Local vets have advised visitors to stop stuffing their pockets with the hamsters that are swarming over Glastonbury Tor this year.
The huge population of hamsters, known by local breeders as Somerset Stranglers because of the tendency of females to kill their babies when food runs out, has swelled since they were granted protected species status in 1974.
Hamster experts say that Somerset Stranglers were introduced to the area by Dutch tulip dealers in the seventeenth century when they found them to be a breed that could be trusted to guard valuable tulip bulbs. Because they don’t have any natural predators on Glastonbury Tor they have bred like wildfire and it was only the Somerset potato famine of 1924 that caused their numbers to dwindle.
Titania Bonham-Smythe, the Chief Gatekeeper at Glastonbury Tor explains; “When visitors walk up Glastonbury Tor and see the hamsters frolicking on the grass it is very tempting to put a couple in their pockets. But people need to remember that these are not the same friendly hamsters you find in a pet shop. They live in the wild and are not tame. They are ruthless scavengers that will quickly become savage with any human that denies them food or cotton wool for their nest.”
A leaflet is available at the National Trust gift shop explaining the dangers of Somerset Stranglers.
Chief Inspector Wilkinson of the Glastonbury constabulary briefed the press this evening about the case of Councillor Gerald Watkins who was found in his office today impaled on a model of St. Michael’s Tower.
The tower sits majestically on top of the brand new scale model of Glastonbury Tor that according to police had just been unwrapped and turned on for the first time.
The National Trust are considering whether a product recall is necessary.
Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor offered an explanation; “The new scale model of the tor went on sale this week and is fully adjustable. Using the control panel you can type in a value for any year from the early thirteenth century when the tor was discovered, to the year 2050. Hydraulic motors alter the height of the model to be exactly to scale for the year you have selected. There is a clear warning in the instructions that you shouldn’t type in a value beyond 2030 unless you have a high ceiling.”
Henge continued; “I think what may have happened is that Councillor Watkins was leaning over his model and changed the setting from 1556, which was the date corresponding to the lowest recorded height of the tor, to 2050 which is the highest that the model can depict. The mist that tumbles down the slopes of the model may have concealed the fact that St. Michael’s Tower was heading for him at quite a speed and taken him by surprise.”
But Chief Inspector Wilkinson was clearly unhappy with this explanation; “When we arrived at the crime scene we found that the standard instructions had been replaced with a version that tells the user that in order to perform an initial setup of the model they should turn the tumbling mist to its full mystical setting, and then type 1556 into the control panel, followed immediately by 2050. A deadly combination. This model seems to have been a gift to Councillor Watkins from Glastonbury Town Council B, and we are worried that this is an unwelcome deterioration in the twin town triangulation dispute that has plagued the two councils this year.”
The National Trust gift shop at Glastonbury Tor has turned a crisis into an opportunity this week with the release of a new scale model of the tor, delighting visitors.
Following GIPN’s announcement in January that the tor has achieved mountain status because it grew by 30 metres between 2001 and 2011 the Trust found it had huge stocks of the previous scale model that reflected the old height of 160 metres. These are now available in the bargain bin.
Alarmingly, in the old models the surrounding landscape looked out of scale compared to the current height of the tor. For example, Glastonbury Marina which sits in the shadow of the tor contained tiny models of sailing boats that were looking increasingly disproportionate.
Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor explained; “We have always been proud of our scale model. It generates a constant mist that tumbles down the slopes creating a very mystical effect on your mantelpiece, and visitors often comment on the realism of the group of dancers in the famous circle of standing stones. Being solar powered the model fits very well with the ethos of our gift shop.”
Henge continued; “We had a team of scientists working to make this next generation model of Glastonbury Tor meet the ongoing needs of our customers and they have developed an ingenious solution – a small panel allows you to key in the year and a set of hydraulic motors alters the height of the model to be exactly to scale within a thousandth of an inch. You can type in a value up to fifty years in the future, but you should only do this in rooms that have a high ceiling.”
Because Glastonbury Tor grew by 30 metres since 2001, many dog owners have expressed concern about the steep slope their pets must now endure when climbing from the National Trust gift shop at the base to St. Michael’s Tower at the top of the tor.
