It is rare, if not unheard of, to have the opportunity to sit down and chat with a deity. Therefore, when Shepton’s people approached The Morning Advertiser to carry out a world exclusive interview with the God of Cider himself, it was a no-brainer.
We met Shepton in a Somerset or-chard on a bright and sunny day, where he was inspecting this year’s apple crop ahead of the harvest.
His long red hair flowed gently in the breeze as he worked his way through the trees, stopping occasionally to pick an apple, which he would study in detail before taking a bite and moving on further down the orchard.
Now the loincloth. Is there any truth in what ‘they’ say about what a god wears under his loincloth?
This is Shepton’s life, he is an important part of the apple growing process and, therefore cider, production.
But there is much more to the God of Cider, as he makes clear in his first interview in thousands of years.
Nicholas Robinson: So, you’re the God of Cider, what exactly does that entail?
Shepton: I AM APPLES! Not literally, of course. But as the God of Cider, I have all the tangiest apples under my dominion.
When followers are in need of proper cider, they’ll call my name and I’ll descend from a storm cloud or surf down a lightning fork.
Then I’ll call up a blizzard of apples and smash them to a pulp, be-stowing cider on the faithful. I try not to stick around for the clean-up. Immortal’s privilege.
'I thought about getting a normal job'
NR: You’ve pretty much come from thin air, we’ve never heard of you before. What have you been doing?
Shepton: In recent times, the people forsook proper cider. The beseechers fell silent. I wondered if there was need for a great God of Cider in this modern world, but with more than half of UK mortals quenching their thirst from the sweet nectars, surely there was!
I thought about hanging up the mallet and getting a normal job, but the old CV was looking a bit bare.
Then, the Showerings cider family beseeched me like I’d never been beseeched before, and it was game on! It’s good to be back.
NR: What’s next on your agenda then?
Shepton: I’ve been around since the beginning of time but harvest season always puts a spring in my step and a swing in my mallet. All the apples are ready to collect so, very soon, I’ll be up to my eyeballs in the sweet nectar of next year’s cider. Then I’ll be out among the people, spreading the gospel of Mallets like there’s no tomorrow.
NR: Our readers are desperate to know how you stay in such good shape – you could grate an apple on those things.
Shepton: Being immortal means I’ve had loads of time to work on my physique. I once spent a thousand years doing squat thrusts. But it’s the job that keeps me in shape.
Hefting the mallet, kicking holes in mountains to divert rivers of cider to my loyal acolytes, holding god-like poses for hours without getting cramp. All in a day’s work.
'Variety is the spice of life'
Shepton at a glance:
- Age: Improbably old, impossibly buff
- Family: part of big loving pantheon. Hasn’t spoken to his brother for 3,000 years after a disagreement over the supremacy of peanuts over pork scratchings, but deep down they love each other
- Favourite drink: Mallets Cider, of course
- Previous jobs: briefly dabbled in illegal dragon racing when followers lost their way
- Favourite pub: The Tree of Life. It has the full range of Mallets Ciders and a fruit machine from which flows a river of molten gold. And very clean loos
NR: Crikey, I suppose we should ask more about cider. As the God of Cider, what are your thoughts on fruit-flavoured ciders?
Shepton: Variety is the spice of life. Especially if you’ve been alive since the beginning of time. I’ll always go back to the apples, but I like to dabble in darkness every now and then.
And the people would agree! I’ve heard their cries for dark fruits and used my mighty mallet to crush more berries than ever before. Blackberries. Blackcurrants. Bring it on!
NR: OK, another thing our readers really want to know is how you keep your hair looking so silky soft and healthy. It must be some sort of oil treatment, right?
Shepton: How nice of you to notice, Nicholas. Not just trying to get some free cider I hope? I’ll let you into a little secret: mallet polish is also a very good shampoo. Really cuts through the grease. Then I rinse under a waterfall, or use the hand shower, whichever’s easiest.
NR: Great tip. Now the loincloth. Is there any truth in what ‘they’ say about what a god wears under his loincloth?
Shepton: How can there be – any mere human who dares to peek at an immortal’s undercarriage immediately turns to stone and crumbles to dust. Anyone who says they saw beneath my loincloth and were less than dumbstruck by my magnificence is definitely lying. Or blind.
NR: Right then… any big plans for the year ahead?
Shepton: Not big. COLOSSAL! By this time next year I will bestraddle (yes, that’s a real word) this island, my mallet held aloft as I pour an endless rain of Mallets Cider into the grateful, up-stretched goblets of the masses below.
I’m also willing to fill non-goblets. There’s one particular mass of revellers I’m looking forward to converting to the ways of righteousness.