Sunday, April 17, 2005

Doing it proud

On our trip to the US East Coast nearly two years ago we visited a theme park of sorts. It was in Massachusetts close to Plymouth Rock. The idea is that tourists (we) walk through a village that looks and feels much as it might have done in the year 1627. Indeed there's a sign that warns us that though we can converse with the inhabitants they won't know of any event in world history that occurred after 1627.

Uh huh. A challenge!

I have to admit that the village did indeed look, feel and smell as I'd imagine a village of 1627 to look, feel and smell like. Like I know? I'm old but not THAT old .

The actors who play the parts did well; they engage in what we 21st century inhabitants imagine are authentic pursuits (but I add that we didn't see livestock slaughtered, thank god). They speak in what we fondly imagine are the correct dialects.

Thus, after a moments conversation I was asked where I was from. 'Australia, mate'. I answered. He shook his head. 'No, never heard of that land'. Score one for the actors. If I'm not mistaken in my history the Australian continent had been discovered by Europeans by that time but it wasn't called Australia, it was New Holland.

We moved on.

Second conversation with an actor. 'Which part of the world be ye from?' he asked. (I'm not sure it was worded that way but it feels right for the purpose of this post). 'New Holland, mate' I answered. He shook his head in disbelief. 'Ye couldn't be from there; you be a Christian' he says. Now let's stop the firefight right now! In 1627 Australia, as far as it was known to Europe, was inhabited by what any decent god fearing European of the time would have regarded as heathens. I was obviously middle aged so if he allowed say 40 years as my age (and that's flattering myself) that would have meant I was born in New Holland in 1587. Impossible for someone with a European ancestry. Score 2 for the actors!

We moved on.

This time the conversation was with Morgan, my step daughter, who at the time was 15. When asked where she was from she answered Arizona. He paused a moment and then said, 'is that one of those western parts?'. I've been unable to establish if Arizona would have been known to a pioneer on the East Coast in 1627 though I doubt it; so I think Morgan won that exchange.

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