Ye gods and little fishes! School holidays again? Listen, people, you can hear the faint hum of rising panic in the streets as parents realise that more holidays are coming at them like an express train.
And the weather is going to be bad. What to do? What to do? Well, there’s always the museum, where you can unleash your inner Viking!
For some reason Vikings! have gained an exclamation mark, which, given the way they were usually announced, seems apt.
Let’s be honest, no-one ever casually opened the door of an isolated castle keep, glanced seaward, and said: “Hullo, here come the Vikings. Crack open the custard creams and the Earl Grey”.
I’m guessing it was usually along the lines of screaming: “Vikings! Bury everything valuable! Especially the custard creams – you know what Eric the Left Handed Skull Splitter is like with a sugar rush.”
Now, this is handy for us, since, as any archaeologist will tell you, hoards of stuff are historical gold. In fact, sometimes they are gold. You get hoards everywhere from Yorkshire to the Highlands.
It generally occurred when people were in a hurry to hide stuff and then, probably in other Viking-related incidents, didn’t actually manage to get back to dig said stuff up. People have always buried valuables when the going got tough.
When the Great Fire of London tore through the city in 1666, an event that modern management speak would undoubtedly describe as an excellent opportunity to re-invigorate and redevelop the financial district, Sam Pepys was positively gibbering with fear – but took the time to bury the family treasure in the back garden.
As well as his Parmesan cheese.
Tip to any would-be hoard-buriers out there. Cheese is not a good thing to bury to pass down to the ages.
From land of milk and Irn-Bru
I was ruminating on hoards just the other day, when I was forced to go into my son’s bedroom.
There were no glasses in the kitchen. I know we tend to go through glassware faster than a Viking lads’ night out – they could be terribly clumsy, Henrik and the lads – but I was sure we had glasses to drink from, proper ones, not just those blue plastic ones that bounce and have Alton Towers Rocks! on the side.
Now, teen boys like to collect things. My son collects all the glasses in the house. It was, I must admit, an impressive collection, displayed artfully along the shelving unit beside the games console. I briefly considered just leaving them there. After all, what would future archaeologists make of a collection of sticky glassware from the early 21st century, bearing traces of milk and Irn-Bru?
Blonde moment that meant everything
HE was in his mid-60s, and he was deep in unfamiliar country – the hair care section of a major chemist. He had the harried look of a SOE radio operator signalling from occupied France. His mobile phone was clapped to his ear.
He was picking up one box of hair colour after another. He was reading them out to Control, on the other end.
It sounded like code words for a dangerous mission. “Honey blonde. Ash. Semi-permanent. Highlights. Even Tone. Nice and Easy.” Control spoke. He picked a box up. He said: “This is nice.” I thought, taking your life in your hands there, laddie.
Expressing opinions about hair colour is way above your pay scale. “It’s really nice,” he repeated. “It’s the same colour your hair was in the wedding photies. I loved that. You looked gorgeous.” I nearly burst into tears. It was light honey blonde. Whoever you are, I bet you look fabulous.
Putting my foot in it when I enter son’s bedroom
In an act of complete folly, I broached the bedroom wearing only socks. Who in their right mind puts an unshod foot down in a teen boy’s bedroom?
The Lego got me almost at once. The Danes are marvellous people, but I can’t escape the feeling that they invented Lego when they got tired of a-roving at sea and going berserk. With
brilliant Nordic thinking they came up with the nearest thing to a domestic landmine ever seen.
Why bother leaping ashore from a raiding longboat screaming bloodcurdling battle cries, when you can stay at home and create something that will cause generations of parents to holler and yelp in children’s bedrooms throughout the civilised world?
Who amongst us has not hopped in the dark beside a sleeping child, stifling that naughty word that you just know if it slipped out – even though your precious little darling is apparently and finally fast asleep – would seep through into that untarnished brain and be used with devastating effect the next time granny is within earshot?
They may have laid off the raiding and running amok, but keep your eyes on the Danes. Too clever by half.