November is slow at Runton Hall. Slow, yes, but not entirely at a standstill. For example, we still have conspiracy groups about the place, although in winter they prefer to stay in the Old Servants’ Quarters where they can gather around flip charts and sort everything out in the comfort of a warm nineteenth century building. The yoga never really goes away either. We have all three sorts at Runton – Bikram, drunk and deaf. I murdered our previous Bikram yoga lady for her own good, and the new one doesn’t expect Joe to maintain open fires all day in the Forest School dormitory where she holds her classes, and thereby clings to life. Drunk yoga is something of a misnomer, now I come to think of it, as only the instructor is drunk. Last week she took her class wearing sunglasses to hide plastic surgery bruises and spent an hour talking about her holiday in Cyprus, and I’m not sure how much longer her tenure will last. Of the three, deaf yoga is the most popular. I’d assumed that in rural areas deaf people would be shot as poor breeding stock, but the instructor claims to be able to ‘fill a coach from Norwich’ twice a week. I for one applaud the East Anglian deaf for their flexibility and commitment, and long may it continue.
The conspiracy groups are a legacy of Runton as a religious/hippy retreat in the seventies, decades before Joe and Becka and ‘Anton’ and I blundered onto the landscape with our Oyster Cards and hatred of rural life. Of all the groups, the Flat Earthers are most often in residence. They are a straight-laced bunch, but I don’t suppose there’s many giggles to be had when you’re up against NASA for what shape the world is. That said, I’ve sat through hours of Flat Earth lectures at Runton because I’m a slag for a good yarn, and a decent conspiracy theory is certainly that. To save you doing the same, shape-shifting lizards from Saturn infiltrated human bloodlines thousands of years ago and created sundry Illuminati organisations with which to exploit the planet earth and everyone on it. That, in a nutshell, is the root of all conspiracy theories. Moon landings, JFK, 911, AIDS, the Mandela Affect, Area 51, chemtrails, new world orders, Paul McCartney being dead since 1966 – it’s all down to the shape-shifting lizards. You can’t just hide all the lettuce and hope they go away either, as they feed off a low frequency energy field put out by humans in distress, the little buggers. Although there are millions of people who believe this, it’s not for everyone. As ‘Anton’, currently re-wiring the Old Servants’ Quarters, put it recently – ‘it’s not for us to have opinions on all this total fucking bollocks’ and it’s not for me to, broadly speaking, agree with him.
Be that as it may, ‘Anton’s enthusiasm for re-wiring buildings has improved significantly since he became a qualified electrician last week. Like myself, he has not been paid for his work at Runton, which in his case amounts to eight months of optimistic rewiring work undertaken entirely at his own expense. This explains the tacit understanding that ‘Anton’ and I can make a few quid from the glampers as long as we don’t compromise what Runton is – a low key, off-radar place ‘that people can fuck off to for a chill out’, as he assured the Trustees on the one occasion he met them. He is gambling that, with the coming of our Lottery grant and the subsequent establishment of a limited company consisting of him, me, Joe and Becka, he will effectively be hired by himself at consultant rates to check his own wiring, which there is nothing wrong with, thereby enabling him to take a long and extremely well paid holiday throughout the back half of 2018. I think this sort of thing might be how Freemasonry got started, and I certainly see the appeal.
While Runton does have links with Freemasonry, which I’m not sure the conspiracy groups are aware of, religious visitors are less common and mainly confined to the hermitage in the remotest part of the Estate. Officially, Runton’s religious affiliation is secular humanism. In case you are unfamiliar, secular humanism replaces an irrational faith in God with an irrational faith in humans, leading me to wonder how many humans the average secular humanist has actually met. Recently, this line of thought enabled me to formulate my own non-conspiracy theory about the space lizards, centred upon my belief that humans don’t really need help to exploit and suppress each other. Humans are perfect vessels for malice, and while kindness and civility exists on a local and interpersonal level, these qualities are scarce in a wider context amid societies which ultimately exist to be pitted against each other. Therefore, the space lizards act as a form of interstellar ‘othering’: they can be blamed for everything, because the fundamental realisation that humans tacitly demand a permanent state of atrocity in which to flourish is simply too much for us to admit. I am therefore inclined to think that the interstellar shape shifters are a product of a flawed human psyche that refuses to accept that we are all a bunch of wankers. There, I’ve said it.
Main – A little semi-outdoor kitchen that the Forest Schoolers use. There are no Forest Schoolers at the moment, so we use it to get pissed in.
Inset top – House martin chicks in the petting zoo earlier this year. They had a lovely time, fledging successfully in August, just in time for the new school year.
Inset middle – Grapes grown in the Victorian greenhouse at Runton. Note Joe’s stubby fingers, ideal for manual labour and showing a lack of education.
Inset lower – Christmas tree at Leadenhall Market. They do a lovely carol service, too. Be careful though, because Leadenhall is in the City of London, and the City of London crest is flanked by dragons, which are Illuminati symbols and what not. I think I might need to stop going to conspiracy theory lectures for a bit.