I learned a lot yesterday – about appropriate behaviour for Victorian ladies and where they could and couldn’t go; about how much your cheeks hurt when you spend a good while each day smiling for photos with visitors from all over the world; and most of all how uncomfortable, dry, dusty and hot life in the 1850’s central Victorian goldfields would have been! And I didn’t even have all the layers that the unfortunate ladies of those days would have been bound by, plus it was a comparatively mild day.
My first day in costume caused a surprising amount of nervousness. Surprising because I’d already spent a fair bit of time in and around Sovereign Hill, and acted as a tour guide for a large group already, so I thought I would be fairly confident taking on the main volunteer role I’ll be doing in the future. But somehow “wearing my clothes” added another layer and I found I didn’t really know how to play the part. It probably didn’t help that my ears and nose are playing up, so that my hearing wasn’t fantastic and I felt drained even before I started. But never mind – I survived the day thanks to the guidance of two experienced volunteers, and will be happy to do more to find my feet.
What I can tell already is that I’m probably not going to be very happy just wandering around talking to staff/volunteers and visitors, which is mostly what I did yesterday. So I’m looking forward to following up on my introduction yesterday to the respected Musicologist of the museum so I can get a list of suitable music that I can play and/or sing to pass some of the time. The ladies parlour in one of the hotels has a piano – a bit clunky and badly out of tune in the upper registers, but its something. And who knows, maybe I’ll even learn to do needlework or some other suitable pastime for a Victorian lady? 🙂 who’d have thought it…
Or it may even be possible to take on a different outfit and therefore play some different roles? e.g. if I want to join the street bands and join in with folk tunes on my tin whistle I would have to dress up as a (male) miner.
So – lots to learn, and more long days ahead of me at this extraordinary open air museum. It is a special place, and I’m looking forward to getting to know it better.