Award winning author, radio and television personality Gervase Phinn is coming to put a smile on your face at The Elgiva next week as he embarks upon his 11th national tour. CAMILLA GOODMAN chats with him about the show.
EVERYONE knows that children can come out with some cracking things. One man who knows this very well is Gervase Phinn, who before becoming an author, radio and television personality was a teacher for 15 years and then went on to be a school inspector.
His new show An Evening with Gervase Phinn is said to have you on the edge of your seat as he shares his hilarious and sometimes poignant tales of life as a school inspector.
Gervase has been touring theatres for eight years and will visit 55 places, including Chesham for his new tour. "I have 55 gigs - that sounds hilarious when you're my age," joked the 65 year-old from Rotherham.
He explained: "It's a family show, it's funny. It's observational humour based on my experiences. It seems to be going down very well. It's not offensive or cutting edge, it's quite quirky. It's for people who do not want hear four letter words or sexual innuendos. I'm not Jimmy Carr or Russell Brand, it is inoffensive stuff."
Gervase added how he does not find Frankie Boyle's humour about disabled children funny.
"It's certainly for people who do not want to hear cruel humour about disabled children, it's unforgivable."
Gervase said a lot of his show is about children. "They can be very funny," he explained. "I was at a nursery last week and a little boy was in a cardboard box making car noises. I looked over to him and I said 'are you in your racing car?' and he said 'No. I'm in a cardboard box.' It's just innocent humour."
Gervase said he enjoyed his job as a teacher. "I loved it. It's the fact that a teacher can make a difference to a life. It's such a joy seeing a youngster develop."
He explained he loves bumping into former pupils.
"I was at the Simpson's in the Strand and I was singled out by the doorman. He said the manager wanted to see me straight away but he could not tell me why. I felt like a little boy going to see the head teacher. I was very nervous. I knocked on the door and a young man in a grey suit was there. I asked him if I had done something wrong and he said 'actually yes. You never believed me when I said my dog ate my homework.' It was a former pupil who was the manager of a big hotel, it's a great feeling. Nothing compares to it."
After 15 years of teaching Gervase became a school advisor, a role that soon turned into an Ofsted inspector, did he enjoy it?
"No, to be blunt. It was dry and uninteresting, but I had a mortgage and a family."
Gervase's new show has a lot of tales about being a school inspector and I was curious to hear one.
"You'll have to come to the show," he joked. "There's two hours worth, there's hundreds of them."
After a bit of pleading I was able to get him to tell me one.
"I had to go and inspect St John's Baptist School. I went into a classroom and there was a little girl painting. It was a beautiful painting, it was of a little girl looking up to heaven with god behind the clouds and a golden lake around her. I asked her what was going on in the picture, and she said it was a prayer for the sick...she then pointed to the lake and said 'that's the sick!'"
I wanted to know if Gervase was well behaved as a boy or in fact a little rascal.
"I was very well behaved. That sounds arrogant doesn't it?" he said. "I knew whatever trouble I'd get in at school I would get in twice as much at home. I was a very quiet child and not very bright. I did not get into grammar school but I kept my head down because I did not want to work at the steel works like my dad or down the pit."
I wanted to know if after eight years of appearing on stage Gervase still gets nervous.
"I've been speaking since I was 25," he explained. "I had done a lot of charity and teacher conferences. If you can speak in front of some teachers on a wet Monday morning on a training day who don't want to be there, you can speak in front of any audience. Once I hear the first laugh I'm fine, my audiences are good humoured."
Gervase explained he goes out to meet people before and after his show to thank them for their loyalty.
"Last night I had a 98-year-old woman come to see me with her great-grandson, they had travelled 40 miles. I have a very loyal following."
Gervase said a lot of people who come to see him are the fans of his books, including number one bestseller The Other Side of the Dale.
Gervase has wrote a lot of books about the Dales and a quote that caught my eye was 'you can always tell a Yorkshire man but you can't tell him much.'
"You can't tell me much," he said. "I upset people because I have very strong feelings, most Yorkshire people do. Actually, I'm a typical Yorkshire man, careful with money, I say what I feel and it's difficult to tell me much."
Gervase has published many articles, chapters and books, including children's books but I was interested where he got his inspiration.
"I get my inspiration from people," he said. "People who come to my shows, people I've met and my experience in schools."
One of Gervase's fans is television gardner and talkshow host Alan Titchmarsh who has described him as 'a worthy successor to James Herriot and every bit as endearing.'
Gervase concluded: "Come and see my show and have a laugh, it's a bit poignant at times but it will be a very good humoured evening. It will cheer you up in what is a very gloomy time.
You can catch Gervase on Thursday, June 2 at 8pm. Tickets are £16.50. For tickets call 01494 582 900 or visit www.elgiva.com