The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Time Travel and Weight Loss

There was a time, between the ages of 20 and 25, when I used to regularly go to Dark Ages Re-enactment weekends six to eight times a year. For the couple of days we would all dress up in the 9th Century clothing of Celts, Saxons and Vikings, fight with swords, spears and shields, then get blind drunk at a banquet. For the duration we would call each other by period names, raise ludicrous toasts and make wild exaggerations about our battlefield and sexual prowess. A fine time was indeed had by all.

People were drawn to it for a variety of reasons. For some, the act of creating and wearing authentic costumes and weaponry gave you a far better insight into the history and culture of the time. For others it was a break from the daily grind of office and work, and they could briefly imagine themselves to be warriors. Some, undoubtedly, were there because it was a good excuse for a piss up, and for a few it was an alternative to dressing up as a Klingon.

When I moved to Scotland it became trickier to carry on going, as these weekends were invariably held in the South of England, some 400+ miles away. I continued to go for a couple of years, but eventually I drifted away and the last time I attended one was over 12 years ago.

A couple of years ago, I re-established contact with an old friend from the society and I was invited down to the Yule Banquet which was held this weekend. I’d been looking for an excuse to head down to that corner of the country for a while in order to catch up with my brother and sister, who I’ve not seen since my mother’s funeral nearly 3 years ago, so agreed to go.

Needless to say the people who make up the group have varied over the years and there were only 3 or 4 people who knew me from before. However, I was quite shocked when they unanimously declared that I’d barely changed a bit. My hair was shorter (with a few grey strands) and one or two lines on my face were more deeply etched, but that was about it.

The reason I was so surprised is that this year I have been through the most dramatic physical change of my life for such a short period of time, having lost over five stone (70 pounds) in the last 10 months. So for me the idea that I haven’t changed is inconceivable. It took me a few minutes to realise that I’m now actually down to the same kind of weight I was about 14 years ago, consequently, for them, any changes are negligible!



BStrong said...

The idea of running around drunk with swords and spears is quite enticing. I'm wondering if there were ever and WHOOPS! moments (I'm sure the drinking was done most). We have something here in Pittsburgh that is similar called the "Renaissance Festival". I think I'll try and go to one.


Kim Ayres said...

It's definitely good for a bit of fun, and a few people bring along their kids too, dressed in authentic kit. However, drinking isn't usually done before people start swinging large lumps of metal at each other. In that respect it's quite unauthentic.

Gyrobo said...

You've got to measure yourself in net weight.
Like packing freight.
Just don't be late.

RNP said...

My mother enjoyed Civil War re-enacting here in the states for many years, likely for the same reason you enjoyed what you did. She had all the costumes and their groups would travel from cities, to counties, and states during the summer months and camp out in parks pretending to be in the civil war. I never really understood why she enjoyed this so much until later in life when she could no longer do it.

Glad to hear that your buddies didn't notice much in the way of change in your appearance. You must be aging gracefully!

I myself, now 37, have headed right down the road to a head full of white hair (inherited from my father who was completely white by 40). Most of my friends tell me I should dye my hair, but I don't. I am not convinced that merely changing your hair color makes any difference at all in who you are or how you feel.

Great story Kim.

Asher Hunter said...

Just goes to show, perspective is everything.

Naomi said...

My brother used to do the whole D&D thing and he and his friends would get dressed up and go to the peak district for weekends of camping, sword fighting, and getting drunk.

It must have been a wierd feeling not having people notice your weight loss as it's been such a huge thing for you this year.

swiss rebecca said...

I've been to the Pittsburgh rennaisance fair (was a not bad idea for a first date which ended up being a not such a good date) but I thought it was mostly watching, less participating.... I used to know a couple that did stuff involving magic and warriers (not D&D, something else...) and it always sounded like good fun.

It must have indeed been strange to have people not see your changes. A little double, I guess: nice that you're back to your weight of 14 years ago, but a little frustrating not to have people see the effort that went in to that.

Belovedlife said...

Sounds like fun, too bad you can't take a sabbatical and do that for a year on end....of course that mught be overkill?

Kim Ayres said...

Gyrobo -
You're a poet
And you didn't know it

Rebecca - without doubt re-enactment can be a great deal of fun. There are enough societies about to cover pretty much any period in history that you're interested in.

In England, the Sealed Knot is one of the biggest and most well known, and deals with the English Civil War of the 17th Century. In Scotland there are a lot more todo with the Jacobite rebellions of the early 18th Century.

Asher - true, true.

Naomi - Dungeons and Dragons is a whole new ball game again. Having said that, quite a few re-enacters also enjoy role playing games

Swiss Rebecca - I just kept pointing out how baggy my shirt is ;)

Belovedlife - I think it's great to do in bursts, but the fun would soon go out of it if it was all the time

Gyrobo said...

I imagine your conversation went like this:

You: "Nice to see you again. I gained 70 pounds, lost it, and now I'm a grandfather."

Them: "Same old Kim!"

Kim Ayres said...

Ha! :)

Your powers of perception are uncanny!

Dr Maroon said...

It might have been worse, they could have said
'Jeez! You're putting on the beef!'

Kim Ayres said...

Yeah, that would have been worse!

His Majesty said...

My brain!

Kim Ayres said...

Sorry, I've searched the place, but I don't think you left it here.

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