Chillin’ at Court

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Latimer: For as long as I can remember, I wanted to go to Hampton Court.

But, I kept forgetting/never knew, what it was called, so I’d get really frustrated trying to explain to people where it was I wanted to go.

“I’d love to go to Henry VIII’s Palace… you know with the,” cue my distant expression, “with the red-brick gatehouse.”

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I would stare expectantly at the person and they would stare back rightly confused. I would get frustrated, thinking everyone should know what I meant and give me the name of said building (so I could forever remember it and not look like a fool every time I said I wanted to visit it!).

This has been the way it’s been for me for years. But finally I realised it was Hampton Court I wanted to visit.

It’s in London, so when Ridley and I went there, I just had to go!

Hampton Court is epic and after being stuck in a queue for every which-way-thing in London, it was surprisingly low on visitors, which probably made the experience all the better. We had an ice-cream on the lawn, enjoyed the sun and stared in wonderment at the gorgeousness that is the Court.

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While there, Ridley got real bohemian. She headed over to a tree, sat down, pulled out a notebook and pen, and with a big smile said –

“Let’s do book-work!”

I shuffled over to the tree, thinking this was a very quaint idea; we’d be like Jane Austen or something. A minute later I leaped up. “There’re ants crawling all over the tree! I hate nature -!”

Ridley jumped up, screaming, her dream of book-work in the park destroyed by nature. Deflated we gave up and headed into the Palace, letting the magic of Hampton Court wash over us.

If anyone watches/reads Game of Thrones, Robert Baratheon reminds me of Henry VIII. I think that might be intentional – George R. R. Martin draws from history right? Well, the banquet hall has Baratheon stamped all over it – it’s so cool!

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In my head I was saying, ‘ours is the fury’! over and over again, until I annoyed myself!

Ours is the Fury!... or something.. ha!
Ours is the Fury!… or something.. ha!

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Apparently the tapestries that hang in the hall are made of gold and silver thread.

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Rich people back then got tapestries as a show of wealth, because of the cost involved in making them and the materials used. Henry VIII amassed tapestries like celebrities today buy diamond encrusted iPhones and fancy cars. Tapestries were the flash accessory of the day, and Henry VIII had the largest collection. The tapestries aren’t as bright now as they were in his day, but they are still impressive!

Throughout our holiday we were asking each other the question of – ‘what would you do if you fell back in time?’ Our hypothesis started out with the notion that we’d be gods! We’d know everything.

But, Dara O’Briain sums up the truth of what would happen…

Ridley struggled to read the tiny script writing on a massive charter in Hampton Court. Waving her hand she moaned; “And I wouldn’t even be able to read!”

Even if we could read it wouldn’t be written in the same English as it is today – we would probably not even understand what people were saying to us. That old adage by Wittgenstein that; “If a lion could talk, we would not understand him,” because his frame of reference would be so different to ours.

So, the portal that opens sucking me and Ridley into the past becomes more and more dangerous! I think our science backgrounds would also lead to us being burnt as witches!

We did conclude, on our travels, that it would not be good to get sucked back in time and end up in Edinburgh. It was hit by ‘plague’ (we never learned which plague) 11 times. We also would not have survived the closes, with people tossing buckets of waste down the narrow streets… or having to drink beer because the water was so dangerously full of bacteria (from the waste flowing down into the lake and therefore the drinking water).

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Walking around the Court is almost like walking through time (the safer version of it). You half expect to turn a corner and see a man in tights, a grey curly wig, heels and a fancy velvet jacket…

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Funnily enough, that did actually happen at one point. He was sitting talking to a 1700’s era woman.

We (the tourists) all walked past them, listening in on the conversation, confused as to whether they were in-character or not and nobody talking to them to find out.

We all kept a safe distance; blinking and straining inward to listen to them, but glancing to each other and giving a nervous laugh, like we were all thinking, ‘is this a mass hallucination?! Can you see them too?!’

We left the palace, happier for having been there! If you’re in need of an oasis of calm in London, head to Court!

Old School Fantasy: aka ‘Epic Fantasy’

Latimer: Good evening; I am the ever absent, but ever present Latimer (that’s an oxymoron I think).

My life recently has been a bit chaotic. But Ridley has bravely held the fort (actually, she built the fort; or re-built? Renovated? She’s lost in here somewhere now, the foundations of our creaky, cyber-space battle-ship of dreams!).

Fear not Ridley, like White Gandalf, I return to you now at the turn of the tide!

Basically, I have finally re-emerged from work; slightly the worse for wear, but triumphant (also like White Gandalf, I see a pattern emerging; Ridley is Frodo and I am Gandalf! It’s so obvious, ha).

Now, it’s time for tea and a blog; my first in what feels like years. Forgive my creaky style; don’t worry it’ll all gel together somewhere in the middle/end!

I wish I could be industrious like Ridley and blog a book review, but honestly I haven’t read anything (unless you want to hear about Frank Ryan’s Virolution- well once I fight my way through the rest of it-! Slowly but surely, I’ll get there; you won’t win against me Frank Ryan!).

