Sophie’s Shaun Hunt

43. Lotus

And with the lotus flower we meditate on the journey so far.
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44. Bahhbersheep

Where are the other three my friend? You’re not a quartet with one.
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45. The Pirate Captain

…and a bottle of rum, yo ho me hearties yo ho.
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Badger Meets Tallulah Grace…

…and it’s fabulous!

You may remember that last month we Meme_S1E5_7discovered the fantastically funny Feather and Toast, and as a result badger was moved from her lethargy enough to write a review.  Well, after some negotiations we have managed to score an interview with celebrity chef and humanitarian Tallulah Grace!  We hope you enjoy it.

What is the connection between fashion and food?

One should be inspired by ones sandwich darling. As is commonly accepted, one feasts with the eyes before the mouth and therefore if one is faced with a dreary looking limp sandwich one runs the very real risk of turning ones stomach. Just as one should not be slapdash with ones attire, one should take a moment to snip a sprig of basil for ones scrambled eggs for example. Because you, at the end of the day, deserve it. Fashion and food go hand in hand as both are vital to ones life, at the end of the day.

Not everyone will have saved a life using a sandwich, how would you suggest those people find inner fulfilment?

Very true darling, in fact I would go as far to say that I am indeed the only person in the world to have saved a life with a sandwich. Unless of course there is someone somewhere hiding their life saving sandwich light under a bush. Inner fulfilment can be found in a myriad of ways, but it all starts with self-love, a decent meal and I would hasten to add a mime or two in the kitchen. One should remain nimble and lithe when handling life. If one is rigid, one risks breaking altogether and that, at the end of the day, is never a good look.

Meme_S1E6_9-300x300What is the key to a successful sandwich?

The key to the successful sandwich is knowing where one is going with it. Ingredients can cause sleep inducing qualities, energy or confidence so one needs to have an idea of what they’re after before they simply dive in with a knife and a couple of slices of bread. I would also suggest that a soggy sandwich will get you nowhere fast so try to keep ones bread dry if at all possible.

How do you stay grounded living with the adoration of thousands of fans?

Very good questions. Luckily I have my guru on speed dial and am not alone in keeping my feet firmly on the ground. I have a team of experts and I do at the end of the day say one has to simply think eagle not chicken and see the bigger grander picture then all seems to be calm once more. Thing is not to get carried away. I do read about Mother Teresa and Chanel and such to get tips from the top on how to handle success.

Describe your ultimate sandwich.

My ultimate sandwich would be a tuna melt darling. It reminds me of my parents house in the far north Scottish highlands, huddled around the fire without too much mayo (please see note on soggy sandwich avoidance)  A veritable hug in a sandwich.

What do you do when you aren’t in the kitchen?

When I’m not in the kitchen working up a storm of new recipe ideas and such I have a very full schedule. I am constantly working towards my Nobel Peace Prize so am looking for further ways to expand my mission. A lot of time, as one can imagine, is taken up with answering fan mail and talking people off cliffs and such.

Would you say that all chefs would Feathers and Toast Posterbenefit from classical mime training?

Yes classical mime training is as rudimentary to the modern chef as knowing what a bain marie is and how to squeeze an orange. Keeping nimble and being able to duck and dive around la cuisine is extremely necessary in today’s fast moving world.

If, hypothetically speaking, someone were constantly having their Zen shattered by circumstances beyond their control, and/or the behaviour of others, what would you recommend they do to restore it?

It always comes back to the eagle darling. Think higher road not down in the muck pecking with a non-stop moving head. Clucking gets you nowhere fast and you risk never being able to fly.

And from the fans (we had one response, which is 100% increase on the last time we tried to involve them).

Judith from Bristol would like to know:

“When I boil water it gets incredibly hot, to the point that it is a health and safety concern. What am I doing wrong?”

Love the question from Judith and will answer that in a vlog, thank you!

How exciting, Nibblers, you see, there are rewards to taking part, maybe you should try it…

And as with most celebrities you can find Tallulah all over the internet:

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Pre-Apocalyptic Interviews: Monica Chereches

In a special series of interviews building up to the launch of C H Clepitt’s new book I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse we will be meeting the team behind the online launch party and getting to know a bit more about them.

In our third pre-apocalyptic interview we meetMonica Chereches the author of Less Ordinary and friend of badgers Monica Chereches to find out, amongst other things how exactly she plans to survive the apocalypse.

What are you working on right now?

A fantasy novel with dragons, shifters, mages and other magical creatures.

