Now when Matthew saw the crowds, he went up to Castle Mound and sat down. Hearing of this, the crowds came to him on foot from the town: up Castle Hill, or along the High Street, or through the Narrows, and they too sat down upon the grass. There was a multitude so great come to hear him speak, they spilled out on to the slopes, and there was barely room for the sheep, yet they remained.
As it had been ordained, Matthew spoke from his book of poems. ‘The mound is round, there isn’t a rounder mound around.’ The crowds who hearkened unto him were greatly amused, and so were the sheep, and there was much laughter within the ancient walls of the castle keep. (And thus were sown the seeds of a new poem.)
Matthew ceased reading from his book of poetry, for his throat was sore and his brain was weary. His friends came to him and said, Matthew, send these crowds away. For you are tired, and hungry, and between us we have only these two sourdough loaves from Seeds, and these five tins of sustainably caught sardines from Ben’s Farm Shop.
Matthew replied, but these good people have come to hear my poems, and they too are tired, and hungry, and some of them are sick. I would not send them away without them partaking of a glass of wine, and perchance some gluten-free nibbles from GreenLife.
But Matthew, replied his friends, it is past the hour when such items can be readily obtained. Let the people go into the town and let them eat at its many inns. Furthermore I believe it is the evening for the Il Vulcano pizza van. A woman in the crowd said unto her friend, we know what is coming next.
And from within the crowd came a mighty shout: stand back, and I will raise salad leaves from the ground upon which we stand. Another voice proclaimed, let me milk these sheep, that we may all partake of keffir. And some began foraging, and others killed a lamb, each according to their ability. And the good folk from the Share Shed saw that not one single soul who laboured to feed the others, was without a tool.
And so it came to pass that the mound became a place of feasting. All ate, although their numbers were five thousand men, as well as women, children, trans, cis and non-binary, gender-fluid individuals. Yet all were more than satisfied, as the food was endowed with greater nutritional qualities than that of common fodder.
Some of the people were seen to be sick, and others came forward to heal them, offering their cranio-sacral therapy, their mineral supplements and their mini-counselling sessions. Then it happened that singing broke out; many candles were lit, and many instruments could be heard: indeed, there were so many tunes in progress at the same time, so that no one melody could be identified. Matthew looked upon the joyful throng and was glad.
So it was that the feast on Castle Mound continued throughout the night, and lo! there miraculously rose in the east a full, blue and red, harvest hunter-gatherer’s super-moon, by the light of which the assembled revellers were able to continue their feasting until dawn.
When the cock crew and the sun appeared in the east, only then did the crowd disperse, making their way to the many coffee shops of the town below, each seeking not a hot drink for themself, but a public toilet.
Now when all the people had gone, carrying their recycling with them, Matthew’s friends said unto him, Matthew, why did you not eat, when the crowd has performed a miracle and produced these organic baby salad leaves, these fruit trees, these oats and honey, keffir, yoghurt, several varieties of cheese, and all these nuts? Were you not hungry?
And Matthew replied unto them, I chose to fast, as I have long been overdue a detox. But surely the time has come for me say unto you that behind this bush, I did hide a handwoven wicker hamper. Friends, sit here upon the grass with me.
They did as he said, and when Matthew lifted the lid from the hamper, lo! within it were six bottles of Sharpham wine: two red, two white, and two rosé, and many bags of nibbles from the abundant shelves of Greenlife. And behold, many of these snacks were not gluten-free, and indeed many were found to be salted; yet they were delicious, and the company fell upon them with great joy.