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 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
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
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
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.