Monday, November 30, 2009

The Chronicler scoops the prize ...

Dr Phillpotts has been on enquiries en famille in Tunisia "sampling the delights of Roman cities, troglodyte dwellings and camels."

This is a family blog, Dr Phillpotts, so private emails only about the camels, please. He continues:

"With reference to a fairly recent posting of a near-naked Noakes looking regal with a large white sceptre: I don't remember the photograph being taken, but I believe it relates to the following episode.

There was in the mid 1970s a popular television programme fronted by Esther Rantzen called 'That's Life', a mixture of consumer items and comic silliness. One of the regular items was 'Heap of the Week' in which members of the public were invited to nominate an unwanted item for imaginative destruction. One week
[it was during 1975. Ed.] the Heap was a large white plaster statue of a seated king, and it was destroyed in the quarry at Crickley Hill.

[Photo of large white plaster King kindly supplied by Mr John Boden who was brandishing his Pentax to pleasing effect that day. Ed.]

We were peacefully excavating the hill-fort interior one day when one of our number (it may have been me) looked out over the rampart to see a troop of Roman soldiers marching up the quarry, and gave the alarm. Believing we might be in a time-warp, we armed ourselves with catbashers and ranging poles, and sallied forth to tackle the invaders, Biggles blowing a rallying cry on the scaffolding pipe. This was in the true spirit of Iron Age warfare, as had been nobly elucidated to us by the lectures of R D A Savage. However, the television crew were less than happy with our noisy arrival, as the presenter was doing his piece to camera at the time.

It turned out that the Ermine Street Guard (for it was they) had been engaged to destroy the offending statue with their small mangonel (or whatever Romans called it) by lobbing missiles at it from across the quarry. In this endeavour the ersatz Romans were singularly ineffective, only succeeding in denting one of the royal knees; so the television crew cheated by pushing the statue off the edge, editing the film afterwards to give the illusion of success.

[Ersatz Romans, being singularly ineffective with a mangonel, also supplied by the Atelier Boden. Ed.]

I can only assume that Noakes was posing with pieces of the debris. I wonder if anyone else remembers the incident? If so, I claim my prize of a free dinner for four at the Albergo Parker.

We did have some later contacts with the Ermine Street Guard. Bryn Boreham (Personality of the Year CH84?) was a member and sometimes wore his armour to parties. I remember trying to play a tune on it with a pair of spoons, one of the more unusual instruments I have played in my eccentric musical career.

Re the picture of John Howell delving in a post-hole with a mallet and a catbasher by his side in CH78, I recall that some of John's post-holes in the gull in that year had fills so hard that they needed robust tools to excavate them. I think even picks were employed."

Dr Phillpotts is correct in all particulars in his recollection, as one would wish a Chronicler to be, and the free dinner at the Albergo Parker is surely his. I think Mr Boden also merits dinner for the excellent and timely illustrations, don't you?

1 comment:

Alan Ford said...

The Elder and Younger Haines', who run the Ermine Street Guard, live in the farmhouse at Cold Slad, clearly visible at the foot of the western slope of the hill.

In 1991 the Guard found themselves a couple of chaps short for an important trip and a representative was sent to the nearest source of likely manpower. Hence Myself and Rob Knell volunteered to the last minute spaces on the Ermine Street Guard's 1991 trip to Martingy, Switzerland for the 500 year anniversary of the Swiss Cantons.

So it was that Legionary Ovinus Fordicus and Auxillia Rossisis Knellius came to march beneath the Eagles. And a right pair we were too.

I have recently found, in a long forgotten box guarded by a leopard, a small selection of photos taken by me in 1991. These include some splendidly Asterixesque shots of the unholy duo. I will forward these on as soon as I can get my scanner to work again.

I shall accompany the photos of Legionary Ovinus Fordicus and Auxillia Rossisisd Knellius with a thrilling account of the effectiveness of the Testudo.