|Ashby de la Zouch Castle looking straight down from the Hastings Tower|
We visited Ashby de la Zouch Castle yesterday. Interesting enough but we made the mistake of trying to use the English Heritage audio guide. If you haven’t used these audio guides, they are hand held devices linked to numbered information boards. They guide you around the place via commentaries, which expand on and complement what is written and depicted on the information boards.
Until now, all the audio guides we’ve heard have been straightforward often with some attempt at involvement via a narrator and an actor’s voice for historical figures. Rather like a simple radio play. Useful little gadgets, the one for Bolsover Castle being particularly informative.
Unfortunately the Ashby Castle audio guide uses a feebly comic double act, one straight and one camp. They spin “jokes” such as
This is the pantry.
What’s that, a place where they stored pants?
Aimed at children I suppose, but if so why wasn’t the audio guide shaped like SpongeBob SquarePants to give us a clue beforehand? I gave up and made do with the information boards. A chap doesn’t expect a dry academic exposition, but neither does one expect something so childish. Increasingly that’s what we get.
It’s a trend, this infantile presentation of history. Children have to be catered for and perhaps attracted to these places, but surely not at any cost. Museums have been going the same way for some time. No doubt the thumping beat of popular music will be next. The masses have to be entertained.