A bit of spit and polish

Next June my British Shot Gun, Firearms and Black Powder licences all expire. They were last renewed from 18th June 2015 – a significant date in the re-enactment calendar.

I have decided not to renew any of these. At the age of 65 I am not being repaid for this administrative hoop-jumping by the amount of fun generated.

So I still have to dispose of two firelock muskets, two flintlock carbines and two doglock pistols. I have potential buyers for half of these.

But I was appalled to find when getting the guns out of the secure cabinet just how much rust had accumulated over the last 18 months or so since I last cleaned them and put them away.

This morning I wave been working on my Brown Bess style carbine. It has been totally dismantled, scrubbed, polished and all the parts wiped over with olive oil. Olive oil is a useful gun accessory, and at the first sign of rain I always give a quick wipe over any gun I happen to be carrying at a re-enactment event. It will protect both wood and metal. It works equally well for swords and pole-arms.

A modern 17th Century weekend – a dog’s eye view.

Sparky says:

“We’re home again now.  We went to a reenackment (I think).  A reenackment is where humans take carry-vans and other tiny houses and they all play together in a big field.  It is exciting and scary and fun and boring.

He took my carry-van right to the end of the field and talked to the nice make-food ladies.  Then He played with the carry-van and built a little house on the side of it.  He put Sparky’s den in the little house and covered it with silver stuff.  Rich Sparky!  

More Humans came with their carry-vans, their dogs and their small Humans (I call them people-puppies).  Then She (my other best Human) came too and we played Ball.  There were lots of wopses and most of the Humans and some doggies got badly hurted.  I wasn’t afraid because He is the Wopsfinder-General who kills wopses dead.  But He got bitten by other nasty flying things instead and His legs went all spotty and fat.

Later, after the dark was switched on, some ‘Orses came on a lorry, but they had to get off the lorry and stand in a field of grass all night.  Poor ‘Orses!

Next day all the Humans turned themselves into Soldiers.  There are Good Soldiers and Bad Soldiers.  The Good Soldiers ride  the ‘Orses.  Other Good Soldiers carry big sticks, but too big for even Sparky to fetch.  Bad Soldiers have things like big doggy dinner cans that they hit with sticks, going bong, bong-a-bong bong, bong-a-bong bong – all day!

Sparky doesn’t like the bong-a-bongs, so he goes to his den or into the carry-van. Other Soldiers have sticks that go kerrrump!, then pop, pop, pop-pop.  He laughs and says “Call that a vollee?”  Sparky doesn’t laugh.  But the Worst Soldiers have big toys on wheels that go fizzzzz-BOOOM!!!. Sparky needs to hide under the table for those.

For the first “battle” (even if it was a walkies away), Sparky hid in the Carry-Van.  First I hid in the shower, but it was wet.  So I hid in my bed, but then that was wet too.  Then They came back so it was all right again.  I had treats.

I found a new place to hide.  It’s called “Damndogs-under-the-car”.  It is safe.  It is so safe that I shouted at Him to tell Him so when he tried to get me out.  He said I could get burnted (Ouch-Sparky-Hot) if I did that sort of thing and if nobody knew.  In the end I hid in my den until the noisybangs stopped.

Then everyone else went home and He went to bed in the carry-van.  I looked after Him and in the morning we tidied all the toys and the little house away and took the carry-van home again.  Then He had to take all His toys out again and put them in the where-we-live.”

http://www.marlborough-tc.gov.uk/whats-on/eventdetail/1785/-/marlborough-under-attack-civil-war-re-enactment

Calling all UK reenactors

In the last couple of decades there has been a great deal of legislation affecting and in the main restricting our reenactment hobby.

You may think that you cannot influence this, or you may simply leave it to your society’s organising body or NARES to speak on your behalf.

When I used to serve on various reenactment committees I had a subscription to Hansard, the daily record of every word spoken in the UK parliamentary sessions.  On a daily basis I would search for keywords and read the surrounding discussions. I often wrote to my MP with views, questions and suggestions.

