Horsington’s champion Coarse Actors*

The MPO’s Coarse actors at Ealing – Jessie Stones, Oscar Shave, Richard Gaunt, Sukie Read, Gemma Kiddle, Tony White (kneeling), Linda Mumford. Neil Edwards, Neil Harrison, Peter Mumford, Matt Baker and Chris Bailward – on the floor, dead.

The Milborne Port Opera, Horsington’s favorite local opera company,  has just won the World Coarse Acting Championship at the Questors Theatre, Ealing. Featured in the cast was Horsington’s Richard Gaunt, who also directed the play, and Chris Bailward, who played the title role.

Chris Bailward

Other cast members will be familiar to the many Horsington regulars who support the company every year.

The competition took place on Saturday 25th November.

The award was made to a delighted cast by Timothy West, the chief adjudicator. The MPO team won against competition from 7 other groups, including one professional company. The evening was a hilarious assortment of different acting styles and genres as each act vied with the others to create on-stage mayhem with well-intentioned performances which go awry.

The MPO’s challenge was to write and produce a spoof 15-minute “Coarse Operetta” in which everything which can, does, go wrong. MPO’s Neil Edwards  distilled his show “The Murder at Shakerley House” into the world’s first bite-sized drawing room whodunnit operetta, which the company proceeded to ruin with wrong notes, missed entrances, over (and under) acting and general incompetence. One actor, Tony White, stole the show with his inability to rise from a kneeling position – he was marooned on stage until the intermission, when he was rescued by the stage manager.

Richard Gaunt with Jessie Stones

Richard Gaunt is a veteran “Coarse Actor*” who was in the play which won the first World Coarse Acting Championship back in in 1972.

The competition was to celebrate the 90th year of author Michael Green, whose hilarious book “The Art of Coarse Acting” (still in print after 52 years) inspired the genre.

“The Art of Coarse Acting” inspired three successful Edinburgh Fringe shows (Richard Gaunt appeared in 2 of them), tv spin-offs by Morecambe and Wise and the Two Ronnies and of course “Acorn Antiques”. Lately, “The play that goes wrong” has been enjoying enormous success in theatres around England, including a successful run at Salisbury.

*Coarse Acting – A Coarse actor is one who knows the words, but not the order in which they come – Michael Green.


White Horse serves the best lunches in the locality

The White Horse in South Cheriton is going from strength to strength with its set lunches. They are delicious, and at  only £6.50 they represent unbelievable value.

The latest addition to the menu is a delicious bowl of mussels in a red Thai sauce, which is more like a sumptuous, slightly spiced soup. You get a nice doorstep of freshly-baked brown bread to mop up the sauce. Fabulous for a cold autumn day.

There are plenty of other dishes on offer, plus a menu of pub standards for those who want that sort of thing.

The pub is getting busier by the day, so it may  be a good idea to book during the run up to Christmas. 01963 370394.

Revitalisation of Horsington Playground

The proposed Playground rotator – all the way from Finland. Surely a British company must make this sort of thing?

Horsington Parish Council has put together what they think is a realistic proposal for the refurbishment of the playground, condemned by “Elfin Safety” in our small, rural parish.

Many thanks to everyone who responded to the Wigley Family letter which has raised an
amazing £2000.

Combined with the Capital Fund from the Parish Council and the £5000 pledged from South Somerset District Council, they have the £16,000 needed to replace at trade price plus fitting, the activity centre (one that fits on our original base), the see-saw, the spring horse and to renovate the swings and existing surfaces.

It is a sad fact that new surfaces cost more than new equipment and have no play value to their users.

One thing that came up in discussions with the SSDC play and facilities team, is that one vital element of play is missing………..some form of rotation.

The Parish Council is currently seeking to raise the extra £7000 to buy and install a Lappset Xspeed rotator (see picture) suitable for 4 children up to the age of 14, complete with safety surface. If you feel you are able to help towards this, cheques can be made payable to Horsington Parish Council or would like further details, please contact the Clerk, David Chapman 01963 370527.

November Diary

Regular activities (Village Hall unless stated).

