Shrovetide Football is a game of two days and five hundred players
Shrovetide Football is a game of two days and five hundred players

If you’re worried about Donald Trump, Brexit and a melt down in the economy with the banks going bust maybe you should bury your valuables in a bag underground and hope for the best. That’s what appeared to have happened in Staffordshire in the late 8th century when someone buried a bag of gold and silver next to Watling Street. The Staffordshire Hoard is being displayed at Bristol’s city museum until 23 April 2017. Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold from the Staffordshire Hoard reveals the vast display of unspent wealth – such a shame the fleeing Saxon who dumped the lot never got to spend it on a a boxset of Beowulf. A bit like winning the National Lottery but losing your ticket.
Over in Bath at the Theatre Royal in the Ustinov Studio is Plastic, the black comedy by Marius von Mayenburg that takes a pop at the political correctness of the middle classes and society in general. (23 Feb-25 March). The play centres on a dinner party that turns into that upper class staple of bad behaviour: the food fight.
Meanwhile at Stratford-upon-Avon there’s a production of Richard Bean’s The Hypocrite, directed by Phillip Breen (he of One Man, Two Guvnors) at the Swan Theatre. (31 March – 29 April 2017) Deep down all Rapscallions are prone to hypocracy – although of course we deny it.
In Bristol the Tobacco Factory stages Othello (16 Feb-1 April) so be prepared for that ultimate baddie Iago causing death and misery in Shakespeare’s tragic take on race, passion and jealousy – a true Rapscallion if ever there was one.

Meanwhile the Cartoon Museum in London there’s an exhibition of the cartoonist H.M. Bateman. The show is The Man Who Went Mad On Paper. H.M. Bateman (1887-1970) is acknowledged as the first modern master of 20th-century British cartooning. This major retrospective includes works from all periods of his career, from early theatrical subjects to ‘The Man Who…’ cartoons for which he is best known. It also includes many examples of his wordless strips, which are masterpieces of silent comedy, as well as sketchbooks, ephemera and other private works never previously exhibited.
Also in London there’s a exhibition of photos on show at National Portrait Gallery off Trafalgar Square. A Century of Photography, 1840-1940 is worth a sally forth if only to see the very grumpy looking portrait of Adelaide Passingham taken in the 1890s. And the show is free which all Rapscallions will be glad of.

She really is very grumpy
She really is very grumpy

Coming to the Roxy Cinema in Axbridge in February is The Nice Guys, slated by some critics but enjoyed by others. (Fri 24 Feb) The comedy drama is set in Los Angeles in the 1970s when two rubbish detectives investigate the murder of a porn star. All a bit Rapscallion on the face of it.
Speaking of relationships the Bristol Old Vic’s Blahblahblah poetry evening has something of a battle over the vexed emotion ahead of St Valentine’s Day. Held once a month on a Sunday evening Blahblahblah on February 13 features Love vs Cynicism. Two teams of wordsmiths go head to head to argue each side of the case. Expect comic ballads, tenderness, pain, bitterness and a Rapscallion broken heart or two.
Leicester was the Cinderella city of football last year, but this February it’s claim is more of a chuckle in the goal mouth rather than a dribble down the wing. The Leicester Comedy Festival runs from Feb 8-26 and features around 50 comics telling bad jokes about the internet, sex and toilet habits with 800 events linked to the do.
There’s more of the same in Glasgow in March when the Bay City stages The Glasgow International Comedy Festival will be back in March 2017 from March 9-26.
Finally Rapscallion loves archaic British traditions which date back to the twighlight years of the isles. Nobody really knows when the Ashbourne Football Match on Shrove Tuesday began but it is safe to say it started on a Tuesday.
Across the country villages pitted themselves against each other in football matches long before Wembley, the Football League and the off-side rule had even been thought of. The rules are vague and the numbers on each team were unlimited and goals were rarely scored – and there were (and are) no referees to boo.
This year’s Shrovetide Football match in Ashbourne in Derbyshire is on 28 February and Ash Wednesday 1 March. Kick off 2pm each day with the teams the Up’ards and the Down’ards doing battle until 10pm at night. The Up’ards have held sway in recent years tapping the ball on an obelisk at the up end of town by the river running out winners by either 1-0 or 2-0. The games dates to Romano-Celtic times and was played across the country – and still is but it is now called rugby – but has lost its anyone can play aspect.

Rapscallion is out on February 1.

There’s more Rapscallion Magazine features, news and reviews at