Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Petersfield Museum - 18th December 2009



Friday: We had met Victoria Guest at the Re-enactors Market earlier this year and she was interested in us going down to Petersfield Museum to do a show there. This show eventually became an invite to do a magic lantern show for the public…oh dear what have we done!?

We had popped down to the museum in October; it was as I recall, a rather lovely autumnal day. I had a certain amount of trepidation about a lantern show for the public bearing in mind that a) it mostly works on some sort of Cosmic Trickster Auto-Pilot, b) we have only done it for re-enactors and their barrage of banter and innuendo, and c) something always…always goes wrong!!

Because of the recent heavy snow we called Victoria early in the day to check that the show had not been cancelled: It had not, so we set off in plenty of time to get there and set up and then have a rest while hordes of public bayed for knowledge at the door. It took us what felt like weeks to only almost get out of London and when we were finally free of the place and heading south–west we could not help noticing that the roads and fields got whiter.

I wish I could remember where the hall was. When we had last been here Victoria had taken us to the church hall via the police station, the church, the museum and then back round via the museum itself…possibly not quite in that order. As it turned out, the hall is just across the road from the police station and Victoria managed to get us their disabled car park; this was a real stroke of luck since poor Dr. Tooms was going to have a hard time just getting across that frozen humped road. In order to get Tooms across the road I had to use strategy and field craft just to find a relatively clear way across.

Getting the gear into the hall was equally fun since the ramp was iced up and at one point one of the mats Victoria had put down for traction gave way under me and it was only feline reflexes, yoga and a lot of luck that kept my balance.

We had two viewings planned; a matinee for all the family and a main for adults, the only difference being that we would only have to do the ‘Queen of Hearts’ once. We had also brought along a few of our Grymm Tooms Picture Co. exhibits which was just as well as while we were not inundated with visitors (due to the weather) some turned up rather early and it was great, once again, to see how fascinated people are in the zoetrope and stereoscope.

Just before the matinee, we met Katie Hill, The Herald Photographer, who took quite a lot of photos. There is a certain oddness, shall we say, about having your picture taken instantly with a digital camera when you re-enact people who stood around for ages with rods and neck braces just to take one plate. It was also obvious from her reaction to some shots that they were only of use on wanted posters!

We did away with the handheld torch for lighting and opted for some real light using the wonders of electricity – what a difference that made. And so the lights went out and we started with ‘Tom & Jackie go sliding’; I must say that when we planned the programme we had no idea that we would be doing quite a bit of sliding ourselves! Within a few minutes the Trickster had struck – there was a clatter as Tooms shoved the slide carrier with a bit too much enthusiasm and it flew out the other side of the lantern.

After the show, we had plenty of time for questions and our visitors had another chance to play with some of our toys; I must say some kids were a little enthusiastic with the zoetrope and at the speed it was going they were more likely to be mesmerised by the images…perhaps we could put some subliminal adverts in a couple of the strips.

Between shows I chatted to Dave, a volunteer. I was about to have some mulled apple juice when I noticed that the ladle had fallen into the pan. Dave was about to put his hand in, a sort of ordeal by fruit juice, when he thought better of it and used something else to get the hot ladle out. It was soon time for our next instalment, so grabbing a mince pie I headed back for our main feature for the adults.

While the matinee had gone mostly smoothly we had a few interesting experiences on the next run. On two occasions during the show, our light source slipped out of the lantern, for a moment not only was my night vision wrecked but I also felt like a bug heading for an ultra violet zapper.

During the ‘Time That Tooms Forgot’, I started to describe the slide with the meal on it. I had never really looked that closely at this but, on closer inspection, it appears to be a rather odd meal with chicken, Brussels sprouts and a garnish of a single physalis fruit - only what I said was, “How very odd, they have put a syph…physalis as a garnish…” And so, slightly blinded by the light and botanically misinformed, we finished our first public magic lantern show, what an adventure!

Victoria and Vaughn helped us get our gear to the car, but getting Tooms to the car was a lot harder. Having managed to get him safely across the road we could not get him on to the pavement. Then, suddenly, inna flash, I remembered a picture of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh as he lay his cloak down for her to cross a puddle. I got a blanket from the car and laid it over the ice and Tooms made it across the couple of feet of horrid, shiny ice.

We would like to thank Victoria, especially since she had taken us on board purely on what she had heard from others and had never seen one of our chaotic lantern shows before.

This is Prof Grymm…wishing all our friends and patrons a Jolly Good Yule and a fortuitous New Year.