The myth of Gluttony
“Squabbling Barons” is a wargames competition based on a collection of tales taken from a set of manuscripts written in the 14th century by the “Aimless Wandering Monks of Pound Hill”. These manuscripts tell the story of war torn Sussex through the eyes of a group of Barons living on their estates in Handcross, Pease Pottage, Crawley and Horsham who would, from time to time, go to war against each other for something to do. During the competition players take on the guise of one of the Barons and try to fight their way up the greasy social ladder of greed, the winner being the person who reaches the top first and crowns himself “King”.
As for the tales written by the “Wandering Monks”, there has been much speculation as to their authenticity because the Monks have been accused of playing down the numerous fibs, lies and pretence that followed in the wake of the Barons tumultuous lives. For example, today many people wrongly believe that the Barons were great warriors akin to those of legend but the “Sceptic Society of Baronial Deniers” believes that they were no more than a bunch of useless layabouts. This argument stems from the Monks fable “Blood, Beef and Trenchers” in which it tells that after battling on the field of glory these warriors would often go to the gym to tone themselves up for the next days encounter. However, the sceptics believe that the Barons would gorge themselves on midnight snacks, washing them down with copious amounts of ale. They also believe that this orgy of glutinous debauchery would leave them so bloated that they would often than not be left on a couch to ferment overnight. The next day they would be incapable of doing anything apart from pass large amounts of acrid smelling gas, especially those who ate peanuts.
However, the descendants of these great warriors grew fed up with the retorts from the sceptics and scathing articles written about them in the press. In an attempt to scotch them they set up their own society called “The descendants of the wrongly accused” commonly known as the “Family”. Bringing in the worlds most renowned Archaeologists they opened the Barons crypts amid much media frenzy. Upon their opening they found that the crypts were packed full of grave goods including broadswords, shields, great helms and lances. After removing them, which took over an hour because of their sheer magnitude, the warriors were each found to be clasping a scroll that were thought by the Archaeologists to be of great religious significance. It took a good many attempts to prize the scrolls from the dead warrior’s bony hands and it was as if these great Barons would not renounce some long forgotten pledge to protect the scrolls even in death.
After removing them the Archaeologists discovered that they were written in some long forgotten language. At first they were stumped by the nature of the scrolls but on reviewing the inventory of grave goods they found that the most abundant items were small metal boxes the lids of which were engraved in such a manner that they corresponded with the writings on the scrolls. Putting two and two together the archaeologists came to the conclusion that the boxes had in fact been repositories for Holy Scriptures. For example, a number 14 was thought to relate to Luke 14 “Jesus at the Pharisee’s House” and a number 10 was thought to be Matthew 10 “Jesus sends out the twelve”. It was obvious to the Archaeologists and the “Family” alike that their long dead ancestors were obviously part of some highly respected religious order and proved beyond doubt that the Barons were anything but useless layabouts. The crypts were re-sealed and that, so they thought, was that. However, after loaning the scrolls to the British museum and having them exhibited in a glass case in a shameless display of self-assurance, they eventually fell foul of their own egotistical arrogance.
Three years later a coach party of primary school children from the “Handcross prep school for girls” was visiting the museum. These were no ordinary girls. Where most kids of their age were still reading the Beano these super intelligent pan dimensional beings had progressed onto such works as “The Lego book of Quantum mechanics” and “The Barbie guide to weapons grade plutonium”.
Amongst them was one Julie Anne Michaels, or “Jam” as her friends knew her because she was just so lucky. Dressed in the schools straw boater, smart green blazer, starched white blouse, green tie emblazoned with the schools crest, and grey knee length skirt, she looked like she should have been at the Henley regatta. For an 8 year old “Jam” had excelled in all of her subjects and it was by sheer coincidence that she’d brought with her the Penguin book of Philology as a light read on the coach. On reaching the medieval section of the museum she stopped at the glass display case containing the scrolls and after some scrutiny she declared to her teacher that they had been incorrectly deciphered. She said she could demonstrate this by using a simple cryptographic equation based on those used in the rather rudimentary and unsophisticated colossus computer of World War II. At first her teacher dismissed the girls superiority but on reading her notes she was shocked at the revelation she saw before her. In her panic to phone a learned colleague she floundered like a trout in a keep net. Fumbling her mobile Miss Appleby dropped it out of an open window and in a freak accident that can only happen in a story like this she fell headlong out of the window and joined it by smashing herself into hundreds of broken pieces three stories below.