Monday Pilates 1

Pilates 2

5.30 -6.30pm

6.45 – 7.45pm

Tuesday Upholstery 10.30am
Badminton 8 pm
Wednesday Free
Thursday Art 10am
Friday Art 10am
Saturday Free

Other activities

Wed 1st Ladies Lunch Group. Fox and Hounds, East Knoyle Lunch
Wed 1st Music Night, Half Moon Inn 8.30pm
Thurs 2nd W.I  talk on Scarf Tying by Janet McNeill. Village Hall. Drinks and Nibbles served 7.30pm

Wed 6th

Music Night at Half Moon Inn 8.30pm
Sat 4th National Trust Association. Mediaeval Masons and Tumbling Towers. Digby Hall, Hound Street, Sherborne 2.30pm
Tues 7th Charlton Horethorne and District Gardening Club. Daisy Lee Christmas decorations. Village Hall CH 6.45 for 7.15pm
Thurs 9th Parish Council Meeting 7.30pm
Sat 18th Home Farm Trust Christmas Fair. Wincanton Memorial Hall 7.30 pm
 Fri 24th  Wincanton History Society. Talk on Kingston Lacey. Power to Piracy. Wincanton Memorial Hall.  7.30pm
St John’s Church Services
5th November Holy Communion with Sunday School 9.15am
12th November Remembrance at War Memorial followed by Service of Remembrance in Church 10.50 am
19th November Holy Communion 9.15am
26th November Holy Communion (BCP)  8.30am
Churchwardens Anne Jones 370626
Rosemarie Wigley 371478


Fab night out – don’t miss it: Moscow Drug Club at Compton Dundon 10 November

Moscow Drug Club is a fabulous band. To quote their website: ”


Is a curious musical place where certain elements of 1930’s Berlin Cabaret,
Hot Club de France, Nuevo Tango & Gypsy Campfire meet, have a few to drink and stagger arm in arm into the darkness of some eastern European cobbled street on a mission to find the bar where Django Reinhardt & Tom Waits are having an after hours jam with the local Tziganes.”

And all this is happening at the Compton Dundon Village Hall, just up the road from the Podimore roundabout. The date: Friday 10 November. Time: 7.15 for 8pm.

You will be welcomed to a candle-lit hall decorated to suggest a nighclub behind the iron curtain, plied with suitable cocktails and offered nibbles before the evening begins. There will be a bar.

Tickets are £17.50.

Reviews of the \Moscow drugs club:

“Nothing but praise for your performance, absolutely knock out, great musicianship and very entertaining!!”

“when Moscow Drug Club made their first appearances last year it seemed that they were artfully designed for success”

“Moscow Drug Club played a beautiful set consisting of musical talent beyond technology, beyond fx pedals and amp make, reminding us all of where music came from and what it is about.”

“the best entertainment we have ever had!”

“the music, songs and your voice were amazingly evocative, beautiful and inspiring, such originality just like the band’s name. ”

Your editor has seen them – Fabulous – Ed

You must book in advance. Contact howardbm@uwclub.net or telephone 01278 423110 to book by credit/debit card


Facebook link



Mark Tucker has withdrawn from the Round the World Race

Facebook watchers will have seen the announcement  that Mark Tucker from Horsington has decided not to continue in the Round the World Clipper Race.

He has kindly furnished the Blog with an explanation of why he has taken this decision.

Mark Tucker (Foreground, right) with members of the GREAT Britain crew

Around The World (or, maybe, just around the corner…)

Sometimes in life things just don’t pan out exactly as you think they’re going to.  Situations often work out better than you expected but other times they don’t quite live up to their billing.  My round the world yacht adventure rather falls into that latter category.

For some people racing a sailing yacht around the world has been a childhood dream.  For others it’s an important tick box to go with climbing Mouth Everest, running the Marathon Des Sables or hiking to the North Pole.  For the rest, like me, it’s simply a personal challenge, an adventure.

