Lobster: Joyce Love and Helen Hickey
Grey Angst: Lisa Herron
Guess number of sweets: Lisa Davidson
Lobster Space Invaders:Dhana Sabanathan
Mycroft's Shed, Feed the Dodo: Steve James
Best Hamlet (Foreign language Team Event): Caren Bergs, Therese Porst, Ine Dippman, Lukas Laier
Best Zombie: TJ Keily
Getting to know you/ Lobster Quiz: Theresa Porst, Lukas Laier

Closing Ceremony

The Closing Ceremony

The Eternal Flames are extinguished

Yes, it's over for another year - the 2010 Fforde Ffiesta, cunningly held in 1985.

My thanks to the Fforganisers, which comprised of: Phil McMullen, Gill Neal, Katie Kiely, Matt Williams, Siobhan Peeling, Laura Maisey and Clara Kousa.

The next Ffiesta will be held in 1968, in 2011. My thanks to Steve James for photographing the event. We should have some films on Youtube at some point, so stay posted.

If you have spotted any errors in names or captions that you want rectified, please email me at jasper(at)jasperfforde.com.

More of Steve's pictures can be seen at Steve's Flickr Group