If you had to bet which would best survive the apocalypse, would you choose vampire or zombie?

Why, a Vampire of course. Just think about it. Zombies are slow, easy to spot and kill and sooner or later there would be someone to figure out a cure or they would just mass murder them by bombing large areas. A Vampire on the other hand you can’t really spot, they tend to look like us (at least during the night), there is no cure to vampirisim, you can’t easily kill one as they are fast and hard to catch and a lot stronger than us.

 

Tell us a story in 10 words or less

I come from Transylvania where the night is dark and full of …

Who is your ideal dinner date?

Tyrion Lannister. I know, I know, it might sound like a clishe but think about it. He is smart, funny, can talk his way out of trouble (not that I’m anticipating any, but you never know), he could help me with my novel, tell me stories about dragons and knights and how he saved King’s Landing during Stannis’s attack.

If you could write a book with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Frank Herbert, the author of the Dune Saga. His work just takes my breath away. The amount of research that went into those novels, the complexity and realness of his characters and the world they live in, is just way above everything else I’ve read in my life so far.

Are you more, or less ordinary?

Less, I hope.

What would you wear to the apocalypse?

Comfy and durable outfit and maybe some fangs, just for fun.

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Pre-Apocalyptic Interviews: Chloe Hammond

In a special series of interviews building up to the launch of C H Clepitt’s new book I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse we will be meeting the team behind the online launch party and getting to know a bit more about them.

In the second of these pre-apocalyptic interviews we are meeting Chloe Hammond, author of grown up vampire fantasy Darkly Dreaming to ask that all important question:

How would a vampire survive the darkly dreaming coverapocalypse?

Well, in Darkly Dreaming my vampires can drink animal blood, so they would be fine. They are a next evolutionary stage, evolved by a viral infection that mutates their DNA, so they are incredibly strong and fast, so they would not be at risk from zombies.

What made you come up with the idea for darkly dreaming?

A couple of years ago I started developing acute anxiety symptoms, and one symptom was experiencing vicious nightmares and insomnia. I realised I could either crumble, and let them take over my life, or I could take the vivid scenes I was dreaming, and all the extra time I gained from the insomnia, and write the book I’ve wanted to write since I was seven. Which is what I did. I realised that the dreams could fit together into a story I cared about. As I hit my stride the story took over, and the writing soothed the anxiety.

I found inspiration for my vampire’s gifts in nature documentaries- when the Rage hits Rae and Layla their fingers extend, the bones poking through the skin, and their ribs dislocate and spike through their sides. Both of these ideas came from nature- The Cameroon frog breaks its own bones so they protrude through its skin as a defence; and the Spanish Ribbed Newt juts its ribs through its flesh to protect itself. Both creatures heal very quickly too.

Working with the vulnerable for the last twenty years has allowed me to meet a lot of the survivors of abuse, as well as sharks themselves on occasion, and this knowledge, and the deep anger I feel towards these monsters allowed me to write Rae’s hunting plan realistically, and even take great delight in concocting Thierry’s demise.

Who would win in a fight between Dracula and Frankenstein?

Erm, let me think…..I feel they would ignore each other. I don’t think they would have anything to fight over, so they would ignore each other, both quite repulsed by the other.

Chloe HammondWhere do you begin with a new book?

At the beginning. I not one of these people who can write a book backwards from the ending or anything clever like that. I also don’t plan or research in advance. I sit down and write down an idea that has been playing over in my mind, my characters introduce themselves as we go along, and my ideas unfurl as I write. I didn’t know where the Darkly Trilogy was going to end until recently when Rae told me as we wrote Book 2.

If you could interview anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Oooooooo. Anyone? Ernest Hemmingway. Every time I go somewhere gorgeous on holiday, he’s already been there! I would love to know more about a man who travelled to such far flung places in the days before tourism was common and mingled with the locals while making a living with his writing. He must be fascinating.

What would you wear to the apocalypse?

Do I get forewarning? In that case I’m going to order some armour from the guys who make it for films and re-enactors. If not, I’d either be stuck in my onesie if I was home writing, or jeggings blouse & Dr Marten’s if I was in work.

And Chloe will be hosting the pre-apocalypse party on Monday 23rd May, 8pm-10pm GMT.  Make sure you don’t miss out, click “interested” now.

If you can’t get enough of Chloe, she’s all over the internet:

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Pre-Apocalyptic Interviews – Heaton Wilson

In a special series of interviews building up to the launch of C H Clepitt’s new book I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse we will be meeting the team behind the online launch party and getting to know a bit more about them.

