A Roman in East Stratton!
Posted on October 13, 2012
In a bid to break up the tedium of midweek without going to the pub, the other night I meandered down to the East Stratton village hall to listen to a talk on the history of Britain’s canals and in particular the Basingstoke canal. Unfortunately the speaker had a heart attack and rather selfishly had to pull out, opting to have a quadruple heart bypass instead; it is extraordinary the lengths people will go to avoid fulfilling their commitments and a cancellation seemed imminent meaning that chaos reigned in the village as the time and date of the event had already been printed in the Parish magazine.
However, cometh the hour, cometh the man and that man was David, a pompous, sexist, racist who has the ability to offend as soon as he opens his mouth (think Nigel Farage). I have not known this guy long but he has attempted to offend me on several occasions and I am not the only one, he does it as a hobby and it is testimony to the human spirit of those around him that he still carries a full set of teeth. For entertainment value, I would love to stick him in a town centre pub and see how long he lasts before an ambulance is called, I would estimate it would be around fifteen seconds before he is spitting out teeth like they are broken Polos.
Anyway, credit where credit is due, because despite the inconvenience caused to David and the printers of the Parish magazine, he managed to come up trumps and replace the heart attack canal man with a Roman man, well not actually a Roman, he was two thousand years too late, but he dressed like one and you kind of got the feeling that he lived a life of bitterness that he had been born in the wrong era. When I first arrived, I initially thought I had turned up at the national society for Daily Telegraph readers but seeing our man dressed up in the regalia of a Roman soldier eased my fears, however, judging by the faces in certain sections of the audience they had taken the word of the Parish magazine and were wondering what the fuck a Roman soldier knew about a canal system that was built some seventeen hundred years later…confusion reigned and it became apparent that the Roman man was about to embark on one of his toughest gigs yet.
It is safe to say I was not in my comfort zone either but I have to say that this guy metaphorically and almost literally took the audience by the throat; it turned out that he came from a family littered with Royal Marines and that he wasn’t to be fucked with by this lot, he had a steely determination and thorough look about him that suggested to me that he was the sort of bloke who would seem unassuming in public but if you crossed him, he could snap your neck in to two pieces like you were a farmyard hen. I was desperate for David to upset him; it would have made a priceless headline. “ROMAN ACTOR SLAYS VILLAGE BUFFOON.”
Anyway the talk was really good, I won’t bore you with facts and figures but he made the whole thing really interesting and dare I say it, entertaining too, his rabid hatred of films like The Gladiator and every BBC Roman Empire documentary ever produced was funny and bordering on disturbing, sending him up to near toxic levels of ranting, with Andrew Marr being the main target of the questions he shouted out and then answered himself. “Did Roman Officers wear dyed red horse hair on their helmets? NO…THEY…DID NOT!” Did the Romans go in to battle wearing body armour like this? NO..THEY…DID…NOT! Is Andrew Marr a complete wankshaft? YES…HE…IS! Of course he didn’t say that but you could tell he wanted to.
I didn’t nod off at all during the talk, partly because it was really interesting and partly because I feared the consequences of him catching me out and I genuinely felt for that chap because I got the feeling he wished he could be a real Roman soldier. When you are a kid and you dream of being a footballer, an astronaut or a recruitment consultant in the electrical industry, at least that dream is achievable (look at me I’m making literally tens of pounds from the electrical industry!) but if you want to be a Roman Soldier with a lust for gratuitous bloody violence you are pretty much condemned to a life of re-enactments with rubber swords, it can’t be quite the same can it?
At the end our mock Roman asked if we had any questions and the ‘Imp of the Perverse’ inside me urged me to say: ” Yes I have a question…David just said to me that he thinks Andrew Marr and the BBC are a fountain of Roman knowledge and that you are nothing but a sad little twat…what are your thoughts?”
Sadly, on this occasion, common sense prevailed and the Imp remained suppressed!