Author Archives: Titania Bonham-Smythe

Glastonbury Town Council B to reconsider toilet facilities at Glastonbury Tor

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor are often understandably concerned about the availability of lavatories.  After all, who wants to have their visit to this mystical peak cut short because of the need to search for a loo?

Prior to the closure of St Michael’s Prison, the lack of toilet facilities wasn’t such a problem, because under certain circumstances visitors were allowed to use the facilities at the jail.  But with their disappearance, the lack of toilets within 32 miles of Glastonbury Tor has started to create difficulties for visitors with weaker bladders.

And because of government cuts the free Park And Pee bus shuttle service has been suspended.

Glastonbury Tor Ultrabeast might be Queen Hamster

Glastonbury Tor visitors are advised to keep peanuts double wrappedFor many years scientists have been mystified by the all-male population of Somerset Stranglers – the breed of hamsters native to Glastonbury Tor. The big question has always been how do they reproduce?

Religious teaching has been that they engage in virgin birth, explaining why so many hamsters are depicted in the stained glass windows of churches in Glastonbury.

Historically the scientific community has not challenged this idea out of respect for the hamster’s right to privacy. Local byelaws make it illegal to film these adorable animals during what might or might not be their mating season.

But the mystery of how Somerset Stranglers reproduce may have finally been answered thanks to recent coppicing of the wooded area on the dangerous north face of the Tor.

Police have received a higher than normal number of reports of a giant creature. Nervous villagers have responded in the traditional way by screaming “Ultrabeast!” as they run home, lock their front door and hide behind the sofa. But a new generation of visitors to Glastonbury have been able to give police a description.

Chief Inspector Wilkinson of the Glastonbury constabulary explains: “Over the last week we have received dozens of calls from ramblers warning of an unexplained creature that roams Glastonbury Tor. Estimates put it at somewhere around twelve feet tall, and bright white in colour. But the clue that makes us think it might be a Somerset Strangler is that so many independent witnesses have described it as having adorably weak forearms. There is only one creature I know of matching that description.”

Wilkinson continues: “The guys in forensics think it may be a rare queen hamster that used to live in the tunnels beneath Glastonbury Tor, and was forced from its natural habitat when the prisoners at St Michael’s Prison dug their escape tunnel and delved too deep. It may now have gone to dwell in the woods on the north face of the Tor, and the coppicing has left it without a home.”

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor should be reassured that there have been no reports of the Ultrabeast attacking humans so it is probably perfectly safe to visit the area. However, if you take a picnic onto the tor you should keep any bags of peanuts double wrapped as they cause aggressive behaviour in male Somerset Stranglers and this could be a hideous problem when scaled up to the proportions of a queen hamster.

Scientists at Mystical University of Glastonbury finally answer question of why we repeatedly drop soap in shower

After spending over 5,000 hours researching under laboratory conditions the Mystical University of Glastonbury has announced the outcome of a three year study into the behaviour of soap in showers.

Although their conclusions may change the way we all shower in future, some observers believe the research should have been handed over to one of Glastonbury’s less mystical seats of learning when it became apparent that the behaviour of soap can usually be explained by non-mystical scientific principles.

Head of research Gary Rawlinson announced at a packed-out press conference this morning: “This research was sponsored by Procter & Gamble in response to complaints from customers that soap-drop incidents while showering were on the rise.  They came to us partly because of the amazing shower research facilities at the Mystical University of Glastonbury, and also because of our previously published research into the optimum direction to reach when searching for soap that you’ve dropped in the bath.”

Rawlinson explained the methods used in their research; “Initially we asked people to keep a shower diary, noting the size, shape and moistness of their soap. We asked them to recall how many times they dropped their soap, and the time between drops.  And we asked people whether they were in a hurry to get showered quickly.  While this research gave us some valuable data relating to the correlation between soap moistness and dropping we suspected a degree of under-reporting. There is after all a lot of stigma attached to dropping soap, as people often mistakenly think it is a sign of clumsiness.  To overcome this in our second phase of research we started to observe students while they showered, and came to two conclusions, firstly that people really don’t like it when you stare at them while showering – that explains why I have this black eye – and secondly, that you rarely drop soap just once.  This is where we made our real breakthrough.”

The Mystical University has announced a three-step process that should help you to almost completely eliminate soap dropping, and at the same time cut about 10% off the time it takes to shower:

  • Have two bars of soap in your shower, alternating between bars ever 30 seconds.  Keep the unused bar of soap on a dry flannel to remove excess moisture.
  • If you drop your soap, turn off the shower and stand on your bathroom floor without a towel for one minute.  This form of extreme training quickly teaches you to keep a moderately firm grip on your soap.
  • If your inferior soap brand regularly achieves a moistness coefficient greater than 30% while showering, consider switching to Procter & Gamble’s Safeguard Extreme range of soaps.  These have been clinically proven to almost completely eliminate drops through the use of an ingenious cord attachment.

