Pet Peeves

I’d like to take a few minutes of your time to rant about a few pet peeves I have about reenactors.
Firstly the one that annoys me the most is a phrase I’ve heard thrown around by several people over the years and that phrase is,
“If they’d a’ had it, they’d a’ used it”
Screw that.
I’ve heard it said about something as small as buttons. A man once wore a modern shirt with plastic buttons at an event and an argument was started about authenticity.
A heated argument that included much swearing and even more ignorance.
Ok, to some people buttons may be a small and trivial part of your clothing. Most of the time they are barely if at all visible, but believe me they are important.
Now, I confess. I am not the most authentic reenactor out there but I do try my hardest to make the clothing and equipment I wear and carry as authentic as possible.
“If they’d a had it, they’d a used it”
Really? Does that mean I can carry an AR-15 on an eighteenth century battlefield?
It doesn’t.
And I know, I know, there’s a big difference between an AR-15 and a couple of plastic buttons but that is despite the point. The point is if you’re going to use a phrase like that you are missing the point of reenacting all together.
I hate the phrase and if you want to look at it like that you might as well try Steampunk.
Moving on.
Secondly, what gets on my nerves are people who are unwilling to learn, to adapt, to change. These reenactors who are so stuck in their ways that they refuse to believe anything anyone else tells them.
Now, I’m not saying take everything anyone tells you as gospel. Far from it. I’m just saying that more people need to be open to the idea of listening to what others have to say.
Other reenactors might very well know something you don’t. Look it up. Research it. Find out if you or them are right then move on accordingly.
If you want to participate in living history or reenacting you have to drop your ego and accept the horrible truth that you are wrong once in a while.
Thirdly, (and finally), what annoys me is those that are a part of this scene that do nothing to help out those who are not as progressed as themselves. They look down on those that aren’t as authentic and laugh and mock and generally take the piss.
Sure, there are FARBS out there who don’t really care, but there are those that are trying their best with the resources they have. These people who take the piss need to get off their high horse. They need to realise that some people may just be starting out and don’t yet know enough.
So, next time you see someone like this, maybe you could give them some helpful advice instead of mocking. Maybe you could help out someone with familiar interests instead of laughing.
Reenacting and living history is a community no matter what time period you are portraying.
If we can’t help out others what’s the point in doing this?
Doing this isn’t about one person or a group of people being the best, this is about all of us trying to look and dress and be the best. This is about portraying our own particular time periods to the best of our abilities as a whole. If that means giving someone a handy tip once in a while, a nudge in the right direction, is that really all that hard?

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An Introduction….Sort Of.

There are two types of reenactors.
The first type get into reenacting through their love of history, through a fascination of their preferred time period and a want to experience it as first hand as possible.
The other type, us lucky bastards, are born into it. For us it has always been a part of life. To us, those who don’t do it are the freaks.
I attended my first reenactment at the tender age of six weeks at Knebworth House for an American Civil War battle.
It was Easter, it was freezing and I don’t remember a thing.
What? I was six weeks old give me a chance.
We were a part of Soskan back then.
My Mum,
they all went.
My earliest memory of reenacting is of running around the American History Museum in Bath with my cousin and pretending we were fighting off “those damn Yankees”. Other memory’s include watching my dad swan around in a pair of trousers with more patches than original material and a stick instead of a sword when he was promoted.
Eventually we left Soskan and the American Civil War scene behind us long before I was old enough to step foot on a battlefield.
There are a lot of reasons for this but really the main reason, in my opinion at least, is a certain film starring Daniel Day-Lewis that came out on video in 1993.
The Last Of The Mohicans caused a turning point in my family’s historical appetite. My dad borrowed it from the video rental shop and watched it eight times before he had to take it back. He became obsessed. He began researching and making kit, which looking back is far from accurate, at an incredible rate. He made leggings and breechclouts and moccasins. He made shirts and tricorns and he even made period clothing and accoutrements for mine and my older brothers action men.
I remember playing out particular scenes from the film for hours.
A life long journey of trial and error had begun.
And now I am old enough to join in the battles, I’m old enough to make my own kit and I’m old enough to do my own research (of which I admit I don’t do enough).
Reenacting has come a long way in the last twenty years. Some of the best historians I have ever met were reenactors and yet some of the worst historians are also reenactors. But all of this is a different discussion. What it really comes down to is the simple fact that all male reenactors are just over grown children playing war.
And what’s wrong with that?
Nothing, that’s what.
Whether you were born into reenacting or became a reenactor for your own reasons it doesn’t matter. We do it, we keep the history alive through our constant attempts at living it.
I wouldn’t give it up for anyone or anything.
Jobs and friends and relationships will come and go but reenacting will always be there.
For me, that’s enough.

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