In the first of these pre-apocalyptic interviews
we are meeting playwright and author Heaton Wilson.  With a background in journalism and PR, and a varied career in different services, Wilson’s first novel, Every Reason is available now.  Along side novel writing and working part time with dementia sufferers he is also able to fit in running his own theatre company, and answering some questions for us. How excitings.

So, tell us, what are you working on right now?

Drafting out the storyline for Every Reason 2 – which is a follow up to Every Reason 1, strangely enough.  I’m also doing a script for a new and hopefully fun stage show, learning lines for 39 Steps, which we’re putting on at Shanklin Theatre on the Isle of Wight every Tuesday in August (plug, plug), and preparing to direct my new play Coach Trip (which is on in September and will raise funds for Royal British Legion).

OK, so, who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve always written for a living, in one way or another. Now I’m writing not for a living … The money’s lousy. But the rewards are much greater… really. I always wanted to do ‘creative writing’ but never had the inclination while i was working as a journalist and in PR. I’m just inspired by writing itself, to be honest. Having said that, I think some early sci fi novels that I read as a child started me off, firing my imagination off into space. And doing an OU short course helped me make the transition from kind of functional writing to something more creative and personal. I found it amazingly hard to make the switch but I’m getting there slowly.

And, what would you say the main difference is in writing for stage and writing a novel, and which style do you prefer?

Writing for the stage is amazing, especially for me because I run my own theatre company so I can put my own plays on! Seeing your work performed and the audience reaction to it is one of the best feelings in the whole universe, and beyond. With a book (not that I’m an expert because I’ve only published one!) it’s like you’re wondering ‘what are readers making of this?’ and you’re operating in more of a vacuum. Having said all that, I love being able to do both, and achieve that balance – I do like working on my book, all alone. I really want to do more fiction writing now.

If you weren’t a writer what would you be?

I always fancied running a guest house, though, knowing me, it would end up like Fawlty Towers. My other option was to be a coach driver. I love the idea of driving people off on their holiday, and helping them have a good time. Plus you get tips, and full English breakfasts.

Who or what inspires you?

People who quietly live their lives, and never complain. The people who care for others. And people with a skill – like doctors, cooks, and car mechanics, and tech people, and people who clean windows on skyscraper buildings … all the things I can’t do.

When designing a world, be it a theatrical space or the world of a novel, where do you begin?

I always start as if I was writing a newspaper article – one paragraph that tries to tell the whole story. That’s my journalistic background coming out. Then I develop from there, and trust my increasingly warped mind to come up with the rest of it. I’m very unstructured. I tend to write sections/chapters, then keep going back and linking things together until it all makes sense (at least to me). It’s so refreshing to do it like this – whether it’s the best way or not, I have no idea!

If you could work with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

I’d love to spend time with Caryl Churchill and Jez Butterworth, the playwrights, and Charles Dickens (obviously). And that person who wrote that book, what’s it called? I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse, I think … ! I need to mix with people who push the boundaries a bit. I am still at the beginning of my creative writing phase and I need to get more creative!

Well, that last one could be arranged, at least. We have some connections there.  And on that note, what would you wear to the apocalypse?

Leopard skin tie, hipsters, cuban heels, shades. And I’d carry a man bag full of Sports Mixture. Probably. Oh, and a sub-machine gun.
So, there you have it.  Heaton would wear heels to the apocalypse.  And you can meet him and get involved in the online party.  He’ll be hosting on the 23rd of May between 6pm and 8pm. Click “interested” for more.
What would you wear to the apocalypse? #IWoreHeels
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It’s The Apocalypse, Let’s Party!

It’s time to party like it’s the end of the world!

On May 26th, 2016 Badger’s latest offering to the literary world I Wore Heels to the Apocalypse will be released to the world, and obviously we will be celebrating.  Don’t worry if you live far away, or don’t like the effort involved in washing, dressing and leaving the house though, because on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of May we will be holding an online event, with a fabulous array of guest hosts, games, giveaways and more!

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Our guest line up is already shaping up to be fantastic, with Chimpcasting’s very own Chimp Jones running a live Youtube marathon, with readings, interviews, music and more.

Newsnibbles very own fashion columnist, entrepreneur and founder of the most fabulous ChaChaRocks, Aline Duriaud will be sharing tips on the best way to dress your pet, and we will have cooking tips and sage life advice from Feathers and Toast’s Tallulah; Mhairi Morrison!

