September 29, 2006

The Second Battle of Watling Street

Robbo In Action?

As I've been chronicling here recently, today is the day I'm giving a little talk on Roman Britain at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, to be followed by a pitched battle between Romans and Celts, lower elementary division.

Originally, I had envisioned simply refereeing the melee to ensure that bloodshed is kept to a reasonable level. As the project matured however, my role gradually transmogrified into that of Roman commander, with a friend on the school staff - we'll call him "Tom" - leading the barbarian hordes opposite.

Well, comes news this morning that I've been set up. You see, in the matter of costume for this little enterprise, the kiddies were left to cut loose. The eight year old Llama-ette, for instance, will be portraying Boudicea in blue face, a Barbie Princess hat and a vampire cape. I, on the other hand, had no intention of dressing up and said so repeatedly.

However, I had badly underestimated "Tom". He, apparently, got together a full Braveheart-like rig of kilt, tunic and cloak. Then he suggested to the Missus that since he was of Italian descent and I'm Scots, I would look like a much more authentic Celt than he would and therefore we should switch sides. The Missus, in turn, knowing a good thing when she sees one, immediately agreed. She called me just now to remind me to wear shorts so that everybody could see my legs as I was running about in my kilt.

Damn them. Damn them both. That's all I have to say.

Anyhoo, I'll update this post later on to let you know how it went. If you ask nicely, I may even see if somebody with a digital camera can take a pic or two.

UPDATE: Well, there was somebody there with a camera, but for those of you dialing in on the hope of seeing Robbo with ne trew, I'm very sorry to disappoint. "Tom" did not make it back from a field trip in time, so I smoothly revereted to my initial role of referee.

The talk went moderately well. I don't really have the gift for teaching and find six to eight year olds particularly hard to talk to, but I think I got my basic points across. On the other hand, there was one know-it-all kid who'd recently seen some Beeb production on the life of Boudicca and kept hectoring me on everything from the proper way to pronounce her name to the identities of the Roman legions that fought against her.

As for the fight itself? Well, trying to arrange twenty-odd kids into a tight, disciplined Roman cohort proved to be extremely challenging. On the other hand, trying to get another twenty-odd kids to charge pell-mell, screaming their heads off? Not so hard. The battle quickly dissolved into a free-for-all which, from the barbarian point of view at least, was probably pretty realistic.

However, at one point I yelled, "Romans! Capture the Celtic Queen!" and as if by magic a squad of about a dozen of them formed up, chasing the eight year old Llama-ette and a handful of her retainers into a corner of the grounds and thus satisfying my sense of historical realism. (However, she claimed later that she had escaped from the trap by beating off the sharp Roman swords with her bare hands.)

The other interesting thing about the melee was the fact that although we had forty plus kids armed with everything from yardsticks to mop handles to tin-foil battle-axes, we had not a single injury, not one outburst of tears. Pretty remarkable, given all the whacking that was going on. (Indeed, the only injury of the afternoon came later on when I was shooting hoops with the Llama-ettes and a couple of their friends and an errant air-ball caught me in the right eye as I was under the net.)

Posted by Robert at September 29, 2006 08:08 AM | TrackBack

Sounds like fun - and good for the Missus! I coerced my hubs into a kilt once and what a fine day that was. :)

Pictures would be awfully nice of you, since you've been regaling us with tales of all the prep, it does seem fitting that we should see the outcome. Please?

Posted by: beth at September 29, 2006 08:49 AM

Yeah, pictures of the battle are a must.

Posted by: jen at September 29, 2006 09:28 AM

NOBODY wears anything-at-all under his kilt. It's just not done. You want to be authentic, you have only one choice. Be grateful that the cold weather isn't really on us yet.

Posted by: dave s at September 29, 2006 09:42 AM

Atleast you aren't required to shave your legs!

Posted by: LeeAnn at September 29, 2006 11:01 AM

You realize, of course, that should a youngster's head get opened by a Roman short sword, and the cops come to investigate, it's the guy in the kilt who's going to get arrested.

Posted by: The Colossus at September 29, 2006 08:58 PM