 But I have found a more user-friendly tool. If you subscribe to http://www.theyworkforyou.com you can automatically receive an e-mail when keywords are spoken, or you can follow your local MP to see what he/she said and how he/she has voted.

I currently have an alert for my MP and for the keywords “shotgun”, “firearm”, “sword”, “knife” and “explosive”.

It is also useful as a route to taking part in public enquiries.

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During the public consultation period before legislation relating to storage of gunpowder and other explosives was introduced I, as a registered powder store owner and Powder Officer for the UK Napoleonic Association was obviously very interested.

I received from the Home Office a consultation document of several hundred pages with the title: “Storage and Handling of Explosives”.

With a couple of hours in flight on a business trip I took the opportunity to peruse the document and make notes.

When arriving at our destination I found that the two passengers who had been seated next to me were headed for the same factory, so we shared a taxi.

En route, one of them asked me: “What was that you were reading on the ‘plane?”. I explained, and he said: “Thank God! We had decided that if you went to the toilet we would call a steward!”

I never even thought I might be considered a potential terrorist, but a lesson learned about how easily one’s activities can be misinterpreted.

A re-enactor remembers, No.1

In the English Civil War Society of the 1990s it was common for those of the female persuasion to take rôles as male musketeers.

After all, who wants to accompany their male partner, or travel on their own, several hundred miles to spend the weekend cooking or sewing while the blokes have all the real fun?

Our “regiment” had no problem with this. In my view, most of us were too old, too healthy and too fat. Where was the problem in being too female, provided that you made an effort not to be too feminine?

But, as a junior officer, there was one problem with commanding a company that could be, on some days, up to 70% female*. It has been documented that female mammals as a group in close company tend to synchronise their menstrual cycles as a semi-defensive mechanism against male attentions.

So, at some events, stentorian commands, such as “SHOULDER YOUR MUSKETS” had to be accompanied by submissive eye contact, indicating “Please?”. Thank God that the ladies never had bayonets! I hope and believe that I was able to quite accurately read the general mood for the general well-being of all.

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* When I was a corporal with 6 or 7 musketeers under command, I found that I frequently seemed to gather the same half-dozen ladies in my file. They called themselves “Paul’s Bang Gang”

A re-enactor’s remeniscence

Back in 2002, taking part in a living history display representing 1642 in the undercroft of the Banqueting House in Whitehall, Central London.

My rôle was hand-sewing linen sheets together, supposedly preparing tentage for the troops in the expected dispute between the King and the Parliament, but actually manufacturing an awning for my re-enactment officer’s tent.

Mid-afternoon I fell asleep, slumped forward on my stool.

I awoke to find a group of school-children clustered around me, and a hand-written cardboard notice: “This exhibit is currently out of order.”

 

 

 

 

Continue reading A re-enactor’s remeniscence

For Wargamers – forming square

For any wargamers who think that you can form a nice, neat square in one turn, this sequence of photographs show what actually happens when something like a half-battalion is approached by a troop of cuirassiers.

http://thomason-photography.net/Waterloo/CavalryAttack2015/

Note how the light company  and the Rifles decided to form their own defensive clumps because there simply was no time to safely reach home.

This then gave the rest of us a problem because there was a light company sized hole in the rear of our square!

Incidentally, talking to one of the spectators the next day, he told me that he watched this incident and said to his wife “Look at those chaps – they’re not going to make it.”, which was very much my own feeling (in the square) at the time.

Old Technology

Found in the attic

While digging out our advent tree from the attic I came across my old portable typewriter.

I bought this machine from Argos en route to a re-enactment event in the late 1980s or early 1990s, simply because I was the “Adjutant” for Sir Thomas Blackwell’s Regiment of the English Civil War Society at the time and the monthly newsletter was due the next week.

Photographs exist of me, dressed as a 17th century peasant, furiously typing away at the front of my tent on a Saturday evening in order to meet the copy deadline.

The following Monday evening would see me at our office photocopier running off 100 copies, followed by a late session folding, stapling and enveloping the results.

On Tuesday I would print the address labels and get stuff posted.

Aah, those were the days…