M Harold Page: November 2016 Archives

Little Harry blinks at me through his heavy Sellotaped glasses. "What's that for?"

"It's a submachine gun," I say. "It fires lots of bullets." I mime. "Bang bang bang!"

I'm helping out on a school trip. Normally I avoid volunteering - it's too easy for self employed parents to end up as the school's go-to. However this visit is to Edinburgh Castle and my daughter Morgenstern was very keen I should put in a showing...

So here I am helping to herd 5-year olds through the military museum. Morgenstern is nowhere in sight, but little Harry has latched onto me.

"Oh," says Harry. He copies my mime and sprays the room. "Bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang."

"Not like that," I say. "Three round bursts or you'll run out of bullets. Plus the thing pulls up." I mime. "So like this: Bang bang bang!... Bang bang bang!"

Every so often, somebody posts some wistful meme about how nice it would be if duelling were legal again.

I'm increasingly less gentle in my response. Partly I don't want non-sword folk to start to thinking of Historical European Martial Arts as some kind of Fascist death cult (we really aren't, and we're a very geeky and inclusive movement).

Mostly though, as a historical novelist, swordsman, and father of a teenage boy, I can tell you that duelling was - and is - a bloody stupid idea.

I laughed at the mother who's bringing up her kids without electronic toys, but has a social media feed to boast about it... until I remembered the Red Train of Doom.

A relative once bought our son Kurtzhau a traditional wooden ridealong steam train. It was big and red and he was tiny and a boy and he was supposed to ride it around the flat.

You got the wooden part, right?

The damned thing took chunks out of the paintwork, hurt to trip over, and wouldn't steer. It was also uncomfortable to sit astride and too easy to fall off. Little Kurtzhau rode the train perhaps twice. Then he reverted to the comfy, steerable and less lethal plastic fire truck. Thank God.

However, the wooden train seemed somehow "special" and survived successive declutterings. These days it languishes at a relative's house for visiting children to ignore. Give it another half century and the train will be a heirloom dutifully hauled around between generations.

Nobody has the heart to throw it away!  What the hell is going on? Why is this thing special?

Specials

Merchandise

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by M Harold Page in November 2016.

M Harold Page: August 2016 is the previous archive.

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Propaganda