Saturday, 17 July 2010

Hooray! Huzzah! For English Heritage!

I know I look like the sort of person who spends her time face down in a gutter. I know it by many ways, including crumpled jowls, stained clothes, and the way that meat flies attend me, buzzing round my head.

Another way is the casual manner by which I am treated by National Trust volunteers. They routinely eject me from the properties of the National Treasure. Either that, or tick me off for standing, bending, leaning, sitting, or adopting any human body posture whatsoever while on stately ground.

On the rare occasions I've sneaked by without anyone setting about me, someone with a badge will find me and confiscate my possessions. Including, on at least three separate properties, my very own membership card. The one we actually paid for and no, we did not steal it. As I said, I just look like I live in a gutter.

Of course it cannot be my attitude. The way I slouch and tut. Or my hairstyle, which is coiffure electric. I blame the children. With three looky-likeys growling dangerously, I cannot be ignored, abused or hated enough. It needs to be done on a national scale.

I try not to bear grudges.

I fail, obviously, so I mention in passing that at Waddesdon Manor I was unceremoniously ejected from the house on account of possessing a single squirming toddler. The keeper of the National House of Glory became increasingly agitated, and started to squawk and flap when I distracted my thrashing offspring by pointing at a mirror. It calmed dear daughter down; she stretched out a small hand to reach the reflection, but the Keeper went berserk, fled up to me, snapped DO NOT TOUCH and suggested I might like to leave, immediately.

I get my own back. The National Trust own acres and acres of countryside. The volunteers don't police that, peering over hummocks, on the look-out for untrustworthy troublemakers like me who crawl from hobbit holes. A perfect place for my surreptitious revenge. In their grassy lands, I steal rocks, and wee.

Now I didn't even want this to be a blast on the National Trust. I just got carried away.

Really, I wanted this post to be about the English Heritage fantabulous Festival of History. The King of Reenactment Festivals, bringing thousands of us ordinary citizens, sprawling with kids and picnic blankets, all into a field, all at once. If that's not trust in the great smelly public, I don't know what is.

This is where they win. They've created something which includes me. Have a go at two thousand years of history. If we pick our period, wear the gear, we could turn up and have a go at the parade ourselves. The Austro-Hungarian war is represented by a bloke in a blue cloak and a hat. It doesn't get more have-a-go than that.

I want to say a big thank you to all you wonderful reenactors with your woolly leggings in the midday sun, your bearskins, metal plates, buckles, armours, cloaks and visors, who make me feel welcome, and you probably don't care how many kids I have. I feel like grabbing a few more and bringing them too.

We're invited to clamber about, muck in, ask bizarre questions, try our hand at an eighteenth century replica musket. We can all roll up our shirt sleeves and our trouser legs, cavort about the grass, stab each other with blunt sticks, and play up for England. We can stick our faces in replica helmets, make funny hats, watch the juggler, slay the johnny foreigners, applaud the victor, politely clap the enemy, and watch the dead arise.

So I know who won. Sorry, National Trust. Better luck next year. And to the victors, three cheers! Hooray! Huzzah!


nixdminx said...

thanks for your comment and I always like discovering new blogs - especially relevant ones, I will drop by again for a longer read very soon

Jax said...

You were there, and we missed you? boo!

MadameSmokinGun said...

I like the last picture. Was that your doing?

sharon said...

Favourite family excursions every Summer. Enormous fun that appealed to my bloodthirsty younger one especially.

Jude said...

I've been a few times, and hope to go again when my kids are older, as I think they'd love it - best of all I can relax as there are no priceless antiques to damage.

I confess that as an ex museum curator I can remember wanting to hand out reins for toddlers at the entrance to the historic house that I was in charge of. However it seems like the member of staff at the house you visited did over-react somewhat! I have more sympathy since having children of my own.