Ye Olde Linoleum Shoppe

Tuesday 31 January 2012


Once again we meet, you with the black tulip on your lapel, and me with a bunch of bananas dangling suggestively from my nose. But enough about my fruity adornments - it seems biologists at the University of Skid Mark, Arizona have finally cracked the life cycle of archaeologists. By comparing frogspawn with bellybutton fluff donated from academic dirt riddlers (I donated some of my fluff - I was glad to get rid of it, I had bags of the stuff in the attic) they have managed to describe the great merry go round on which us mud-on-toast merchants all rotate. So without further ado I give you . . . (curtains open, polite ripple of applause.)

LARVA: Impeccable, unimpaired and practically pregnant with possibility.
TADPOLE: Despite several beatings from parents, keeps returning from neighbours bin with pieces of crap saying: 'Look what I found!' Has an unsettling love for pirate maps (and bows and arrows.) 
FROGLET: Archaeology degree in hand and clueless. Has also distilled thesis into a short article published in Woman's Weekly, illustrated with someone else's map (covered in confused looking arrows.)
FROG: Digging for a living. Complains about EVERYTHING particularly abysmal legislation in archaeology and crummy way in which state enforces it.
TOAD: Thanks to siding with a vote hungry politician on a contentious rescue dig ends up with a permanent job remunerated by tax payer. Now does a volte-face (that makes the u-bend in a toilet look straighter than a ramrod,) and decides the legislation, works fine thank-you-very-much and as for enforcement . . . shrugs. When required to give lectures just rehashes the map (with the arrows.)
DINOSAUR: Retired, on pneumatic pension, gracefully fading into wallpaper. Passes time using pink crayon to colour in that lovely map (with the arrows.) Has a beaker pot on desk to vomit into when archaeology is mentioned.
FOSSIL: Laid to rest with overflowing beaker pot. As a final mark of respect colleagues drive a stake through deceased's heart. Eventually, after millennia, grave is marked on a map (with an arrow.)
And then the Great Mother Asherah turns the reincarnation handle, churning our protagonist back to the larval stage. - This proves one of two things - either (a) Her forgiveness is infinite, or else (b) She has the hots for two-faced hoors.

Now, I hope you didn't find that too chafing.
It seems today (01/02/12) is World Diggers Day (a charity organisation involved in deprogramming children who run away and become archaeologists.) And since the theme of this day is 'Indiana Jones' I would like to depart with a Spielbergian cartoon I fashioned myself from chicken feet, pearls and sweat.
Until next week my bandy legged armadillos.

Wednesday 25 January 2012


Today, fellow trash sifters, I will be educating you in the recondite ways of tarot cards and their use in a post-excavation context. The Bourke-Hayden Deck is presently the most popular available - named after it's doughty developers Mr. Ed Bourke (currently working as a kitchen porter for The Brothel of Public Works) and Alan Hayden (last seen marching into battle brandishing a pork sausage during the Abyssinian Chutney Wars - God Speed Alan, we're missing you already!)
By dealing oneself a hand from the deck the true nature of the site you have just butchered can be divined without the need for time-consuming research, expensive specialist reports and other related frivolities.
The three cards shown above are part of the major arcana used to augur the precise function of your site. Did people live here? Did they work here? Or did they perform unspeakable acts of worship here, involving sweaty undulating bodies and hats filled with butter? The cards will reveal all!
The positive upshot of the tarot method is that the standard lynchpins of post-ex can be disposed of - insipid context sheets can be torched, bags of fragmenting pottery composted and site plans rolled up tightly and used to flay a loved one's appreciative buttocks. A pat on the back Bourke and Hayden for putting a twinkle on everyone's cheeks!
The age of the site is intuited through a series of era cards - three of which are illustrated above. A single one of these beauties will tell you what date the site is without recourse to soggy dendro samples or bags of fiddly Carbon 14 grot.
And, needless to say, when the cards have spoken, write it all up, using words such as 'dynamics,' 'mechanism,' 'strategy' and 'landscapes' to secure your report's status among all the other numbing waffle written by every other archaeologist lost south of their own coccyx.
Some cards explicate the technique to be pursued in the writing up process. For instance 'The Stars' card indicates one should stop writing, raid that half-fermented bucket of sloe gin in the attic and enjoy the delicate web of lights it throws before one's eyes. 'The Moon' card advocates going to bed (and hopefully some enthusiastic fairies will have written your report by the time you awake.) 'The Sun,' means get some crusty hippies to take part in a 'sit in' on your site and then phone up the newspapers and assert the precious past has been prostituted. If your hand should contain the sun, moon and stars, ring up the developer and promise him the report in the morning, then drink a gallon of kahlua and hide in the coal shed for a month.
Other cards of note are: 'The Levels' meaning - check the woefully inaccurate survey work and vow to disembowel the draughtsman; 'The Lovers,' - just there to remind you of (and make you regret) that pie-eyed (and very licky) snog you had with the ugliest whacko on the crew during the end of site party; 'The Accountant' - means it's time to do what your mother always wanted you to - get a real job in an accountancy firm (no doubt cleaning their toilets.)

