Dr Tooms and I arrived at Royal Gunpowder Mills around
9:00 a.m. – it was a fantastically cold and sunny morning with a
light frost - a good day for a hike, as I often say. We set up inside
L168, a large building containing a barge, a train and a truck.
I think we fitted in well with this strange collection and I completed
this odd array of transportation by putting out the model of the
Henson & Stringfellow ‘Aerial’
Oddly enough this machine is usually on show but is often ignored
by visitors or simply put down as a Da
Vinci or a Wright
Bros. Production although today someone remarked on the
wonderfully eccentric Sir
Brian kindly let us use the sign that they had made for
us in summer; just as well really, my ‘Grymm’s World of Wonders’
sign was still on the wall at home and the ‘Tooms Medical Marvels’
sign was in the loft wrapped in my striped table cover that should
also have been with us....der!
Today we had something really special to put out; an Edison
Phonograph, we had finally gone Multi-Media
Victoriana! This amazing little contraption was made by
Dr. Tooms and it now sat on a window sill pouring out slightly
distorted and tinny Christmas Carols. More seasonal ambience included
cloves scattered around to be crushed by the thronging public, some
holly branches and sprigs of mistletoe here and there – Charley
the Shrunken head got no takers despite the couple of leaves
in his hair. Mr. Gage’s skull, on the other hand, looked as though
The World Tree was growing out of his mangled pate.
I was shelling a hard boiled egg when I realised that the visitors
had arrived, that half peeled egg was to sit there for several hours
before I got to take a bite out of it! We were inundated with people
and it also became apparent that, like Custer,
we had made a bit of a tactical error: we were too far forward and
we were rapidly flanked and surrounded by eager youngsters. One
little girl thought my abandoned breakfast was part of the show.
The crowds were amazing and we had a great time with the young
and old alike, we just couldn’t stop – the show must go on! I finally
got to eat about 2:30 p.m. It was not until the sun had come round
into our faces that I realised that we had talked for hours without
I had a slightly surreal moment when I saw Dr. Tooms playing
with a spinning top, He had either lost his marbles or the cold
and food deprivation had finally got the better of me and I was
starting to hallucinate. As it turned out Santa had given the kids
traditional toys and the good doctor was simply showing a youngster
how to use it.
Another young lady was intrigued by the eggs, apart from the hummingbird
nest all I had with me was the ostrich and great auk model – I always
remind people that it is illegal to take wild
bird eggs and that all of mine are either models or farmed.
Free range chicken eggs come in all shapes and sizes and can be
painted as raptor eggs.
I had one hard boiled egg left so I compared it with the ostrich
egg. She was sceptical about the reality of this chicken egg until
I picked it up, bashed it and started to take the shell off – the
effect was interesting!
The temperature dropped rapidly in the latter part of the afternoon
and it was time to pack up. I could have sworn we were told that
there would be two shows – if there was we missed the break.
Brian and Lynne came over for a chat while we were
packing. It was great to finally meet Lynne; she has only been a
disembodied voice up until now. It had been an excellent show both
for us and The Mills, it was also a rather good way of finishing
the season: we opened and closed at Royal Gunpowder Mills
and once again we got excellent ‘reviews’ from public and the organisers
This is Prof. Grymm wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and
an excellent 2007