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A Deadly Duel Between Two Scurvy Scallywags

Captain Burwash visited a lot of schools this week, but on Friday things took a decidedly dramatic turn! As the good captain was waxing lyrical about his adventures upon the high seas he thought he heard one brave (foolhardy?) lad say his nose was big. Being a proud sort of fellow, the captain looked the lad over and told the lad that his feet were big.

Of course, the class teacher could not allow such an argument to continue, lest it turned into a right rumbullion amongst all in the room. Thus it was that a pistol duel was fought – in the modern manner of Caribbean pirates – between the brave captain and said lad.

Here you can see the very moment the two desperate contenders stood back to back, about to take their paces, and so determine once and for all who was in the right.

Happily, they both survived and decided to let the matter settle.

Captain Burwash resumed his tales of privateers and ‘skullduggerers’, fielding a veritable torrent of questions, from what he ate aboard his ship to how heavy his musket was, from how he became a pirate to what his favourite colour was(!).

Here you can see him explaining all about his trusty cutlass, and you can also see that he enjoyed many a feast of puddings at Christmas, including a very delicious Twelfth Night cake, gaining weight he no doubt (hopefully) will lose upon his next cruise …

(If you want to know more about Captain Burwash, click here.)

Pirate Captain Burwash and the Bairns

My Captain Burwash character has now worked with children from the age of 4 to 11, sometimes with whole schools or key stages, often with only one or two classes. Children of all ages really do love learning about pirates!

Here you can see Burwash as he recently visited the nursery and reception children in a Manchester school. Some of the little ones were so tiny that he had to resort to employing his ‘perspective glass’ to spot them!

The captain would be the first to admit that talking all day is thirsty work. The only trouble, however, is that the teachers he works with all seem to be a sober crowd, and so it is that although optimistically he carries a pewter pot with him wheresoever he goes, he only ever seems to fill it with water.

This picture shows the moment he suddenly thought he could smell rum behind him. He has such an imagination! Luckily so do the children.

(If you want to know more about Captain Burwash, click here.)


That’s Guy Fawkes done for another year!

I had a great time being Guy again this year at the end of October and the start of November. I visited schools from Wigan and Rochdale to Sheffield and Barnsley, to name but a few.

Here you can see the man in question returning to a Huddersfield staff room for a spot of lunch after telling three classes the secret plans he vowed to keep secret and never tell anyone. The startled look is probably because he’s just realised he really should have kept it all to himself!

Guy Fawkes returns for his lunch

Next year I am going to grow my own beard and be a shorter (more comfortable) bearded version of Fawkes, which considering the fact that we have no pictures of him made during his life is equally as likely to be authentic as the very long one I have been a-glueing to my chin! (It does mean, however, that instead of ‘Movember’ I’ll be doing a ‘Moctober’. Ah well.) 

In the meantime I have been ever so busy (as usual) in November that it has taken until now to find the time to write this little news piece!

Click on Guy Fawkes if you want to see more information about a day with the infamous fellow himself.

Petty Addresses the Masses

Sir William Petty has been travelling the country telling the tale of the Great Fire of London to all and sundry. As is their wont, several of the more artistically inclined amongst the crowds have been sketching their impressions of the events. (The children were not asked to do so as part of the sessions, but simply took it upon themselves to do the work.)

Here you can see the work of one Year 2 child showing Petty and his audience.

The artist certainly had both an eye for detail and a good memory. You can see everything from the curls in Petty’s periwig, to the wooden blocks used as feet to hold the map up. Even the River Thames on the map is clearly shown, in a very bold blue. The audience themselves do seem an unusual bunch, however, with eight redheads, one green haired lad and one with brown hair. I love the fact that everyone is so happy!

This next picture has me perplexed. The artist Rachel has drawn Sir William and his good friend Samuel Pepys. Now the disparity in size could be a matter of perspective, and Sir William (somewhat troubled with the gout) has fallen behind his quicker paced friend as they perambulate through Smithfields or some such place. Or alternatively, perhaps the artist has taken Sir William’s surname quite literally and decided if he is ‘Petty’, and assuming Pepys is of more average proportions, then the two gentlemen standing side by side would indeed look like this?

I do love seeing the pictures children draw of my characters.

Great Fires All Over the Place!

I am currently enjoying a run a Great Fire of London visits, with many more still to come before Christmas. Most of the schools so far have had me visit as Sir William Petty visit before, including the three mentioned next, and it is great to be asked back again, to see familiar faces in the staff-room and lots of new children.

Yesterday it was Townville Infants in Castleford where I met two lovely classes who were only just starting their study of the Fire that day, yet several Year 2 scholars had already been researching and knew where and how the Great Fire started. At Our Lady and Brendan’s Primary last Friday I worked with one Year 2 class all day. They finished the day by sketching portraits of Sir William so he could decide which was his best side and other such important considerations. Luckily the class was crammed with artists, a good number already thinking about perspectives and angles. At Baildon Primary the week before the children hung on Sir William’s every word and were very keen to go off and help him by working together to complete his large design for a new London. I am hoping, when I go back to Baildon to meet some older classes as Nevison the highwayman next term, that I will get to see the designs in all their glory.

Click on the following link to find out more about Sir William Petty and the Great Fire of London.