So there you have it, that strange alchemy which turns age-old monuments into spoil heaps has finally been tamed (some would say gelded) by the thunderous Bourke-Hayden Tarot Deck.
Now let's all join hands and sing: 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary.'

Jusqu'a  la semaine prochaine mes petits lapins.
And next week it's 'World Diggers Day.'

Tuesday 17 January 2012


Greetings good citizens of Ballychum! (Twinned with the quiet hamlet of Chumlinton-on-Pal.)
Today I deal with the pleasurable passez le temps of metal detecting. Surely there is no more satisfactory way of spending a Sunday afternoon than by mindlessly ravaging the countryside of it's plenteous gold bullion - bullion carelessly abandoned by sauced leprechauns in quaint cauldrons beneath blackthorn bushes throughout the rolling, heather scented fields. Breathe in that blue sky and let us begin!
Fig. 1a: METAL DETECTOR - Oh the fun you will have with your buzzing metal detector device! Indeed, the only other buzzing device you can have more fun with can't be found outside of an Ann Summer's catalog.
Fig. 1b: EARPHONES - Listening to heavy metal no doubt! (Oh ho ho ho! That is a rum rib-tickler! Torso heaves up and down with merriment, wipes eyes, wipes seat.)
Fig. 1c: NUDITY - Whilst detecting, nobody wishes to be approached by meddlesome bucolic types enquiring what the detectorist is up to. All clothing says something about the wearer, but nudity is the only outfit which candidly states -'AVOID WITH CAUTION.' However should some maggotie headed fellowe approach, it is time to get busy with . . .
Fig. 1d: THE BASEBALL BAT - It's the best way of answering all questions (eg.    *'What are you doing on my land?' *'What are you doing in my garden?' *'What are you doing in my closet?')
Fig. 1e: BROGUES - Nudity, yes, absolutely - but there's nothing wrong with a splash of brogue-shoed sartorial elegance is there?
Fig. 2 : THE BEACH - You would not believe how much precious jewelry is lost on the beach by slipshod sunbathers, and your detector is a licence to begin churning up the gold. If however, your luck is not in, you could always use your baseball bat to convince holidaymaking children into handing over their ice-cream money.
Fig. 3: THE UNDERTAKERS - It beggars belief how many of the dearly departed are sent to the grave with their gold fillings left in! Climb in the back window of one of these establishments and wave your detector over the heads of the stiffs until you hit the jackpot. Then effect a quick removal of the precious metal with the baseball bat. And if there's no gold to be had, you can always make off with a few brass coffin handles as a consolation prize. In this game everyone's a winner! Huzzah!
Fig. 4: THE BANK - Should legends be true banks are packed to the rafters with gold. I suggest a direct approach, leave the detector at home, walk straight in, nude, avec baseball bat (or better yet, a shotgun if you can rustle one up,) and demand all the doubloons they have squirreled under the counter. In fact, if you are considering this option, pick up the old dog and bone, and me and me twin brother Ronnie will come round and help out. Alright me old china!

And as for archaeological sites? My advice is stay away from them, I've been digging on the shagging things for over twenty years and when it comes to valuables, I haven't found one red cent belonging to a certain Mister Jack Shit.


Thursday 12 January 2012


Ronald Searle died on 30/12/11. He was the greatest cartoonist ever to have lived and it was an honour to have served on the same planet as him (and with you of course - but it's getting a little crowded now don't you think?) Searle lived to see 91, which was good going for a man who had survived forced labour on the Burma Railway - and he was bloody good at drawing cats too . . .

