The Only Slightly Less Grand Canyon #1

Last Monday was a holiday here in Australia, in honour of Her Majesty’s birthday (may god bless her and all who sail in her etc), and I spent it hiking in the beautiful Blue Mountains, about an hour and a half’s drive northwest of Sydney.

Several amusing things happened, as these things do when one is on hols with chums. They are, of course, rather more likely to occur when one of the party (that would be me) is incapable of not saying the first thing which pops into her tiny head.

To whit…

{Scene: breakfast in a small cafe in Katoomba. The interior is made entirely of wood, and the cafe was built and is run by a local Community group}

Beardy Man: So, where are you from?

Us: Canada, Sweden, England, Ireland and Adelaide.

BM: Whereabouts in England?

Me: Er, Norfolk. Its on the east coast, you may not know it, its quite rural and out-of-the-way…

BM (eagerly): Do you know a place called Thetford in Norfolk?

Me: Thetford? Yes, of course, its a town I know well. Breckland. Nice bridge over the river Thet. Used to have a castle and a priory, but they’re just ruins now. Have you been there?

BM: My surname is Thetford! I’m a Kiwi*, but my ancestors came from Norfolk. I can’t believe you know it!

Me: How extraordinary. Yes, it was founded by the Iceni, I think, and used to be rather an important town, right through the Roman occupation and up to the end of the late Medieval period. The 18th century radical Thomas Paine was from Thetford, the chap who wrote ‘The Rights of Man’. There’s an unprepossessing gilt statue of him in the town centre which I believe was a gift from some American society or other… [warming to my theme]

BM: Really? A radical? That’s interesting. Our Community will find that interesting…

Me: What flavour of community are you? Are you a self-sustainable, eco kind of community or more of a religious type group? 

BM: [Looks uncomfortable]

Me: What’s the name of the Community?

BM: The Twelve Tribes.

Me: Like Battlestar Galactica! 

BM: Er, no.

Me: Oh. [realising my error from his crestfallen countenance] Ah, well, if you’re a community of religious believers then perhaps that’s your Norfolk heritage? Afterall, many of the early Pilgrims to the New World were from Norfolk. Norfolk had a big Dissenting community in the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as the whole Kett’s Rebellion débacle in 1549 or thereabouts…

BM: Yeah, yeah, totally, like the Mayflower? We really identify with the Pilgrims, but not with the Puritans.

Me: But… [not wanting to burst his bubble but HIS HISTORICAL FACTS ARE WRONG] the Pilgrims were the Puritans. That’s why they left England. They were escaping persecution under the newly Catholic monarchy of James II…

BM: [leaves]



* Kiwi = from New Zealand

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6 Responses to The Only Slightly Less Grand Canyon #1

  1. “Twelve Tribes’ members dress modestly: the men wear beards, wear their hair bound in a short pony tail behind their head, while women wear their hair long, go without makeup, and wear long dresses.”

    Oh dear, you are lucky you were not cosigned to Hell for some form of blasphemy. The Twelve Tribes are a smallish sect out of the Southern States of the US (Where else?)

  2. “cosigned” – no, not a trigonometric intent – It should have been “Consigned”

  3. modestypress says:

    A number of years ago, my wife and I became involved with an “intentional community in Oregon,” though people less likely to be involved with such an enterprise than the two of us would be hard to imagine.

    The community was not a religious group, but based around environmentalism. Nevertheless, it exhibited to me what I considered cult-like behavior. I became fairly familiar with the United States intentional community movement, which involves an amazing spectrum of behavior and life styles, much of the behavior quite bizarre, again to my tastes.

    In the case of the community with which we associated, we eventually won a lawsuit of nearly $100,000 against them. We were not harmed by them, but after some research I came to the conclusion that quite a few people were, especially in terms of financial losses. I tried to get law enforcement authorities involved, but was unsuccessful.

    Our lawsuit was in a sense a kind of “legal” vigilante justice. After we had success the authorities finally took some action.

    It’s a kind of nutty story, but true. What else would you expect from me?

  4. OmbudsBen says:

    If it’s any comfort, I’d probably have been worse than you, Trucie-woo. I might have grinned and brought up the football cheer I’ve heard students at Norfolk State University (in Virginia, USA) have. You have to bear in mind the pronunciation of Norfolk with a /u/ sound before the k.) It goes something like this:

    We don’t drink! We don’t smoke!
    Norfolk! Norfolk!

    But maybe you need to grow up in an inhibited culture such as America’s to fully, um … where are you all going?

  5. socksinmypocket says:

    Beautiful photos and I think the bird you photographed is an eastern spinebill.

  6. woo says:

    Archie – yup, that’s them. And you know how I love a bearded man, but I had to draw the line at this lot and their quasi-historical religious nonsense… 😉

    Mr Random – the phrase ‘intentional community’ puts my back up right away. As opposed to what, an unintentional community of people who just happened to be passing and accidentally broke both legs and thus couldn’t leave??

    Ombudsben – you see, that is exactly how Norfolk is pronounced in England, so that would have been ideal 🙂

    socksinmypocket – thank you for popping in and I’m delighted that you’ve identified the bird!

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