Avalon · Body Art · George and Pilgrims · Modelling · Models · Uncategorized

A Splash of Paint

Mark 1

I’ve always been rubbish at art. At school, my earnest attempts at painting were contemptuously dismissed by the art master as “Greenway’s Daubs”. Not to be disheartened, at various times in my life, I have tried to persevere with: watercolours, oils, acrylics, charcoal sticks and even pencil – all to no avail. Perhaps I never had the right teacher to encourage me. But quite honestly, I’m just not good at it. Having said that, I do remember once trying to paint a sea view from a beach in Corfu. A lady came up to me, looked over my shoulder and said: “Wow! That’s fantastic – I wish I could do that sort of thing”. I was so shocked and flattered, that I quickly signed the painting and gave it to her with my sincerest compliments. She left me, in a state of elation, clutching my “masterpiece” against her very ample bosom. Luckily for my ego, I guess she wasn’t wearing her glasses that day. Nevertheless, in latter years, I have successfully taken to doing stained glass work and have been quite successful – I’ve even had a few commissions!


A hinged jewellery box made for one of my very good friends


A hinged scallop shell trinket box, made for my wife


I quite like doing stained glass mirrors too


I did four of these panels and backlit them for two alcoves


This is “Pig”…… my friend asked if I could produce him in stained glass


He turned out quite well, I think. The owner was pleased with the final result.

I love colour. My colourful, “loud” shirts are testament to that. I often wear them in the summer; they seem to have become my “trade mark” with many of my friends. They make a bold statement – even when the Town Crier is off duty!


I was therefore delighted to be asked to be involved with the Glastonbury Body Art Festival again this year. This annual event, held in the Town Hall early-on in January, provides Glastonbury with a welcome splash of colour and gaiety at a time of year when it is often grey and depressing, especially after all those Christmas decorations have been packed away.

The format for this yearly event is now well-established. Primarily, it’s a fund-raising festival for the very worthy “Children’s World” charity. It is also a wonderful opportunity for about thirty artists to let their imaginations run wild as they set about painting skin, with this year’s theme, “The Realm of Psychedelia”.


During the morning, the models and their artists start creating their masterpieces. The Town Hall caretaker is instructed to stoke the boilers in order to produce the maximum heat (rather difficult in a big hall in early January) to provide reasonably comfortable conditions for the scantily-clad models who, for obvious reasons, have to stand very still as the artwork progresses. Then at 1pm, for a small fee, the hall is thrown open to the general public, who come from far and wide to marvel at the art work taking shape before them. The event always attracts not only superb artists but also serious photographers – both professional and amateur.  The next group of photos were taken by Geoff Corris, a very good photographer friend.


model with top hat

bloke with wings

model 2

Then at 4pm, the public leave and the doors are once again closed. The Town Hall then has to be converted from art-studio to catwalk in just a matter of hours.

The evening catwalk show is the culmination of the day’s efforts, with models “strutting their stuff” to the accompaniment of individually chosen music, whilst a sea of flash guns fire away like one of those electrical storms that you might encounter in the tropics!

I was booked to publicise and open the event about a year ago, after last year’s involvement with the Body Art Festival. A few days before this year’s festival, I was contacted by Stephen, one of the creative geniuses behind Glastonbury’s winter skin-art extravaganza and was asked if they could “paint me under my regalia” so that, as first-out on the catwalk, at the appropriate time, I could unbutton my eighteenth century Great-Coat and henceforth, the Honourable Town Crier would perform some kind of “Civic Flash” in front of a packed Town Hall and, in the words of the late and great Kenny Everett, “all in the best possible taste”. I politely declined his very kind offer, explaining that, at my age, the more of my body that is covered up, the better it is for all! Even the briefest glimpse of my uncovered body – however much it might be plastered with paint – would surely send the assembled masses rushing for the exit doors faster than in a fire emergency!

I was once painted-up as a Town Crier Zombie in another fund-raising event in Glastonbury, a few years ago. A good friend once whispered to me, after: “Dignity in Office, .…….remember, Dignity in Office, Dave”. I’ve never forgotten his words of caution.

However, I did suggest a compromise. I proposed that during my evening appearance on the catwalk, I’d perform my usual “Cry” to start off the proceedings and then remove my tricorn, shouting my customary “GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!” On bowing, with head lowered, the assembled could then perhaps admire a piece of glorious artwork on the top of my bald head? Not much more was said about my suggestion at the time and I assumed it had been dismissed out of hand…….

