There’s a saying among re-enactors that we don’t wear costumes. We wear clothes.
Because a good re-enactor does more than act out a role. They actively take on a persona. And – ironically – that persona is often closer to the real ‘them’ than the face they would normally present to the world.
I had no idea about any of that when I presented myself for inspection by a lady called Rosemary Muntus, a key player in the re-enactment group I was preparing to join: ‘The White Company’.
What had attracted me to the group was the possibility of taking a domestic role as a fairly lowly musician. Their events weren’t just about battles and military matters – they included domestic displays as well.
And Rosemary – having got my measure on day one – wasted little time in producing something I could wear. And helping me find and order some suitable period shoes. Because as well as making costumes she was also a stickler for accuracy. (So no trainers, no track suit bottoms, and no inauthentic lacing on your shirt and/or doublet. For openers…)
Little did I know that I had just met my future wife.
And the spark?
That came early on, when I went to meet her at a re-enactment fair in Colchester. And found her costumed and fully equipped in a custom-made booth with two young children in tow (one little more than a baby). She’d borrowed them from a neighbour for the event. I was struck by the way she spoke to them. How much she enjoyed having them with her. How comfortable they both were with her.
I’d fallen in love. I just didn’t know it yet.