Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Education at Pendennis Castle

Dig is working today, or possibly hiding in the caravan toilet in case I try acting out my threat of a holiday romance, so in his absence I take Shark, Squirrel and Tiger with me to Pendennis Castle.

Now we are safely on Grit territory. And I don't know what comes over me, but at some point, walking around this fine lump of earth overlooking the entrance to England, Grit makes a silent commitment to proselytise the unsaved. In a fit of historical zeal she wrestles Shark to the ground and forces her to repeat the order of the British kings from Richard III onwards before she is allowed into the Discovery Centre to play with the radar system. These things, I tell Shark while I am banging her on the head with Henry VII, are important to know. If you do not know that Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth, next you will get all your Henrys, Elizabeths, and Edwards mixed up and then where will we be? Lost. That's where. And what will happen to British society? It will collapse. That's what.

At this point, the gritlets probably wish the living history experience is over. But it is not. I direct myself to Tiger, who thinks she is escaping by playing with building blocks. She is actually demonstrating the architecture of a Tudor gun room. She just does not know it yet. She needs some education about that.

By the time I have finished with Tiger who is lying on the floor pleading for mercy I just have Squirrel to go. She is more canny and difficult to catch, but I bait her with the bit of chocolate I keep at the bottom of my handbag with one nibble taken from it and a bit of fluff attached. It does the trick. By the end of fifteen minutes and the threat of a Chinese burn she can give me an informed talk about fortification and communication in South West England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I.

It is true that all of this experience is probably akin to becoming locked in a lift with an Evangelical Christian named Milton, late at night, when the Emergency services have gone home, but this is the way it has to be. Because if the gritlets do not learn their history, who am I going to discuss these important matters with, on my long, long Sundays during visiting hours in the rest home? The staff will have deserted me and Dig will have locked himself in the toilets.

So I know that the gritlets would like me to hang my head in shame and apologise, but I cannot. Because at that moment, in that historic space, it is the right thing to do.

Anyway. They try revenge. On the way home the gritlets force me into the Shire Horse Centre to look at a horse.

What they do not know, and what I find out within seconds, is that the owner of the Shire Horse Centre also hand makes medieval armour and has a special interest in armour of the 14th century.

Grit is born again.

1 comment:

sharon said...

Did you insist on them producing a functional piece of armour before tea-time? However, I do applaud your efforts to build up a store of knowledge for future conversations in the Home for Aged Historical Buffs.