On the day of the Body Art Show, I arrived in Glastonbury a few hours before the opening at 1pm. I like to publicise events both before and during. I cried the length of the High Street – at all my usual spots. My good friend Michael Alexander Law took this photo of me outside the celebrated fifteenth century “George and Pilgrims” Hotel.

body art cry

He came over to tell me that he could hear me, INSIDE the “Winking Turtle Café” about a hundred yards away. That’s music to a Town Crier’s ears, I have to say!

I’m very lucky to have such beautiful, historic backdrops for photographs in Glastonbury.


(Photograph by June Greenway)

On this morning, these were my first cries in well-over a month. I find that my throat dries out during the initial run of cries. Seeing that I was struggling, my dear friend Ria (seen above, filming me outside the G&P) took pity on me and dragged me off for some refreshments. But before that, she couldn’t resist a little photo-fun with “T.C.” as she now affectionately calls me!

ria and me

Ria also introduced me to a beneficial honey and ginger drink that really works wonders on the vocal cords! I am very grateful to her for that.

I was much heartened, when I attended the Town Hall later on in the day, to hear from my good friend, Grant, who was “on the door”, that many people had paid to come to view the Body Art Festival because of hearing me cry in the High Street. Such is the nature of Town Crying…… we really do inform the “passing trade” in our towns – not everyone reads local newspapers, listens to the radio or follows social media. Sometimes, you just can’t beat the spoken (or should I say, shouted) word! Just like the “Good Old (eighteenth century) Days”.

It was a delight to meet up with old friends – models, artists, photographers and many members of the public that I’ve come to know since becoming Town Crier. I wandered around the busy, bustling and by now, rather steamy Town Hall, magically transformed into one massive art studio.

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Besides the viewing and photographing public, there were also the artists and their essentially statuesque models, surrounded by discarded clothes, bags, cases, paints, brushes, half eaten meals, mugs, head-dresses, bulbs, wires, paper tissues and all manner of props.

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Inevitably, a gang of photographers – all well-known to me – persuaded me to take part in a set-up shot, depicting me painting one of the models. We found a willing model who looked pretty well-advanced in her percentage of body paint coverage. I was given a clean paintbrush by a rather anxious artist and proceeded to pose, in artist mode. If only my school art teacher was still alive to see this photo! “Look Sir, I’ve done another Daub!”

me painting (2)

(Photo by Geoff Corris)

I continued to wander around, marvelling at the diverse way in which the artists had interpreted this year’s theme, until I could contain myself no longer. It was 3:30pm and the doors were going to close at 4:00pm. My “inner photographer” could not stand it any longer, so I made a quick exit to the car park to remove my green coat and tricorn, swapping my brass bell for a Nikon! I returned to take a few hurried snaps in the failing light but at least I now had some sort of photographic record of this amazing event.




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From 4:00 p.m. I decided to stay in the warm Town Hall, as my publicity job was now done. I was needed to make a proclamation at the start of the Catwalk Show, so had a few hours to kill. As I sat in a corner, at the back of the hall, I watched the models as they grabbed a bite to eat, practiced their routines, tested their light displays and photographed each other using their phones prior to a frenzy of social media publishing!


lit model

I was wondering where she kept the batteries……

black model on phone

The detritus of a day’s creative outpouring was swept up and cleared away in no time; I watched the hall’s rapid transformation in preparation for the evening show. The catwalk was soon assembled, surrounded by as many chairs as could be legally squeezed around it, for the evening show had been a “sell-out”. Men clambered up ladders, as spotlights were set up and sound systems tested. Helpful choreographic instructions were relayed to all the assembled models. Whilst all this was going on, I grabbed a bowl of delicious potato ‘n leek soup and a crusty roll. I returned to the hall to watch the rehearsal. The models were told that on the catwalk there were three “sweet spots” – the name given to areas of brightest illumination. These were the areas where the models should obviously linger to best show off the efforts of the day. This year they were trying out some ultraviolet lights as well. Given the right sort of paint, colours could be made to fluoresce very brightly under these sorts of lights.

