I awoke this morning to Radio 4 "...off the north coast of Haiti...underwater archaeology...one of the most important discoveries in recent years... More in depth report later"
And I thought, "My gods, they have replaced football with archaeology, as we joked about yesterday..."
Don't know the joke? Well here's what the world would be like if we had avid archaeology fans, not football fans.
Firstly, imagine every time within a day that football is mentioned by someone else. Secondly, replace it with something that you don't want to hear about every day. Say... Archaeology. Then, think about how an average day would pan out.
So, you awaken to the clock radio. It's 7AM. Just as you awaken, it's time for the news and archaeology already. Not news and other historical investigations, like library restorations or museum openings (unless there's another event happening), but just the news and archaelogy. Malaysian plane is still missing. Pistorius is still on trial. New dig announced in Giza. Ancient Mayan temple discovered. Exciting stuff.
Time for a bite to eat over the morning TV. More news. More archaeology. Yes, you are aware of what is up with the missing plane. Fine. Now the archaeology in video format. Video of people dusting off some skulls and bits of pottery. All well and good, but archaeology isn't your thing. It would be nice to hear about something else. Even when it isn't archaeology season, the media follow noted archaeologists. They drive fast cars, have sex with beautiful women, advertise fragrances, and sometimes they go to nightclubs and act in the worst possible way. Scandals erupt as the tabloids follow these new celebrities when they're not searching the past for answers. It is entirely possible you can recite the names of certain researchers, even if you don't pay attention to archaeology. You don't know what transfer season is, but you know that someone was transferred to a dig in Peru for a sum of money that could fund the London Underground for two whole days.
Out of the car at 8:55 and into work. What are the colleagues talking about, I wonder? Oh, Jones dropped a 3,890 year old pot and smashed it? What a useless wanker! Someone should do something unpleasant to him. And don't even ask about the unfortunate incident in Athens two years ago - you'll be there all day! Breaking a pillar like that! We don't talk about that here, mate. What? You don't want to discuss the finer points of the prevalence of phallic imagery in Pompeii? Is there something wrong with you?
The drive home from work. Every thirty minutes, no matter the station, someone mentions the archaeology. Best sit in silence. Drive past a huge billboard with a black and white picture of a rakishly handsome archaeologist draped over an impossibly beautiful woman. He's winking at you. Trowel in his left hand, supermodel in the right. Jurassic, by Calvin Klein.
And now the pub. A nice pub with a beer garden. Posters in the windows. LIVE EXCAVATION AT THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS! All of it on a huge TV with the volume up too loud. Drunken people yelling at the screen. "SEND IT FOR CARBON DATING, YOU USELESS CUNT!" "WHAT ARE YOU ON, MATE? DUST THE ANCIENT MEDALLION GENTLY! SMELTING METHODS OF THE TIME PRODUCED VERY SOFT AND IMPURE METALS EASILY PRONE TO DISFIGURATION!" All this from two men out of a crowd of twenty. One lousy drunken idiot and his chum ruin the image of other archaeology fans. Carbon dating report from the lab updates on TV, read by a man employed because they've been following the beautiful science since they were a boy. The drunk chimes in again. "WHAT PHARAOH'S REIGN DID YOU SAY? DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT THE UNDERPINNINGS OF OUR THEORY OF AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT OF 4TH BC EGYPT? GET IN, MATE!" A cheer cascades through the building and you can only wonder why.
Best go home and avoid anyone who might be drinking and singing. You once met a disagreeable chap who threatened to beat you up because you didn't watch the archaeology. "Not a late paleolithic era supporter are you? Think you're better than me? I'll fucking have you, you scrawny cunt!"
To bed. To repeat the cycle tomorrow. The inescapable, inevitability that wherever you go, someone, somewhere, is just dying to talk to you about the archaeology.
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