If the Runton Hall Estate was a brothel, I would be the madam at the front, taking the money and looking after the coats. What happens in the rooms upstairs is none of my business. However, when the rooms upstairs are full of Reiki healers, action needs to be taken, because your reputation is on the line. This situation has recently occurred at Runton, and it falls to me and the implementation of the Smith Plan – my contribution to working life here while I recover from the Tennyson Road Incident – to deal with this bunch of Jedi wankers.
Reiki healing is, as they say, not exactly rocket science. This is true, because rocket science has credibility. You really need to know what you’re doing to be a rocket scientist, spending many years studying and researching at the limits of human knowledge in a volatile and high risk pioneering technology. A Reiki healer is just some menopausal woman who wears a lot of purple, and who you’d usually expect to find doing bad charcoal drawings of cats in an Outer London sixth form college evening class. I imagine that talking to a rocket scientist about rocket science is interesting and impressive. Talking to a Reiki healer about Reiki healing fills your head with pleasing images of brutal and sustained violence and inventive ways to dispose of corpses. That said, I should like to acknowledge the disservice I am paying to the Runton Reiki healers. Most of them are Reiki masters. The difference between a Reiki healer and a Reiki master is a certificate you print yourself at a time when you consider you deserve it. It is literally that simple.
Whether or not I believe in Reiki healing is immaterial. It’s not my job to believe stuff at Runton, because to revisit our earlier metaphor, I am the madam. I don’t have to shag the punters. I just oversee an environment where shagging might take place, and pop in now and again to open a window and spray a bit of Fabreze about. Therefore, while I don’t necessarily believe that the Earth is flat, or that Paul McCartney was replaced by a body double in 1966, or that humans are ruled by shape shifting lizards from the rings of Saturn, I am entirely happy for people who do to come to Runton and get it out of their systems because, ultimately, it is harmless. The problem with Reiki healing is that there are circumstances – such as being persuaded away from conventional medicine to receive Reiki care in the belief that you will be fine in the morning – where it isn’t. It is these exact circumstances that ‘Anton’ discovered the Runton Reiki coven attempting to establish, while asking if one of them could magic him up ‘a spare set of bollocks for Christmas’. With the exception of his genuinely charming children, I think I am right in saying that this is the first time the world has any reason to thank his bollocks for anything.
As I write, it strikes me that there is a similarity between a rocket scientist and a Reiki healer after all, and it is this: if either make a mistake, someone could die. You’re just as dead either way of course, but if you died due to a rocket scientist’s oversight, at least it would be in the noble cause of human advancement. If you died having trusted a Reiki healer with your deteriorating health, you’d look like a dick. I understand that exposure to conventional medicine has the potential for side effects, such as addiction and depression. Exposure to Reiki healing has the potential for side effects such as believing in Reiki healing, making it far more dangerous. I mentioned this to a Reiki healer, who said I was encouraging a form of fascism*. Anyway. There will be a meeting between Joe, myself and the Reiki coven before the weekly Trustees meeting next Monday, where I shall state that they can have Reiki conventions and Reiki discussions and talk about Reiki things as much as they want, so long as they don’t try to use Runton as some kind of hospital for broken fairies. One of the main aims of the Smith Plan is to help Joe get a proposal for a sizeable Lottery grant past the Trustees, and if someone pegs out in the Old Servant’s Quarters because their aura wasn’t sparkly enough, we’re all in trouble.
Elsewhere on the Estate, things are gently decaying in their usual leisurely manner. I am sitting in my traditional spot by the Restored Barn, and can almost hear the sound of Brillo pads on nineteenth century ironmongery as Becka sets the Forest School fun groups to work in the Victorian greenhouse. The Goat Bag Man has mastered the intricacies of the Sandstone Bell Tent and is performing admirably with ‘Anton’ and the glampers. He was once an actual teacher, too, so there is scope for him to pitch in with the Forest School, especially if we turn more of the outbuildings into dormitory space, doubling its capacity. As far as I can make out, his teaching experience mainly involved fighting with nutbox adolescents in the Luton area, which will stand him in good stead with Graham’s children, who only respect people they can’t beat up. As for Joe – well, if you’re of a mind to watch the Emirates Cup games this weekend you might spot him, as he’s letting off the fireworks on the pitch when the medals get awarded. I have no idea how this turn of events came about.
*Not the first time some hippy has levelled such an accusation. Many years ago at Camden, Joe and I sold t shirts, some of which had Dolphins Are Gay Sharks written on them, on the basis that as far as I’m concerned that is exactly what they look like. Some dismal old slag tried to sue us for ‘subconscious racism’, but to my considerable disappointment the case never got to court. She probably changed the fuck out of her tune when the same phrase was adopted and plastered all over season two of Glee.
Main: Sloping football pitch near Runton. No one lives within five miles of it, and I can only assume it is used by the numerous ghosts which lurk in these parts.
Top inset: Joe at one of the pizza ovens installed by Forest School fun groups for the Bollywood wedding.
Middle inset: Archibald al-Sadique looking pleased with himself.
Lower inset: Livestock enclosure at Runton. It looks quite sweet when you can’t smell it.