Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Stanford Hall 2005 and the Royal visit



Friday: We arrived at Stanford Hall at around 7.30pm after a very pleasant drive. By a strange twist of the average colon, we again find ourselves camped on the union street and this time with the drum major at the end where AJ’s tent should have been. Now last year this was a mistake, although quite frankly this is my 3rd trip to this venue and we have always been on this spot! This event is not Cassandra’s favourite and also used to coincide with her birthday, so just for the hell of it we told BJ that Cassandra was not going to be there. We also told her that the croquet set was at home…hee…hee. While BJ stressed about croquet we pulled Cassandra out of Lazarus’s top hat to amazed gasps of the street!!!

Saturday: Just after breakfast a most eccentric individual wandered into our street looking for Prof. Grymm. This was Joshua Norton, better known to those who have heard of him as Norton 1st Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. My interest in this incredible individual was triggered by a throw-away comment in CSI, this in turn triggered a somewhat dusty memory and this then lead me to write an article for the Alamo on Norton I. If that is not enough synchronicity for you, I started the article on 8th January without realising that Norton died on 8th January 1880!!! I was channelling a wonderful Victorian who also bore enough resemblance to Laz for me to convince him, in that convincing charming way I have, that he really should play the Emperor. And play him he did in the most amazing manner. And so ACWS had an emperor. When we went to see Stuart at the hospital his eyes almost popped at the similarity between Laz and Norton – it really is uncanny. In fact the whole thing was so uncanny that it went over the Board’s head like the ghost of a giraffe’s bottom cough.

The Emperor inspected the troops; made AJ the Duke of Texas and then I escorted him for the day. It was really wonderful to do something different for a change. After our wander, during which West Point Sutlers became a ‘by Royal appointment’ establishment after presenting Norton I with another walking stick, we went over for Colours; that ancient institution during which things are said, unsaid, reorganised and a man shall lose his hammer and the thingee that fits…while Norton was standing in plain view of the Board, he was oddly invisible to them.

In the afternoon we had a game of croquet; ‘we’ as in Cassandra, Jackie, the Emperor and yours truly. Like so many people, my knowledge of this enigmatic game is taken from ‘Alice’ and I can now say from experience that it is a very enjoyable and competitive sport. Mind you we were also playing on a ‘lawn’ where the ball was slowed, or even stopped in the mini equivalent of the Pampas. Jackie played very well, even though she kept forgetting her extra shot, Norton played heroically and won, as royalty should, while Cassandra and the Prof battled for 3rd and 4th places.

After the match Jackie had a brilliant idea that would solve the rough grass problem once and for all: Kyle and Firebug were handed a pair of scissors each and set lawn mowing duties by Montana…What a sight as the grumbling lads clipped at the rough grass with their pathetic blades! Well done, lads!

While we sat and enjoyed a well earned rest – tough game, croquet – BJ arrived with a parcel from our surgeon, who is on leave this weekend. The package was for Cassandra and was her birthday present.

Big Mick, as Lord Tiberius De’Ath, had been very secretive this weekend about a prize trophy. I couldn’t get any info out of him but it was at last revealed. Lord De’Ath had shot a moose of such utter cuteness and fluffocity that it was almost a shame that it had met such an end! It is rather strange where we can have a cuddly animal skin for a kid’s room but not the real thing, no matter how hard we try we just can’t get away from that hunter gatherer ancestor – funny old world innit! At one point Mick draped the thing over his head and shoulders and in the firelight seemed to take on the persona of some ancient woodland god – complete with fluffy antlers.

At last the moment so many people had waited for arrived – The Grymm Tooms Picture Co presented another successful magic lantern show which included ‘The Beast of Berkeley’. Great fun was had by all and it was really great to see so many people lugging their chairs over to watch that show. And what was the Beast of Berkeley?? You’ll just have to watch the show to find out…..

Sunday: It was hot early on and the day got progressively hotter as it went on until you could fry a moose in a biscuit tin…speaking of which…Mick brought out his trophy, so we took lots of pictures of it attacking our camp.

I set up my stuff but I must say I wasn’t going to hold my breath for the punters to turn up, but I persevered in the searing heat. The American photographer who we met last year wanted to interview me but “because the light was wrong…” wanted me to move my stuff and I didn’t want to – fame doesn’t have the same appeal to me as it did years ago. Nia came up with a new name for ‘The Club that Killed Captain Cook’ – ‘The Club that Dude who Got Hit on the Head With’.

All in all the only real heat damage was to a member on Saturday and poor Andy had to spend most of his day at the hospital with the guy. It was also great that Stuart went around with lots of Gatorade glucose stuff. It was also Firebug’s first battle and he did a damn good job with the battle flag – well done.

Postscript: Just as we reached the M11 the car gave a wobble and a lurch and Lazarus pulled over to the hard shoulder, I got out and had a look around. The right front tyre was flatter than a road kill, and we had just had a bloody lucky escape! I didn’t particularly want to think what the consequences could have been had we been in the middle lane. As it was we were still in a very dangerous position, having pulled up not far from a bend. Fortunately Lazarus had a hazard sign which he set up well behind us so that on coming traffic would see us. And then the waiting began. Finally about an hour later, we were rescued and towed off the motorway by the motorway rescue guys, only this was not the homeward journey that we were hoping for.

We were taken to the Chigwell Works Unit, there the J B Hood was looked over and then we were taken to a waiting room, a plain white porta-cabin type thing with a table, some chairs and a bug zapper. We had to explain to the engineer that Lazarus was not drunk and always walked like that. After the paper work we were left to contemplate our surroundings. The windows were wired over, and apart from a few magazines that included Woman’s Weekly – how surreal is that – and the odd dead, or crippled moth that was about it. I couldn’t help thinking that we were in an interrogation room from an alien abduction scenario and I wondered how quickly I could cut an exit with my Swiss Army Knife.

Another hour passed, at last the AA turned up but he was just checking things over. We opted to sit in the car; none of us could face that cabin again, at least this way we could get some shut eye. We didn’t have a clue where we were, the place looked like some sort of government research unit. Trucks with lots of flashing amber lights came and went, in fact the whole place had an X-Files/Man in Black feel to it and no doubt tomorrow we would wake up naked in the Atacama Desert holding a herring.

Our rescuer finally turned up at nearly 2.30am; even he had problems trying to find the place. Getting Lazarus up into the cab was interesting. Having survived the motorway and acute boredom I was now at risk of being crushed by my friend as I helped him up the steep steps. We finally arrived home at 03.00 and not 21.30 as we had hoped!

Post-post-script: Lazarus’s car was named the J B Hood, not so much from sentiment but for the fact that over the years it has cost him ‘an arm and a leg’ in repairs…as they say!

Post-post-post script: The Atacama Desert is in South America and is possibly the hottest, most bum searing place on earth.

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