Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Helmet Deal (Part 1)


It’s funny how things turn out.


My recent excursion to Hastings/Boulogne wasn’t terribly exciting in terms of hot Norman-on-Tourist action — though the weather was warm enough to melt a Cornetto and I did manage to insult a couple of anti-Darwin campaigners dressed up as gorillas.


Lucky, then, that I invited you (my glorious readers) to prod me in some sort of direction for this blog post. A pre-emptive strike muchly worthwhile in retrospect.


Sadly, cats and phallic vegetables didn’t thrust themselves upon my attention in sufficient numbers to warrant much of a mention (OK — the courgette team won 3-0), but I think I have everything else.


As it happened, we weren’t in Hastings itself, but next door, in Rye. For those of you who have never been, Rye is a small picturesque village whose streets exude Englishness like Britney oozes kickability. We saw lots of Japanese tourists scooping it from the gutter and drizzling it over their heads till cries of “tally ho” burst from their lips and they sped off to hunt a fox.


Down by the quayside there were more antique shops than you could shake a genuine Victorian shooting stick at, so Famille Whirl headed inside to look for bargains.


I love these places.


Filled with spoons you haven’t seen since you were three years old, odd rusty implements (purpose unknown), armless mannequins, saucers from long-since-shattered tea sets and brazen displays of golliwogs — all hung/perched in a perfectly random tangle, waiting to be upended by your elbow (or offspring). The best part is playing the game of Find The Shopkeeper. Is he behind that pile of Dandy annuals stacked on the Egyptian sarcophagus? Under the picture of the dogs playing snooker? Or is he the woman you mistook for a cushion who is now taking £20 off an old bloke for a tin whistle that doesn’t work?


Anyhow, that’s when I saw them, the helmets.

First these...


And then this one...


Having accidentally sat on the proprietor (and muttered, ‘ghastly, ghastly fabric’) I knew I’d robbed myself of the opportunity to try on any number of these magnificent bonce-cladders, and I had to wait till we dropped in at Bodiam Castle to avail myself of further photo opportunities. As ruined castles go, Bodiam is remarkably intact, and we explored its battlements and turrets like small fleas on a castle-shaped dog — only with a less incredible size:leaping distance ratio (and no innate ability to lay eggs).

Our long slog round the castle's crumbling interior was rewarded with a National Trust gift shop, complete with ice creams, Knit Your Own Family Tree sets and a lacklustre Morris dancing troupe whose pedestrian routine only became interesting when a lone wasp took a fancy to their handkerchiefs.


Inside the shop, I found this!



And within seconds, all manner of fantasy scenarios presented themselves, from the rescue of a damsel in distress...


...to mortal combat with an evil knight clad in the mangled remains of two articulated lorries, and his fire-breathing credit-crunch-discounted dragon pets...


...and a BAT!!


I’d love to say that I battled fastidiously with all the foul beasts the National Trust could sling at me, hacking to death every 300 Piece Jigsaw Of A Horse, Interesting Pot Of Yorkshire Marmalade and Tartan-Style Beard Warmer that came marauding my way, but the woman behind the counter put paid to my adventures with a wearily dismissive incantation that robbed me of my strength
“Oi, pack mucking about you grett apoth.”

Drained of all my incredible superpowers, I hopped aboard a Eurotunnel shuttle bound for Calais, fearful of what grim fate awaited me...


(To be continued...)

17 comments:

Kerrie said...

When you can't find a cat or a phallic vegetable a nice helmet is almost as good.

Robin S. said...

Our long slog round the castle's crumbling interior was rewarded with a National Trust gift shop, complete with ice creams, Knit Your Own Family Tree sets and a lacklustre Morris dancing troupe whose pedestrian routine only became interesting when a lone wasp took a fancy to their handkerchiefs...


I swear to god, I don't think another soul on earth coulda written this. Love it loads, your voice!

And OI,YOU...the helmet... oooh baby - and it fits so damn well, as well!

Thanks for (sorta) fulfilling my wish!

Whirlochre said...

Kerrie
The T shirt printo-workshops of the world await this truth.

Robin
Glad to have been wibbled thusly.

fairyhedgehog said...

you grett apoth

Ah, memories of childhood. Except in our family it was daft aporth

I bet our US pals don't even know what it means.

Robin S. said...

True. What does it mean???

JB is traveling, so I can't ask....

fairyhedgehog said...

According to Wiktionary a ha'porth (the h is never sounded) is: Northern British English, from British English half-penny’s worth, often used in the phrase “daft ha’porth”

It was always said affectionately and my Mum still uses it.

Whirlochre said...

That's interesting. I'd always assumed it was some sort of simian reference, indicative of dimwit brain power.

Certainly, it was levelled at me often in childhood.

Robin S. said...

Ha! Either way, worth its weight in gold.

sylvia said...

I've just realised that you were very near my son for a brief time. I just hope you aren't contagious!

But what a wonderful place! I need a helm! And a Morris dancing troupe, if available.

And grett apoth is new to me, I thought I'd heard it all. *dismal sigh*

BTW, your clock is an hour out!

sylvia said...

you wonderful half-penny?

I'm still lost...

sylvia said...

You are broadening my horizons. I found this:

Poor old Gordon Brown, we knew him only by his frown/That and his great, ungainly hulk and his tendency to sulk/Who was it that said he would set the world alight?/This man who hadn’t the stomach for a fight/And was generally not awfully bright?/How could anyone ever feel that this great apeth with no sex appeal/Could ever conceivably have had the wherewithal to take the wheel?/One thing I am prepared this day to wager/Eventually they will all admit that he was worse than John Major.

writtenwyrdd said...

Whirl, do you want to join the nano blogger blog we are setting up? You should have received an invite.

Thing is, I don't know if you want to start something new, or if you have something new in the works.

Whirlochre said...

Sylvia
Thanks for digging that one out about Brown. Normally I get references to one-eyed rugby players with zero ability to smile convincingly.

WW
Thanks for the invite, but I have my hands full with other stuff at the moment.

May be a bit thin on the ground regarding blogging for a few weeks — posts as well as visits.

Mary said...

Such challenges and adventures! Can’t wait for part deux. :)

Whirlochre said...

Me neither.

pjd said...

Does "no innate ability to lay eggs" imply a learned ability in that particular pastime? Just wondering.

Whirlochre said...

Hey, PJD — if that's a veiled request for training, I could sure use the cash...