Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The British Tea Experiment

One of these days, I'm actually going to put some original writing up here, but it's been over a week since my last post, so I'm putting up another existing piece.  Again, this has already been on Facebook.

The British Tea Exeriment

One of the things doing the rounds online recently is an account of the horrible and infamous Russian Sleep Experiment.  (If you've not read it, you can find it here, but be warned, it really is quite gruesome, as well as entirely fictional).  Now, it might be assumed that we further west wouldn't subject our people to similar horrifying 'studies'. I can now reveal that this assumption has turned out to be incorrect.

If you are British, you may find some of the following upsetting or disturbing. If you're not, try not to let it get you down.

Recently the Ministry of Defence has declassified a number of files dating from the 1940s through to the early 70s, casting light on the attitudes and practices prevalent amongst the establishment during the height of the Cold War.

One of these files has revealed details of an experiment studying the effects of severe deprivation carried out in a high security installation in the New Forest during the summer and autumn of 1954.

5 men, all volunteers from the armed services, were sealed into a series of air-tight chambers. They were to be denied all outside contact for 3 months, living together in just four rooms; a dormitory, a kitchen, a bathroom and a living area. A microphone was placed in the living area, and each volunteer was required to use this to give an update of their mental health, thoughts and general well-being. A number of hidden microphones were concealed throughout the rooms, unknown to the volunteers.

Direct observation was through a number of port-hole style windows, consisting of bulletproof glass, leading into dark rooms outside the sealed chambers, so that the scientists could look in unobserved.

The 5 volunteers were given everything they would need to survive for the three months, including food, drink, clothing and toiletries. However, for the 3 months, 92 entire days, every volunteer would be completely deprived of tea. It had been speculated for some time that Britons might be able to survive for extended periods without tea, and the implications, especially for military logistics would be considerable. More than one British army in World War 2 had been outmaneuvered by the enemy because it needed to carry bulky tea caddies and water heaters, slowing down the pace of march. If soldiers could be weaned off tea, these could potentially be dispensed with.

On the 1st of August 1954, the volunteers entered the rooms, and the doors were locked and sealed behind them.

For the first day, everything proceeded smoothly. On the second day, all 5 volunteers complained of slight headaches, but were otherwise fine. On the third day, the headaches had abated, and they seemed perfectly healthy.

By the end of the first week, all 5 volunteers were observed to be irritable and sluggish. Their speech was slurred and indistinct, and all 5 were showing signs of fatigue and depression.

By the middle of the second week, the volunteers' mental health was deteriorating rapidly. When they thought the others weren't around, each would come to the main microphone, begging, pleading and bargaining for just one cup of tea, accusing the others of various crimes and misdemeanours in the hope of ingratiating themselves with their observers. The hidden microphones picked up sounds of sobbing. Finally towards the end of the second week, one of them was observed pulling the compost out of a pot plant, putting it in a saucepan and pouring boiling water over it, before adding milk, and drinking it with every appearance of enjoyment, before laughing hysterically. Another sat on one of the armchairs, apparently holding an invisible cup and saucer, taking occasional slurping drinks from the 'cup'. He offered his fellows some from 'his pot', but they avoided him. During this time, all 5 abandoned any semblance of personal hygiene.

Throughout the third week their behavior became increasingly erratic, and their speech continued to deteriorate, their consonants becoming indistinct. All 5 men's upper lips were observed to become considerably more mobile, while their moral fibre was shown to be considerably eroded. Two were observed to hug for longer than the legal maximum of three swift pats on the back that Her Majesty’s government stipulates under the Physical Affection Between Men Act 1933.

The volunteers started to show alarmingly Communistic tendencies, sharing all of their food, water and underwear. They stopped speaking to the main microphone altogether, and towards the end of the week, one of them smashed it whilst ‘trying to redistribute it to his fellow beings’.

Towards the end of the third week, all 5 were observed to sit on the floor with 2 packets of Jammie Dodgers, carefully prising apart the halves. They then used the jammy sides to stick these to the glass of the portholes, until every single one was completely covered, and the scientists were unable to see in.

The hidden microphones continued to pick up muttering and sobbing, but it was vague and slurred. The volunteers were frequently heard to refer to each other as ‘man’. On the twentieth day of the experiment, one of the volunteers was heard to use the words ‘peace and love’, in that order. The scientists heard what sounded like tearing cloth, and the sound of someone humming.

At the end of the fourth week, the decision was made to abort the experiment, and find out what had happened. This decision was made after a strange strumming noise was heard, before all 5 volunteers were heard to sing ‘Kum by yah’ through several times, despite none of them having being exposed to this song prior to their confinement.

The scientists unsealed the chamber and, protected by several soldiers, entered the rooms. What they saw inside those rooms shocked and horrified them. 2 of the soldiers accompanying them needed a sit down, while years later, one of the scientists emigrated.

They found the 5 volunteers unshaven, disheveled and incoherent. They had started growing out their hair, and all 5 wore unkempt beards. They had torn the legs of their trousers, and used material cut from the upholstery of the arm chairs to widen the cuffs, causing them to flare out at the sides. One of them had carefully unraveled fibres from the bedsheets, and respun them into cords of varying thicknesses, which he attached to a frame made from pieces of broken furniture, to create a crude guitar.

The volunteers were removed to a nearby medical unit, an operation made more difficult when all five volunteers viciously engaged in non-violent protest, savagely sitting on the floor with linked arms, whilst taunting the scientists and soldiers with vile suggestions that they ‘give peace a chance’.

Once they had been removed to a high-security ward, and strapped firmly to their beds, all 5 were given plenty of sweet tea, with a variety of biscuits, and the speeches of Sir Winston Churchill were played on loop twelve hours a day. For some time afterwards, they continued to refuse to shave or wash, and babbled incoherently about ‘free love’ and other horrible and uncivilised concepts.

Under this treatment, they began to recover, and after several weeks were discharged and sent to Bath to take the waters.

The laboratory was shut down, and the entire experiment classified 'Top Secret', but at least now we know of the darkness that lurks inside. That madness, hidden deep within the soul of even the most upstanding Briton. Now we know the horrible fate we all will face, if ever the tea runs out!

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