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!