Journey back to a world where men were men

What is this SaxonWorld, of which Cabinet ministers speak? We investigated and this is what we found.

SaxonWorld is an exclusive theme park — so exclusive that you can’t find it online. Or in the phone book, if you still have one of those collectables. You have to be very well connected, politically, socially, financially and interministerially, to get in. Some say entry is only by invitation, but we have not been able to establish that firmly.

As far as we can ascertain, there is a secret network of publicists privately contacting likely customers and setting up a visit to SaxonWorld, which in the first instance takes the form of an interview to see whether the prospective customer is suitable. If that goes well, the customer is drawn further into what some SaxonWorld publicity materials we have discovered call “this unique experience”. (Customers are, in fact, called “participants”.)

Once they have been vetted (and paid the first tranche of the entrance fee), they are given an initial visit to SaxonWorld, and if they like it they are allowed to set up a visit of a full day or full night or both. Mostly these are family visits, or clan visits, in keeping with the theme, which is very family-oriented. As the publicity material says, it enhances the SaxonWorld experience to “clan up” and go in there as a kind of warrior tribe, fighting for your territory and your honour and so on.

For, once in, and once committed to the 24- or 48-hour session, you’re thrown into a savage world — a few huts, a few barren furrows of ground, forests with wild boar, bogs and, of course, some real savages to have a fight with. No phones, no computers, none of that modern rubbish: this is a journey back in time, back to a place so wild and barbaric and so convincingly  recreated you could find it frighteningly real.

Basically, you get to pretend you are a Saxon, living some time in the first millennium BCE. Not entirely genuine Saxon, of course — nobody wants to be a female Saxon living in a hut and trying to scrape a living from the soil, wringing the odd chicken’s neck, and spending your evenings wrestling with the homespun.

No, you want to be a male Saxon (and the participants are, indeed, 99% male). You want to be raping and pillaging, right? “Yes!” one can hear the participants roar: “Raping and pillaging!”

A bit of boar hunting, okay, but it is rather tedious wading through the bog in the leather jerkin and furs you picked up at the gate. Everybody takes too many weapons, note. You won’t reach lunchtime if you load yourself down, and you do lose points if you lose any of your weapons.

Rather select carefully right at the start: Will it be the broadsword or the battle-axe? Perhaps that handy little mace, plus an iron-studded leather glove? 

The choice is yours at SaxonWorld.

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Shaun de Waal
Shaun De Waal

Shaun de Waal has worked at the Mail & Guardian since 1989. He was literary editor from 1991 to 2006 and chief film critic for 15 years. He is now editor-at-large. Recent publications include Exposure: Queer Fiction, 25 Years of the Mail & Guardian and Not the Movie of the Week.

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