Happy happy hundredth post


The charming environs of Nasiriyah as the day breaks

I’ve been kept from my blog these last two weeks by disrupted Fridays. This Friday I did something that doesn’t happen often; I Lost The Game, by which I mean I had a moment of dangerous mental clarity in which I realised I have no home, no job, no pension, no partner, no kids, no driving licence, no money and no realistic plan about how to get any of these things and I’m going to turn thirty-five in a few weeks. I had no option but to stay in my shipping container and watch nine episodes of Veep until I’d forgotten about all that vodka and paracetamol I have in my packing. I did start writing a blog post, which was entitled ‘What is the point?’, but no one needs to read that. Anyway, it’s a new week and I’m back to my usual astonishing levels of positivity, enjoying day after day of life-affirming archaeological fieldwork. Today I found some bricks and took a column sample.


The extraordinary fun of Friday

The previous Friday also went wrong when we got kidnapped by a horrifyingly enthusiastic archaeologist who very kindly took us on a nine-hour tour of the province’s most looted and least attractive archaeological sites. We all thought we’d be back by lunch. By 4pm our police escort were looking longingly at their Kalashnikovs, wondering how much paperwork it would be if they just shot us all and went home. By the end, as the sun was going down and I was peering over the edge of reason, I reflected on how very much I hate archaeology.


Pedigree Iraqi racing pigeon (lost)

However, there are many positives to be found in the vast beigeness of archaeology if you dig deep enough. This week I learned that pigeon racing is massive in southern Iraq after we saw a man throw a box of pigeons out of the boot of his car on the road out of Nasiriyah. We’ve invented a new set of euphemisms to describe the endemic flatulence produced by the project’s bean-heavy diet: A sufferer proclaims that he or she is ‘Master of the Trumpington Hunt’ and every time they blow their horn they must call ‘View halloo!’ This is only funny because we’re all state school kids. The very best thing that has happened in the last two weeks is that I found Terry the Slag Beast under the floor of one of my ever expanding brick vaults. He’s a piece of green ceramic kiln waste, clinging to a lump of overfired pottery but he’s mine and I love him. I named him for the late Sir Terry Wogan who died the same week.




6 thoughts on “Happy happy hundredth post

  1. Jon Pattengill

    Goodness, Terry was obviously hot stuff in his day. Good thing you’ve given him a safe place to settle down. The bean diet reminds me of a little ditty from my youth:
    “Remember Dennis Murphy?
    He had a special art….
    Farting made him laugh, you see,
    and laughing made him fart!”

    1. surfacefind Post author

      The equivalent from my youth:
      “Beans! Beans! Good for the heart,
      even though they make you fart,
      The more you fart the better you feel,
      so eat your beans with every meal.” ….which we do.

  2. Francesco Iacono

    You know you should publish a book out of this blog. It is really one of the most funny and humane descriptions of what archaeology as personal engagement is.

  3. Jon Pattengill

    Those verbal skills! They are very good. They are what give you your best shot at getting all those important things you mentioned not having and being rightly concerned about. Maybe some late-night TV host will be introducing you as his/her next guest as the author of the London Times bestseller list book “Annoyed And Scraping In the Beige Beige Beige of Iraq.”

    1. Jon Pattengill

      Quite a few newspaper columnists have compiled their columns into books and published them. All you would have to do is publish what you have already written here. It could be done. Lulu.com makes it easy. And of course you would use a much better title than mine.
      I thought of a question I have wondered about and thought perhaps you might have heard something about it. When European archaeologists first saw Uruk, they described the entire sacred precinct as being covered with human bones, from several millennia’s worth of burials eroding out. Yet now all those bones seem to be gone. Any idea what happened?


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