I may well have previously mentioned
several times or so at least that I have been around the bazaars numerous times whilst on military adventures for Queen and Country. And when the occasion has required it *“I’ve landed me-self with a Gatlin’ gun to talk to them ‘eathen kings.”
For just over 23-years I operated and survived in minus hideous temperatures in the Arctic; Operationally patrolled secondary jungle for weeks on end, surviving on bush tucker and tracking skills;
Spent more time in the desert than ‘Beau Geste; And jumped from perfectly serviced aircraft on to land, and into sea. To cap it all ‘as a true Royal Marine,’ – I’ve been part of RM Detachments on Her Majesties Ships of the ‘grey-funnel-line’ thrice. Salt water runs through my veins, and sand from a multitude of foreign beach landings sits in my boots to this day…
Seven medals, three war wounds, and a slight hint of psychological damage on the eve of a full moon – with more scars than the Grand Canyon… Fair to say I have seen life from every angle, and from every dirty corner of the world. But; what I saw today Ladies & Gentlemen, is something ‘I-aint-ever-in-all-my-life-seen-afore!’
Allow me to elucidate the circumstances and set the scene that could have been taken from a hazy day in Sodom or Gomorrah. Instead it happened right in front of me as I sat in my favourite spot on the North Yorkshire Moors, overlooking a small clearing within ancient woodland that is fed by a babbling brook…
Having perambulated the route to my small sanctuary I settled down against the tree trunk of an ever green, happy in the fact that my retreat could not be seen or overlooked by anyone due to its remoteness. Extracting my flask of tea and cold bacon sandwiches from my bergan, I contemplated my return route as I gently poured steaming brown nectar into my old tin mug. Pondering on the two options available I considered ‘the long way,’ which is easier on the heart and lungs but time-consuming. Alternatively, ‘the short passage’ over hill and dale forces the same vital organs to work like a blacksmiths leather bellow’s on overtime, which takes two hours off the clock. I opted for the later as I was without canine company, and my body required a good blow out to get rid of a few accumulated cobwebs. ‘The short passage – up and over’ Click to enlarge…Just as I took my first slurp of tea I heard voices in the far distance, it was followed by ‘persons unknown’ cursing as they crashed through the undergrowth of bramble and wild rose. I then heard two people calling out to each other - two male voices, who appeared to be lost - until they appeared in the clearing slightly below me one on either side of the babbling brook that is around eight feet wide, and two or three feet deep. My jaw dropped when I saw them both; it was the most unbelievable sight, so much so that I almost dropped my bacon sandwich from my vice like grip. Fortunately I carry a stout blackthorn staff on my little adventures that is more than capable of cracking a skull if required, though its use is for far more moderate means such as leaning against when I run out of puff, or poking dead things to make sure they are dead (if that makes sense?) Here before me were two grown men dressed up in what I can only describe as ‘fantasy apparel!’ Each wore a pair of dark leather leggings, with a type of ornate steel and interwoven leather breast-plate, adorned by an assassins long hooded cloak. They each had a long staff, and a small waistband dagger, one had a sheathed sword, and the other carried an obscenely large war hammer. They both wore black thick-soled ‘Doc Martin’ boots, as well as blue streaked lines on their faces that glistened from the heat of the day. Obviously the in vogue ‘de rigueur’ accessory had to be matching finger-less leather gloves adorned with chain mail? After much goading from each other one of the blokes attempted to cross the algae covered boulders that sit within the brook, of which the inevitable happened; in he went up to his knees, but even more remarkable was his dropped war hammer floated on the slow running water-it was a plastic war hammer (as were all of their ‘weapons’ and breast plates?) They eventually stood in the clearing and started posing menacingly for photographs using a small camera they had set up on a fallen tree, all snapped using an infra-red remote control. ‘Grrrr – Growl’
By this stage I was more than bemused as they were referring to each other as ‘Storm Dragon’ and ‘Gallactor!’ They even went through the motions of fighting each other in a slow-motion-type-of-way as the camera blinked and flashed? Enough was enough as I had finished my snack and curiosity got the better of me, it was time to ‘pee on their fantasy bonfire.’ As I stood up and broke cover I bellowed (a good seven on the Richter scale) “STOPPPPPP!” Which they both did, after almost jumping out of their skin – in fact Storm Dragon almost dropped his war hammer and took flight. I honestly couldn’t contain myself as I walked towards them both “What in Gawds name are you both doing dressed up like that?” They both looked quite sheepish as Storm Dragon replied “LARPing - it’s fantasy role play.” – “Never heard of it mate” I replied looking quite befuddled trying to grasp the ridiculousness of the situation before me.
Having recovered their camera we all returned to my little sanctuary (I didn’t wish to be seen consorting with nutters in the open glade) they also had flasks and sandwiches in a nifty little home-made canvas back pack, and as we sipped tea they explained ‘LARPing.’ Their ‘Live Action Role Play’ was that of a mixture of mediaeval-modern-fantasy-steampunk, of which they hoped to gather more individuals through a website they were putting together – hence the photographs. Phillip (Storm Hammer) worked in a bank, and Steven (Gallactor) was a civil servant; they were both in their early 30′s with no girl friends to speak of (can’t imagine why?) I sat and listened bemused as they spoke of their fantasy world, and how they hoped to bring in new members to establish a group that could travel to LARP festivals around the UK and Europe – and perhaps even attend a convention in America.
To avoid any possible invitation I clearly stated that I would rather sit and chew the feet off my legs, rather than join in such a group – but each to their own, “besides I have dogs that need my attention 24/7.” – “People bring along their dogs, as well as cats” replied Steven – who went on to inform me that such canines wear plastic battle armour. Our conversation ended on a high note, and as we bid our farewells I mentioned that the little clearing before us was ‘very’ popular with families and walkers (actually that is far from the truth, I selfishly wished to keep my little haven ‘LARP group free.’) As it happened I needn’t have worried as they had blundered across it by chance and the bramble, wild rose thicket, and babbling brook appeared to deter any possible return.
I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as I yomped along the route back home via the short passage. The hideous memory of Storm Dragon and Gallactor playing out their fantasies even took away the rasping burning pain of the steep climb. I also had a cracking idea for Nipper ‘Red-Fang’ and his next Christmas fancy dress outfit, which would also double up as protection when ratting in the fields. Yours Aye… *“Soldier an’ Sailor Too”