Friday: We arrived in the mid afternoon, after a slight
detour to the wrong gate, and then followed a lady on a buggy to
our pitch. As we were unpacking I noticed something rather odd,
I had put King Charles’s the
First’s Parrot in the passenger seat for safety and it now
looked as though it was waiting to be taken somewhere. We had loads
of room although our right flank seemed to be one of the few non-flat
bits around. Once everything was set up we chilled out for a while.
Oddly enough this was one of the few occasions when I did not change
to period clothing, and something I later regretted somewhat as
it was rather a chilly evening. Mike the Viking was to join
us for dinner but he turned up almost two hours late and ate his
chicken dish cold.
Saturday morning was warming even as we had our breakfast
and afterwards I wandered about to get an idea of the place. Home
were on our right and behind us were La
Columna. Over in the Viking camp a sizable pig was
being prepared for cooking. I kept hearing a mule braying and at
one point I was convinced it was a recording. Don’t ask me why,
perhaps my brain had not warmed up yet. But there it was looking
at me in that way mules look...I vaguely recalled a film about a
mule...or perhaps I dreamed it.
This was going to be a long and hot day; once the gates were open
the public arrived in droves. They would not be leaving until gone
6 pm. We were scheduled to do three main talks during the day, I
decided that mine would be about the fakes and their associated
conspiracies; after all anecdotes about Neanderthals and
Great Auks have only so much mileage. This way I could leave
our visitors to ask about items and then I could talk at length
about mermaids, horned rabbits, etc. and finish off
with the platypus which, while not a fake, was once believed
to be a bit of taxidermal trickery.
Two of my visitors were a young couple who knew far more about
Megalasaurs than I would have expected, it took a while for
the penny to drop but I got there in the end – I was talking to
Palaeontologists! While I was giving one talk a couple of WWI German
reconnaissance planes came over, these were then followed by the
most impressive array of WWI aircraft that I have ever seen: SE5a,
and a Sopwith
Triplane. I was told that they were flown by WWII veterans.
One young lad was not overly impressed by the mermaid but brightened
up when I showed him the little netsuke
one. “She’s got boobies!” he exclaimed covering his mouth gleefully!
Another boy seemed captivated by everything and just when I thought
he had run out of questions he would come up with something else.
“I’d just like to ask you one more thing” he would say politely
and point to an item. “...one more thing” actually ran for about
15 questions until he was finally satisfied. I think his mum thought
he was overdoing things but that kind of curiosity deserves some
I drank water constantly just to keep up with the heat and while
I was chatting I was handed a bowl of ice cream by Cassandra.
Those little horn bowls we bought a couple of seasons back come
in handy and are historically accurate since cornets are just out
of our time
zone. Still there is always some smart alec who comments.
The show was slowly coming to a close and it would soon be time
for the parade so we started packing up our stuff. As I was boxing
up the specimens a young girl came up gnawing on a gob-stopper
the size of Jupiter. She had obviously been worrying the
thing for some time as her face and hands were covered with white,
sugary gunk and... she was reaching out to touch something...“The
horror, the horror!”...but I got there just in time.
The three of us made our way to the parade, I carried the mermaid,
Tooms carried Gage and Cassandra took one of our new
banners. We found ourselves by the ACWS
Crimean War Unit and the Heilbron
Commando. And then we were off. Tooms had trouble
keeping up so dropped out and, I later learned, walked into a ‘gopher’
hole! As we reached the commentary box it was obvious that they
did not know who we were...two people with a banner can’t be that
hard to identify and since we were following The
Diehards we were announced as ‘Empire Missionaries’.
Grymm Tooms is obviously an influential force in Her Majesty’s
I must say it felt rather odd being in the parade, the last time
I was in one of these walk through parades I was at the head of
the 4th Texas carrying the colours, now here I was holding
a mutant herring!
Finally the show was over and we could settle down to that well
earned beer. Mike arrived with a couple of bottles of wine,
well one of them was wine and I’m not entirely sure what the fizzy,
orange stuff actually was now I think on it.
Then Dawn turned up about 7pm, she must have been one of
the last visitors on site and she was sort of marooned, having somehow
misplaced her husband. Dawn is a chorister, as we found out
when Mike asked her to sing something and by a strange twist
in the Millipede of Synchronicity she had sang at the same event
as Mike some time back. Husband finally located, Dawn
left us over an hour later.
I woke up early to the sound of rain on canvas. Sunday,
it seemed, was not going to be a sunny day. Still it had its moments
between bits of wet. Laz and Cassandra went off to
spend lots of money at Ali’s and within five minutes of them
leaving the rain came back in earnest. Thankfully the Department
of Visual Perception had already been put away and the Medical
department is mostly waterproof, my Natural History Department
on the other hand started looking very sorry and I had to unceremoniously
chuck most of it under the table. Throughout this I managed to talk
to one gentleman and even got in a talk about Mr.Gage.
Thankfully the weather cleared by the afternoon and we could put
most of our stuff out again. It also dried off the tents very nicely
for the return journey. It had been a very good show with lots of
interested and interesting folks to talk to.
This is Prof. Grymm heading for the Sauce of the Nile...