Drugs scandal hits Glastonbury space project – pig-tailed macaque might not fly

Jeremy the pig-tailed macaque accosts shoppers at a pharmacy in GlastonburyThis year was always going to be a tough one for Jeremy the pig-tailed macaque. Pressure is mounting in the run-up to the maiden voyage of the Mystical University of Glastonbury’s Astral class rocket.

Jeremy was selected in preference to a human project leader following cut-backs in university funding for the space program. But the need to maintain tip-top fitness levels while attending full time physics, telemetry and language classes may have been too much for this brave monkey.

Chief Rocket Engineer and university spokesperson Gordon McStevens explained; “The problem is children’s pain killers – delicious sweet pink liquid. Because pig-tailed macaques are the size of human children our veterinary consultant suggested we should give it to Jeremy to help him with the aches and pains of exercising. But it turns out that while it’s entirely safe for children, it is heavily addictive for monkeys – it makes him go totally wild”.

Jeremy has been banned from chemists in Glastonbury, and has taken to running around the university campus screaming “More crack! More crack!” – his name for this delicious painkiller. Visitors to Glastonbury have been asked to be on their guard if approached by Jeremy as he tries to get shoppers to buy painkillers for him.

Chief Inspector Wilkinson of the Glastonbury constabulary had some sharp words at a recent press conference:

“We have had reports that this well-spoken monkey has recently been harassing shoppers in Glastonbury, paying above the odds to fuel his terrible addiction. He is small – only a child to your eyes – and many people have been taken in by his increasingly fantastical hard-luck stories. He usually explains to innocent shoppers that he left his wallet on the bus and has a splitting headache”.

Wilkinson continued; “But you need to remember that he doesn’t know when to stop. He doesn’t even use the little measuring cup, he drinks it straight from the bottle, and then the residents of Glastonbury have to pick up the pieces – we don’t want to endure another night of rampage”.

Coppicing on north face of Glastonbury Tor may finally lay Forest Of The Ultrabeast myth to rest

It must be something to do with geological features in the United Kingdom that so many harbour ancient myths about terrifying creatures that lurk in darkness – take for example the Loch Ness Monster and the Wookey Hole Gerbil.

Glastonbury Tor postcard

1755 postcard from Glastonbury perpetuating the myth of The Ultrabeast

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor have long avoided the northern slopes, covered in ancient woodland, and known locally as The Forest Of The Ultrabeast – a name censored for many years from the guidebooks provided by the Glastonbury Tourist Information Centre.

Folklore has it that since mediaeval times a dangerous creature much like Bigfoot (albeit with feet sized more appropriately for the local environment) has lurked in this deeply wooded area. It was only when electric street lighting was introduced in Glastonbury in the 1960’s that a night-time curfew was finally lifted. But mention of the Ultrabeast still strikes fear into nervous local residents.

We talked to Uther Henge, the Chief Mystical Consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at the gift shop at Glastonbury Tor who has been tasked with supervising the logging operation; “Coppicing is a traditional system of woodland management that takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level. What we hope is that by lowering the height of these ancient trees the Ultrabeast, if he exists, will be deprived of his natural cover. The other great benefit is that we’re now able to clear the way for the A361 bypass that will ease congestion in the middle of Glastonbury.”

Glastonbury Tor ready to receive visitors again after returning from Olympics opening ceremony

Brisk sales of cat muzzles resume as Glastonbury Tor returns from London Olympics opening ceremonyYesterday was a busy day for Titania Bonham-Smythe and her colleagues at the National Trust gift shop at the base of Glastonbury Tor, following a week that saw the sale of the smallest number of cat muzzles since records began.

“It was obviously a great honour for the tor to feature so prominently in the Olympics opening ceremony in London” explained Titania “but that has caused very low visitor numbers. Now the tor has been re-seated we’ve been overwhelmed with little jobs preparing for the deluge of visitors today”.

The journey back from London along the M4 motorway was not without difficulty for Glastonbury Tor. The rocket transporters used to transport the mountain that were on loan from the aeronautics department of the Mystical University of Glastonbury were never designed to cover such huge distances – normally the furthest they would take their rocket payload would be from the university buildings in the heart of Glastonbury to the launch area on the Summerland Meadows just a few miles away. Something as simple as a puncture in one of the mammoth tyres on the transporter could cause hours of delay, with resulting tailbacks infuriating motorists.

But Bonham-Smythe is confident that visitors will enjoy a fabulous mystical day out at Glastonbury Tor today, unaware of the fervent behind-the-scenes activity; “Patricia Barnyard from the Glastonbury Dogwalker’s Trust has been in to oil the wheels of the dog trolleys, and the gentlemen from the GIPN (the Geneva Institute of Protuberance Nomenclature) have signed off the tor at 190 metres tall, meaning that it continues to qualify for mountain status.”

