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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Getting Really Close to Nature

Really pleased to read Mark Boyle's Guardian article on living without the benefit of modern medicine and technology. At last someone has embraced the lifestyle we have been advocating through our "Ultimate Immersion Beaker Experience" retreat concept.

For a very reasonable rate, we've been letting idealistic people with lots of money live in the Lower Wood for up to three months at a time. During this time we send in "Beaker Lifestyle Coaches" to give them advice on important pre-industrial lifestyle tips. For instance - how to make tents out of fox skins, which herbs to use for broken bones, and how to tell whether you're so cold you will die of hypothermia, or whether you'll probably make it to morning alive.

The Immersion Beaker people spend their days foraging for berries, gathering moss and ferns to create sanitary products, and being sick after eating unwashed berries or drinking water out of the brook. Of course, foraging for berries in late winter and spring is always a bit pointless, so at those times of the year they mostly just sit around being hungry.

Lower Wood was always full of wildlife, so in principle a particularly keen Immersion Beaker  person could have had a decent Neolithic diet of muntjac, hedgehog and rabbit. In practice, of course, they were such idealists they couldn't harm a bunny-wunny, and careers as investment bankers and actuaries don't give you much idea as to how to create a decent bow or snare. And not having matches, they were strictly relegated to banging the rocks together to make fire. We caught someone using a bit of broken bottle to magnify the sun once. We had to confiscate his loincloth as a punishment.

Clothing was of course a real bugbear. Any Immersion Person going into the woods had to yield up all artificial fibres. And if any of their clothes then wore out or were so dirty they were unredeemable, they had to weave replacements themselves. In the absence of any cotton fields in Husborne Crawley this left them chasing sheep round fields and harvesting bits of discarded wool off the barbed wire.
Lacking aspirin, some extreme methods of obtaining pain relief were attempted
The ban on modern medical intervention did bite, though. Surprisingly, as they thought their natural lives would protect them from all illness. Not if you fall out of a tree while trying to hunt squirrels and break your arms, it turns out. All that feverfew didn't have the slightest effect. And Melanie was rubbish at foraging after that. Eventually, faced with her colleagues' refusal to call a modern ambulance to drive along modern roads to help her, she had to walk up to the Big House and beg for help. Where, true to the Neolithic principle, Burton Dasset gave her a backie to Milton Keynes General on his bicycle.

I remember the guy with terrible hay fever, who spent six weeks unable to see, let alone forage. His colleagues did try feeding him plantain leaves, but he didn't trust them not to have herbicide on them. He ended up sitting under a crab apple tree, eating the fruit whenever it fell on his head. Although to be fair, the raving state he got into was very definitely a religious experience.

Indeed, religious experiences become more common the longer you spent in Beaker Immersion. After a couple of months of near starvation, you end up seeing all kinds of visions. And most nights, if you walked past Lower Wood, you could hear people calling on God for help. And twice we had to intervene to prevent human sacrifice to ask Hern the Hunter for blessing. So a very big tick in the box.

But sadly, eventually the Beaker Immersion course had to be wound up. A group of particularly enthusiastic course members, with some awareness of Neolithic agricultural practices, went in for slash and burn. The Lower Wood ceased to exist one week in April. And then they realised they had no seeds, and no way of feeding themselves. They didn't get their money back, mind you. I felt they had had the ultimate Beaker experience.

1 comment :

  1. I read that article. Or to be perfectly honest, I read it up to the point where he says that he won't have any chemicals in his house. At which point I swore the ancient oath "Gwyneth Paltrow!" and just skimmed.

    Isn't it amazing how these simple lifers, usually but not inevitably in The Guardian, cherry-pick so innocently and unknowingly which items of the industrial society they will use (because they take them wholly for granted) and which banish. I recall another article, by a whole family, detailing their lives spent "off-grid" - apart from being able to email in their articles, and dress their children in acrylic welly-boots and polyester rainwear.

    To be fair to this chap, he does allow the possible usefulness of the NHS emergency and hospital services to percolate his mindfulness, to the extent that if push came to shove he might use it, as his father indeed had had to. The trouble is, he seems to have no concept of the massive and detailed infrastructure required in the first place. I, too, was that physically fit, and even younger - barely twenty-one, when I suffered a ruptured appendix, and had it not been for modern drugs, modern surgery and the LAS, the last fifty years on this earth would not have included me. I pray that Goop Man never hears that wake-up call, either for himself or for anyone he cares about.

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