Thursday 27 September 2018

Fake News? "You woz Done M8"

The FLO informs RESCUE members that my blog is a sea of fake news wrapped in layers of falsehood. The same FLO tells the same group that he has ensured that all the coins from the Bellingham Hoard will be handed into the Coroner to begin the Treasure process. Really? One would like to know the source of this confidence.

Baz Thugwit was on the "Scotty Bellingham Dig" with his Garrett. The moment he saw a mechanical excavator trundling across the grass in an adjacent field, he realised something was up and ran over to where it was headed. There his mate 'Beergut Bill' was already digging. Baz quickly joined the gaggle of people that had gathered and thus was one of those joining in the chaotic free-for-all we saw on the video. Baz in fact found two denari in a single clod in a heap of earth dumped on the edge of the piles of dirt around the ragged hole. At that moment, the attention of all the other diggers was on 'Dirtbag Dan' who'd been slightly bruised when his head came in contact with the digger bucket (nobody working by the machinery was wearing a hard hat or hi-vis clothing). Dan was OK ('hard Geordie head, that Dan') but Baz thought that if he broadcast his find, the others would be there like a shot, and if there's two coins in one clod of earth maybe there's more. So, quietly palming the two items, slipping them into the back pocket of his jeans, Baz calmly and methodically searched the rest of that pile.
'Wot'ch yeh got Baz, found sumfink over there?' shouted over SkunkySimon, and twenty pairs of eyes stopped scanning the clods and turned enquiringly towards him.
'ah, errr... yeah, I just found this', Baz said putting his hand in his finds pouch and pulling out a strip of metal he'd found twenty minutes earlier in another field, 'Only this mate, nuffing else here', he lied
'Add it to pile, mate, we gotta 'and this lot ovah later... is' the law mate, innit?',
'But keep looking mate', says Dan, hoping Baz will stay where he was and not infringe on the bit of the pile he'd chosen for himself.
Finding nothing else in his pile, Baz came over to quietly join his fellow club members, finding nothing else before dusk fell, but then reluctantly decided to go home. He was famished, so he'd pop in at the chippy on the way. He did not cook much after the missus left. So he took his leave of his mates,
'Ah well, gotta go, missus will be waiting, sheperds pie tonight. Maybe I'll 'ave bettah luck next time'
'Yeah mate, sorry yous di'n 'ave much luck mate. Still, yeh got tha' strip. Culd of bin off a box or somefink, maybe wot they put the coins in. We'll 'and it ovah to the flo for yeh'
'Thanks mate, bye', says Baz, then raising his voice 'bye all!' before he turned and walked wearily across the grass to his waiting van.
He drove away into the setting sun, took a left at the end of the road, checked the GPS in his phone and soon was on his way back home.

In the chippy 45 minutes later, he was seated at a table in the corner, hoping his muddied boots would not draw attention. While he was waiting for his order, he took out the two silver coins and looked at them more carefully, 'Domishin' he thought. He'd got two, one from that weekend rally that he was at the day his wife left him. He pulled out his phone, and  went to eBay and searched for similar coins: 'Domi...'. the prompt told him the correct spelling and he found a number of them on sale. On some bidding had not ended, but his eye was caught by two that looked to be in the same condition as his. One had a 'buy it now' price of 55 quid, the other, closer in appearance to his, was selling for eighty quid. Eighty quid.

Baz then went to the Club's Facebook page. It was dark outside now, but Baz wondered if somebody had stayed overnight to safeguard any coins missed in the scrabble from 'nighthawks'. It did not look like it, but Scotty said in one of the posts that they'd got the police in to do that job for them. Then he read a post on the club page from the FLO who was saying that he wanted all the hoard coins handed in in the next few days. Then there was another post, a smarmy bloke from the NCMD reminding club members what the rules are and warning that because of the way the hoard had been dug up, the authorities would probably cut the reward money. Crikes.

'Eighty quid' thought Baz. So half of that goes to the landowner, so I'd get forty quid for mine. But then the judgemental NCMD spoilsport had said the reward would be lowered... do they do that before or after splitting off the farmer's split? How much would they lower it? Ten percent, thirty, fifty maybe? How dare they? 'They' are not the ones doing the hard work finding the thing, bloody hard work digging out there in the sun all day. How can 'they' dictate to us how we should dig, those jumped-up ivory-tower desk-potatoes. Suppose he handed them in, he'd lose forty to the farmer, and then have the officials down in London cut his share even further. He'd be lucky to get twenty pounds a piece (his order came then, he checked he'd got his extra mushy peas, and carried on thinking as he ate). He remembered he'd read in the Mail about a hoard where there had been a lot of folk involved in the excavation on a rally, but only the guy that actually found the first coins had split the reward... but surely that's not the case here, they are all mates in the same club, after all. They all found their own bits of the hoard. Then Baz with a sinking stomach realised that he'd not checked that his name was on a list of people that had added their finds to those already in the supermarket carrier bag that SkunkySimon was keeping to hand to the FLO, or coroner, or whatever he'd said. But Skunky would remember that Baz had been there, surely. Wouldn't he? He and his mates surely would not still be holding against him those drunken remarks about Skunky's wife he'd made at that rally three months ago. It was only a joke, Skunky and the lads just did not get the joke, and he said sorry... But then he realised he'd lied to his mates while he was there that he'd not found any coins. Awkward. If he handed the coins in, could he prove to any court that he'd found his coins as part of the hoard and not in another place entirely? If they were splitting the dosh, can he show the court that he was part of Skunky's inner group working on the hoard if he was not on the list. Anyway, he did not see any list. In any case, he was a bit unsure about appearing in a law court, some old bad memories there...  If he gave the coins in, he might if he's luck get forty quid for the two of them. Or he might get nothing at all. No reward for the time he spent going there, the time and work he put into the dig.

Baz finished his pie and chips, wiped his hands on his jeans, and took a bit of the chip paper and carefully wrapped up his coins in it and slipped them into his pocket. A hundred and sixty quid. Then there's that brooch he found over by the paddock, and he's got a few bits he did not want for his collection, and he'll get rid of that other Domishion, it has bad memories. Maybe in a few weeks he'll do a discrete few little auctions on EBay or Facebook,  and nobody will know any better. As for the metal strip, well, the archies are welcome to it, exploitative buggers.

FLO Woodward will say the above is "fake news", real metal detectorists do not act like that. Baz Thugwit does. How many Baz Thugwits are there in UK metal detecting? What value is the 'record' of a find'd context of deposition and context of discovery produced by such collecting activity? Some coins will not appear in it, pocketed by the Baz Thugwits. Other items have been added to the assemblage, through the thoughtless actions of a Baz Thugwit who sees nothing wrong in removing and adding items to the archaeological record.

The story above is of course fictional, but I challenge the 36 PAS FLOs to produce evidence that the type of scenario it represents could never and does never happen.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is awful, that is stealing, isnt it?
There should be a punishment for this.

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