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Saturday 10th September 2005

I was in Cheddar for the "Cheddar Big Event" today. I was here to open the event at 1pm, using my undeniable celebrity status to attract the crowds in droves to see me. Never mind the fact that I am regularly in the village and that for ten years of my life the locals could have seen me for free just walking around and stuff. I am now, after all,a nationally known comedian. In fact according to this week's Cheddar Valley Gazette I am a "well-known" comedian. I thought this was an improvement on the previous description, as nationally-known sounds sarcastic and implies that there are boundaries to my renown, but mum and Diane both thought that "well-known" was a step down for me. I suppose "internationally known" would be the only way up. Or nationally-instantly-recognised. I am still only known and the parameters of other people's knowingness may well have decreased.
Anyway whatever the case I was here to open the Big Event at 1pm and it cost a pound to get in (all the money going towards the creation of a skateboard and BMX playzone - that is the official description. I am a sk8ter boi) and it was my attendance that was going to be attracting millions of people and helping the kids.
I didn't know what a big event in Cheddar might constitute, as the previous biggest event in the town was when Paul "Tom" Cambridge had pushed an old shopping trolley into the river in 1978. That was going to be difficult to top.
But on arriving at the location (a field behind Cheddar's Go-Karting track - I had no idea we even had a Go-Kart track - all the young people had to entertain them when I was growing up was a potato. One potato. Between us all. And it was replaced only once every twenty-five years), I discovered a marvel to behold. I don't think it is hyperbole to say that what greeted me was better than Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Did Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory have a tombola? Did Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory have a WI stand selling cakes? Did Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory have a little stand selling chocolate?
Well yes it probably had that.
But that was only the beginning. In the field behind were dozens of inflatable bouncy castles and slides and boxing kangaroo suits and a coconut shy. Some kids were doing BMX tricks near a lake. It was cool.
Unfortunately with only 40 minutes until I was meant to officially open the thing, there weren't that many actual punters there. I had expected the field to be full of excited people, possily with several dozen of them already crushed to death in the surge to get to the front and be near me. But it seemed people in Cheddar would rather stay home and have their lunch and watch the cricket rather than come half a mile out of town to box a kangaroo and see the headmaster's son say a few words from the back of a trailer.
The official opening was postponed, which gave us a chance to have a look round and waste some money trying to get a basketball in a hoop that was probably a bit too small for the ball and go on the tombola (Diane won some perfume).
We really wanted to go on the inflatable slide, but you had to be under 14 to do that, so we just waited for enough people to be here to justify my enormous appearance fee.
I am joking. I did this for nothing. Anything for Cheddar. It's the finest cheese-named town in the world. And I will dress up in an inflatable kangaroo suit and fight anyone who dares say different.
An hour or so later there were a few more people in and so I prepared for my big moment. I hadn't really worked out what I was going to say, but had a chance to think about it a bit longer when the microphone was found not to be working.
IN the end I addressed a dispirate crowd in a massive field, from the back of a lorry that served as the stage. No-one was nearer than twenty feet away. Most people were several hundred yards up towards the entrance. They shouldn't have put the tombola so close to where people were coming in. It was bound to distract them.
I said a few words and chided the youth of my home town for being wo vain as to want a skateboard park. "What's wrong with going up the gorge with a bottle of cider and throwing rocks at derelict buildings, like I used to do?" I asked.
That's almost true. We did go up the gorge and drink cider, but the building we threw rocks at was in Shipham Woods. It was already fallen down a lot already and no-one lived there. Happy days.
It was nice to know, as I came off the lorry (and listen I have performed on a table, so this is luxury for me) that the Big Event was now officially open. To the untrained eye it might look as if nothing had changed and that people were going about their day as if a massive well-known (some would say nationally-known) celebrity had just caused everything to be set in motion, but any one with a jot of intelligence would know what I had done.
The people of Cheddar respected my privacy and none of them asked for my autograph. It's nice that they treat me as if I am an ordinary person, even going to the extent of pretending not even to notice me as I go by.
My work here was done and I didn't want to make people feel self-conscious with my celebrity status, but I soon left.
But I want any sk8rs to know that when they come to sk8 on that sk8 park, about £9.50 of the cost of it was raised by me.
Cheddar rules!

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