There will be games and giveaways from some superb guest authors, including Monica Chereches, author of Less OrdinaryDarkly Dreaming’s Chloe Hammond and Author of Things, Thomas Duder, among others.

So, if you like the idea of a party, with none of the hassle of choosing an outfit, or the fuss of actually leaving the house, come play with us online! Click interested for updates.

Bearded macho men in army boots reccomend I Wore Heels To The Apocalypse as a survival guide.”

– Samuel Z Jones, macho man, prodigious author

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Something Fishy This Way Comes

Warning, this article (as with many others on this site) may contain sarcasm.

You may have seen this picture before. It is from the Newsnibbles archive, courtesy of Mrs Bush, and may contain fish...

You may have seen this picture before. It is from the Newsnibbles archive, courtesy of Mrs Bush, and may contain fish…

You may have noticed that in recent weeks an increase in the number of discount supermarkets which are recalling products due to quality control concerns.  The local media, one can only assume for lack of a more interesting story have jumped all over it, warning its readers of the dangers of these products and advising their immediate return.  Since we are a media outlet of international acclaim (someone, somewhere must have acclaimed us, right?)  we have not been reporting on the recalls.  We have readers all over the world, local supermarket issues would be of no interest to them… until now.

The latest supermarket to jump on the recall wagon is Lidl, under fears that its tins of herring may contain fish… No, really.

According to The Western Daily Press (which may, or may not contain Tories),

German discount supermarket is recalling its own brand tinned herring fillets because it does not warn shoppers they may contain fish.

It goes on to list other ingredients that are included, but not listed (at least not in English) in a variety of herring related products including that the herring fillets in mustard do not list that they contain mustard.

If you are allergic to herring, or mustard, or both, do not eat the herring fillet in mustard.  Seriously, that is not a good idea.

As you know, here at Newsnibbles, we don’t just report on other people’s scraps, oh no.  We have done our own investigative report into other products that may be improperly listed.  Having made one of our interns get up off the sofa and check the fridge we have discovered that a punnet of red seedless grapes does not contain a warning that it may contain grapes, and tomatoes do not warn that the product may contain tomatoes.  If you are allergic to either grapes or tomatoes we would recommend you not eating these products either.

For those of you who still aren’t sure, we have a definition of herring pasted below, c/o  Wikipedia (don’t cite them at university, kids, the tutors don’t like it).

Herring are forage fish, mostly belonging to the family Clupeidae.

Herring often move in large schools around fishing banks and near the coast. The most abundant and commercially important species belong to the genus Clupea, found particularly in shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and the North Atlanticoceans, including the Baltic Sea, as well as off the west coast of South America. Three species of Clupea are recognised, and provide about 90% of all herrings captured in fisheries. Most abundant of all is the Atlantic herring, providing over half of all herring capture. Fishes called herring are also found in India, in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.

Herring played a pivotal role in the history of marine fisheries in Europe,[2] and early in the twentieth century their study was fundamental to the evolution of fisheries science.[3][4] These oily fish[5] also have a long history as an important food fish, and are often salted, smoked, or pickled.

If you have any food related questions, perhaps the best way to deal with a herring, in either tomato or mustard sauce (may contain tomato, or mustard, and probably herring) then we will be posing our questions and yours to celebrity chef and fashionista Tallulah Grace, you can just comment below, as sending an email is clearly too much effort for any of you.

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Sophie’s Shaun Hunt

47. Championsheep

On the head me sheep!
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51. Shanus Romanus

My name is Shanus Romanus, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife… I think I see a crow…
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42. Sgt. Shepherd

We’re Sgt. Shepherd’s Lonely Hearts Club Herd
We hope you will enjoy the show…
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Feathers and Toast: Saving the World, One Sandwich at a Time

When Ready Steady Cook was cancelled in 2010 my life lost all meaning.  I was left with nothing to do in the afternoon but job hunt whilst eating slightly mouldy cereal bars and trying to find a way to enter into the adult world.  Let’s face it, no-one wants to watch stupid people attempt to answer questions that they could answer at home with the help of Google, and lose every week to a bunch of smug gits who read the encyclopaedia before bed. At least with a cooking show there is a chance of a serious injury to keep you on the edge of your seat, potato peelers can be sharp, proper training must be given.

But fear not, my life has found new meaning with the discovery of Feathers and Toasta new brand of cookery show for the new millennium.  Tallulah Grace is so much more than a chef.  Her moves in the kitchen rival Ainsley’s Strictly story, and she clearly has classical training in the field of mime.  Whilst it is never stated within the show itself, it is clear from the way that she handles a baguette that she received most of her professional training in France, probably in a Michelin starred establishment.  Despite this, Tallulah has the great skill to make cooking accessible to all, taking on such challenges as the great ham sandwich, or poached eggs, and making them seem easy.

