Sunday evening I got an email from the National Trust house that I volunteer at. The flooding that had hammered most of the country had finally reached us and became much more relevant and closer to home. Reaching there yesterday morning, I started to see the effects. The house, thank goodness, had survived though we had lost visitor reception! As a result, it was harder for volunteers to get in, the house staff had been on two hour flood watch shifts all night and so the overall mood of the house was very ‘keep calm and carry on’.
When I finally made it in I found I had missed briefing and there was only one person in the volunteer’s room. Normally, at the time I get there people are milling about and chatting before going to their room. Today, there was none of that as, as of last night, there were only three room guides coming in. We were going to have to make it by a skeleton crew at most.
But, I was excited about Monday all the same; it was the first day I was to wear period costume whilst room-guiding. It was an Edwardian maid costume and stupidly, I thought, that dresses of that time had three million underskirts and layers. Not mine! So, it was rather cold but worth it all the same.
I felt, when I was wearing it, that I was somehow more connected to the house than ever before. Who knew that putting on a costume could bring you so close to history? It just felt very special to me. My family has a long history of being in service to stately homes and I recently found out one my relatives even became a Lady’s Maid- a very well respected position. It felt almost like I was honouring that in some small way.
Of course, being in an outfit like that you are open to the usual ‘witty’ comments. “I’ll have a cup of tea” and “One gin and tonic, hold the ice” get a little old after a couple of hours. I knew they meant well but I think one of the later visitors hit the nail on the head when she said that I must have heard that a lot!
But despite the comments and freezing to death in my costume I felt good. I felt almost as if I had gone back in time- though I doubt I would’ve been allowed to sit around in the dining room hugging a heater a hundred years ago! Still, this week is going to be the closest I will ever get to understanding how my relatives felt being in service to ‘The Big House’.
What am I reading?
Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright based on the script by David Leslie Johnson
I swore that I would never read this book and then I saw it sitting there in the library and decided I had nothing to lose. So, after picking it up a week ago I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It takes a while to get into the story, the start is heavily descriptive and has little in terms of plot but it is building, very subtly, the base of the story. The story itself, once it gets into it, is very good.
There are parts where it drags but there are also moments of brilliance. The principle part of this brilliance, of course, is evident in the ending. The ending in the physical book is not that dramatic, more an annoying cliff-hanger. But, if you follow the link http://www.redridinghoodbook.com/ and read the bonus chapter there it really wasn’t the ending I was expecting.
Also, although the book nominally follows the story of Red Riding Hood, the original, from what I know of the story they have not followed it to the letter. It is more grown up, dark and there is much more romance than I ever remember in the original- but that may be because I always assumed Little Red Riding Hood was around seven to ten years old! It interested me as well by giving the main character the depth of a name, Valerie, and also a family past that of just the grandmother. That and the relationships and back stories that link all the characters to a past that was devoid in the original tale.
I think really, although this book is meant to follow roughly the story of Red Riding Hood, and it does, it has more of a depth to it. It tries to make social points on equality, social issues and how much we should blindly follow those in positions of ‘authority’.
I would highly recommend the book, though I warn you that sometimes this book requires patience to get through. To me, it is worth it.
What am I listening to?
R.E.V.O by Walk Off The Earth
Once again their musical talent simply astounds me. Most of you will probably have stumbled across their youtube video of ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ cover where the five of them play one guitar. I confess, having stumbled across them on youtube in this way that I have never looked back. Their covers sound like originals and their originals are just like heaven for your ears. If you don’t believe me, check out some of their videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97STcnWqFr4 Reckoning Song (One Day)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bt-FHaFVH8 Red Hands
Both of these songs, off their new EP, are amazing! Not to mention the amount of work they put in their videos (the unedited version of Red Hands is something to be marvelled). Once again their talent and creative genius have created an amazing EP. Buy it, you know you want to.