Whenever a creative team try to recreate the past through the conjury of cinema, Anachronistes will be there. He is dreaded and feared by directors and producers. If he is not appeased with the appropriate rites and offerings before filming starts, he will make random items like plastic water bottles, Starbucks coffee cups or a flock of llamas magically appear in shot. The makers of Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones and Troy have learned to respect Anachronistes the hard way. To perform the ritual to appease Anachronistes you must first drape everything around you in hessian, lay your Artistic Licence Card on the altar and light some dribbley candles around it. Next, rend a roast chicken limb from limb with your bare hands whilst singing “Greensleeves”. Finally, sacrifice some cold hard cash to your local University History Faculty.
The priestesses of Anachronistes are known as the “Polyester Princesses” and the priests as the “Knylon Knights of Kni”. In addition to the usual duties of leading worship and caring for the temple, the priests of Anachronistes hire themselves out as movie extras. Some film buffs like to play a game where they watch the crowd scenes in historical movies and try to spot a priest of Anachronistes. How do you recognise them? Well, they will be the plebeian watching the gladiatorial games whilst chatting on their mobile phone, the medieval peasant wench hefting a tomato at someone in the stocks or the Spartan soldier sporting sunglasses*. The temple scribes of Anachronistes were also responsible for drawing all the “travelling map” animations for the Indiana Jones film trilogy.
When not involved in the magical world of the movies, the priesthood of Anachronistes like to infiltrate historical re-enactments as a kind of hobby. They stride out onto a battlefield draped in a tartan car rug and a smear of woad with a colander on their head. After the battle they will bed down in the living history camp in their authentic plastic yurt, complete with electrical camping hook up (just like the ancient nomads of the Steppes used to have). They revel in the seething rage they invoke in everyone who put hours of research and hand sewing into their attire and tentage. There are dark rumours that there have been actual murders. Only rumours mind. After all who’s going to notice one more skeleton buried under a battlefield?
There is a militant counter-sect that seek to thwart the acolytes of Anachronistes at every turn. “The Authenticity Police” are a learned, if somewhat anally retentive bunch. If you know one of their number, NEVER go to see a historical film with them. They are the kind of people who enjoy heckling the costume department. They rarely engage in direct conflict with the followers of Anachronistes. Their actions are usually restricted to online pedantry and snarking.
The Temple of Anachronistes is a distinctive 13th Century Neo-Tudor-Classical half-timbered, breeze block castle with polystyrene Doric columns and a thatched roof. This temple is truly a magnificent architectural gem, dear reader, and it is worth pausing here, for a moment, to admire it in your mind’s eye. The corners of the roof are ornamented with exquisitely carved gargoyles. Everyone’s favourite gargoyle is the one on the east side that looks like Alien. This gargoyle has been affectionately nicknamed “Paisley”. Through the temple’s Georgian sash windows you may be able to spot the elegant electric chandeliers that illuminate the interior. (Although, they are not always working as their support ropes tend to be vulnerable to swashbuckling heroes.)
The Temple of Anachronistes houses a cinema, where the priesthood can sit back and admire their handy work. Such a huge variety of historical films from all over the world are screened, that they rarely show repeats. However, once a year on the anniversary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, the priests and priestesses gather en mass to enjoy the film Braveheart, which they consider to be their finest hour. At the appropriate moment of the film, the lead priest will chant, “Hold. Hold. Hold. NOW!” and the assembled priesthood will respond by chorusing,
“Where’s the f***ing bridge Mel?”
Thank you to Alex Smith, Clare Starkie, Rebecca Stothard who have all chipped in on this one.
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*The priesthood of Anachronistes would like me to make it explicitly clear that they had absolutely nothing to do with the film Teen Wolf.