Her time spent in France has also imbued her with the most fabulous sense of style, and her outfit choices are just as much of a reason to watch as her prowess in the kitchen.  The occasional slips into French throughout the show make me, as an audience member, feel really sophisticated.  It’s like watching a French film, only without the pesky subtitles, or the overly drawn out sex scenes…

What makes Feathers and Toast most perfect is that it is designed for the Twitter generation.  You know who I mean, those people (of varying ages) with the short attention span, those that have to get up three times in the cinema because they haven’t conditioned their bladder to hold it for an entire hour and a half, and there might be something terribly important happening on the internet.  The shows are approximately five minutes each, just perfect for anyone with five minutes to spare.   Being on Youtube you are also not conditioned to a specific time, you can check in and out, or if you are a binge watcher like me then you can watch both series in the space of an afternoon.

Watching Tallulah is not just entertaining, but good for the soul.  She is a great humanitarian, and her show has literally saved a life.  The life in question is Marge, who now occasionally guest hosts and I’m sure has her own fan base, as her hip moves are just awesome.

It’s been a long time since anything has impressed me enough to actually write a review unprompted (mostly stuff is submitted here, cos we is totes amazeballs, and I is hip and down with the kids) or I have a minion, erm, member of the team do it… but Feathers and Toast has inspired me.  Tallulah has inspired me, and I hope she inspires you.  Check out the trailer below, and don’t forget to subscribe, darling…

Update, we are currently in negotiation with Tallulah’s people about the possibility of doing an interview with her.  If you would like to send your cooking questions in, you can. The address, as always is newsdesk@newsnibbles.co.uk

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LARPing – A Report by Samuel Z Jones

This week, Profound Decisions bravely hosted a game of Empire LARPing. I say bravely, because it takes courage to arrange a three day pitched battle in a field in March, with a hurricane allegedly sweeping in across the Atlantic.

Enough LARPing enthusiasts gathered to create a tent city, divided into two quarters by a literal river of mud. Like the very River Styx, a moat eight feet deep, half full of water and walled with thorned hedges, separated two worlds: On one side, the OC, or “Out of Character” quarter of bright nylon tents, cars and camper vans; on the other, thoroughly hedged-off, the IC, or “In Character” quarter, a medieval tent city fit to besiege a castle. Lacking a castle in the vicinity, the most enthusiastic assembled to besiege the local woodland instead. More on this anon.

“In the IC” or “in the OC” became immediate jargon to explain where any one of our brave squad might be heading or soon to be found. The O/C Squad numbered Maddy, Len, Tash, Sam (your brave reporter himself), and our brave leader, Nick. In I/C, we were the Crimson Reaper Cartel; Aurora, Tolliver, Talia, Nathrach, and Prince Drogon: One undead sociopath, one self-avowed “Master Delusionist”/professional liar, one apparently naïve elven noblewoman, one sword-wielding maniac, and an undead prince recently resigned from leadership of a powerful faction to start a cutthroat band.

IC and OC, the politics of the Empire largely eluded us. Almost immediately, Prince Drogon departed to visit his old faction , the Ashen Tower, to negotiate his release from the death-vow of their brotherhood and pass on his royal titles to a new successor.

OC, all we really knew in advance was that the good Prince’s new Crimson Cartel were, on balance, not nice people at all. IC, the allegedly good Prince showed his comrades a map, and revealed that the empire was besieged on three fronts. He explained that failure to control piracy at sea had provoked an invasion on a fourth front: A fleet of Grendel warships had disgorged a ravening legion of orcs upon Imperial shores. Said orcish invasion was the occasion of the battles planned for the second and third days of the event. No more we knew.

By hindsight, warm and dry again at home, with tea on tap and pizza near to hand, Prince Drogon and his Cartel were akin to Blackadder assembling the Seven Most Evil Men In The Land… Early in our misadventures, the Prince recruited another conspirator, which still left us one one Evil Man short. Not long thereafter, the first gruesome murder was done. But not by us. While the evil Cartel were at their evil work, a band even more evil snuck into the woodland camp of the Nevar Nation, and brutally stabbed up the wife of the Nevari high chief. Nathrach and “#6” hurried to the scene of the crime, and came upon the Nevari conducting a séance to learn the assassins’ identities from the murdered queen’s ghost. Seriously, her character was dead. They caught her alone in camp and ganked her six to one with foam daggers. She had to lie there being dead until someone found her, then lie there some more while they figured out she was dead IC, keep lying there while they found a wizard, then do the whole “woo, I’m a ghost, they murdered me!” (she did it way better than that), then go down to the admin tents to get a new character… Her IC husband had to do the whole grieving thing, they’re not allowed to be married IC anymore, the whole Nevari tribe are on the warpath…

Sam is the one with the sword.

