We’re so pleased to have author Elin Gregory joining us today on the tour for her new release from Manifold Press, The Bones of Our Fathers. She’s here to give us a glimpse behind the scenes of museum work, and there’s also a giveaway, so be sure to visit the Rafflecopter widget below for details.
All About the People, Really
There’s a popular depiction of museum work – stern-faced docents in smart uniforms shushing the visitors who get rowdy, earnest curatorial experts in air-conditioned laboratories painstakingly piecing together bits of ancient pottery, enthusiastic technicians x-raying shapeless lumps of conglomerate to disclose the object within – and that is all true in some of the big institutions. But there’s another smaller, more local, level of museum work that’s a lot hairier and chaotic.
I’ve worked at a small museum, in various capacities, since 1982. I’m totally unqualified, all my knowledge had been acquired either ‘on the job’ or in my spare time, but over those years I’ve done accounts, designed and curated exhibitions, written and illustrated publications, delivered lectures, run play schemes, done the accounts, made sure everyone got paid, cleaned up vomit, and done most of it while serving in the shop and greeting people at the reception. Sometimes I wish I could have been a master of one track rather than doing a bit of everything, but the little museums, who collect the bits and pieces of no interest to the huge national institutions, can’t afford masters. Most are now run with either a few paid custodians or entirely by volunteers with occasional visits from curators. The collections are lovingly maintained but the real business of the place is with people – with our visitors.
It’s those interactions when the door opens and someone comes in that can be the most difficult and the most rewarding. As Forrest Gump said “You never know what you’re gonna get”.
· The lady who said “My grandfather’s name was Jones and came from your town, I think, can you give me everything you’ve got on him. No wait,” she checked her lever arch file, “it’s Aberystwyth not Abergavenny. I’d particularly like copies of his birth and death certificates and his wedding photos. I can wait.”
· People coming in out of the rain.
· The fellow who was so busy taking selfies with a selfie-stick that he shut himself in a broom cupboard.
· The family who disappeared into the depths of the museum leaving their three year old, five year old and seven year old to wreck the shop.
· The chaps who come in for a wander while waiting for their cars to be MOTed.
· In winter particularly, some of the local homeless people – it’s not just a city phenomenon – who come in for a warm and a wash.
· The lady who insisted on wearing one of our more exciting pieces of dressing up clothes and got hopelessly stuck in it. We had to snip the threads on one of the seams to get her out and agreed with her that she should have taken her sweater off first.
· The tourists who want to pay for a 15p postcard with a £50 note [top travellers tip – £50 notes aren’t normal currency, for every day use get tens and fives].
· The clean cut young gentlemen who come to stand in reverend silence in front of the Red Cross parcel sent to Rudolf Hess when he was imprisoned here [and how creepy is THAT?]
All the above is routine but we also get some visitors who contribute more than an anecdote. For instance, the family who were building a kitchen extension and had found an odd piece of pot when digging the foundations – hard red fine stuff, shiny on the inside with a bas-relief design outside. It was unmistakeable and luckily there was a curator on the premises. “Oooh! Samian!” he whooped and rushed up there with them to check it out. A bit of patient excavation to widen the foundation trench a little turned up an entire 1st century CE Roman cremation burial that completely changed some of the accepted dates for the occupation of the local area. We have the pots in the museum now. There may be more there but neither the museum nor the family could afford the huge expenditure involved in a complete excavation of their garden. They know to double-dig the veg patch with extreme caution.
About the Book
Title: The Bones of Our Fathers
Author: Elin Gregory:
Publisher: Manifold Press
Length: 231 Pages
Buy Links: Manifold Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Blurb: Malcolm Bright, brand new museum curator in a small Welsh Border town, is a little lonely until – acting as emergency archaeological consultant on a new housing development – he crosses the path of Rob Escley, aka Dirty Rob, who makes Mal’s earth move in more ways than one.
Then Rob discovers something wonderful, and together they must combat greedy developers and a treasure hunter determined to get his hands on the find. Are desperate measures justified to save the bones of our fathers? Will Dirty Rob live up to his reputation? Do museum curators really do it meticulously?
Answers must be found for the sake of Mal’s future, his happiness and his heart.
About the Author
Elin Gregory lives in South Wales and works in a museum in a castle built on the edge of a Roman Fort! She reckons that’s a pretty cool job.
Elin usually writes on historical subjects, and enjoys weaving the weird and wonderful facts she comes across in her research into her plots. She likes her heroes hard as nails but capable of tenderness when circumstances allow. Often they are in danger, frequently they have to make hard choices, but happy endings are always assured.
Current works in progress include one set during the Great War, another in WW2, one set in the Dark Ages and a series of contemporary romances set in a small town on the Welsh border.
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