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.
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.”
Concern has been mounting over The Wombles’ forthcoming appearance at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival.
But it’s not just Michael Eavis worrying about the weird juxtaposition of Remember You’re A Womble blasting out to festival goers more atuned to Beyoncé and U2.
Following the recent EU warning issued to the French government about their flagrant disregard for wild Alsace hamsters, officials have defiantly stepped in to protect the wild hamsters that roam over Glastonbury Tor – known locally as Somerset Stranglers – they are banning supergroup The Wombles entry to this ancient mountain.
Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor offered an explanation:
“The ecosystem on Glastonbury Tor is very delicate. For hundreds of years these delightful but vicious wild hamsters have made their burrows on Glastonbury Tor and it is important that we demonstrate to the European Union our active support of rare species. We really don’t want to get caught up in the French fiasco where they seem to show a heartless disregard for the Great Hamsters of Alsace.”
“Our worry is that The Wombles are renowned for their drug-fuelled rampages. While on stage they are the very image of sobriety and family-friendliness – but the moment they get off stage it’s a different story. Can you imagine what it would be like if they were allowed onto Glastonbury Tor in that state? It’s anyone’s guess what would happen if one of the many Somerset Stranglers, on their daily trek to forage for cotton wool, were to be confronted by a six foot tall wild-eyed rodent, high on drugs and hell-bent on litter-picking – the last thing we want is a pitched battle between Wombles and hamsters. It would be Mods and Rockers all over again.”
Visitors to Glastonbury Tor were disoriented today by the complete absence of hundreds of Keep Off The Grass and Keep Off The Path signs.
Dozens of workers had spent hours overnight removing the old signs in preparation for new multilingual signs that conform to EU regulations. The new signs became necessary when Glastonbury Tor was granted mountain status earlier this year as a result of growing to over 190 metres tall.
European regulations for health and safety on mountains are much more stringent, including the requirement that safety messages must be repeated in French, Swedish and Luxembourgish – the international language of mountaineers.
Fearing some kind of bureaucratic trick, early visitors milled around the nimbleness assessment area at the base of the tor, but as numbers grew some braver visitors started to tentatively attempt to climb the summit.
It was many hours before the first visitor arrived at St. Michael’s Tower, a fact that observers put down to the lack of signs indicating which way to walk. It wasn’t just new visitors who were confused – members of the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union were also unable to decide which way to walk to get to the summit, leading many to question whether their position at the top of the Pilgrims League is really as firm as had been believed.
Chief mystical consultant Uther Henge stationed permanently at the gift shop at Glastonbury Tor spoke on behalf of the National Trust; “We expect everything to be back to normal this week as we begin the major task of restoring the signage on Glastonbury Tor. With more than a thousand signs to go up this is obviously a major task so visitors should expect some disruption. But during this time we have several specially trained staff members on hand to help people find the summit. They will have plenty of copies of our leaflet Which Way Is Up?”
Many people have asked what will happen to the old single-language signs in the hope that they may be sold in the gift shop, but we understand that they are to be reassigned to non-mountainous National Trust properties.
Since February 2011 Uther Henge has been thrilling visitors to St. Michael’s Tower on top of Glastonbury Tor with his lecture Toast, the Tor, Past Present and Future that leads visitors through the historical artefacts on display – a variety of gas and electrical toasters that have been used since 1912, and includes advice on modern toast-making techniques.
But it appears that mothers are reporting that their children are distressed by the section dealing with mystical foodstuffs.
Jenny from Glastonbury said; “The display is very informative. At last I understand why toast is depicted in the Glastonbury coat of arms. And since I learned the Uther Henge Flip I’ve enjoyed evenly browned toast every day. But while I was enjoying the lecture I hadn’t realised my son was looking at the interactive display that explains the mystical qualities of Welsh Rarebit. He hasn’t slept since, and panics every time I go near the grill.”
Uther Henge has promised to remove the Welsh Rarebit display until it can be made more family friendly, explaining; “Really this display was aimed more at people who want to be students in the mystical food science department of the Mystical University of Glastonbury, so it focuses heavily on kitchen safety. The interactive display shows what can happen if you mistakenly include Mozzarella in your cheese mix – it can give your Welsh Rarebit qualities similar to napalm. We now realise that the scenes showing kitchen staff dousing one of their colleagues with fire extinguishers may not be suitable for all audiences.”
The traditional method of toasting. You simply adjust the toaster setting so that it pops up cooked to perfection. At least, that’s the idea. The reality is that several factors usually result in very uneven toasting.
Basic toaster settings
No special training required
Uneven toasting (unless you use the Breville Toastmatic 4000)
The first level of advanced toast-making. The toaster is set to half the standard setting, and when it pops out midway you rotate the bread horizontally before reinserting for the second stage.