Sam is the one with the sword.

We never heard any more about it, frankly. The Nevari live in the woods and they don’t have any money; the Crimson Cartel turned out to have no business with them, and our bold scouting mission among the fierce Nevari, even into their mourning rituals, booted no further adventures for Nathrach and Evil Man #6. OC, I thought it was rather cool. This intrepid reporter snuck in and out of a forest séance by moonlight, toting a greatsword and accompanied by an armoured mercenary I’d met about ten minutes previously.

Back at Crimson Cartel HQ (a bell-tent we had rented for the weekend), intense discussion of money ensued. The Cartel was not short of IC cash, and we immediately pooled our resources. The Prince required certain funds, but Tolliver, the Master Delusionist, attempted to convince the band to elect him treasurer. At length, the Pirate Rule was applied, the Prince departing with half their shared wealth in gold, while his evil crew divided the silver between them.

Within five minutes, the Master Delusionist attempted to give his entire wallet to the first tavernier they met. Fortunately, Nathrach was there to intervene and the barman an honest fellow: Tolliver volunteered his purse to Nathrach’s keeping, and the evening proceeded. Proclaiming himself a master alchemist, the great Tolliver demonstrated his incredible Potion of All Purposes.

This mystic brew, he averred, granted any man who drank of it confidence, courage, superhuman strength, silver-tongued wit and even invisibility. Shortly thereafter, he vanished beneath the table, and was seen no more that night.

The next morning, an almost football match element of LARPing was revealed to me: The gathered warriors split into two teams. One side continued to play in their characters, risking their IC lives on the field, while the other side donned latex masks and battered plastic armour to play the orcish legion of Grendel. Tomorrow, the sides would switch, like teams changing ends at half time, and the heroes of yesterday would mask-up and go orcing.

On day one, I and the squad added orc-masks to our costumes, and joined the greenskinned invaders. Those playing heroes IC took a real risk with their characters; while they each had many Hit Points and healing magic, dead was dead. As orcs, death in battle earned only a time-out and redeployment. For slain heroes, there was only the sad wait in line to see G.O.D, the Games Operation Desk and roll up new protagonists.

Yours truly is, quite frankly, well schooled in the way of the two-handed sword and strode out confidently to prove it upon the muddy field against all who dared my reach.

The orcs assembled and were divided into units. Orc chiefs divided us into mobs, bellowed out half a dozen basic commands for simple formation fighting, and picked out the bravest self-proclaimed berzorcers to form into commando squads. By happy fortune, I found myself volunteered along with my comrade of last night, the mysterious #6, for what became The O-Team: Murdorc, Cannibal, Human-Face, and your brave reporter, BA Berzorkus. Seriously, I could not make this up.

We set out into the woods, half a dozen trudging columns of orcs spacing out to “camp” among the trees. The military verisimilitude truly began with a period of “Hurry up and Wait”. The O-Team and those near us, in true orc style, staged a Circle of Treachery, standing in a loose ring and hewing merrily at one another by surprise. Berzorkus stood back, leaning upon his sword, not wishing to dishearten his fellow braves by lathering the lot of them. No, really.

Then one orc, armed with sword and buckler, set upon him. Berzorkus swept his sword on guard, holding his foe at the full length of the blade. Confronted with five foot of greatsword at his throat, the brave orc hesitated; the criss-cross circling of sword and buckler ceased, and he went crosseyed within his mask. Berzorkus slashed out his throat, stuck sword and shield aside and smote him again in the kidneys, then turned to face another foe who came immediately on.

Dropping to a low stance, Berzorkus twitched his sword behind him, this time hiding the length of his blade. The second foe plunged in from the high guard, sword and axe in either hand. Berzorkus’ blade flashed up, parried twice and struck twice again in a flurry, laying open his opponent’s ribs and throat. Two more followed, no less swiftly struck down.

