Thursday, 2 September 2010

An eye opening weekend

The last weekend was a revelation.  My son has spent a couple of months converting a high top transit van into a mobile coffee bar (whilst also working full time in a big department store at managerial level!) The last weekend of August was his first booking, and we went along to offer support, as Jeffery had been helping with the actual conversion and installation and might be needed in an emergency!

This first outing was at an event known as 'The Gathering', a large meeting for Live Action Role Play fans (known as 'Larpers' for obvious reasons)  The Gathering is held near Derby, in the grounds of an elegant Stately home, and takes up a large proportion of the grounds, as it is attended by thousands of enthusiastic players of all ages.  We had never had any close interaction with Larping before this weekend, although Nick has been involved for a long time, and many of his friends are vigorous Larpers, and this is where the revelation lay.  To see thousands of people, from small children under school age, to our contemporaries and people in wheelchairs, dressed up in costumes that could have come straight from 'The Lord of The Rings', engaging in complicated military and magical manoeuvres in one part of the estate, while yet more took the opportunity to have a snack or a coffee, and more searched the traders marquees for improvements to their outfits - well, it was quite astonishing! 

What was even more impressive was the overwhelming sense of friendship, community and support coming from almost everyone, even the busy Stewards, Referees and Marshals were tactful and supportive to obvious fish out of water!  As an ex-craft fair trader, I was VERY impressed by the quality of workmanship in the Traders area, especially the leathercraft. There were plastic (but very convincing) weapons of all sorts, and they were vigorously wielded, too!

Wandering around were Romans and Greeks in full armour, with enormous crested helms, 18th century and later regiments of Highlanders, in full tartan rig, with perky Glengarry caps and Claymores, and hordes of fantasy characters.  Elves in silver wigs, some with blackened faces, others sporting pointed ears, strolled in company with wizards and Camelot-style knights in armour, others were clearly tree spirits, with leaves and blossoms trailing across their faces and clothes, and everywhere there were swirling cloaks in every colour and fabric imaginable! 

Most delightful were the children, all dressed up, and with lots of places to go and things to do!  Can you imagine how wonderful it must be, as a child, to have parents who not only let you dress up in costumes and play with swords and axes, but who join in with you, and take to camping for a long weekend playing with thousands of other grown ups doing the same thing?  Where a child who knows the rules, and is clever enough, can defeat a 6 foot adult in full armour?!  What a way to stimulate a child's creativity and imagination, and ally that fun with applied maths, history, tactics . . . . magical, in every way!

Best of all, Nick's first outing was a great success, despite a few teething troubles - he couldn't make coffee fast enough!  Now we have to help him tweak his systems to be more efficient, ready for the next exhausting event - and find out how to become Larpers ourselves!