You’ll probably all have read the previous posts about the Clipper Round The World race but, for those that don’t know, it’s an organised event that runs every two years and provides paying amateurs the opportunity to race a fleet of twelve ‘matched’ racing yachts over 40,000 miles around the world, or part of it if time, money or enthusiasm doesn’t stretch that far.  As the Blog’s Editor previously attested, these are proper racing yachts – designed to be fast, hard work and uncomfortable!  The race is staged over a series of eight legs – Liverpool to Uruguay, Uruguay to South Africa, South Africa to Western Australia, Western Australia to The Whitsundays (including the Sydney-Hobart Race), The Whitsundays to China, China to Eastern USA, Eastern USA to New York and New York to Liverpool.  It had been my plan to do the lot.

‘So, what happened?’ is the question everyone asks when they hear that finishing the 6,400 mile race to Uruguay was going to mark the end of my Clipper adventure.  I think they’re looking for some earth-shattering event; a massive argument with my Skipper, ending up overboard mid-Atlantic or my bunk buddy wetting the bed perhaps?  Disappointingly for them, none of those things are true.  It was more a realisation over time (and, believe me, five weeks at sea gives you plenty of thinking time!) that the race, for me at least, wasn’t as fulfilling as I had expected it to be.

I had massively enjoyed my training.  Clipper provide everyone, regardless of experience, with four weeks of compulsory training.  Additionally I had been selected to act as a Crew Coxswain (one of the people that take over if the Skipper becomes incapacitated) and had received a further couple of weeks of, mainly theory, training for that.  It had been great fun; I was learning lots, experiencing new things, was physically demanding and I was meeting lots of new friends.

I had expected all of that to continue into the race but, perhaps a little like a failing marriage, once the honeymoon period had worn off the realities of life started to hit home.

Sailing a yacht across a vast expanse of ocean is rather different from racing ‘round the cans’ or even cruising around islands or down the coast.  For the vast majority of the time, sometimes for days on end, the boat needs only a couple of people to sail it – someone to helm and another to ensure they’re making good speed and course.  Whilst these roles are rotated around the watch of about ten crew it can mean that, save a little sail trimming, for most of a four or six hour watch there is little, if any, sailing to do.  Fantastic when the sun’s shining and there’s dolphins on the bow, not so great when it’s dark, cold and pouring with rain!

So, what does occupy your time?  Well, clearly talking complete rubbish to fellow crew mates is an important time filler and aside the more interesting tasks such as an hourly log of position, a daily check of the received weather information, an occasional glance at the display to check for other vessels nearby and the six-hourly review of our race position against the rest of the fleet, it’s a long list of cleaning and maintenance chores. It’s amazing how dirty a small space can become, even when in the middle of the ocean, when there are 21 people living in close proximity.

It’s equally surprising how much maintenance a yacht can require.  The regular list of duties includes cleaning heads (toilets), pumping out and cleaning bilges, ‘making’ fresh water (from sea water), emptying waste water holding tanks, checking for any chafe (signs that ropes have been rubbing and are likely to fail) and performing any maintenance required – anything from servicing pumps to repairing cookers and generators.

All very necessary, none very inspiring!  Add to that the sea sickness (far worse than I’d experienced ever before), the tiredness (it’s really not that easy to sleep in a roastingly hot bunk, in an ocean swell, with someone operating a winch inches above your head) and uninspiring food (sorry Pip!) and you couldn’t be much farther from the sailing pictures you see in the back of the colour supplement.

Life is about balancing things to make decisions; often there’s no correct answer, you just have to do what feels right at the time.  I thought long and hard about my decision and, ultimately, the lack of that childhood dream or tick box meant there wasn’t enough on the ‘keep going’ side of the scales to offset the boredom, sea sickness, exhaustion and risk of injury.  Ocean racing is something you have to be 100% up for; there is nothing more annoying and, in some cases, dangerous than to have a ‘passenger’ on the boat – I promised my Skipper and my crew mates that I’d either be completely in the boat (pardon the pun!) or I’d walk away.  Could I have completed another leg or even finished the race?  Absolutely, but it wouldn’t have been fair to them or true to myself.