As I sat there watching all this, a lady with rather painty arms came up to me and said: “Right, OK we’ve got some time to paint your head.” Her plan was to use invisible, ultraviolet-sensitive paint on my rather expansive bald patch, so that when I removed my tricorn and bowed, I would…….well…… sort of….. “glow in the dark”! The paint felt very cold as it went on but it soon dried.

There was a photo-call in the lower hall of the town hall for all the models to be photographed professionally. My good friend Mark Pickthall, a truly gifted Somerset photographer had been given the job and he had set up his photo studio there. A giant black backcloth and untold numbers of flash lights, spotlights and reflectors had all been painstakingly set up during the afternoon. I went down to watch. Mark wanted to test out his lights and so I stepped up and obliged…….

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Thirty models (some with huge sticky-out bits) had to be squeezed into the hall and each one, in turn, was photographed in a variety of poses. At the very end, before they disbanded, I got to stand with the assembled models and tested out the art work on my bald patch, under the U-V light. It worked!


Infront of a full house, as the Town Hall clock stuck eight, I strutted forward onto the catwalk and after carefully locating the first ultraviolet “sweet spot”, took a few deep breaths, rang my bell and launched into my Opening Cry:


Citizens of Glastonbury and visitors to this fine Town from near and afar…….

On behalf of the organisers, may I extend to you all, a warm “Glastonbury Welcome” to the Catwalk Show of the 3rd Glastonbury Body Art Festival, whereupon, I guarantee you will be enthralled by the creative, polychromatic, culmination of today’s hard work, by an incredible team of talented artists and models from around the country. Backstage, right now, it looks just like an explosion in a paint factory!

Thank you for attending “The Realm of Psychedelia” and for generously supporting Children’s World.

Enjoy your evening…….and take lots of photographs!

Long May Glastonbury Flourish!


I removed my tricorn, took my bow……….. and fluoresced!


(Photo by Mark Pickthall)

Avalon · Bells · Uncategorized

My bell’s a “Dead-Ringer”

My bell’s a “Dead-Ringer” – it really is!

Although this is another blog post, in which, of course, I hope to entertain you, as well as dazzle you with my unparalleled literary genius (my wife often says that I live in a “Dream World”) there is another motive for writing it. Allow me to explain.

As I’m sure you are aware (especially if you managed to read my blog “Getting their Attention”) I have this large bell. It is in fact, a very large, shapely and beautifully shiny bell.  I think my owl friend agrees.


(Photo by Mark Adler)

It always looks impressive when I am carrying it, upturned, in my right, white-gloved hand, as it rests against my chest, at Civic and ceremonial functions.


As bells go, with its curvatious lines and ample diameter, it has to be the most handsome bell in Somerset. My wife bought it for me a year or so ago. Its noble-looking profile, as presented on an Amazon web page, clearly seduced my good lady into clicking on a mouse, thus instantly parting with her hard-earned cash to “aid and abet” her husband’s crazy hobby of dressing up in old-fashioned clothes and shouting at the public in the street.



(Photo by Vicki Steward)

There’s only one snag about buying a bell on-line. Yes, you’ve guessed it. You can’t actually hear the sound it makes. And there we have it – the aural equivalent of …..“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Although the bell looks really splendid, it’s sound just doesn’t “cut the mustard”. OK, I’ll stop being polite…..it makes an absolutely dreadful, noisy din. It is more of an ear-splitting “clang” than a sonorous “dong”. Although the loud sound travels well and it does get me heard, the quality of the sound is just not there. I think there are a combination of reasons for this. I don’t think the metal is actually brass at all; the metal is quite thin and the actual bell is not all that wide for most of its profile.

My wife found a smaller bell in an antique shop in Marlborough. It has a beautifully rich sound with a delightfully higher pitched “tinkle”, but its sound does not carry so far. However, it is very well-suited for inside Town Crier jobs, such as announcing the arrival of the new Mayor at our “Mayor-Making” Council Meeting.

small bell

Right, I really must get to the point:


If you are passing an antique shop or the like, in the UK (and if you have the time) could you please venture in, look around or better still, ask if there are any large hand bells for sale. If there is one, if you have a chance, please ring it and take a video of it ringing and then send the video to me! Please send me details of the shop’s location and perhaps an idea of how much they are asking for the bell. I’m working on the principle that a few hundred pairs of eyes are better than one!  I do hope you can help Glastonbury’s Town Crier find a truly melodious bell to ring out throughout Avalon.