Consistent toasting on both sides
Top of bread often toasted more than bottom
Inexperienced users can burn their fingers at the midway stage
Basic training required
The Uther Henge Flip (mid-stage vertical rotation)
The pinnacle of practical toast-making. This is a simple improvement over the horizontal double insertion method. The introduction of a vertical flip creates fantastic toast.
Consistent toasting top to bottom on both sides
Resetting toaster to half the single insertion value confuses other toaster users who have to be forcefully inducted into the ways of the Uther Henge Flip.
Horizontal rotation followed by vertical flip followed by second vertical flip
This over-elaborate method of toasting results in the most consistent browning but is so complex that most people get worse results than the traditional single insertion method.
Incredibly even toasting
Requires quadruple insertion
Many novices fail to observe the rule that bread should be inserted either once, or an even number of times, but never an odd number, unless of course you introduce a final finishing off phase to remedy any inconsistencies
Setting the toaster becomes very complex
Toaster needs to be reset for subsequent slices to prevent over-cooking
Constant monitoring necessary to avoid burning
Many people forget how many toast rotations they have performed because they are distracted by other events in the kitchen
Factors to consider
Is your bread sliced by hand or machine?
Hand-slicing is less consistent than machine-slicing and the raised areas can become especially burnt. But you may be able to spread more Hobgoblin Marmalade on hand-sliced bread because it has a greater surface area. Experts call this the Goblin Ratio.
Is the bread thicker at one end than the other?
This can have a massive impact on the flow of hot air through your toaster, disrupting your calculations. You may be wise to set some time aside for wind-tunnel testing if your slices of bread are particularly wedge-shaped.
Who is Uther Henge?
Uther Henge is the chief mystics consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor. If you visit St. Michael’s Tower on top of Glastonbury Tor you can experience the Making Toast Through The Ages display at which Uther Henge gives a twice-daily lecture Toast, the Tor, Past Present and Future. Henge invented the Uther Henge Flip during one of his lectures when he realised that this unintuitive method of rotating bread resulted in a better and more consistent slice of toast.
Sunwatchers on Glastonbury Tor in Somerset were rewarded with the rare supersun phenomena today, only weeks after the recent supermoon. Scientists are wondering if there is a connection.
Glastonbury supersuns occur when the earth passes unusually close to the sun on its elliptical axis. Because the tor is the highest geographical feature in South West England it is the best chance many people have of getting a really good look at the sun.
Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor offered visitors some sound words of advice; “The sun came very close today – if felt like you could reach out and touch it. But on this special day visitors need to be very wary. Some people actually started to sunbathe, but luckily we stopped them in time. It’s not just the intense rays from the sun that can cause your skin to wrinkle up and start fizzling, but the heat makes the hamster burrows uncomfortably hot, so you find a lot of the Somerset Stranglers come to the surface, and you know how territorial they are – they become very frisky.”
Henge continued; “Anyone venturing onto the tor on a supersun day should make sure they have plenty of aluminium foil and calamine lotion. If you forget to bring some, or run out, it is available in the gift shop. The next supersun will be in 5 years.”
Many visitors to Glastonbury Tor were understandably upset by the arrival of 500 Keep Off The Grass signs in January. But they have been thrown into complete confusion by a new set of signs instructing them to keep off large sections of the path that runs from the National Trust gift shop at the base of the tor to St. Michael’s Tower at the top.
These emergency measures have been put in place because dozens of people visit the tor every year and the pathway that was installed in ancient times by King Arthur and his merry men is showing clear signs of water damage.
Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor explained; “This is just a temporary measure because of the recent flooding. We are trying to give it time to dry out. It is quite simple – when visitors walk up the path and encounter one of the banned sections they need to tiptoe along the channel of gravel on the edge that separates the grass from the pathway. Obviously this involves some nimble footwork, but we have trained assistants on hand to prop people up if they look like they are going to stumble. We have also set up a nimbleness assessment area at the gift shop where visitors can practice walking along a narrow channel of gravel to see if they meet the standards required to make a proper ascent. It allows us to weed out anyone who looks like they will cause a problem.”
Speaking on behalf of the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union, Chief Stairmaster Paul Hompkins was keen to bring attention to the challenge that union members are now encountering on their daily barefoot walk from Glastonbury town to the top of the tor; “For many years, union members have taken special measures to avoid eroding the path that leads to the top of Glastonbury Tor, but unfortunately there is a worn channel up the middle that collected a lot of water in the recent flood. This Christmas we began sewing little bags of cement into our trousers and shaking it down our legs to try and fill the holes. So far we have reversed fifty years of wear, but we still have a way to go.”
Hompkins continued; “You can understand that our barefoot ascent of the tor has become very difficult because so much is now confined to the painful gravel channels. Our members have got around this by strapping tennis rackets on their feet. Interestingly this seems to add to the solemnity of their penitent journey.”
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.”
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.