So because of that, I’ve decided I’m going to start with a TV show that is also a book (see, it’s almost a book review! ALMOST!)—

My ‘renovation blog post’ is *drum roll* on Game of Thrones (GoTs) (one of the hottest shows on TV at the moment I reckon).

I saw this one coming over a year ago; it was a teaser for HBO way before it was due to come out in like May last year. We were being teased big time, for ages.

 It’s obvious from the get-go that HBO knows how to make a show. GoTs is shiny; it’s vast, it’s epic… and it’s peppered with a great cast (mostly England, Scotland and, Ireland as it happens; Joffrey goes to Trinity College (so Wikipedia tells me). I want to hang around Trinity and shout at him ‘you’re mad, Joffrey! Mad!’; wonder does he get that often? Hmm, I want to know!).

In the past, I used to read epic fantasy- mostly because A) my brother had an epic collection of epics and B) I was a kid and I couldn’t afford to buy my own books. I didn’t know Ridley back then so I had to make do with e.g. The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind and The Belgariad by David Eddings. Later in life, I read my own epics: The Guardian Cycle by Julia Gray and The View from the Mirror by Ian Irvine. There are common themes in epics:

– Author: usually a man (almost ALWAYS a man let’s be honest)

– Boy, farm boy, well, average Joe Soap. He’s just a kid; He’s a He (bar The View from the Mirror; a rare exception with a female lead)

– He might look it; but he’s not normal, he’s special (we are all writing that character, though, I will put my hands up on that score, the common in all fantasy, epic or urban)

– A terrible event, *scourging of the shire style*

– Boy leaves on a journey

– A shadow stirs in the East, a Dark Lord

– Annoying female characters, jaded knights, sex, war, blood, death, depravity, politics so confusing you no longer know where you are; names that make NO sense; place names that look like the author had a fit while typing; a million and one characters, with a million and one points of view that alter change and grow with each book in the series that seems to last an eternity to the point you no longer know if you even A) like the story anymore or B) know what happened in the beginning (so the re-reading cycle begins!)

– Mystic forces move in the dark, the characters enviably ignore them *just stories, Joe Soap of the Shire, just stories*

– And of course they aren’t

– Epic battle…

– PROPHECY! So important- ‘Joe Soap, you are the chosen one’

In the end, all the epic series you read blend together, so that you no longer know what events happened in what stories.

So, bar the lack of concrete Joe Soap (though, actually John Snow would probably suffice), Game of Thrones is a quintessential epic. Honestly, I have no particular love for epic books. They weave and twist and weave and twist; and at first you enjoy the weaving but then you realise you have gotten lost in a maze and it’s no longer fun and actually it’s just a chore to follow.

There’s a lot to be said for over-complicating stories. The reader wants to float, not struggle through your story. I want to be taken on a journey, not forced into a battle, with the plot.

I know the Game of Thrones story; I know he has a million and one characters and points of view. And for me, that’s why I can’t handle epics anymore (Lord of the Rings is the great outlier though!).

BUT wow, Game of Thrones is fun to watch!

HBO are going to work me through the confusing parts; the actors are going to show me the plot. So the stress is taken out of the epic (mostly!).

It’s not brilliant; but it’s good it’s really good. And it’s something different to watch. It’s got so much going for it. The opening theme is epic; beautiful.

The design is slick and realistic; it’s a grubby, deprived world, with nasty people, and only a few who you actually like. There is a LOT of ‘whoring’ though; sometimes very gratuitous- I’m no prude, but there’s an element of porn without plot in Game of Thrones, more often than not.

 Peter Dinklage is excellent as ‘The Imp’, Tyrion Lannister. You can’t talk about GoTs without mentioning Peter Dinklage. Although his faux-English accent is a little grating after a point, I forgive him this because Tyrion is smart, witty and he knows what’s going on (unlike much of the other characters) and I want him to outwit the people who think he’s pitiable; I enjoy the way he uses his head to fight his battles, it makes him an unlikely force to be reckoned with. He’s a political player; and you can tell he’s only going to get more and more involved in the power struggle as the story goes on. I lift my hat to George R.R Martin; the Imp is a very bold and intriguing character.

There’s also some nice eye-candy (Jaime Lannister and Rob Stark, par example). Even though my imagination can handle making a handsome man, it’s nice to have HBO doing the work for me!

I’m not in love with Game of Thrones; but I’m ‘in like’, very much so. It’s a good watch, there’s no getting around it. Once you get into it; it’s like eating a cake- ‘more! Give me MORE!’; it’s not the tastiest cake, but the sugar rush is so good! I would recommend it, if you haven’t watched it. Try a few episodes, get into it. The opening of the first episode is very atmospheric (I want to know more about the White Walkers; they seem to have been seriously neglected in series 1; I really hope they come back with a vengance in series 2).

Ah, yes, I’m blissfully ‘in like’ with Game of Thrones.

Series 2 is starting this week- so it has occupied my thoughts throughout the last week of struggling. Looking forward to something really takes the edge off the stressful things.

YES- Winter is finally here!