Knickerbocker Glory, stale bread.

Welcome to the very last Archaeology Now, dug up from the archives, dusted off and popped on a glass shelf with a fancy label.  This blast from the past was part of a series of radio plays called Knickerbocker Glory, written specifically for steam radio, who specifically ignored it.  The last Archaeology Now features the featured archaeologist with the craggy features and sedimentary accent and his long suffering spade man, who this week are roaming far but not necessarily wide.

For anyone just tuning in, the rest of the series is to be found archived, if not fossilised,  by clicking on the Knickerbocker Glory category to the right and scrolling back through the months.


                                    Archaeology Now.

Quick burst of early English theme music, tambours and shawms.

Very Devon          ’Ello and welcome to Archaeology Now with me, Very
                  Devon and my assistant, Derek Here.  Today we ’ave
                  come to the very north of Scotland to excavate what
                  might be stone age barrows, or iron age spoil ’eaps or
                  mebbe, even, Pictish earthworks.  There’s ten of them 
                  ’ere on this bit of moorland.  Although we’ve ’ad
                  permission to dig them from the farmer ’oo owns the
                  land, we’re ’aving a little trouble establishing their recent
                  ’istory, or any ’istory at all.  Why is that, Derek?

Derek Here        It’s mainly because we can’t understand a word the
                  farmer says, Dev.

Very Devon         Well that is a problem, right enough. ’Ad any luck in the

Derek Here         There isn’t one.

Very Devon          So we’re relying ’eavily on the artefacts we’ve dug up.
                  What ’ave we dug up, Derek?

Derek Here         Nothing, Dev.

Very Devon          But you ’ave dug the first barrow to a depth of six feet 
                   or so.  What ’ave you found?

Derek Here          Soil and rock.

Very Devon           So, not very ’elpful there then.

Derek Here          No.

Very Devon          That is a shame because we thought that was the oldest
                   barrow.  I see you’re about to start on the newest 
                   looking one.

Derek Here         Shall I take the topsoil off now?

Very Devon          Yes, go on.  Oh look, what’s that?  Well that is a bit of
                   luck, listeners. Derek Here ’as found something straight
                   away.  What is it, Derek?

Derek Here          It’s a plastic bin liner full of rubbish.

Very Devon           Pass it ’ere.  Cor, what a pong! ’Ow old is that then?

Derek Here          Two weeks.  You can tell by the sell-by date on this
                   bread wrapper.  It’s all  bags of rubbish, look.

Very Devon            So it is.  ’Ere comes the farmer.  I wonder if ’ee can
                    enlighten us?

Derek Here           I doubt it.  There’s somebody with him, carrying a
                   huge bowl.

Very Devon           That i’nt a bowl, it’s that danged plastic coracle.  Well
                    I’ll go to the foot of our stairs, really I will, and dance 
                    the ’okey cokey. We go as far north as we can without
                    falling off the edge and ’ee turns up. ’Ow does ’ee do

Coracle Man         Hello!  Fancy seeing you.

Very Devon           What are you doing up ’ere?

Coracle Man           I’m on my holiday.  I’m staying with this farmer. 
                    When he said there were two archaeologists paying
                    him to dig up his rubbish tip, I thought it might be

Very Devon            Rubbish tip!  What do you mean, rubbish tip?

Farmer                    Och awa wi’ ye.  Dinna I telt the pair of yez?  I wadna
                    stap yez fer guid money, ye ken, but I still think yer
                    saft in the heid.

Very Devon            Any idea what he said, Derek?

Derek Here            Not a clue, Dev.

Coracle Man           I told you.  He thinks you’re both mad to want to dig
                     up his rubbish tip but he wouldn’t stop you as long as
                     you’re paying him.

Farmer                     Fond, the pair of yez. Wad you be after a wee dram,
                     jes noo, awa doon the hoose, or wad ye be stopping
                     oot wi the rubbish?

Very Devon             Pardon?

Coracle Man           He’s asking if you want to stay here with the rubbish
                     or come back to the farm for a drink.

Very Devon            I don’t think we need to think about that, do we

Derek Here             No, Dev, we’ll pack it in and have a drink.

Farmer                      A wee dram it is.

Very Devon              We’ll ’ave one of them an’ all.

Theme music.


It is merely fortuitous that two entries this week have concerned the joy that can be derived from the inability of denizens of one part of the British Isles to understand those from elsewhere.  Readers old enough to remember Fyfe Robertson, the roving reporter from the television programme ‘Tonight’, doubtless recall his extraordinary ability to dig up extreme eccentrics from all corners of the land, who were frequently in need of translation, though speaking English, to all intents and purposes.  Sadly the prevalence of mass media in every earhole has reduced us mostly to an homogenous mass with indistinct diction wrapped around well worn phrases.

Happily there are still  a few places where individuality flourishes.  The web manager, who dwelt for a decade in Dundee reports this glorious utterance to be heard in the fish and chip shops of that locale.

Twa plen bridies an a nig an in an ah.’

Which translates freely as:

Two plain bridies and an onion one, as well (and all.)

I recall from my youth in the North East of England, a report on a staff outing, posted on a bulletin board, that contained the magic words: ‘After, wadwates and gan yem.’

Or as we might write in posh places: After, we had our teas and went home.

Well done to them all and a deep fried Mars bar for pudding, thank you. relishing individuality.

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