Engaging first gear


Dots and dots and dots and dots and dots. In hell the really bad people do stippling forever

So I pretty much took the summer off the blog in the end, my main excuse being that I haven’t done any archaeology really, unless you count two weeks spent drawing thousands of little dots on Adobe Illustrator after accepting some work digitising object drawings. On the plus side, money; on the minus side; madness. I was also handicapped for some time by a crushing sense of guilt, having developed a moral certainty that I had caused Great Britain to exit the European Union using magic (see previous post). Now I’ve gained perspective on the situation I know this to be nonsense and I now only suffer from a vague sense of guilt that I didn’t vote, but I share complicity in that with 13 million other eligible non-voters. Had I actually discovered an ability to influence global events using the Dark Arts I feel things would work out badly for everyone.

The only new power I’ve really been developing over the summer is driving. Some of you may find it surprising that an educated woman in her middle years, who can tie a good bowline, ride a horse and is handy with a blade, can’t drive a car, but to me it seems surprising that so many people do drive considering how expensive, stressful and boring it is. Bring on the driverless cars I say; even if they occasionally drive you into the side of a truck at least you can read the papers and drink a coffee while they’re doing it. It’s actually surprisingly common for British archaeologists not to drive. This has something to do with many of them being feckless dreamers unconcerned with worldly matters, but more to do with over-long periods spent in higher education and being too poor to buy and run a car. Thus has the world been spared many a tiresome driver, easily distracted by passing long-barrows and Iron Age hill forts, constantly ignoring the satnav to investigate ‘interesting’ looking churches and insisting that every road which runs straight for more than 100m must be Roman. Anyway, I’ve got my test in a few weeks so you better watch out if you’re on the roads.


My parents are not supportive of my artistic efforts, why can’t I paint something nice like kittens? I tell them that art has to reflect the soul

Naturally I’ve wasted the last two weeks staying up until 4am every night watching exciting Olympic sport, like Spain playing Hungary at water polo. Some of my other summer non-achievements have included a spate of archaeologically-inspired painting, preparing a tedious old bunch of rubbish (my doctoral research) for publication, and watching all nine series of The X-Files, which left me cripplingly paranoid for a good three weeks. “Trust no one”, says the first source that Mulder gets horribly killed, which is strange because that’s exactly what my mother’s always said…

My summer is nearly over and the digging season is about to begin so I’ll be heading back to Iraq in about three weeks to start a new project. This one presents a bit of a problem though because ‘they’ have made me sign a contract which forbids me from talking about the project, blogging about the project or posting images or text about the project on any platform (apologies to my para-archaeology conspiracy theorist stalkers who just wet themselves – sorry guys, but I’m just a pawn of the military-industrial elite). Anyway, it presents an issue for the blog but I hope I can work something out.

In some really excellent news I finally found my Blue Peter badge which has been lost for many years. The deep significance of this will only be apparent to my UK readers.


This was the summit of my ambitions when I was ten years old. I think it still is.

3 thoughts on “Engaging first gear

  1. Jon Pattengill

    You have empowered yourself twofold: You now drive, greatly increasing not only your ability to control where you are, but vastly increasing your cruising radius for experiencing the world and exerting your effect upon it, and you are expressing yourself more and better on canvas. You are living with more force. You are a good person, and the world needs its good people to be effective. I am very happy with the first parts of your post, but yes, I found the ban on archaeology posts jarring. How about blogging about your painting progress instead? It is something you can still do in your off time in Iraq, and if you paint to sell, you could pick up some more income. It is hard to sell stuff that is any good, I regret selling some of my work but not others. Some artists never sell their stuff. It is possible to sell good landscapes that don’t have the artist soul content (mere illustrations, or “paint-brush photographs” as I call them) without pangs of loss and for reasonable return. The “soul of the artist” stuff can be a separate not-for sale category. A driver’s license can be a very big help for a painter. Please blog on.

  2. Jon Pattengill

    Quite a few people taking the driver’s test don’t pass on the first try, but do so on the second or third. If this happens don’t let it rattle you. The victory will come.

  3. Jon Pattengill

    Thank you for posting Mr. Skull and his interesting and meaningful red lines for us. Some of those red lines lead directly to a little girl uniformed as a happy little Admiral afloat and ready for action, and all the rest, such as the albino Caped Crusader. I guess I will be finding out if I have worn out my welcome or not.


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