Friday: We arrived early afternoon and found that, contrary
to myth, we were going to camp on the same green as last year. While
we waited for Frank to let us onto the green, we chatted
with Van and his Crimean Crew. I get a bit confused
with Crimean War uniforms; many still had that Napoleonic War
cut to them and a few styles would find their way onto the field
in the early days of the Great War.
Finally we were set up and relaxed with a gin and tonic,
enjoying the warm evening awaiting the arrival of our guest, the
randomly generated Malachi Sternberg. We waited quite a long
time and when I called his home I found that he had left an hour
earlier, which was about the time he should have arrived. Malachi
finally arrived about four hours late, we had already eaten by then
so we left him to it, although I can’t quite figure out what sort
of person takes muesli to a shared meal! Then again another friend
of mine once took a durian to a barbeque!!
Saturday: Sunshine, breakfast on the lawn, a buzzard and
red kite flying side by side over the house. Quite frankly I could
have sat like that all day but the show must go on! My first visitor
was a veteran who had been stationed in the Far East during
Emergency. Having seen Charley, he told me about
his time in Malaya and how the occasional head would be offered
to British troops as a souvenir. I read a novel many years ago that
mentioned head shrinking by Dayaks
but I have never found any real evidence of this.
and Jon Walton arrived we collected a new smoking cap
that we commission at TORM;
this was for Cassandra and was done in the glorious colours
of the Women’s Suffrage movement. Malachi had also
bought one of Jane’s now famous smoking
caps so we posed for a couple of group photos for her to advertise
I met a Japanese lady who was intrigued by the mermaid.
She told me that you can see ‘mummified’ mermaids in shrines and
that if you eat a piece of the dried flesh you will become immortal.
I guess that would depend on your immunity to whatever chemicals
were used to preserve the thing!
We met The
Rapscallions, many of whom are our friends from Laredo,
who were now portraying a bunch of gents playing cricket while the
ladies sat around enjoying a picnic. I must admit that we have rarely
seen our friends looking so dapper, usually they are a rough, scruffy,
scarred mob who would sell their grannies for a cup of gin and yet,
here they were in shirtsleeves whacking a cricket ball across the
field and shouting “Howzat!” I don’t pretend to understand
cricket and have something of a distrust of airborne leather balls
heading for my face.
The very hot day ended with a heavy downpour that went on for
ages and we ended up eating under canvas.
Sunday: The rain had passed and it was a beautiful morning
so we took the opportunity to meet up with photographer Alex
Burnham to sit for a couple of tin types. Alex has
created one of the most amazing living history displays for photography
that we have seen; his gear, including bottles of mostly unpleasant
developing fluids, travels with him in a cabinet and he uses aluminium
(aluminum to our American friends) for the photos instead of tin,
probably because it is considerably cheaper. *
Early photography was a bit hit and miss at times and occasionally
Alex had to retake the shot several times to get a good photo.
For us the lighting was perfect and the three photos we sat for
came out a treat. In an age of instant digital photography there
is something truly wondrous watching your image developing in front
of you. The strange thing is we now take more pictures than ever
before and print out or develop almost none of them.
The day turned very windy and I had to pack most of my stuff up
when rain threated to put a stop to our museum. I mentioned that
Mr. Sternberg was random and today he continued to be so,
disappearing every now and then without so much as a by your leave
and at one point leaving ectoplasm waving in the wind. It is only
ectoplasm while there is someone with it after that it is just plastic.
We gave Mr. Sternberg a sound thrashing with a borrowed horse whip
when he returned from his absence…well, we might have.
I took a turn around the house with Malachi in the afternoon
and when I returned I found that the Rapscallions were having
a game of petanque that included at least three sets of balls,
leaving enough round shot scattered across the lawn to reenact Waterloo.
When P T Barnum was touring in England he discovered
that many items ‘excavated’ on the Waterloo battlefield were made
in Birmingham and suitably weathered.
My last show of the day was most enjoyable, a friend of mine turned
up and her partner was most impressed by my platypus, while Charley
had his photo taken several times – he sure gets around for a fake
dead guy! While chatting to a couple of my visitors, I discovered
that their family heritage included Mary
Darwin, which is a pretty impressive lineage for anyone.
We had, again, been lucky with the weather and the dread threat
of rain before home time did not arrive. Many thanks once again
to Frank for all his help with our gear; I am getting far
too old to lug stuff up a haha!!
This is Prof Grymm stocking up on boules from Gettysburg
* Actually, I think it is so that they can be distinguished from
authentic tin types. (Laz)