And probably the best news of all for nature lovers is that now it’s back from London, many Somerset Stranglers have been sighted emerging from their nests on Glastonbury Tor. Although July is traditionally the nesting period for hamsters worries had been building that the trip to London would cause a mass exodus. Fortunately a special grant of 500kg of cotton wool from the Olympic organising committee ensured that the hamsters were safely protected in their nests.

Local residents up in arms over Glastonbury Tor goldfish ban

New sign at Glastonbury Tor dog trolley queue banning goldfishThe National Trust gift shop at the base of Glastonbury Tor has become the battleground for yet another dispute over the rights of pet owners to use the dog trolleys.

Regular readers will know that the trolleys were donated by the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union last year to allow less able dogs to enjoy the view from the top of the tor. But after protests from owners of other pets, restrictions were eased over which pets were allowed to use the trolleys.

Last month, in a bid to ease queues for the trolleys, new rules were imposed that limit their use to mammals and some breeds of bird such as parakeets.

Owners of lizards and snakes have not complained about the ban because the permanent ice cap on top of Glastonbury Tor makes conditions uncomfortable for cold-blooded creatures.

But the many owners of goldfish affected by the ban are up in arms over what they regard as an affront to the personal freedoms previously enjoyed by their pets. Goldfish are historically important to the people of Glastonbury, appearing in the town’s coat of arms.

In an attempt to fight back against what they perceive to be an unfair limitation on the freedom of movement traditionally enjoyed by goldfishes the Glastonbury Pet Shop Consortium are asking residents of Glastonbury to display protest signs in their windows. You can download the goldfish protest sign here.

Titania Bonham-Smythe on Radio 4 You & Yours

A palpable sense of excitement was buzzing in the air today as staff at the gift shop at Glastonbury Tor listened to You & Yours on Radio 4.

Chief Gatekeeper Titania Bonham-Smythe had sent an email regarding a recent unsuccessful book purchase on Amazon – known as Spamazon – and we are pleased to say that it was read out by Winifred Robinson.

Download the 38 second MP3 or listen to the full 41 minute You & Yours programme on the BBC website.

Glastonbury Tor out of bounds to public during Olympic Games opening ceremony

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor were alarmed this morning when they discovered that work has started on the huge job of slicing through the base of the Tor so it can be transported hundreds of miles to the Olympic Games opening ceremony on 27th July.

Olympic Games Opening Ceremony 2012The Tor will be placed on a specially constructed rocket transporter that is on loan from the aeronautics department of the Mystical University of Glastonbury, and will then be driven along the M4 motorway in time to feature as the centrepiece of the extravaganza at the start of the Olympic Games.  Because it is a wide load the Tor will occupy two lanes, only leaving one lane for overtaking.  The AA has warned motorists to expect delays.

Speaking on behalf of the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union, Chief Stairmaster Paul Hompkins had mixed feelings about the event; “it is traditional to go all out to impress at the Olympic Games opening ceremonies, and we appreciate that since Glastonbury Tor achieved mountain status that it has become one of the most important visitor attractions in England. But at the same time, you have to appreciate that this will be the first time in hundreds of years that the members of the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union haven’t been able to make their daily barefoot walk from the middle of Glastonbury town to the top of the Tor.  During this enforced break we’re going to have a lot of surplus Kendal Mint Cake. Fortunately the National Trust gift shop at the base of the Tor have very kindly offered to take it off our hands.  But for me, it’s more about the break in tradition.”

Planning permission granted for escalator on Glastonbury Tor

Visitors will soon be able to ride to the top of Glastonbury Tor without suffering aching legs – a complaint known locally as “Glasto-calf”. This follows agreement by the planning committee this week to allow an escalator to be installed on the steepest slope – the final 100 metres of the tor.

The need for some form of automated transport has become an increasingly important issue as Glastonbury Tor has grown by 30 metres over the last decade.

The cost of the escalator will be funded partly by a grant from the Glastonbury Signwriters Guild, with the remainder recouped from advertising that will be displayed to visitors as they ascend and descend the tor in style.

As might be expected, news of the escalator has divided the community, with some people claiming that it is a wonder of modern science, while others claim that it discriminates against owners of larger dogs whose owners are not able to carry them for such a long escalator journey. Owners of small dogs are of course rejoicing in the fact that their dogs will be able to enjoy the view from the top of Glastonbury Tor, as their owners will have no trouble supporting their weight on the long escalator ride.

The local developers responsible for the escalator proposal are very relieved as this was the second planning application. It follows the refusal of the first proposal that included a moving walkway that would have carried visitors all the way from the middle of Glastonbury town to the base of the tor. Visitors would then have switched to the escalator for the final stage of their journey. This was deemed too disruptive as the path of the moving walkway crosses several major roads that would have needed to have been rerouted.