Wednesday 11 January 2012


Greetings affiliate archaeophiliacs. Today's rant is about the nightmarish subject of environmental archaeologists and the corrupt festering sore they represent on the fundament of God-fearing modern day archaeology. These sorry brutes (with their base penchant for deliberating over steaming piles of ordure) have caused a blight upon the snowdriven reputation of us, the keepers of the one true faith - ie. those who are content to smoke pipes and write reports relating to bent rusty nails.
On my regular evening perambulations I carry a trusty shillelagh in the off chance that I may have my passage blocked by one of these fiends (no doubt they would be divested of all clothing, rolling in a gutter-full of night-soil and wailing 'Sub-fossil insect remains!') so that I can deal the blackgaurds a righteous blow in the name of all that is pious.
Phytoliths my grunting backside! Bottom feeders is too good a descriptive phrase for them!
The loathsome netherworld of environmentalism was first uncloaked for me by a reputable colleague (they understandably wish to remain nameless for fear of retribution) who pointed my nose in the direction of a thesis by a certain 'environment archaeologist'  Eileen Reilly (but her facebook page lists her as a High Priestess of Mu.) The missive was, from what I can glean from the introductory paragraph, researched using only a microscope, a black candle, a pair of rubber gloves and a pack of dog-eared tarot cards! It was printed on cheap paper and entitled 'The Conundrum of Indus Valley Script Decoded Using the Boot-Scrapings of Tom Cruise.' Surely this stretches the boundaries of credulity!! I will admit to telling the odd pork pie in the name of inflating my already enormous public profile but I have never stooped so low as to involve Tom (Top Gun) Cruise A.K.A. the Giddy Goat Baphomet.
Elm decline? I'll give the b*****ds elm decline! D**n your eyes ye demonic muttonheads!
Using mephitic beetle samples and plant remains as votive offerings, covens of these palaeo-perverts assemble in remote locations on the feast of St. Walpurgis to discuss sampling strategies and invoke the names of Diatom, Vertebrate, Ostracod and Macroscope in order to push post-excavation budgets through the roof and bring about the last battle between Good and Evil on the Hill of Megiddo. The hour is nigh brethren (and cistern) the housebreakers of iniquity are attempting to ransack the parlour of chastity, let us nail shut the sash windows of fortitude and lower the blinds of Venice (or venetian blinds as they are more commonly known.)
So, in summation, boys and girls, to end, indeed to finish, I would just like to say, stick to the coins, pot sherds and spindle whorls and ye need not fear of being led into the Satanic temptation of being overly close with waste products. AND should a cloaked figure approach you and beg for a sniff of your bottom in the name of 'tephra analysis', tell them to shove their microscope where the soft focus button is unable to rotate.
With gracious apologies to Eileen Reilly
Until next week my vinegar flavoured amigos!

Tuesday 3 January 2012



Heigh Ho Brothers and Sisters of the tilted loam! - I beseech you listen unto my homily - surely it is agreed among all us sane minded archaeologists that it is the clothes which maketh the man - or indeed lady-man. I might venture to add that it is the very cloth on our backs which acts as the only bulwark against our nudity. Deprive us of our garments and what have we left? - Tasteless wrinkled flab and unstrategic clumps of dark curly hair.

I'm not sure where I'm headed with this homily but abide with me and one day, we may perhaps, walk proudly away from this heinous blog with only moderate scarring.

Which segues very neatly into my next point - The archaeologist should always dress himself (or himselfess) in clothing which says HERITAGE in large neon lettering - Failing that, one could opt for any of the following garments:
The half-timbered shirt simply oozes tudor charm. It's daub plastered panels add a bucolic foil to the Teutonic ordered cross-stitch of the timbers. Add to this the (1980's retro) rooftile shoulderpads and you are wearing a garment that will have estate agents simply begging to be your pimp! The only disadvantages are the need for planning permission to put it in the wash - and the vexatious woodworm in one's armpits.
Triumphal pants are perfect wear for that intimate weekend away in Rome or Paris. Imagine your beloved's glistening eyes as you stride bepanted into the boudoir (because striding is the only way you can walk in these things,) with a bottle of champagne in one hand and a chocolate-frosted ferret in the other. Splendid as they are, they can prove very uncomfortable when one awakes to find a victorious army attempting to march through one's thighs.
The barrel-vaulted bonnet has proved a thundering success among those archaeologists with a poor complexion. This architectural head closet gives you an inexplicable air of mystery as you swan around a book launch stuffing hors d'ouevres through the small aperture at the front, (if one is on a diet the aperture can be astutely sealed with a cork.) Flinty McBubble, the man credited with designing the barrel-vaulted bonnet is now serving a prison term for a later design known as the groin-vaulted bonnet - and were I to illustrate that indecent headgear I would soon be banged up ditto!

And now to end with a Charles Addams/Gary Larson styled cartoon for no reason other than it's Wednesday and 'I'm worth it.'
Until our string vests once again become entangled I bid you all adieu!


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I am a descended from a long line of conga dancers. I occasionally wear shoes. I gave up going to the toilet twenty years ago - it's a filthy habit. I have a pet bunny called Mucky - he's a filthy rabbit.