Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Doddington - 30 April & 1 May 2006



Saturday: We arrived at Doddington around 2.30 pm and, after tracking down Kevin Holden to sort out our pitch, we set to. It is a sad fact that the museum looks decidedly odd on a military camp and we have thought about moving off the street for at least a couple of years. We were set up outside West Point and this, I thought, was an ideal place for us since this would become a main thoroughfare for the troops and the teeming public ravenous for useless info.

Good to see some new recruits on the street - big welcome to Alex and Jake, carrying on the family tradition. It was also Phil’s (of West Point) ‘Big 50’. The big 50 was also a ‘sporting gun’ used in the decimation of the humble American bison.

We ran a magic lantern show in the evening. Derek from the Marylanders kindly let us use a big mess tent. This was excellent but we lost audience because they were stuck outside and couldn’t see very well. For some odd reason one lady thought that my mate Michael, who had come up for dinner with us, looked like David Bellamy. Only in the poorest of light conditions perhaps...

While it had been a very pleasant afternoon and evening, the temperature dropped rapidly once the sun was down and getting into the sleeping bag was quite an experience. The weather report for the rest of the weekend is not so good.

Sunday: After breakfast we set up our tables and experimented with some barriers. They were a bit too high to start with, as Van suggested we lowered them as while they were high enough to stop an adult they were not low enough to stop a small child. As he said they are a psychological barrier and at the original height would have just put people off.

We had learned our lesson at Sheffield and I also get tired of telling people not to touch my exhibits. Any signs not to touch are ignored and punters grab at specimens as if they are some sort of bizarre buffet! We also took photos for the Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum so the morning was not totally wasted. Call me old fashioned but I have a real problem with these half events that the Society is putting on. I would rather talk to the punters until I drop from thirst and heat stroke than sit about for most of the morning waiting for something to happen.

The ’doors’ opened at 2.00pm which gave us about 40 minutes to do a talk before the troops went off to die horribly for States Rats or The Union, depending on colour preference. When the battle started, us civilians found ourselves in the thick of it with skirmishers fore and aft. The Union artillery then set up their hardware in the street and things got interesting as the detonations rolled over us followed by clouds of sulphurous smoke. Angela’s chicken must have tasted like Vesuvius by the time the battle was over. She was tempted to tell the troops to go and play somewhere else.

Be that as it may, we had a good crowd after the battle and our new barriers proved a good idea, keeping 99% of all known public at bay. There were a few who strained eagerly at the ropes to point and try to pick up some of my stuff but they were quickly dispatched with my Fijian cannibal fork...OK so I exaggerate! There were a few people who saw us last year, and it is quite satisfying knowing that you have corrupted the young with useless information that they can then pass on to their friends. What amazes me is that they come back for more!

Laz and I were not sure about running another light show tonight, the constant wind had worn me out and I had ingested enough wood smoke to make me feel quite nauseated. I find it quite amusing when going for a health check and being asked if I smoke – I probably inhale more noxious campfire smoke than I do tobacco!

While I was chatting to our neighbours about their new Crimean War uniforms a little girl came and stood in front of me, she looked intently up at me then suddenly asked me what time the show was going to be and I knew at that point that no matter the weather, and a lot of that was predicted, and no matter how duff I felt: “The Show Must Go On!”

The wind was whipping up a treat by the time we got set up, as Laz said it was strong enough to bend the light beam! We used the back of AJ’s tent tonight, the indoor show, while a great concept simply didn’t work. Laz did ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and I did another version of the Beast Hunt, this one featuring the AJ-Orville Mutation. There was a point during my recital when the wind chucked a load more smoke down my throat and I thought I was going to puke – that would have been some magic lantern show!

Once we finished I went to bed, I was exhausted and it was only about 10.00 pm. More to the point I had only drunk a glass of wine with my dinner. If this is what 10 years of re-enacting do to your drinking ability I might as well pack up ASAP! Despite the nausea I slept like the dead and neither the wind beating rain against the canvas, the horrid damp cold or loud people dented my slumber.

Monday: While I had slept well, my head was thumping this morning and the weather was still not good. Laz had been flooded during the night and while I prepared breakfast the tent flapped and strained in the gusts and finally buckled under the impact. It looked like a big bat that had hit something hard...suddenly! The Richmond Enquirer tent also suffered, thankfully only one side of that great beast came undone and we helped Angela get it sorted before it could become airborne. Like us Van and Angela had decided that a retreat was a good idea.

We pondered on what the day was going to hold and decided that the wind would not help us with our shows, it was time for Grynm & Tooms to leave town. Actually we left it a bit late to decide and had to rush in order to get off the street before the public turned up. I went to the Texas street to say good bye but only Jake, Alex and Montana about, I couldn’t see the others, perhaps they were sheltering in the trees.

Once we moved near the trees there was an entirely different weather system, positively balmy, a haven for all those Spring things like plants not adapted to gale force conditions, willow warblers twittering and a small white butterfly that would have been travelling at 70mph had it strayed into the open.

This is Professor Leonidas Grymm...signing out...