Happy hunting and my sincere thanks in advance!   Oh…….. and don’t forget to “give me a bell”.   (Sorry!)

David Greenway Glastonbury Town Crier

(Featured image photo by Kelly Malcolm)



Town Crier

A Right Royal Proclamation!


Photograph by Jason Bryant

Since taking on this job, I’ve had a host of enjoyable, not to mention humorous experiences and as time passes, I’m sure I’ll get around to sharing many of these with you. But one event stands out head and shoulders above all the others for its sheer “spine tingling” importance and significance. It was the day we celebrated Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday on 21st April 2016. It had its funny moments too as I shall reveal.

The plan was to light beacons all over the country, at elevated locations, all at the same time on the evening of Her Majesty’s Birthday by way of celebration. For those who do not reside in the UK and who may be unfamiliar with this practice, let me enlighten you. It’s an age-old custom, this “lighting of beacons” caper. Essentially, on very special occasions, a bonfire is lit – wherever possible at an elevated spot, so that it can be seen for miles around. Traditionally, a large steel basket is mounted on top of a steel pole, some way above the ground and it is then filled with logs. The whole lot is then doused in paraffin or some similar combustible fluid. A flame is added and, as they say…..”Bob’s your uncle!” Instant flaming beacon!

Now, in Glastonbury, we have the perfect location for a beacon. We have Glastonbury Tor! Glastonbury Tor is a hill that rises 518 feet above some reasonably level surrounding scenery. They actually refer to this land as “The Somerset Levels”.


Just to add to this strangely conical and almost volcano-shaped hill’s majesty, it has a large stone tower right on the very top – St Michael’s Tower.



This tower is the remnant of a church built there in the 1300s. In its own way, the Tor stands out as beacon to travellers approaching it from any direction…….. even without the addition of any flames! It stands out in a remarkably conspicuous fashion for miles around.

Tor and surrounding Somerset Levels Glastonbury UK aerial view

Talking about the Tor, I’m reminded of an exchange I had with a visitor, just outside the Town Hall, a year or two back. A tall, dishevelled-looking man with, unfortunately for the both of us, severe halitosis, had just stepped off a coach that had arrived from Portsmouth on a day excursion to Glastonbury. I’d hardly finished my “cry” when he came up to me, pointed in the general direction of the Tor and blurted out his question: “That big thing……that big mound of earth over there…… when did they build that?” My reply ran something along the lines of: “That is a natural landform, my friend, a geological outcrop of sandstone, that has resisted erosion for millions of years.” He’d hardly had time to digest the significance of my answer when he rattled off another enquiry. “Who mows all that grass then?” My quick-witted reply (for me) was as follows: “That’ll be the sheep, Sir, they eat the grass, Sir.” He turned around and wandered off, as I started to breathe freely again. I tell you, I get all kinds of questions in my job.

It was at a Town Council meeting a couple of weeks earlier when I’d first heard that I was needed to attend the lighting of the beacon as Town Crier. Now I’ve climbed the Tor many times but this was to be my first time in full regalia. It’s quite a steep climb but well within my capabilities. A few questions flashed through my mind though. Would my shoes get stuck in the mud? Would I slip over, getting my £2,000 worth of livery all muddy and then have to face the wrath of the Town Clerk? Would I snag my white tights on the thistles? Would my tricorn blow off? Most importantly……. would I have any breath left after climbing the hill, should I have to perform a cry?

Sure enough, a cry was required. As I soon found out, I was needed to read something out just before the beacon was lit. This was explained to me by a Town Councillor, as he thrust a piece of paper on which was written my script, into my hand at the end of the meeting, a couple of weeks before. “This one’s for you, Dave” he said cheerily, with a rather smug smile on his face. The words were written by HRH Prince Charles, with precise instructions that they were to be read out immediately before the lighting of the beacon. Golly!  Little old me was going to have to read out words written by a member of the Royal Family and I was the one going to have to shout it out, on the Tor, in front of hundreds of people, at a never-to-be-repeated event in history. I felt a tingle running up my spine.

On the day of Her Majesty’s birthday, the plan was for various local groups (church groups, scouts, guides and the like) as well as many local citizens, to join the Mayor and the Civic Party in an ascent of the Tor, finally, assembling around the readily fuelled beacon. We were to congregate outside St John’s Church in Glastonbury High Street before walking to the Tor. I arrived early, giving a few cries around and about, to let people know what was going on, should any not have heard about the plan and perhaps, wished to join us.

