Monday, 10 May 2010

It was a Dark and Stormy Knight...

What happened right next was fairly boring really. Queenie had to rest up while I got to grips with being a Victorian Workhouse Inmate. She made a few visits to Norwich Castle but other than that she became a large and slightly inconvenient heap of pearls and red silk stored under my piano at home.

Then Black Knight Historical happened. Ian Pycroft (there's a link to his website on my Current Bookings page) booked me for a Living History event in Lowestoft where I had to flounce/strut up and down all day talking to members of the public in First Person as Elizabeth I. This produced varying reactions...many thought I was Queen Victoria in spite of the red frizzy wig, white face and blackened teeth. I started on about my terrible troubles with The Tooth Worm to one elderly lady who didn't realise I was QE1 at all, and said sympathetically yet bewilderingly, 'Oh I am sorry dear, I thought you were just pretending'. I still can't quite grasp how many layers of suspended disbelief were happening at that point.

I also received a swift and some might say brutal induction into the world of Re-enactors as opposed to Live Interpreters, when some 15th Century enactors refused to acknowledge my being there because I 'didn't exist yet'(!?). The line between re-enactment and live interpretation is a fine yet twisted one. (If you are desperately interested there's a really good explanation of it on this website My reading of this difference is that for Interpreters, the focus is on the presentation of a character in first or third person in order to communicate facts or feelings to invoke sympathy, understanding, empathy or even shock in the onlooker. For Re-enactors the act of 'being' the character as accurately and authentically as possible, with all the right accoutrements, is key.

So bearing in mind the authenticity issue, which is to Re-enactors as electoral reform is to Lib Dems, that day I had forgotten my cuffs, little ruffs for the wrists. This didn't go down well with my re-enacting colleagues. It's also a bit tricky playing a famous Queen as opposed to an unknown artisan, because people want to be photographed with you (those who know me will appreciate that clearly this is an anathema to me) and I was lucky enough to be photographed by the press, of course, waving my un-cuffed hand. The picture is at the bottom of each page of this blog, because its a great pic even without those darn cuffs.

Anyway the Black Knight himself was there dressed as Henry VIII (Queenie's pa) and, cuffs or no, we had a great day. There was, I recall, a rather lovely falcon in a very cute leather hat. There was also a giant horse there, which in the chronologically organised parade at the end was right behind me, because Oliver Cromwell was riding it, and we had no Stuarts to seperate us. Gah. I'm not keen on horses, I always expect them to rear up all hoofy, and neigh at me.

Under the Black Knight's watchful eye I also participated in the Living History Fair at Mannington Hall in October 2009. So many photo opps- so little time! Outdoor photos from Mannington form the bulk of those on my Gallery page. Travelling to the Hall was interesting. Bumrolls, farthingales and Vauxhall Astra seatbelts do not mix well. I travelled the ten miles or so from my home semi recumbent, on my left side in the front seat, looking out of the window at a peculiar angle, causing consternation at traffic lights. On arrival in the field used as a car park I had no option but to roll out of the car, narrowly avoiding a cowpat, and startling Oliver Cromwell's horse.

Mannington was like an NMAS reunion. As always I spent more time lifting up my skirts to show my underwear than doing anything else. Maybe I should rephrase that... But a great time was had by all. The falcons in their hats were there again, and my revolving exit from the car had already allowed me to get my own back on that horse (for harrumphing unnecessarily behind me at Lowestoft). I bought a beautiful little pomander made from a walnut. I spoke to some Saxons who definitely DID acknowledge my presence in spite of me not existing yet, because they started excitedly waving potions of earwax and mouse-blood at me.

It was all fab. I couldn't wait for whatever happened next!!

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