In 1988, I went to work for a jousting tournament based in Breamore, Hampshire, on the edge of the New Forest. I broke my shoulder after being there less than a week, so instead of riding a horse, as I’d originally envisaged, I ended up performing the part of William of Pembroke, the Earl Marshall, the principal speaking part, for five consecutive years until 1992, in a colourful spectacle that lasted for ninety minutes or so.

Towards the end of my first season, I left to work on a different tournament based at Littlecote House, which at the time was under the ownership of Peter de Savary, or “PDS”, as we were invited to address him. I was invited to return to the tournament in Breamore in 1989, so I performed there and in numerous galas around Britain before setting off on a lengthy tour of Finland in the summer.

This turned out to be just about the most exhausting, brutal experience I’d ever endured, and it remains so. All the Finnish people we met were great, but it would be overly charitable to describe the British contingent’s organisation of this tour as an unmitigated disaster. One of the few positive things I can is that there was never a boring day, but I often wished it were otherwise.

In the middle of the tour, I found myself standing on a metal dais with a wonderful young Finnish girl named Mickey, who was acting as my translator and who was dressed accordingly as the Lady Marshall. As well as the metal dais, there were live microphones, power cables and decks playing recordings of the fanfares that accompanied the jousts, so when the Finnish Thunder Gods began to rain down hell fire on the hill and the surrounding countryside, my blood ran cold. But I survived. There are of course many scores of other lurid tales attached to my time as a knight, but this page is here simply to give details of where I worked, when I did so and a few of the people I worked with.

This experience in 1989 was so awful that I swore I’d not work on this tournament again, but yet again, I was invited back for a foreign tour in 1990 and I could not pass up the opportunity to visit Russia. I’d learned to speak and write Russian at Monmouth School back in the 1970s, although I’d never had the chance to practise it, so this seemed a Heaven-sent chance for me, especially as I had the part of the Marshall for most of the time.

So, in 1990, I caught a plane to Finland with my cousin Chris and my old friend Dominic, someone I’d met on the tournament in 1988. We performed in the grounds of a former pirate castle at Raseborg, in the southwest of Finland, before travelling to Russia after a residency of a few months. I became the first western knight to visit Russia and we performed for ten nights in the eighty-seven thousand seat Olympic stadium, in what was at the time Leningrad.

In 1991, we went on tour to a castle in Austria, although there was as always a home unit operating after a fashion at Breamore House while we were away. While in Austria, I was fantastically lucky to have the services of my dear friend Nina, who dressed as the Lady Marshall and accompanied me on the dais throughout, all the while providing an instant, faultless and highly invigorating translation of what I had to say.

Eventually, we returned to Britain and carried out some obligatory gala performances around the country before the season finally ended. Staff turnover ran at something like fifty percent each season, as the gruelling regime wasn’t something everyone could abide, while there were regular injuries and illnesses. I loved the fact that I toured Britain and Europe at such length performing in front of huge crowds as William of Pembroke, the Earl Marshall, although I occasionally appeared as the Master Armourer, the Court Jester and a mounted knight on parades.

There are a thousand and one stories attached to all this, but they can wait until another time. For now, it was an extraordinary period that I doubt will ever be repeated, which in some ways is a blessing, but while mine was largely a speaking role, an experience I profited from, some others there went on to astronomical career heights as professional stuntmen.

If you’re curious about these men, I’d head over to the IMDb or Internet Movie Database, where you can look up the stellar and ongoing careers of Rob Inch, Rowley Irlam, Justin Pearson and Dominic Preece, who between them have appeared in every huge film franchise going. Nick Gillard was a former knight who pointed me in the direction of the tournament back in 1987, while I had the pleasure of working with him on an episode of Between the Lines in the early 1990s. Similarly, I had the enormous pleasure of meeting the legendary Jim Dowdall and working for him as part of the stunt team on the Casualty Christmas special in 1996.

And a good time was had by all.