In the High Street, as we all killed time, I was approached by a photographer. Judging by the myriad of cameras and lenses that hung from his body like presents on a Christmas tree, he must have been a press photographer. He explained that he had a small bear mascot which apparently, went with him everywhere – the stuffed toy being photographed at just about every photographic location he’d visited. That evening, it was going to be my turn, as the lucky guy being photographed with his small, slightly soiled little bear.


We found a comfortable place for his little mascot, as you can see.  It’s the little things……

The Mayor and the Civic Party were a little delayed due to an important meeting at the Town Hall. A nearby BBC TV presenter hopped anxiously, from one foot to another, in front of his rather bored-looking cameraman, outside St John’s Church. He frequently looked at his watch, his “interview window” with the Mayor of Glastonbury for the local TV news rapidly shrinking, with still no sign of the Mayor. He came over to me and asked me if I was involved in the evening’s festivities. “No, I always hang around Glastonbury in the evening, dressed like this!” (Sorry, I’ve lied……I didn’t really say that at all). “OK, I don’t know where the Mayor’s got to……… but you’ll do!” he insisted. He quickly told me about the sort of questions he was going to ask and then I had approximately 35 seconds to think of some vaguely coherent answers. In no time at all, the “cameras rolled” and I was speaking live on BBC-TV News!


“Yes, you may interview me now, young man”

Soon after, the Civic Party could be seen striding up the High Street at a brisk pace. What a grand sight they looked in all their robes. Two highly-polished maces, presented to the town by Her Majesty Queen Anne in 1705, were carried by our Macebearers, or to give them their full title, “Sergeants-at-Mace”, Terry and Gary. The brass royal crests glistened in the evening sunshine.

“Hey…..you’ve got the matches, right?” I helpfully enquired, shouting down the street. My humour was met with a stony silence.

Once assembled, we set off up the High Street, pausing at odd places along the route for more witty banter.


I walked a fair way in the procession with the vicar (proudly wearing his red scout scarf) – a most pleasant gentleman. We conversed at length about the current state of the English Education System.


The slow and steady climb up the Tor went fairly well. There was a fairly strong and cool easterly breeze, of which I was very glad. It kept me cool under all that regalia. I paused a few times to get my breath.


Once assembled around the beacon, various speeches and announcements were made. I was a little irritated with the crowd, since not everyone was listening……..the taking and publishing of selfies on social media taking precedence. Then it was my turn to make the final speech before the beacon was lit. I was very appreciative of several people in the gathering who kindly stepped forward and pulled my capes down when they blew up my back.  After all, a Town Crier must always look his best!


After I had let out three deafeningly loud “OYEZ”s, everyone listened. I really mean, everyone. The complete silence of that moment took my breath away – luckily, in a metaphorical sense only – as I introduced and subsequently read out the Royal Proclamation from HRH Prince Charles. It had suddenly hit me that I was now centrally involved in a little piece of British history. Heart racing, this is what I cried out:

“I am delighted that so many people throughout the United Kingdom are coming together to light beacons in celebration of my mother, The Queen’s, ninetieth birthday. It is a wonderful gesture which I know has deeply touched Her Majesty.
Beacons are to be lit on mountaintops, on beaches, in farmyards and on church towers, uniting us all in our heartfelt appreciation of The Queen’s lifetime of service to the United Kingdom and other Realms, and to the Commonwealth.
Since time immemorial, the light of beacons has relayed important messages across the land. “This message we proclaim with the greatest pride and affection: Your Majesty, we all wish you a very Happy Birthday!”

The paraffin soaked rags, already wrapped around a long pole, were then lit and held aloft by a young boy scout (with a little assistance from the vicar).


The beacon ignited successfully and in no time at all, the flames were licking round the basket and out into the darkness. Several times we had to dodge showers of sparks from the beacon as the wind changed.


It was my first time on the Tor at night. The lights of Glastonbury and Street shone out as if being seen from a plane. A magical sight to behold.

image    (Photo by carlydutton PHOTOGRAPHY)

This very patriotic lady wished to be photographed with the Town Crier. How could I refuse? (Oh, I’m such a tart!)


On the way down, I passed some disgruntled people on the way up, who had come to see the beacon lighting. Apparently, the beacon had been lit about 45 minutes before the billed time.