I Believe in Yesterday

Tim Moore

I Believe in Yesterday

In 1989, Tim Moore moved into the last house in Chiswick with an outside toilet. Intrigued by a subsequent encounter with an elderly former resident, and shamed to confess the phobic haste with which he demolished this facility, he finds himself inspired to travel back to the land before now, experiencing the horny-handed hardships and homespun pleasures enjoyed and endured by Moores gone by. The journey that follows takes him through the world of historical re-enactment, sitting at the bare and grubby feet of retromaniacs who have seen their future in the past, and learning their singular ways. Living on bramble leaves, Johnny cake and porridge, Moore travels from the Iron Age to the Steam Age, sharing straw beds and daft hats with period obsessives driven by socio-historical curiosity, disillusionment with the pampered fecklessness of the modern world, or a simple nostalgia for campfires, flatulence and brutality.As a Roman legionary, Moore is put to the Gaulish sword twelve times a day for the entertainment of the Danish public; as master of a Tudor manor's domestic staff, he works his young charges to heatstroked collapse, and serves up moat-drowned hare to the sneering gentry. He crosses the snake-happy Kentucky wilderness with a Vietnam veteran and his ox-drawn wagon, gets arrested as a Yankee spy in the Louisiana no man's land, and lets a party of taunting French schoolchildren have it with a medieval bazooka. Along the way, he meets living historians for whom authenticity means pulling their own teeth out and dyeing outfits in urine, and those who stride back through time with a Nokia and a packet of fags stuffed down their codpiece. "I Believe in Yesterday" is an odyssey through 2,000 years of filth and fury, where men were men, the nights were black, the world was your outside toilet and everything tasted faintly of leeks. 4.0 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
I Believe in Yesterday

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Humour
Format Paperback
Pages 320
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication October 2008
ISBN 978-0224077811
Publisher Jonathan Cape
 

In 1989, Tim Moore moved into the last house in Chiswick with an outside toilet. Intrigued by a subsequent encounter with an elderly former resident, and shamed to confess the phobic haste with which he demolished this facility, he finds himself inspired to travel back to the land before now, experiencing the horny-handed hardships and homespun pleasures enjoyed and endured by Moores gone by. The journey that follows takes him through the world of historical re-enactment, sitting at the bare and grubby feet of retromaniacs who have seen their future in the past, and learning their singular ways. Living on bramble leaves, Johnny cake and porridge, Moore travels from the Iron Age to the Steam Age, sharing straw beds and daft hats with period obsessives driven by socio-historical curiosity, disillusionment with the pampered fecklessness of the modern world, or a simple nostalgia for campfires, flatulence and brutality.As a Roman legionary, Moore is put to the Gaulish sword twelve times a day for the entertainment of the Danish public; as master of a Tudor manor's domestic staff, he works his young charges to heatstroked collapse, and serves up moat-drowned hare to the sneering gentry. He crosses the snake-happy Kentucky wilderness with a Vietnam veteran and his ox-drawn wagon, gets arrested as a Yankee spy in the Louisiana no man's land, and lets a party of taunting French schoolchildren have it with a medieval bazooka. Along the way, he meets living historians for whom authenticity means pulling their own teeth out and dyeing outfits in urine, and those who stride back through time with a Nokia and a packet of fags stuffed down their codpiece. "I Believe in Yesterday" is an odyssey through 2,000 years of filth and fury, where men were men, the nights were black, the world was your outside toilet and everything tasted faintly of leeks.

Reviews

The Financial Times

Ángel Gurría-Quintana

With some 450,000 dedicated practitioners, Moore learns, living history is the fastest growing hobby in Britain. But why, he wonders, are ordinary men and women prepared to trade their 21st-century comforts, even temporarily, for life in “historical conditions”? It’s for that “period rush”, replies one Iron Age enthusiast. Moore’s own “quest for my inner ancient” is fuelled by his anxieties about our modern inability to deploy the skills that came naturally to our ancestors. More often, he finds, it is a “refreshingly simple impulse to get away from it all” that gets people into period attire.

07/11/2008

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The Independent

Pete May

Moore sometimes overplays his own ineptitude ­ was he really that scared of a sheep in his roundhouse? ­ but it's perhaps his funniest book. Yet it also identifies a serious yearning for simpler lives as the oil runs out and we exist in "screen-centred, anti-social torpor and blaring practical ignorance". Moore realises that what unites the re-enactors is "a simple and truly heartwarming quest for gregarious community. All in all, we just weren't meant to live the way we now did." This is possibly the best book ever completed by a man covered in congealed animal fat, sweat and cannon smoke.

31/10/2008

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