Jonathan cape £12.99 (248pp) £11.69 (free p&p) from 0870 079 8897

I Believe in Yesterday, By Tim Moore

Into battle with the history boys

Those who learn from history are bound to re-enact it. Tim Moore moves from travel to time-travel with I Believe In Yesterday, his odyssey through the world of historical re-enactment. On this fertile battlefield for his comic talents, Monty Python meets It's A Knockout as performed by Swiss web-server engineers.

Moore begins his past life in a moribund iron-age village surrounded by a bare-shirted iron smelter, pasties, Lucozade and an Aussie film crew. He's armed only with "contemporary life-skills like digital copyright theft and sarcasm". He travels down the timeline to find the Romans getting battered by the Gauls in Denmark. In a Swiss castle, he discovers the history crew's capacity for flatulence at night and free-style urination over ramparts.

Moore has great fun describing the leek broths, the language of the subculture ("nactors" and "time tarts") and the anachronisms, such as Vikings on airbeds who use their axes to deter troublesome hoodies outside fish-and-chip shops. The owner of Kentwell Hall, Suffolk, insists that "these are our core values" when banning watches, hearing aids and camera use in Tudor costume. He finds himself in Kentucky, dodging ox hooves, dung, bears and snakes with taciturn experimental archeologist and Vietnam vet Gerry, a man with an authentic 1775 pioneer wagon pulled by six oxen. During the American Civil War, he's planning sorties by mobile-phone light and saving a prisoner suffering from heatstroke induced by a concealed girdle.

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.



Pete May is author of 'There's a Hippo in My Cistern' (Collins)

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living