P&J Column 29.12.16

Why do archaeologists need a million quid? Well, their careers are in ruins.

View from the midden; Rural affairs with Jock Alexander

It’s been an excavatory wik in the village.  You may hiv missed the news, amidst the fug of third-day’s turkey softies and ‘Call the Midwife’ that, efter digging up Rhynie, the University o’ Aiberdeen has bin awarded a grant of a million quid tae fund archeological digs at the seething metropolis of Burghead. The history boffins suspect that in the 5th Century, it was the seat of a “lost kingdom’ of North-West Europe.  And michty, if yer longboat blew far eneuch aff course to land up in Burghead, I fair say ye’d hiv tae consider yerself lost.  Though nae sae lost as if you’d ended up in Lost.   Or indeed here in Meikle Wartle.

Noo we in the village hiv taen a great interest in this story. Niver let it be said that we stood idly by fan some ither village got ideas above it’s station. Especially fan there’s a chunce at a hefty grant. Oh aye, we hiv history oozing fae the soil here, ye ken. Quite literally in some places. And we dinna think Burghead his a leg tae stand on fan claiming they used tae be the hame of Pictish Kings.  I mean, fit dae they hiv tae prove it? Nithin but a pucklie slabs wi bulls carved on them. Weel, we hiv real live bulls.  A lang historical record? We can trace oor ancestry back far beyond the memory of Hector Fndlay, the auldest mannie in the village. Fit is jist as weel, as Hector canna mind fit he hid for his breakfast.

OK, Burghead may hiv the remains of a pictish hill fort, but my coo-shed is at least as auld and in far better nick. I ken this thanks tae the graffiti on the wall, far someb’dy has helpfully carved the words “Come on ye Picts- Scottich cup winners, 413 AD”.  If that disnae guarantee a muckle great development grant, I dinna ken fit will.

Feel Moira is determined tae prove fit wye we should get the money, and has pit her shovel-like hands tae good use, digging up her tattie field in search of proof that in Pictish times, Royalty bade here in Meikle Wartle, and that by royal charter, the toonsfolk were kent as ‘Burgers of the village of Kings’.  She swears blind she eence saw een fit she claims is a “lost Pictish crown” oot there, one frosty winter morn, glittering in the magical misty moonlight, jist aboot visible upon it, parts of the barely discernible inscription ‘Burger…. King’.

Jist as soon as this priceless artefact has been unearthed, we shall demand that Meikle Wartle is, once again, recognized as the very centre of Europe, which is affa handy fan the UK is wintin oot o’it! Cheerio!

Shelley Shingles, Showbiz Correspondent and Miss Feteresso 1983

 2016 has been an affa year to be a showbiz correspondent!  Usually, somebody doing my job spends their life in a little black dress, glass of bubbles in hand, dictating red carpet tittle-tattle doon the line from one party after another.  This year, I’ve spent most of my time holed up in the office, swilling back Nescafe and battering out one obituary after another, with the LBD only getting an airing at funerals.  This is the year when “being a celebrity” overtook uranium mining as the most dangerous job on the planet.  And there’s been no easing off in the final week of the year, with Carrie Fisher and George Michael both being taen from us.  Even if neither of them has had their troubles to seek over the years, it was still a real shocker.  My brother and me shared a room growing up and on one side it was all posters of Princess Leia in a tin bikini and on the other side posters of George and Andrew and their blindingly-white gnashers in their Wham! days.  So the festive fizz seemed pretty flat when we caught up over a glass of bubbles yesterday.  “Oh Leia!” he said, “2016’s done to you what even Darth Vader and the Death Star couldn’t manage!”

May the force be with them, and with you all, now and always.  And mind – if you’re even a teeny bit famous – until the very last second of Hogmanay, look after yersel, take your vitamins and be on the look out for stray fireworks, open manhole covers and falling objects!