Then the mighty Murdorc challenged him, and they exchanged blows, hewing two-handed with greatsword and cleaver. Petty wounds were dealt and received in turn, but Berzorkus fell back apace before Murdorc’s onset: His foot struck upon a tree-root, and Murdorc dealt him a decisive blow to the side.

In the remaining minutes, we sat under a tree OC, peeled off our masks, smoked cigarettes and passed around a water bottle. Then smoke was seen through the trees, and a horn heard in the distance. Masks went back on and the orcs assembled; the humans were advancing. Within sight of Berzorkus formed three shieldwalls, lines of orcish pikemen defended by shield-bearers. The O-Team moved out to skirmish in the gaps between the nearest two lines of shields, using the woodland as cover from enemy archers.

The humans advanced in columns, led by fully-armoured knights with sword and shield, pikemen in the second rank, men with maces and hammers following and archers skirmishing on their flanks.

Both sides manoeuvred, the lines shifting about approaches through the trees. At the first clash, the humans came through a narrow way, a causeway edged with deep mud and heavily wooded on either side. The orcish shieldwall closed to meet them, the humans led by a long-haired knight in pure white armour. Advancing from the human shieldwall, he stood against four pikemen and almost succeeded in breaking through the orcish line. But Berzorkus was in the second rank; as the shieldwall parted, his greatsword smote upon the knight’s shield, halting his advance. Another swordblow blow fell and the knight slipped in the mud, falling to one knee. Pikes and halberds rained upon him, the greatsword joined by axes and cleavers as the orcish line rallied. The knight made good use of his shield in his retreat; the orcs let him go, jeering in victory.

The lines of battle fell back and reformed on either hand, the human advance halted on every front and the orcs manoeuvring to maintain their advantage. Berzorkus and Murdorc took position again on the flanks, advancing under cover of the trees until they crouched within ten feet of the enemy. The humans had formed a loose redoubt, shield-bearers strung out in open order across the widest approaches and archers guarding the narrow ways. As Berzorkus and Murdorc crept closer, the main orcish forces began their advance. Spotting a human archer distracted, Berzorkus roared and charged. Alerted too late, the archer sought to flee; Berzorkus hewed her down with repeated blows. Roaring again, he turned to face another archer. This man at least managed to draw his sword; Berzorkus cut him down in turn, the red mist descending. He was through the enemy line now, behind their shieldwall, the archers scattering from his path. Then the white knight came against him again, striding suddenly from the human mob. Berzorkus attacked him without pause, forcing the knight at once to his own defence. But the human archers rallied, two of them falling on Berzorkus from either hand with their shortswords…

Fortunately, orcs are effectively immortal. Heroically cut down, I lay in the mud for the obligatory three minutes, then trudged off to the re-spawn point. Miraculously recovered, Berzorkus joined the orcish reinforcements marching to cut off the human retreat. Following the same tactic as before, Berzorkus joined the skirmishers on the orcish flanks. A human knight was attempting to co-ordinate the retreat, rather bravely risking his life to see their archers safely back behind a hastily re-forming shieldwall. Berzorkus sadly missed a chance at the knightly hero’s back, being delayed by sneaking through the undergrowth in the attempt. An archer presented the next best target in charging range: Berzorkus roared and set upon him.

This time, he roared too soon and saw too late that the archer wielded a crossbow: The lad (who wasn’t more than fifteen, poor kid), jumped in terror, whirled and shot me in the fricking face at close range. Bam, straight in the eyeball. Berzorkus swore like an enraged b@~*#& and advanced three more steps, raising his sword to do murder, before it registered, both IC and OC, that I’d just taken an arrow straight through the eye. In all good sportsmanship, I toppled and died, offering the brave young archer a thumbs-up from the floor while he was still apologising.

While I lay dead upon the field, two churlish knaves stood over my corpse and debated whether to loot my mighty greatsword. Fortunately, and by no chance whatsoever, I had it firmly trapped beneath me, and neither of them was inclined to risk rolling the demented Berzorkus over to steal his sword.

Respawned, I joined the orcs again for the final phase of battle. Orc chiefs marched among us, extolling us all to really get our orc on for a final effort. The humans, we were snarlingly assured, had been soundly battered six ways from Sunday, and all that remained was to choke their final retreat and crush them entirely. We duly rallied, the human shieldwalls crumbling before us; orders came to hold back. Gathering a mob to hold the final escape route, we sang orcish warsongs, bayed like mad puppies (edited) and beat the heck out of each other in orcy enthusiasm.

