In which we consider glampers, food intolerance, doomsday preppers, the beastly Hun, and places to go for a good scream in the afternoon.
The Runton guests referred to by Joe as ‘glamping wankers’ are middle class parents with children they fancifully suppose are gifted, instead of what they actually are, which is loud. These children are typically weak and allergic to everything, and dragging them to deepest East Anglia and subjecting them to Afro Celtic Sound System playlists in a field full of rapeseed pollen doesn’t seem entirely fair – but on they come regardless, parking their Audis on a patch of rough ground behind a former stable that by a terrible oversight has not first been liberally strewn with landmines. Incidentally, parked out of sight in the stable itself is an elderly VW Golf, where Becca goes to scream when her own numerous children become unbearable. She more or less covers her screaming with the CD soundtrack of Phantom Of The Opera, which the Golf’s previous owner managed to permanently jam in the player. I suspect there might be potential in hiring out the Screaming Car, and shall mention this to the board of trustees when next I see them.
Such catering as Runton Hall offers is carried out by a presumably qualified part time chef called Steve, and mainly consists of packed lunches. If you want to see a forensic team in action without watching CSI Miami, give a middle class parent a packed lunch for their child. There’s nothing the Joshes and Jacobs and such can eat. You expect a bit of veganism, because veganism is God’s way of apologising for middle class people and ensuring that they are too unappealing to breed, and I have not eaten meat for many years, although I eat fish because they’re weird and I don’t want them to evolve any further. In 2006, the middle class decided that it could no longer eat gluten in an attempt to keep unbranded breakfast cereals out of Waitrose, and it makes them almost impossible to feed. Be all that as it may, the Runton Hall trustees are fond of them because they are a relatively easy source of income; once they’ve stopped whining, you only have to provide wifi, a bongo workshop, and access to German Field*, and they look after themselves. Well, more or less. As Joe points out, if they can’t deal with gluten they probably aren’t going to deal with a solid kicking too well either, which is a pity because it would make having to put out their raging campfires at three in the morning when they’ve retired to their tents and fallen asleep far more enjoyable.
Runton Hall claims many things about itself. For example, it claims to be ‘fostering the playful nature of children and planet earth’, and I am therefore always struck by how many doomsday preppers are wandering around it. In case you are unfamiliar, doomsday preppers are happy in the knowledge that society is going to collapse at any minute, and that an opportunity to look pleased with themselves among the ruins is fast approaching. Runton Hall is popular with preppers because it is remote and offers wooded areas where food, medical supplies and all that can be hidden in the event of, for example, a Russian EMP strike, currently considered the most likely doomsday scenario. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to be prepping for the wrong disaster. Anyway, my favourite prepper is an enormous science fiction obsessive dubbed Beggar’s Canyon by ‘Anton’ after a geographical feature on the fictional Star Wars planet of Tattooine, which is also two metres wide. Beggar’s Canyon is troubled by her weight, as indeed we should all be. Then again, she is perfectly entitled to heft herself around the grounds asking where the buffet is in Klingon if she so desires, even if you can tell she’s looking at you for your potential nutritional value as she does so.
As for the rest of Runton Hall’s population – well, we have Buddhists in the gamekeeper’s cottage, and the Flat Earth people are still in the old servants’ quarters. It is not for me to comment upon the legitimacy of Flat Earth theory (or Buddhism, for that matter), but Flat Earthers are a serious bunch. I had to go through their accommodation checking for atlases, globes and so forth (visiting school parties sometimes stay in the old servants’ quarters) because they are pretty touchy about stuff like that. Runton needs the Flat Earth Pound, and I am happy to assist, although this does not alter the fact that removing educational equipment so as not to offend people who think that the Earth is flat is what my life has come to. On the bright side, if society does collapse soon, those of us in the Runton Hall site management staff will be one step ahead of the preppers, because we will get to their stuff before they do, leaving them to eat the glampers. Result.
(*The English Channel is a perfectly reasonable barrier between England and the continentals. What does the Hun do? Unable, as ever, to stomach a fair fight, he flies over it. That’s the mentality of these people, I’m afraid. His beastly little aeroplanes managed to grunt and clatter across the clean English sky as far as deepest East Anglia where they bombed Mundesley, if you please. You may rest assured that Runton Hall gave Jerry a proper British-style slap in the chops by housing captured Wehrmacht officers and giving them little plots of land where they could learn about being kind to things, a course of action the Hun would never otherwise consider. Seventy years later, the result is a vast and varied organic vegetable garden, which the glampers can dig up their own dinner in. Marvellous. I mainly eat Kit Kats, so it’s of little interest to me, but still.)