We heard the music as we pulled into the car park: a viennese waltz bobbing and swirling from a speaker bolted to the outside of the building; the hiss of the steady rain like feedback on the recording. Through a bower was a ticket booth and beyond that a small courtyard full of welcome signs and empty of people. Invitations to try the “super bungee” were trumped by the weather.
We set off at a meander up a steep hill path, past a large souvenir shop. The classical music drifted past us with a subtle dopplering as the route upwards took us from speaker to speaker. At the top of the path was a tall germanic tower and a sentry post manned by an empty suit of armour. Beyond this lay a large modern restaurant decorated as a German beerhall. It was open but untroubled by custom. The staff inside looked out at us balefully.
At the very top of the hill stood the old house looking incongruously healthy – like a retired New Yorker surprised on a Miami golf course. We sloshed about in the rain excitedly snapping photos and shooting film to show the family back home and to send to the concerned members of the Carluke Historical Society who had lost track of where the house had got to.
InsideÂ was aÂ wonderful cabinet of curiosities. Much of the first floor was given over, for no readily apparent reason, to a collection of several thousand Santa Claus figurines – one room being kept in darkness the better to display some ropes of bulbs shaped into festive characters. The rest of the floor was an enormous gift shop.
On the ground floor there was a museum containing an apparently random assortment of surprisingly fascinating tat. There was a replica of the throne complete with a plaster Stone of Destiny, a mannequin in a kilt, auction-purchased bric-a-brac, formerly belonging to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (the Nazi ones – not Andrew and Fergie), Marilyn Monroe and Napoleon.
The real purpose of the house, however, was romance. Everywhere could be found tiny glass hearts inscribed with the names of lovers and, hidden in a new basement dwarfing the floorspace of the house itself, were remarkable mock medieval dining rooms designed for wedding receptions. I had expected the house to be like an ageing opera diva pushed to perform turns at the end of a pier and the end of a career but in fact the house’s role was much as it had always been. It was born out of sentimental craze for medievalism and had been used by P’s family as a suitably impressive backdrop for many weddings including that of P’s grandmother. The house, it seemed, was still meeting the same needs but on a grander and more efficient scale.
Next … what happened when we played them the film and a clash of politeness cultures.
May I recommend a site? Emotional RescueÂ is the kind of site there should be more of – it deals with something important and is the first step to tackling the problem – more than just teh blah blah of sites like mine.