So, after a few days in Buenos Aires, I’m now enjoying the South African sunshine as my crew and the rest of the fleet race towards me.  How do I feel?  Content, I guess.  I had set out, with the best of intentions, to conquer the world and I won’t have achieved that.  But I will have completed a long ocean crossing (the longest in Clipper’s history), I’ve sailed across the Equator (whilst Neptune transformed me from Slimy Pollywog to Trusty Shellback), I’ve learned loads about the oceans and about sailing and I have made great friends along the way.  Was I a little naive?  Maybe, but my training and discussions with everyone I talked to suggested it was going to be a blast.  Do I regret it?  Absolutely not.  I’m proud to have achieved what I have and would make a similar decision given my time again.  I’m just ready to fill my time with the next, different, adventure.  After all, that’s what life’s all about.

Looking forward to seeing you all about the village, or in The Half Moon for a pint, for the unabridged version very soon!  And please keep supporting the GREATBritain crew; I certainly will be and knowing there’s a ton of people out there willing you on makes a huge difference!

We thank him for his openness and honesty, and wish him the best of luck -ED

Postscript – Horsington’s other adventurer, Chris Bailward, cycling home from Sicily via Italy, Swizerland and France, is now in Paray-le-Monial a day’s cycle ride this side of Macon. With a following wind and no punctures, he might be back by the end of the weekend. 1800 miles in the saddle, another epic ride.

Half term and Halloween cinema treats

WhereWestBegins, the cinema venture masterminded by Horsington’s Penny Nagle, has some half term treats in Wincanton, Bruton and Yeovil.

(1) 30th Anniversary Screening of The Princess Bride –Wincanton Town Hall  Friday 27th October 2-5pm

A cult film that has survived the test of time, The Princess Bride convincingly carries everyone from Mel Smith, Peter Cook, Billy Crystal to Wallace Shawn (“Incon-theeeee-vable!) to Andre the Giant without puncturing the fairytale bubble.  It’s funny, it works on many levels (as the best children’s films do) and you will enjoy it as much as your children.

Before the film there will be a creative workshop with actor Agni Scott (Bridget Jones’s Baby, The Hamburg Cell) on how make a fairytale.  She says :

“Enter a world of a magical adventure inspired by this great classic film.  Ever wanted to be a pirate, a knight, fight an Evil prince, a Giant? Want to know how to cross the bog of eternal stench? Scale a three hundred foot mountain? Come along and discover how. Bring clothes you can move in, and your imagination.”  Recommended ages for the event: 7 to 11 years old (younger children considered but must be accompanied).


(2) My Life As a Courgette with Clay Animation Workshop from Jim Parkyn of Aardman Animation. Guided Discussion after film.   Hauser & Wirth Somerset – Saturday 28th October 2-5pm (Tickets are FREE to children on Free School Meals or in Care)

This is a wonderful Oscar nominated Swiss French stop animation film about children in an orphanage.  It is gentle and funny, and much cheerier than the subject matter suggests.  There is a guided discussion afterwards for children to talk openly about what it’s like not to have a parent.  (Or if your parent is a courgette-ED)

It’s so life affirming that Bristol’s Aardman Studios (Chicken Run, Shaun the Sheep) are supporting the release, and Jim Parkyn, their senior animator is coming along to run a clay animation workshop beforehand.  He looks like Father Christmas and made Shaun the Sheep – what’s not to like…

He says “Anybody can make a model but it’s the little tweaks that make it a character. In the model making class we’ll make it easy by breaking it right down into basic shapes that fit together. The clay has to be warm and in the workshop we’ll be warming it up by hand to make it flexible and workable and then everything we’ll do will be by hand, no tools required. It’s amazing the different effects than can be created by finger and nails. You’ll be able to take your model home and experiment even further.”


Finally, a Halloween treat at the newly refurbished Westlands Cwntre, Yeovil:

(3) Nosferatu – With Somerset Brides of Dracula providing live music  – Westlands Yeovil Tuesday 31 October at 7.30pm. 

The 7th Best Horror film of all time (The Guardian), this silent German Expressionist film from Murnau is the original using all aspects of the film – visual and narrative to tell the story of Dracula.  A must see if you are at all interested in German Expressionism or want to take your children to a classic on Halloween.  Amazingly this is a PG, because it shows so little but the images stick.  Recommended for anyone over 10.


WhereWestBegins is a not for profit organisation bringing film events to Somerset.

Thanks to the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema Fund which has made all this possible.

More information from Penny Nagle
mob + 44 7768 832954