24 August – ‘All Over The Place – Europe, Part 2’
Postmen are famous for having a good old nose at people’s postcards when they’re on their round, but in 1879 Postman Ferdinand Cheval took things to a whole new level. He’d become fascinated by postcards’ exotic images of far flung places and decided to build his very own palace out of interesting looking stones he’d found doing his round. Since he hadn’t done any building before he slightly underestimated the amount of work involved, and what he thought would take him a few months did in fact take him 33 years. It’s quite a feat though. Bigger than most people I know’s houses it looks a bit like one of those temples in Burma, and contains several twisting staircases and hidey holes, with the outside walls plastered in strange figures and objects that he fashioned out of the simple stones and cement that he used to construct it. To be honest I found it a bit unsettling. I think postman Cheval may have had a few issues.
We’d been dodging in and out of the rain to get it all shot, then got stuck in a massive traffic jam on our approach to Lyon, so when we got to our next location time was ticking, but we’re a well oiled machine these days and ploughed straight into the Museum of Miniature and Cinema at an impressive rate. We met the founder of the museum, Dan, whose interest in building exquisitely crafted miniature rooms and buildings led him to collecting the props used when filming special effects for Hollywood films. Things have moved on a bit since then and most of that stuff is done with digital effects, so his 500 objects now have a degree of historical importance and he has around 35 film studios from around the world sending him bits and bobs from films such as the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise, ‘Jurassic Park’ and ’Aliens’.
In fact the staff seemed very impressed with my likeness to Harry Potter as I dressed up for a sketch involving Ben and I trying to make our own shambolic effort of a film. If only I’d been born a few years later, I could have given Daniel Radcliffe a run for his money…