Semi-functional alcohologist

Erbil can seem quite tranquil from a distance and without shouting at you in Kurdish about pottery

Erbil can seem quite tranquil from a distance and without someone shouting at you in Kurdish about pottery

Archaeologically things are at a bit of a low ebb in Erbil. I’ve been back on site for three days since the end of the Eid holiday. We now have no workmen because there’s no money to pay them, meaning that digging has effectively stopped and there are only a few monstrously tall elevations to draw. My trainees have also not been paid and are, understandably, less and less interested in being around. Well, there’s the money but I think they might also be sick of leaning out over crumbly mud brick death canyons dangling a plumb bob. They’d all gone home by 1:30pm today, leaving me to work alone in the pit of despair. They also locking my bag in the office along with my money, ID and house keys before they left, which was thoughtful of them. At least it’s nice and quiet on site and I can listen to my ipod or take a little nap or throw rocks at the pigeons without anyone judging me. I might be going a bit ‘you-know’ (mad).

Oktoberfest - return of the ruinously expensive one litre steins of black beer

Oktoberfest – return of the ruinously expensive one litre steins of black beer

I enjoyed the traditional expat Eid holiday; drinking heroic quantities of alcohol every day until my brain started trying to crawl out of my ears for a breath of air. In the early stages this just involved the usual Erbil pursuits: Oktoberfest at the German bar, house parties, BBQs, crashing that Nepalese party and having drunken sprint races in Sami Abdulrahman Park with fuel men from the airport. Then I agreed to get out of town and go to the mountains around Choman with some friends for four days. I knew it was going to be a rough road when I found I’d drunk five cans of beer in the car on the way. One of my fellow holiday makers brought her cat along which made the journey even more entertaining due to his/her (complicated) unwavering interest in what the driver was doing with his feet. Having been raised by expats the cat was a needy alcoholic.

Henry finishes off his second Amstel, dribbling much of it into my lap

Henry finishes off his second Amstel, dribbling much of it into my lap

Mostly we played board games, smoked and watched documentaries about religion, which are far more entertaining when you’re drunk and willing to pick a side. One day we took a drive up through the mountains, keeping an anxious eye on the GPS to make sure we didn’t accidentally take a much longer holiday in Iranian prison. I learned a lot about what minefields look like and about all the places in a Lexus you can hide beer cans when you get to a checkpoint. I spent the last day of the Eid holiday back in Erbil feeling exceptionally sick while watching Downton Abbey and drinking fizzy water with my housemate.

Within 2km of the Iranian border we drink some schnapps and think about our options

Within 2km of the Iranian border we drink some schnapps and think about our options

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2 thoughts on “Semi-functional alcohologist

  1. Pingback: Around the Archaeology Blog-o-sphere Digest #7 | Doug's Archaeology

  2. Jon Pattengill

    There is an old saying that knowledge is power, but possession of it is the least of it. Knowing how to apply it is where it becomes effective. Case in point: In the evolutionary lineage of the human race, it was discovered that our direct ancestors included a tree-shrew with an oddly -furred tail. Not too long ago, this animal was discovered alive in Indonesia, I believe it was. Named the Pen-Tailed Tree Shrew, this little critter lives on a diet primarily of fermented palm sap having quite a high alcohol content. Every night they go out and each drinks the alcohol equivalent of about six CASES of beer. They do not get intoxicated, nor are they harmed by it. Somehow or other they are able to metabolize it as a beneficial food supply. They have an instinctive drive to find it and drink it, and they are probably happy when doing that. Genetic DNA being very conservative, we appear to carry that inherited instinct in a latent and inactive state, until lots of alcohol-drinking switches it on, so that those instincts become active ones. Unfortunately, the human body’s systems can’t deal with it the way the tree shrew’s can, with unfortunate results. Our society makes the mistake of considering alcoholics as having some kind of illness, usually their own fault, and looks down on such people. This is wrong. There is nothing wrong or degenerate about an alcoholic. They just accidentally switched on the tree-shrew program, which we all still carry, every one of us. I am writing this long, perhaps pedantic reply out of a sincere concern for Ms. Surfacefind. Applied knowledge really is power. I hope you find your inner powers and exert them in such a way that a happy life for you results. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    Reply

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