The Glastonbury Pilgrims Union has stepped in and donated thirty dog trolleys of various sizes that will allow people to still enjoy the tor with their pets, but without tiring them excessively.
Patricia Barnyard of the Glastonbury Dogwalker’s Trust is particularly happy; “This is a typically kind and generous gesture by the Pilgrims Union. The tor has become very steep lately and many dogs struggle to make it all the way to the top. With these trolleys dogs of all kinds can now be led by their owners to the top where they can enjoy the view with everyone else. It is worth noting that the trolleys are available on a first come first served basis, and they are mostly in smaller sizes. You may find a queue if you bring an Alsatian or Doberman for a walk on the tor. There is currently only one trolley that can transport a Great Dane in comfort.”
Cosmologist Kirsten Denier from Glastonbury Observatory explained; “St. Michael’s Tower has always been a hive of activity, and even before the prison closure in January everyone has managed to coexist in this beautiful mystical space. However, since the Breville toast-making display went live last week it’s been nothing but trouble for us. Smoke from burnt toast has poured into the observatory, and the smoke alarms have been going off and disrupting our astral observations at the most inconvenient times.”
Uther Henge, the top mystical consultant at the National Trust, who leaves his duties at the gift shop twice a day to lead visitors through a presentation Toast, the Tor, Past Present and Future, was keen to placate the observatory; “Nobody predicted how much toast the visitors to the tor would burn. You know the settings on some of the old toasters were frightfully hard to get right, especially if you’re using the double-insertion method for even browning. We have installed a new extractor fan in the demonstration area, so we hope the smoke from burnt toast will vent away from the observatory in future.”
As a gesture of goodwill Henge delivered a tray of hot lentil tea and toast with lashings of Hobgoblin Marmalade to the cosmologists in the observatory.
A new display Making Toast Through The Ages opened today in St. Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury Tor. This follows the cleanup operation that was necessary following the recent no entry vortex encountered by Percival Angstrom.
This fascinating display charts the development of toast since medieval times. Delicious toasted wholemeal bread has always been part of Glastonbury’s history – indeed it appears in the town’s coat of arms. The Domesday Book refers to the toasted sustenance that pilgrims enjoyed in the town of Glastonbury before making the final barefoot ascent to the tor summit. Visitors to the display learn that no mention is made of butter or marmalade in those early times – these innovations were to arrive in the early fourteenth century during Edward II’s reign.
Sponsored by Breville, the display includes a variety of gas and electrical toasters that have been used since 1912.
The most compelling part of the display is the lecture in one corner of St. Michael’s Tower by Uther Henge, the top mystical consultant at the National Trust who leaves his duties at the gift shop twice a day to fascinate visitors.
The lecture titled Toast, the Tor, Past Present and Future leads visitors through the historical artefacts on display, and includes advice on modern toast-making techniques. For example, visitors are taught the “double-insertion method”, in which they learn how to set the intensity level for their toaster to half its normal value, and flip their toast half way through the process, leading to an incredibly evenly browned surface.
Such techniques are not necessary when using the Breville Toastmatic 4000 which uses modern technology to dynamically brown the surface of bread and deliver a perfect slice of toast every time. This is one of the models of toaster available in the gift shop as you leave the tor.
Uther Henge commented “Obviously safety is first and foremost for us. When they enter the display area we issue visitors with safety goggles so that there is no risk of toast popping out of toasters and causing an injury. We also confiscate any knives we find during our routine search because there have been incidents where people have inserted them into the display toasters to try and remove bread that gets stuck.”
Echoing the spending cut protests at public libraries this week, visitors to the National Trust gift shop at Glastonbury Tor have been buying everything from the shelves faster than staff can restock them.
In a peaceful protest spearheaded by the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union, hundreds of people have been buying items from the gift shop in response to the recent proposal by Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers to buy the tor from the National Trust and replant the grass with a mixed crop of vines and garlic.
Uther Henge, the top mystical consultant at the National Trust, who is stationed permanently in the gift shop at Glastonbury Tor was brimming with excitement; “People didn’t seem to mind the original plan to replant the tor with variegated shrubs and perennials as far as the eye can see, but the Pilgrims Union in particular were worried that vines would ruin the view out over the plains of Somerset. The double win here is that we had a massive over-stock of Lady Guinevere Lingerie in the gift shop, and have sold over a hundred garments this morning alone.”