With her teacher plummeting toward certain death “Jam” perched herself on a bench in the museum and with her legs dangling over the edge she admired her shiny new shoes before working on her notes. She could hear Miss Appleby’s high-pitched scream as she plunged towards the waiting road. A car horn sounded, screeching tyres came to an untimely halt and with a sickening thud “Jam” knew it was all over. Without even looking up from her notes she called for an ambulance, calmly opened a packet of dolly mixtures, finished deciphering the scrolls and texted her findings to the Royal Academy. Putting her I-Phone and notes into her satchel and dutifully throwing her dolly mixture wrapper into a bin, she skipped over to the open window without a care in the world and looked out on to the carnage below innocently waving to Miss Appleby as she lay sprawled under a car.
After the Royal Academy publisher “Jams” findings the sceptics demanded that a spectrographic analyses be carried out on the metal boxes because new evidence had come to light. Much to the annoyance of the “Family” the crypt was reopened and the analysis carried out. Upon its conclusion the sceptics proudly announced that they knew exactly what the boxes were for and it wasn’t religious artefacts’.
It was now thought that a number 14 on the scrolls actually corresponded to a box that had once contained “Egg fried rice” and a number 10 was a box for “Chicken in Garlic”. ”Sweet and Sour Pork” was a number 23 and extra chilli sauce a number 7. Each scroll was dedicated to a yet undiscovered saint called “Wing” and had over two hundred such dishes written on them. The sceptics now believed that the dishes formed an integral part of the warrior’s midnight feasts the like of which can only be compared to “the last supper”. However, instead of inviting 12 other guests the Baron in question would devour all 200 meals by himself subsequently dying of a heart attack several hours later. This proved to the sceptics that the Barons were no more than overweight loafers who daren’t lie on a beach for too long lest they should be attacked by Eskimos and boiled down for their blubber.
Not to be out done the Baron’s “Family” exhumed the skeletons upon which they modelled a computer graphic of the Barons stature. To the astonishment of the sceptics and media alike instead of seeing the festering mound of bloated flesh they’d all expected, they saw before them fine examples of manly prowess. Powerfully built these Barons were perfect specimens of Knights straight out of King Arthur. With a disproportionately muscular right arm that had been honed from years of combat with sword, axe and lance it was clear that the Barons were not the same bloated oafs described by the sceptics but dexterous killing machines capable of terrible carnage. In a statement to the press the “Family” stated that the Sceptics had misunderstood the culture in which the Barons had lived and the consumption of so much food was necessary to maintain their bodies at their optimum fighting potential. The sceptics were denounced as frauds and the barrage of media coverage was brought to an end. Never again would the character of the Barons be put under the spot light, their place in history was assured.
However, deep in the bowels of the earth in a dimly lit dank corridor a CCTV unit silently monitors a vault that protects a terrible secret that the “Family” have striven to hide for many years. For amongst the grave goods were also found suites of matching Spandex Armour, and an unconceivable number of the monthly illuminated manuscript “Play Maiden”. If these artefacts should ever come to light then there would be an outcry, the authenticity of the computer model would be condemned and the disproportionately muscular right arm would be put at odds with the extensive inventory of rather seedy periodicals. The reputation of the “Family” would be in tatters and their subsequent humiliation assured. Never again would they be able to order sweet and sour soup without remembering St. “Wing” and the vinegary bitterness that was dished out by the press and sceptics alike.