Scattered groups of humans began to flee, trying to sneak past us in the woodland. We hunted them down, six of us closing in upon a rather nicely armoured valkyrie and her excellently bearded Viking companion. Menaced on all sides by upraised orcish weapons, they surrendered and cowered together, the valkyrie bitterly complaining of their imminent murder and looting, and the aforesaid long march of shame to the mystic Tent Of Character Rolling. Just as our chief drew steel to murder them both, orders came down that the battle was won; we had made total slaughter of the foe, and they quit the field in bitter defeat.

I had barely seen my teammates during the battle; we caught up on the march back, grinning and recounting our deeds of butchery. Ditching our orcish wargear, we returned to the where the IC tent had once stood. What was there now was a pile of canvas. The darn (edited) thing had collapsed. We hadn’t set the blooming thing (edited again, honestly) up, and spent the next ten minutes hauling the pesky (really Mr Jones) thing back upright and pegging it down. Frick’s sake (OK, you can use Frick). Mutter, grumble, complain, cuss, etcetera. With the soon to be utterly hated tent temporarily secured, we set out upon a tour. Strolling around the tent-city, we visited bars and tradehouses, fought a friendly duel, and immersed ourselves in the game.

Then the rain began, and we retreated to the OC in the face of rising wind. Halfway along the dangerous mud-track between worlds, the heavens darkened. Night seemed to fall early and a wind arose. The deluge began, and we fled for the car, picking up a stray LARPer not of our company along the way. Six of us piled into car, our driver sitting in the boot. For two hours, the rain beat down without mercy. Fortunately, we had booze and food. As good a time as possible was had by all, until the rain stopped and we all dried off enough to venture forth.

That night, we attended a feast, of sorts, and more drink was had by all. The tent miraculously did not fall down, and we three lads slept in the IC while the girls withdrew to the relative safety of the OC tent near the car. Only Nathrach had the foresight to bring a sleeping bag. Prince Drogon and Tolliver the Delusionist were better friends by dawn, for want of warmth.

With dawn, the bold Prince bounded forth to further politicking while his gallant band fought a rearguard action against the Evil Tent Curse invoked by the unholy storm. Many other tents were struck down, the rain having temporarily abated only for the wind to redouble, the soggy archers in the clouds falling back to allow the gale to beset us like unseen cavalry. Storm! Storm, I tell you! Rain and gale and a gathering darkness as of the wrath of the gods! Mighty Thor, forgive us the brutal orcing of that valkyrie and her beardy Viking, it wasn’t me, I didn’t stab either of them… Alright, I did chop the Viking a bit, but then they surrendered and I thought it was all rather sweet, I swear…

Our prayers went unheeded; the evil wind cursed the OC tent too and we were forced to retreat again. The bold Prince found his heroic band huddled together in a half-collapsed nylon shelter, passing around cups of tea and cigarettes. Morale was fraying. Mutiny had been discussed. Pirate democracy was again invoked, and the team voted that a brilliant time was being had by all, but that we should stop now, while it was still fun. The prince bounded off to battle, while the rest of us packed up. Many other far more veteran and far better equipped LARPers were pulling out. In deference to the die-hards who joined arms in the field for the second round, the angry gods witheld their full fury to watch the day’s battle. The IC tent collapsed twice more anyway. We put it back up only to clear out our gear. Packed, we wandered the vanishing tent-village, admiring the full-time hard-corps orcs (who apparently take it really seriously) and the remaining best stalls. The Prince returned with glorious news; victory! Our side, this time the bold human heroes, had triumphed again. As orcs, we had inflicted horrific casualties; we had anticipated embittered reprisals and savage orcery, now their turn had come. Nonetheless, we gave them another thrashing, which cheered our spirits immensely.

The car failed to start. A likewise stranded blacksmith gave us cake. We waited an hour for the mechanic, but nonetheless managed to escape ahead of the returning fury of the storm.

For my first experience of LARPing… I’m already a vocal fan of camping and archaic melee combat. Both? Awesome. I fully intend on doing it again soon. But it’s jolly (edited) tiring. This weekend, I’ve marched through miles of mud, slept rough, drunk myself stupid, waded through melee, and been battered as if by the fury of a rainy demon-god. Everyone should do this regularly.

And if you think you’d like to LARP, here is the website.

Samuel Z Jones is a prolific Fantasy author

Click on the unicorn to be transported to a magical fantasy world...

Click on the unicorn to be transported to a magical fantasy world…

with over fifteen novels and numerous other works to his name. He espouses a complex theory of worldbuilding, and maintains that fiction is an exercise in psychological portraiture of people who do not exist.

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