Hello again, my dear chums! I have returned to you from the magical fairy-tale land of Bavaria. My big brother lives over there and so while on a visit I was determined to travel to possibly the best-known castle in the world, Neuschwanstein Castle, which sits on a mountain by the Alps. If you don't know the name, the shape of it will certainly be familiar. It was the castle that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang swooped over and it was an inspiration for the appearance of Hogwarts and Disney's Sleeping Beauty's castle on screen. It is about as fairytale as castles get, but that, my friends, is the point...
|Christian Jank's 1869 project drawing for the castle|
|Just out of shot, Mrs Walker attempting to breathe after the climb...|
|Waiting the start the tour with a couple of other tourists...|
|Entrance Hall. Just out of shot, Mrs Walker has swooned...|
|Wow. Just wow.|
|The Dining Room. Where's a footman when you need one?|
|The Living Room|
|The grotto. A cave in the middle of a castle. No, really.|
|The Singers' Hall|
|'Mad' King Ludwig. I don't care how mad he is, look at his home!|
I suspect that part of the stories of his madness grew out of his alleged sexual preference. Engaged to his cousin, he eventually pulled out of the actual marriage (although he blamed his potential father in law for keeping them apart). He maintained close friendships with men and wrote adoring letters to his hero, Wagner. All of this is often given as proof that he was homosexual, but I think this is a rather insulting conclusion to come to. There is no proof that he ever had a gay relationship and I have a horrible feeling that his mad/gay label are flipsides of the same coin. He was gay therefore he must have been mad, or he was mad therefore gay. Neither thing are provable and both say more about the times he lived in rather than him. I rather suspect he was inconvenient to those in charge, all bound up with his castle and fantasies rather than the real, modern world. As Ludwig asked the doctor who had declared him insane, 'How can you declare me insane? After all, you have never seen or examined me before.' In reply, Dr Gudden said that that was unnecessary as he had the servant's gossip. Consider that, my friends, and shiver.
|Back down the mountain, with the castle in the background.|
The painting on the restaurant is to remind you that you're in Bavaria.
Sadly I don't think my twentieth century terraced house can cope in that much Wagner...