Friday afternoon...: Where are we then?
When we arrived at Cliveden there was a problem with our
site – it had been moved and we could not quite work out where we
were supposed to be. We shifted and ambled about several times in
that tradition of travelling museums. Howard was very helpful
and we eventually ended up behind the ‘Wyoming
Wild Bunch’, chronologically this is pretty much where we
should be anyway and, once again, we were in a prime spot.
Once settled we enjoyed the evening, we had quite a few visitors;
Wayne and his son Paul who is now going onto the field,
and several others who ambled by. Once darkness descended the damp
crept in until everything was covered with heavy dew that soaked
Saturday: Despite being able to have a lie in and starting
late it took me a while to warm up to the visitors, I just could
not wrap my head around my own information. I also had a bit of
a disaster on my hands; the damp had split the base of my travel
chest along its entire length so I had to be careful shifting it
in case the bottom fell out. I suspect that the damage started on
the flinty ground of Detling
and the dew finished the job when it got into the already cracked
Tony from ‘La
Columna’ loaned a very impressive swordfish bill. It has
been labelled as coming from ‘Pitcairn
Island 1865’ and while it is undoubted very old the writing
is not, perhaps it is covering an older script that has faded away.
While I was having a chat with Simon from Perrot’s
puppets, I noticed a slight commotion concerning a horse.
A steward was asking people to make way as the beast was looking
pretty nervous. It then started backing up toward our Department
of Visual Perception. Cassandra, enthralled by a Jane
Austin novel failed to perceive that her horizon was rapidly
being filled by lots of horse bottom. I called out, and just as
the horses rump touch out rope barrier Cassandra looked up
and flew out of her chair in a very dramatic manner. Thankfully
disaster was averted by the rider who had a firm grip on the reins.
This is something of an irony really since it was Cassandra
who said to the Trojans “Don’t
bring that horse in here it’s full of Greeks”.
One of my new exhibits was one of the flints that Otzi had
given me at Detling, as promised the story for this was dedicated
to the notorious flint forger Edward Simpson, otherwise known,
amongst several other aliases, as Flint
Jack. I found evidence that Simpson actually signed some
of his forgeries so I have added his signature to the tool. This
ovate is an excellent bit of work and far outshines Simpson’s efforts
as he used a hammer to make his forgeries!
My last visitors of the day were a fantastic family group who were
such fun to work with that I over ran...again. Why is it that some
of the best public turn up so late? For the first time in ages I
got to play with the mystery box, it is always there, usually with
something sitting on it and very few people bother with it. When
I asked who wanted to look into the Box of Mystery the chorus
went: “Me! Me! Him!” they shouted in unison, a bit like that famous
scene’. Throughout the day I kept being asked “is it real?”
and the spokes-girl for this group was no exception, in fact she
milked for all it was worth “Is that a real skull?” Is that a real
fish?” “Is this a real rope?!” she finally asked in an impish sort
Just back to that “is it real?” moment...my answer is if you can
see it then it must be! It is very hard to retain some sort of first
persona when you get interrupted with this question. I think visitors
assume that if a re-enactor has an authentic item, possibly worth
thousands of squid, it will be taken to an event where it will not
only be exposed to the elements but also to their enquiring digits!
Most of my Natural History items are genuine, some are copies
made from organic materials while others are copies using modern
materials to mimic old ones, regardless of materials they are all
Actually there is one piece that I will be retiring; the Horned
Rabbit of Saxony, I got bored talking about it! I have far more
interesting items than my scruffy Lepus
cornutus. I was also amazed at the number of kids who knew
about Japanese Mermaids, it took me a while to realise that they
had seen a recent programme about either mermaids or fakes...or
Jackie joined us for dinner this evening and Steve
brought over some birthday cake. It’s so civilised to actually sit
at a table instead of squatting on the ground like we did years
ago. And then came the moment we had all been waiting for...possibly...the
last lantern show of the season. While we were setting up, a Cossack
came by wearing one of those elegant coats with the cartridge pockets
just big enough for a decent cigar. When I mentioned this he turned
to his mate and said “I claim my £10!” obviously not the first time
that he had heard this.
Our lantern show drew quite a crowd and was a packed bill and included
film’ called ‘The Tooms that Time Forgot’ an epic of
Grymm’s time travel experiences using Dr Tooms’s Turdis.
We had ‘Time Tunnel’ special effects with moving pictures, dinosaurs,
the incredible shrinking elephant, castles, Hoplites...more Hoplites...in
fact it was sort of dedicated to them since it was Elaine’s
idea to take a picture
of me outside a Turdis.
Sunday: After breakfast we visited La
Columna’s camp, they had a fantastic little spot in the
trees and had dug a trench that incorporated part of a fallen tree.
I was going to do a sort of condensed version of the ‘Iliad’
at the Hoplites on Saturday but that did not pan out so I went down
there today during a lull to see what we were going to do. Within
minutes it was quite obvious that another hoplite conspiracy was
brewing. My hat was taken and then my coat – I was going to take
part in ‘dress the hoplite’. A tunic went over my head and Victorian
clothing, then came the linothorax followed by a felt cap and helmet,
as the straps were tightened the half smoked cigar in my pocket
turned into a book mark. A Corinthian type helmet with a high crest
was next, always fancied myself wearing one of these. Then came
the shield (aspis or hoplon), actually when I was asked if I had
any preferences of city I plucked Thebes out of the ether.
Mark grinned at me “Well, it was your choice, remember The
Sacred Band!” Ho hum! Once covered in all this gear I could
barely see a thing, lifting the shield I clunked it against the
helmet and the sound was ‘very interesting’. In fact every word
I uttered bounced around in there, it must have been hideous once
the fight started: a couple of inches of vision and deafening noise
must sum it up, I should think. I changed shield as the first one
sat badly on my shoulder – I ended up with a winged boar, or in
layman’s terms: a flying pig! Finally I was handed my spear, I had
to be careful with that in case I impaled my right foot with the
I was asked if I wanted to have arrows shot at me so I agreed,
I just couldn’t resist. I remembered that bit in Homer where
“...many a man was hit in the nipple of the breast and darkness
came upon him...” so made sure that I was well and truly covered
by the shield when the arrows started flying. So with pointy thing
at the shoulder and left foot forward I took the full impact of
several arrows shot by one of the younger members.
Afterwards I had a go with the bow, I have not played with a bow
for several decades and my first attempt was somewhat pathetic with
the arrow appearing to limp rather than fly the 10 feet it covered.
Still I sort of got the hang of it and only had one arrow go sideways
while another killed a cowering pile of wood that was not in my
line of fire.
After my little
stint at playing hoplite I returned to our display and had a
great chat with a visitor who turned out to be a doctor and was
very interested in Laz’s various head surgery items.
Well it has been a great, if somewhat brief season for GTTM,
I for one have a couple of new ideas and rather more repairs than
I had hoped...ah but wait...I have my trusty Turdis...
This is Prof Grymm heading for that Psychedelic
Spiral Tunnel of the Sixties to move that chest before the damp
gets to it!