Friday: The last time we came to Battle was a few years
back to watch a re-enactment of the 1066
battle, we had gone down in the ‘John
Bell Hood’, Laz’s old people carrier that had
been named thus not simply to honour the famous General but also
because it broke down so many times it had cost him an arm and a
leg, as the old saying goes.
When we arrived at the Abbey gates, Laz called our
contact: “Hi Tom, we are outside the castle”. Tom hoped that
we had not driven to some random castle in another part of the country.
Slight confusion over, we got in and wormed our way along the footpath
to our spot, which as it later turned out was not far from the monument
We were also with the same bunch of wonderful people we had met
Castle last year, although, for some odd reason, Eric
& Val, the rat people, were quite a way off.
Part of our evening meal included cucumber
sandwiches; these had been obsessively made by Dr Tooms.
I always thought that all you did was slap a few slices of limp
‘cumber into a couple of slices of bread. “It’s a bit more complicated
than that”, said Dr Tooms during an exclusive interview, “It’s the
British equivalent of sushi!” I dare say it is, but de-crusting
slightly stale bread and patting dry the filling is not likely to
replace salmon eggs or succulent tuna.
The raspberry jelly that followed put up a hell of a fight to get
out of the mould, it hung in there like a limpet with attitude but,
when it was finally persuaded to emerge, it ended up looking like
a critter that had gone through a jet engine…still it was rather
yummy. There was a bit of a breeze blowing this evening and we hoped
that it would die off for the rest of the weekend.
Saturday started warm and with something approaching a certain
oddness; Eve had bought a couple of monster prawns that could
have starred in a ‘50s B-Movies…man those bugs were big! This arthropod
episode was followed with a conversation with Jules about
making fake turds for the Pelicans display; apparently there
is a website out there that explains the ingredients to make historical
And so the show started, we were billed to do two shows but when
The Hangman finished the crowd dispersed…hang on what about
us? Don’t go away, we’re open…look we’ve gotta mermaid! We managed
to get half a dozen somewhat disinterested folks who stood too far
off for us to properly interact with them. Still we tried and almost
died in the process…we were getting nothing back from these people,
it was like talking in a vacuum and I just wanted it all to end
and for me to crawl into a duck mole’s burrow!
The afternoon crowd was much better; we ditched the idea of sticking
to a schedule as it does not work very well for us since we often
rely on what the public want us to talk about. While I was taking
about the cannibal fork I noticed one well muscled gentleman with
some rather interesting tattoos. There I was jabbering about Pacific
Islanders cooking each other, having already, all too late,
recognised the designs as Polynesian in origin. Was I heading
for another duck mole moment? Thankfully not and he told me that
he was from Tahiti and I had a really nice chat with him
and his family, recalling that I once met a couple of very nice
ladies from Fiji who had been very impressed that their country
was being talked about at Detling of all places.
We had, sort of, made plans for a lantern show and as the day progressed
we were asked if we were going to do one…evidently there was no
choice in the matter. Why do we do this? It invariably goes wrong
no matter how hard we try to get it right and tonight was no exception.
During a glitch I ended up talking about the remarkable Emperor
Norton I of the United States of America and Protector of
Mexico. And then something even worse than a glitch happened…they
all wanted ‘Birds & Their Nests’!!
Having run the gauntlet of The Birds we settled down for a nice
social in which copious amounts of ale mingled and co-habited with
quite a bit of wine…it was during all this that we discovered a
common interest, apart from re-enactment, with Wel
and Karen – they are gamers so we all enthused about
P Lovecraft, Wings
of War and various board games before finally calling it
Sunday…early…hot….horrid buzzing sound. I soon realised
that the sound was not coming from my wine addled head but from
a wasp that snuck into my tent and was now checking out my face!
It was far too early to be chasing bugs around an A-Frame so I sort
of ignored it until it lost interest and left through the tent flap.
I had an option for dress today, I could go light tropical but
I did that yesterday so I went full colonial, knowing that it was
going to be a hot, still day…it just had to be done. One of my first
visitors was a young man with lots of questions and no interest
or attention span…why me? “Because
you’re here” came a little voice in my head. Thankfully he was
dragged off to face Wel the Sheriff and eventual dismemberment
at the hands of John the Hangman, via blood letting and amputation
from Steve the Surgeon.
Things brightened up when a very nice young lady made quite a detour
to get to me and ask if I did that song from ‘Chitty Chitty Bang
Bang’, presumably the one with Lionel
Jeffries…and not that awful pseudo-Cockney drivel by the
Gosh it was hot…and it got hotter and yet despite heat, flies and
the deadly darts of indifference, we ended up with a really great
crowd who listened and interacted well. And, because of our proximity
to the other performers we got to hear what they had to say. I managed
to last until about 3 pm and then decided that I had done enough
for mad dogs and Englishmen and took my heavy frock coat off.
I took a breather and listened to Aidan talking poo about
poo at the Pelican’s latrine and then after a final burst
of eager folks it was time to pack up and go home. What an excellent
weekend it had been and like the witches in that Play we will all
meet again next year and do…Birds and their nests!!! All the best
to you all and many thanks to Tom for looking after us.
This is Prof. Grymm, hotter than dragon guano inna pith