Monday, 21 December 2015

England December 2015

Lives in Land (Amazon)
Throughout my working life the excavations of Mucking Essex have run through it like a thread. The project started exactly fifty years ago on September 5th 1965. I worked on the excavations (where I first met my Polish wife), and in three phases of the post-excavation process and have been involved in the writing of this final report (Lives in Land) which has just come out. It was a massive effort by a group of highly competent professionals. A number of its co-authors and others gathered in the Society of Antiquaries on Wednesday to celebrate the launch. It was amazing seeing again people many of whom I'd not seen thirty years or so. It was nice to catch up, but so little time. There were three excellent speeches and a toast to the memory of the late Director of the original project. Wonderful, I am glad I could attend.

Archaeologists at the Antiqs

It was a trip filled with nostalgia for me, even when I've been back to England, I tended to stay away from central London (where I studied). Staying with my sister in the posh parts of Watford I took the opportunity to go in and explore my old haunts by foot. I've had a hankering for the same vegetable samosas which used to be a staple diet for student Barford working late in the library or lab, and went on a hunt for them. The grubby little pavement-side bars which sold them in Tottenham Court Road are now banks, boutiques or glass and steel sushi bars. I obviously would have to go further afield, to Edgeware road. In my day the street was fronted on both sides with grubby little shops that sold electronic components and equipment, car radios, audio equipment and here and there were food bars. Now it is filled with cleaner shops and restaurants run by Moslems, Edgeware Road (built by the Romans) has become a major centre for London's immigrant Moslem community, the richer ones at the south end near Marble Arch and the poorer ones in the cheaper properties out beyond  Marylebone Road. Fascinating.

Talking of food,  this is one of the saddest things I saw in a department store in Watford.
Christmas a la Brit
This sums it all up, ready to heat Christmas meal. WTF? This is why instant-gratification artefact hunting is so popular over there. In a big WH Smiths in the shopping centre, the gum-chewing blondie shop assistant gave me a blank look when asked where they had the metal-detecting magazines. Look where in the end I found "Treasure Hunter" (with the PAS report no less) and "Searcher", not in "hobbies" but:

Cultural 'eritidge in Smiffs

Cultcha wiv a capitil 'c', English style. You'll be getting a review of these two magazine when I've fully unpacked. Meanwhile downstairs in the "books",  this is the "history" section of the same shop.

Passinitly intrestid in istry, are ya?

In my local shopping centre in Poland in a small outlet of the equivalent seller (the "Empik" chain) the section "Historia" is three times that size.

Back to food and Muslims, this also saddened me, a pretty girl in a hijab selling Cornish pasties (another thing on my London bucket list, pasty, not hijab). many of the food stores are staffed by girls in hijabs. But I was disturbed to see that on this stall she was also required by the franchise to serve passengers 'hot bacon baps'.
Bacon butties served with a smile (Liverpool Street station)
I decided not to ask her about it, but I hope sincerely that (as this is England where food has lost contact with the reality of nature) the 'bacon' served by this franchise is as fake as the antiquities many English sellers flog. I hope it is reconstituted pink slime. Serves the brits right for metal detecting.

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