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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.