Topiary

I used to work at Hampton Court. This is a marker drawing of some of the trees in the gardens there. I earnt a pittance, worked every single weekend for six months, and wore a terrible polyester uniform. I got very used to being surrounded by incredible splendour though, and spent quite a lot of happy hours minding the maze, sitting in a shed reading long Russian books, listening to whatever mellow music wouldn’t annoy tourists (lots of Elliot Smith, Fleetwood Mac, Tortoise and Grandaddy), and making up lies about the maze to tourists. (I wrote about being in charge of the maze in issue 22 of my zine). I also used to get a good amount of free glasses of Pimms too from jugs that were left over from the outside bar.

Getting menial jobs like that in museums is fiercely competitive, and I gave up on ever earning more than minimum wage in the field- I’m still planning to write about that. Still I had a nice summer being in charge of a maze.

 

Red Lead & Choleric Humours

In the days when I worked at Hampton Court I got to go to quite a few of their special events. They had a roster of actors who could portray the various monarchs who had lived at the palace (and two Henry VIIIs) and would do special days with re-enactments based on various time periods or themes. On one of the days they had a day based on science in the time of Charles II. I found some photos when I was tidying up the computer the other day.

alchemy 1

They had an alchemy show with Charles II in (the dark haired man).

alchemy 2

The show included a satisfying number of explosions.

leech

I also met a leech-breeder, who gave a talk about past and current uses of leeches in medicine. I declined to have a go holding a leech.