Non-pandemic news from Britain: wallabies, archeology, and poetry

Let’s take a break from the pandemic. An island in Loch Lomond is for sale, and it comes complete with woods, rocks, and a mob of wallabies.

Yes, the collective noun for wallabies does seem to be mob. Or possibly a troupe. Or a court. They were brought there by Lady Someoneorother–Arran: Lady Arran; I have a British passport now and I’m supposed to take this stuff seriously–in the 1920s (or ‘40s, depending on who you want to believe) from the family’s estate in southern England. Where, you may have guessed, they also weren’t a native species. 

The place is a steal at £500,000. Such a deal that you might want to buy two. The catch? The only building is a 1920s ruin and anyone living there is limited to sixty days a year. 

Buyer must like wallabies.

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Irrelevant photo. This, dear friends, is a flower.

Bristol’s science and culture center asked city residents what questions they really, really wanted answered. The plan is to pick seven questions and address them in an exhibition. They got more than 10,000 questions, including a predictable amount about “poo and wee,” but others that ranged from the nature of time and the universe to whether god lives “in heaven because he’s scared of what he’d created.”

The science and cultural center doesn’t wander through the world without capital letters. Its real name is We The Curious, although I’d have gone for a lower case T.

Just sayin’, guys, in case you want to reconsider. Or explore that in an exhibition.

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A four-year-old has gotten a book contract for his poems. I mention this in case you’d managed not to feel bad about your own writing career (assuming, of course, that you’re a writer). The particularly annoying thing about it is that they’re definitely a kid’s poems, but they aren’t easy to dismiss.

One that was quoted runs:

   Take our gloves off.

   Take our shoes off.

   Put them where they’re supposed to go.

   You take off your brave feelings

   Because there’s nothing

   To be scared of in the house.

His name is Nadim Shamma-Sourgen and he dictates his poetry to his mother. He’s still learning to read. 

How has he responded to the fuss being made over his poetry? 

“When my poems are in a book,” he said, “can I please have a copy?”

And what has he learned?

“Don’t put your finger up your nose on live telly.”

Would that all writers were so wise.

*

Okay, we can’t ignore the pandemic completely. Lockdown drove a lot of Britons to work in their gardens, and Britain having a long history of lost stuff, they’ve been finding things: A medieval silver coin. A medieval belt hook shaped like a snake. A rock with writing on it, probably from the fourth century. Roman pottery. 

It reinforces my belief that anywhere you put a shovel into British soil (except outside our house) you can find something of historical significance. 

All we find at our house is slate. And a couple of plastic toys left by the last owner’s kids.

*

An archeological find in a cave in Mexico may end up changing the theory of when humans first reached the Americas. The going theory is that they arrived 13,500 years ago. The new finds argue that they may have arrived 30,000 years ago. That would have been before the last ice age ended, when the area would’ve had a climate a bit like Oregon or British Columbia.

Now get out of the way, because the archeologists are going to argue about it. Probably for a long time. 

*

And one more pandemic story: Just after masks became compulsory in England, a man strolled down London’s Oxford Street wearing one. This is news because that’s all he was wearing, although it wasn’t covering his face.

If he was making a political point, no one cared what it was.

82 thoughts on “Non-pandemic news from Britain: wallabies, archeology, and poetry

  1. All I ever find when I dig over the garden is bits of a dinner service, presumably from the 20s or 30s and bits of glass, that I would think come from a similar time. What surprises me is that between us my dad and I have been digging over the garden for almost 60 years and I’m still finding bits of things that we didn’t put there. Since the house was built on the site of an orchard in 1906, I doubt there was ever a house here before and I’m never going to dig up anything even remotely medieval.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I heard about that cave. It doesn’t surprise me; the Koster site on the Illinois River goes back 9000 years. For something farther south 30,000 doesn’t seem that far off, but I wonder where they came from. I haven’t read any of the articles. Hoping for something in today’s paper. Stuff seems to be lying all over the place. Pot shards in the southwest; projectile points in any plowed ground and if there’s been a battle, there’s no telling–musket balls, belt buckles, you name it. Always fun to find. As for Nadim’s poems, the sample is pretty good. My own writing career, eh, I suppose there’s still time…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lady Arran was a Colquhoun (which you were already suspecting is pronounced as Colhoon) and I’m sure that, given your antecedents, you will be more or less pleased to know that the wallabies there are rednecks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallaby Hence the worry that they are a threat to the native grouse, which were previously threatened by humans with guns. Collectively they can be known as a mob, a court or a troupe, so let your mind wander where that might lead. Sounds like they may soon be ‘on the wallaby’, which is Australian slang for looking for work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of the three, I think I like “a court.” I’m not even going to try to explain that–and it probably doesn’t matter which one I like. I hate to think of them being on the wallaby, though. It doesn’t seem like something a wallaby should have to do.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. In the early 1990’s we were having a picnic on the hills south of Dunstable (as you do) when a wallaby hopped out of a nearby bush and stared at us. We stared back (as you do). The wallaby lost the contest and hopped off. Apparently they are feral around there…..

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ellen, your humor added to thoughts UK, keep me reading, as I’ve said before. I have two 3-year old grand kids, and I wonder if they could come up with a similar poem. I’ll ask their Moms to try it out. 🤣

    Yeah, lockdown in CA, now hair & nail salons are closed again. At least my stylist makes house calls. But, she’s only “allowed by the government” to do haircuts! What are the chances any of her clients will open their mouths that she colors hair, too. Never happen. If only my hair looked awesome gray like yours!

    Thoughts on writing—I’m into the book scenes about the Berlin Wall, communist rule in East Berlin & the daring escape of an American doctor held against his will in the border, Charité hospital. Not that it’s a relief from what’s going on in some of our US cities. God help us! 📚🎶 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is getting scary over there, and being outside your country when it’s in crisis is an odd thing–both comfortable and uncomfortable.

      I expect your hair would look better than you think if it went white, but I can’t imagine how people make the transition once they start dying it. My aunt tried to–she got allergic to the dye she’d been using for years–and dyed it lighter and lighter. It looked terrible–she didn’t have the complexion for champagne blond hair–and people did a double take, then had to tell her it looked great. So she left it like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Were the wallabies payback for those rabbits ? I had to look them up (I was picturing wombats) and Wiki. does say that there are “introduced populations” in the UK. It did not mention Lady Arran. I wouldn’t think the climate of Loch Lomond would be comfortable to them, but what do I know (other than the the song.)

    One local woman was making masks out of old bras. But from all reports she had on other clothes too.
    Our back yard (we’ve been here 46 years) still yields broken beer bottles from a former owner who hosted parties for the neighborhood high school kids.
    Considering how many grade school poems I’ve read that kiddo is pretty good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t thought of the wallaby/rabbit connection, but you have a point.

      Masks out of bras? Um, I think I’ll find another solution to the problem, but thanks. Maybe we could recommend the Oxford stroller to her.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. “Don’t put your finger up your nose on live telly.”

    This is the best piece of advice I’ve read in ages. I am a bit defeated by the idea of a child as young as this boy having a book deal, but then it’s a topsy turvy world so why not? At least someone is still publishing books…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That child lives in a very safe house…which is a good thing.
    I bet there are a lot of people who would have a thing or two to say about “there is nothing to be scared of in the house”

    I bet he has a parent in marketing…

    This is not a criticism of his poem, he is 4, writing a poem at all is impressive. However most 4 yr olds don’t have the drive to get published

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love all this useless information. So much better than the supposedly useful info we see on the TV. The young poet is amazing!! Why do I even bother to write?

    Like

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