The other good news is that the gift shop has sold all of the remaining antique reproduction slop buckets from their prison novelties range that were left over following the closure of St. Michael’s Prison.
Motorists in South West England awoke this morning to the discovery that satellite navigation systems no longer show Glastonbury Tor on the map. This wrecked the travel plans of many people who were planning to visit the tor today on this special day in the ancient mystical calendar.
Today is indeed an important day for the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union as they celebrate the Spring Equinox – the day when the setting sun shines directly through the window in St. Michael’s Tower and onto the main megalith in the famous ring of standing stones on the tor. People from all over the country come to Glastonbury to see the pilgrims perform their ritual barefoot walk up the single path to the top of the tor – a pilgrimage made all the more difficult by the new Keep Off The Grass signs.
Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor struggled to shed light on the situation; “Yesterday if you typed the postcode for the tor into your satnav it would bring you straight here, although admittedly if you used a TomTom it would take you round the back of the tor to a service road that doesn’t allow you access to the property. But today as the sun rose the tor disappeared from systems much like Marty disappearing from the photo in Back to the Future. If you want mystical, you have to try this out!”
A spokesman for TelSat Inc., the company responsible for the satellites that hover over British airspace was more forthcoming; “This is just paving the way for Twinchester Mountain. We were contacted by an accountancy firm in Kent yesterday who were able to provide all the proper documentation for the change of name.”
In a surprise move only hours after Glastonbury Horticulture Society announced their bid to buy Glastonbury Tor from the National Trust, Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers announced at a surprise press briefing today that they have agreed to buy a controlling share in Glastonbury Horticulture Society.
This is seen by industry insiders as a move to outflank Deutsch Gartenbau Abteilung, the German horticulture consortium that bought fifteen small mountains in Belgium in 2010, and has been greedily eyeing the nominees for mountain status announced by the GIPN this year.
Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers have big plans for Glastonbury Tor if their purchase is successful; “We have slightly modified the plan announced by Glastonbury Horticultural Society to plant displays of variegated shrubs and perennials over the tor as far as the eye can see. We still envisage a major replanting but now are going to focus on a mixed crop of garlic and vines. Research indicates that it pleases people who visit modern horticultural pleasure parks when they see vegetation that has real commercial value.”
National Trust Chief Gatekeeper at the tor Titania Bonham-Smythe had mixed feelings when we talked to her today; “I was awfully excited by the idea of the variegated shrubs, but I’m not sure people will enjoy visiting Glastonbury Tor if their view over the plains is obstructed by vines. I actually think the Deutsch Gartenbau Abteilung bid for the tor might be more in line with the profile of visitors we see. I spent a week working in the gift shop at one of their Belgian mountains recently and their Klabautermann Marmelade (Hobgoblin Marmalade) had a piquancy you wouldn’t believe!”
“It’s just so dull at the moment. We envisage a display of variegated shrubs and perennials as far as the eye can see” says Glastonbury Horticultural Society ground-cover technician Oliver Swetherstone, waving his arm across the wide expanse of grass on Glastonbury Tor.
The tor is admittedly rather samey, with swathes of grass broken only by St. Michael’s Tower at the top. It has been this way for as long as anyone can remember. But it seems the Glastonbury Horticultural Society thinks of this as a wasted opportunity, and with financial backing from a consortium of local businesses, it could be that the tenancy currently enjoyed by the National Trust could be replaced by something a lot more colourful.
Swetherstone continued “admittedly the walk from the National Trust gift shop up to the stuffed animals display in the tower is enjoyable, but since they closed St. Michael’s Prison it is no longer important for the guards to have a clear line of sight for their searchlights. This gives us a fabulous opportunity to cover the whole space in displays of exotic shrubbery, and as a result increase the number of visitors ten-fold.”
Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor, normally so outspoken in defence of the Trust, was at something of a loss for words; “Since the news last week about the new branch of Tescos I thought things were going to settle down around here, but it seems that was just the first step of a radical change to the tor. I suppose it will be a lot more colourful if the Glastonbury Horticultural Society buyout goes ahead, and a lot of gardeners will be employed maintaining the shrubs. I’m sorry though, this might be an old-fashioned view but horticulture is just not very mystical, is it?”