Interview with Cheddar Valley Gazette

Richard Herring talks confessions, memories and being a dad

  Posted: February 28, 2015

Name: Richard Herring

Age: 47

Lived in Cheddar: from eight years old to 18 years old

About you: Comedian and former Cheddar resident.

What is the biggest change you've seen in Cheddar?

I think just the expansion. There used to be loads of places that were once meadows and fields that are now caked in houses. I look out the back garden of my sister's house where there used to be fields and now there are three or four homes.

I used to cut through from Barrows Road through to down by the primary school which used to be a meadow, and now there's houses there, too.

I was running down by Sharpham Road and the reservoir and they've built and I think 'how have they found all this room?'.

It's that kind of expansion that is the main change, but there are lots of things that are still familiar.

But when I was a kid there was no variety in food and you had to go to Weston to get a Chinese but now there's different restaurants.

It's nice to see the changes but if you could put the two villages side by side – the one I grew up in and the one now – there'd be a lot of it changed.

Are there any changes you are not so keen on?

I'm very much okay with change. I think things have to move on. The library is still here which is good. It would have been a shame if that had gone.

When you remember these little places, like the Cubs hut by Tweentown, that was something and is now something else, I suppose it is kind of odd.

There's quaintness to things that have changed and the gorge is still retro. The caves are moving onwards and forward.

What still needs to be improved?

I like it changing and I like it staying the same. There's so much that's better. There's everything now compared to when I was growing up.

You've got the sports centre and more.

When you lose bits of history it would be nice to have a bit more of that showing.

What is your earliest memory?

I moved here at eight. I remember coming here at eight years old and looking round at houses. We looked at a few houses.

I remember one of the houses was filled with old women and I thought it smelt weird.

I remember liking a house because it had a fish pond in the front and wanting to live there because we would have fish. I remember being very upset to leave my friends to move to Cheddar and then I asked my mum if there was a seaside nearby and she said yes so I was happier.

I remember my sister asking the man who installed the arial if there was Shang-a-Lang here and then I asked him if Tiswas was also available and he asked what it was. And so that made me cry again, I was so upset. It was my favourite show and one of the first shows that got me into comedy.

Tell us a secret about you...

I don't have many secrets because I just use everything in my shows.

When I was eight when I used to walk to school down Barrows Road, outside W. C. Maunders. In those days, in 1977, everyone just left their car doors unlocked.

I used to open the car doors and leave them open.

One of my friends parents found out I did that and I got in trouble.

In my head, I was trying to show the owners of the cars that someone could break in - but I was also being very naughty, indeed.

I used to think it was astonishing that people would leave their cars unlocked.

So, if anyone worked in Maunders in 1977 and routinely found their car door open, that was me.

Your job takes you all over the place – what has been one of the best places you've been to?

You don't really see many of the places you go to.

Places like going to Australia in 2001 and 2002, we went to Australia to do festivals out there and that was amazing with lovely people.

Now you've got a new-born daughter, is it more difficult to leave and go to gigs?

I used to just miss my wife but now it's a bit of a gut wrench.

Now, I miss a day of my daughter's life.

I've kissed her everyday of her life apart from two days now because I've been doing a tour. That makes it a bit harder.

But it really is a fun job.

Is it strange to be in the school where you once studied and now you're performing stand-up comedy?

It is strange. It's my dream job. I've always wanted to do comedy. It seemed impossible when I had my careers meeting in school.

I was told I was meant to work in a bank. I thought even if I don't become a comedian or actor, I'm still not going to work in a bank.

It just seemed for 1980's Cheddar, that was an impossible thing.

Now, there's more opportunities.

I often go back and think about talking to my 15-year-old self that I've met this person and I've presented Top of the Pops. I also think about going back and telling my crush, who probably didn't even know I was alive, that I'd be presenting Top of the Pops.

She'd have probably been more interested – she couldn't have been less interested in me.

I think if you'd asked anyone at my school who would have ended up doing Top of the Pops, I wouldn't have been in anyone's top 500.

My life has taken some unusual turns.

What is the best lesson life has taught you?

I think the important thing is understanding what is important in life. You don't need to compete with anyone else.

Family is more important than a career.

Sum Cheddar up in three words

That's so difficult. I'm going with...'I like it'. Or...Cheese and cider.