Several centuries ago, when human life was in its infancy and global warming consisted of toasting your backside near a fire, tribes ruled the lush green planet.
The law of the tribe was quite simple. If you look like us, then you’re one of us, if you don’t, then you’re against us. If you’re against us then you’re our enemy and you’d be wise not to cross our path.
As with all biological groupings, each tribe had their own distinct personalities, traits, rituals and habits.
There were the Cumbrians – with their barely distinguishable gruntings and their amazing ability to drink more mead than any other tribe and still stand up.
There were the Pudlians – incredible scavengers. If they didn’t have something, they’d go out and get it.
The Yorkies appeared to all other tribes as miserable, but they found each other hilarious.
The Hamians, who all hid in trees and quacked like ducks.
The Westies were incredible farmers, although their women had far better beards than their men.
The Smokies were dirty, rude and always appeared as though they were too important to talk to anyone else. It appeared as though they didn’t know where they were going, but they were always in a hurry to get there.
The most infamous tribes could be found in what is now the Oxfordshire region. They were infamous for a number of reasons. Firstly, they were the only tribes to inhabit an area so near to one another. Secondly they were famed for their individual traits.
On one side of the River Oxon lived the Beauties. When the great creator was giving out looks, this lot fought their way to the front and then came back for seconds and thirds. They were absolutely striking to look at and legend had it that they could win a battle just by standing there and looking pretty.
On the other side of the river, lived the Beasts. These poor souls had missed the bus, taken a wrong turn, caught the wrong flight and been left all at sea when the looks were given out. Hideous to the extreme, the mere sight of one of them had seen many a Westie hiding behind their wife’s beard.
However, the Beasts were well respected for their power and their prowess in battle and they were feared for the sheer coldness and destructive elegance of their kills.
For many years the two tribes lived contentedly on the opposite sides of the river. Neither tribe had any cause to bother the other and so they left each other alone, happy to leave nature’s natural dividing line between them.
That was until news reached the ears of all the tribes that the Wanderers, from what is now known as Wycombe, had died out due to a chronic lack of entertainment.
The west of Wycombe was well known for its lush green lands, fresh water, shelter and abundance of wildlife. All in all, an ideal settlement for an ambitious tribe.
The Cumbrians started out on their way to claim the land, but got distracted by a local mead reservoir. They weren’t seen for weeks.
The Smokies set off in a hurry…
The Yorkies and The Hamians arrived at the same time as the Beasts. The Hamians took one look at the Beasts and swiftly fled into the nearest forest.
The Yorkies stood their ground, hoping their external misery would intimidate their foes. They were like lambs to the slaughter as the Beasts struck with incisive ferocity. Aside from a few comments that only the other dying Yorkies found amusing, the cries for the battle field were loud but short.
The Pudlians took a different route to West Wycombe, approaching from the other side of the river. As they approached their destination they were stunned to silence and froze where they stood in wide eyed amazement.
The Beauties had lined up in battle formation in such an elegant manner that the Pudlians were absorbed by its intricacy and blown away by the beautiful sights that beheld them.
The Beauties just stood there. As they predicted it wasn’t long before the Pudlians turned on themselves. Each one wanted to be the first to introduce themselves to the beautiful people that lay before them. Within 15 minutes the Pudlians had defeated each other, leaving the Beauties to take on the Beasts for the prized land at West Wycombe.
(As an aside, the Westies wanted to look their best for battle, but they ran out of razor blades, so in the end decided to stay where they were).
The Beauties and the Beasts beheld each other on the utopian fields of West Wycombe. This was the first time that they had come face to face and both were intrigued by their opponents.
Emissaries from both camps were sent to lay down the terms of battle. As was tradition the youngest member of each tribe was chosen. As they approached each other one of the older Beasts became restless. He tired of this nonsense and just wanted a battle.
Breaking ranks, he charged forward, unnoticed by the young soldier from his own side. He made straight for the Beauties’ emissary with blood lust in his eyes. Almost too late, the young soldier caught a glimpse of the old Beast. Without a second’s thought, he threw himself in front of the Beauty and defended her against the onslaught from his kin.
Eventually, enough other Beasts managed to drag the old timer away, but his power had been too much for the young soldier who lay on the floor wounded. His hideous features were contorted in pain and the life was slowly beginning to ebb away.
The young soldier from the Beauties, who had been saved by the young Beast, approached her prone opponent. She knelt down next to him and laid a hand on his cheek. With her other hand she ripped his heart out of his chest and raised it to the sky in triumph. Truly these Beauties had their own beasts within them.
A battle for the centuries was waged, with neither tribe prepared to give in.
They fought until only one soldier remained on either side. The remaining Beast, exhausted, looked at his beautiful, blood soaked rival and exclaimed, “Was it worth it for this?” as he gestured to the lands of West Wycombe.
His counterpart thrust her sword into the neck of her opponent and whispered, “Yes. Because beautiful things deserve beautiful places.” The final Beast died.
With an accomplished look on her face, the Beauty threw her hands in the air in triumph and purveyed her bounty. As she did, the Hamians came out of the trees and killed her.
The land was theirs. Sometimes prudence is the best option.
The Hamians now owned this wonderful place, but at that moment in time it remained covered in the bodies of the fallen Beauties and Beasts.
Quacking away, they decided to give all of the fallen soldiers proper burials. Purely for aesthetic reasons, they started with the Beauties.
A strange thing occurred. Wherever they buried one of the Beauties, a hideous, craggy, mound of earth would rise from the ground. Some more elevated than others (probably a status thing) and began to disfigure their new, beautiful surroundings.
Being the anal retentives that they were, the Hamians soldiered on until all of the Beauties were buried. Then they moved on to the Beasts. Having witnessed the bravery of the young Beast emissary at the start of the battle, the Hamians decided to give him the most prestigious burial they could think of.
They took him to the top of the highest peak generated by the Beauty burials and buried him there.
Almost the second they had finished covering the young Beast in dirt, new grass began to appear, followed by flowers and the start of tree saplings.
Each Beast that was buried revealed new found treasures, transforming West Wycombe into a more magnificent spectacle than it had been before.
The Hamians were thrilled with their new land. Once settled in, they wrote a new law into their annals: “Quack, quack quack quack. Quack, quack quack quack quack quack!”
“At the heart of all Beauty lies a Beast but in the heart of all Beasts lies untold Beauty.”