Ah January, lovely January; land of fatness and poverty and self-recrimination about another year wasted. Lo! See the rolling hills of thwarted plans, take a stroll along the shingle beach of advancing age, peer over the jagged cliff of approaching sobriety. The world certainly looks like a bleaker place now that I’m not allowed to drink a bottle of wine a day. I’ll be beginning to reverse my post-Christmas alcohol dependency by flying to Basra on Thursday where I’ll be able to enjoy three uninterrupted months of booze withdrawal back on the excavation near Ur. It feels a bit daunting right now and the next sanctimonious arse who tells me they’re doing Dry January is risking a punch in the mouth.
It’s been a wet weary winter since I got back from Erbil, which only slightly excuses my neglect of blog-writing duties. A major factor has been another protracted job-seeking tragedy with the British Museum, which seems to be becoming an awful annual fixture. I made it to the interview on time, which represents progress, and I even managed to string some words together in the right language and the right order but they gave it to someone else all the same. A Frenchman, as if it wasn’t bad enough already. On the one hand I railed against an unjust universe and the pointlessness of it all, and on the other hand I was relieved that I still don’t have to grow up and take some responsibility.
Although I haven’t done any archaeology since Erbil (unless you count the mind-buggeringly boring plan digitisation I’m doing for the British Museum) I did try my hand at a little living history over the New Year. I concocted a last minute plan to escape from Crewe and rent a house in Shropshire with a few people and a dog for five days, and I thought it would be funny if it was the house from Victorian Farm which doesn’t have any gas, electricity or running water. What larks! Living like a Victorian involves dark narrow spaces and lots and lots of fire, which is the perfect environment for drinking heavily over the New Year period (what else to do during the three hours it takes for the range to get hot enough to make tea?). We spent our time playing board games, heaving coal, talking shite, fetching water, reading ghost stories in funny voices, making stew, singing and burning ourselves on everything. All my clothes smell of paraffin, it was the best New Year ever.
My next post will be from Iraq and might involve some proper archaeology if I can remember what that is.
Pleased to see you have re-appeared from your winter’s occultation. It is preferable that the jagged cliff of sobriety is the only one you go over. It is a very interesting place you go back to, scene of much impressive enterprise, things you could have fun tapping into, like the psychology of the Assyrian kings. If you feel in need of a little lift, stand next to a table and chair, (in private) and say firmly and slowly, ” I…am…powerful.” Then stand on the chair with your arms out horizontally, fists appropriately balled, and say loudly ” I..am all..powerful!!” Then for the finis, you get up on the table with your arms and fists vertical, and with a fierce, full-throated, soul-unclogging roar, you bellow ” I AM WITHOUT AN EQUAL AMONG ALL HUMANS!!!!!” You should feel much better when you get back off the table. And if, say, someone accidentally overhears this little exercise, you may find other people starting to become strangely more cooperative.
I’m always so amazed by your stories! So inspiring and meaningful. Thank you for sharing these beautiful moments here!