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Horrible (Future) Histories: The Gory Tories

Right now in Britain we seem to have a myriad of political issues. The big one is, of course, the EU referendum. Much has been written/shouted/detailed in fancy graphics about whether or not we should stay or go and which option is completely definitely going to lead to World War Three (Hint: It’s probably neither). This blog post is not dealing with that referendum. Another big ongoing political scandal is the kerfuffle over the junior doctors’ strike, as human blancmange Jeremy Hunt tries eagerly to work out a deal that will cause hundreds of thousands of overworked doctors to work that little bit more for the good of, err, someone or other. This post is also not really about that.

Rather, this post is going to have a brief look at the proposed Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill that our government wants desperately to push through. In essence, what seems to have happened is that the government’s long-running, not-at-all-disruptive plans to build HS2 have been stalled slightly due to a lack of archaeologists to carry out the necessary surveying and/or excavation work to make sure that people can get to London about 10 minutes earlier without having to permanently destroy thousands of years of Britain’s past. The news broke that there was a shortage of archaeologists, which you know, could be due to the fact that they have low pay and very poor job security. Instead of thinking about all the possible policies that could be implemented to combat this by, for example, giving the sector a bit of extra funding (creating more jobs) or not trying to raise tuition fees yet again and discouraging people from getting qualifications to allow them to become archaeologists (did someone mention jobs?), our beloved Etonian overlords decided to try and push through some legislation that means they don’t need to bother with that troublesome business of protecting heritage or nature or any of the other nuisances that get in the way of hugely expensive propaganda projects.

When the news of a lack of archaeologists broke, some cynical and pessimistic corners of the sector claimed it’d only be a few years before the government tried to just stop archaeology happening at all. Turns out those pessimists were just a tad too optimistic, as it took a bit less time. 3 days. Hmm, really feels like the last resort. But clearly they’re in the right here, as no one cares about old stuff anyway! It’s not like one of the nation’s biggest tourist attractions is filled with archaeological objects. Nope, we’ve filled the British Museum now, we don’t need any more stuff. Or knowledge. Or jobs. Instead we’ll get HS2 slightly earlier, so that all of those out-of-work archaeologists and recent graduates can get to the hub of British commerce a bit quicker. Except for the bit where they have to pay to get on it, that’s less likely to happen.

I really did want to wait until the government responded to the 17,000 signature-strong petition against this bill before writing this, but as there’s no indication as of yet that they’re bothering with it, I thought I’d get cracking. I emplore you to point out to the Tories that some people quite like Britain’s exquisite heritage and don’t particularly want it destroyed without any consideration. The petition can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/130783.

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A Dabble in Academia, Apparently.

It’s been nine months since my last post on this blog. Since then babies have been conceived, born and named. It’s a long time, and really not conducive to a lively and well-maintained blog. But here I am again, returning once more to my lonely little blog, and really aiming to reacquaint myself with it.

You may ask why I’m now coming back. It’s a mix of reasons, mostly that it’s exam season, and I’ve got actual work to be doing, so naturally I’m ignoring it in favour of blog-based procrastination. Furthermore I have a legitimate reason (sort of) in that soon I’ll be embarking on a paid placement, one element of which will be blogging. To this end, I thought I should dust off and stretch my blogging arm. To ease myself back in, I’m only going to tackle a nice little round-up/looking ahead post about my recent, future and projected doings.

I’m soon to finish my second year of university, which is going far too quickly for my liking, but has forced me to consider other aspects of life, namely where I’m going to end up post-uni and how I’m going to stumble there. Firstly, I need to do well this year. That’d be a good start. And I know I need to, because for the very first time in my admittedly disorganised life I have a plan for the ‘future’. It’s probably ambitious, but I’m quite enjoying that fact. Many many people appear to go to university for a number of interesting reasons, whether it’s simply because it seems to be the case that one can’t get into a good career without a degree these days. Because of this people will go, and they’ll study something they’re familiar with, or they think will open doors. Maybe they’ll study English because it’s popular and well established but not too science. Perhaps they’ll plump for biology because it’s the most accessible of the hard sciences. Or Computer Science, because we live in the information age and there are well paid jobs available. Lots of reasons. And from what I’ve seen, this can lead to a distinctly miserable experience. People will plod along, doing what they have to in order to continue, all the while complaining how uninteresting or difficult their course is. Now, don’t think I’m opposed to the odd whinge; we Brits do love the occasional moan. However I do feel like, in the face of all this, I’ve rather lucked out.

For some reason, I picked to study archaeology at uni, with virtually no real experience of it at all, past ‘The Savage Stone Age’ Horrible Histories book I’d loved as a youngling. It’s a generally low paid sector, and not blessed with the immediate respect of teaching, the career opportunities of Computing, or the respect of Physics or Chemistry. Yet, I absolutely love it. I find it endlessly fascinating, and I think I’ve even found my favourite period to study.

Front (1)

Alas, poor Dmitri. I knew him well.

I’ve written essays and reports, taken tests and spent hours being utterly perplexed by the teeth and clavicles of a medieval skeleton my lab partner and I named Dmitri. I’ve aggressively breathed on flint, stroked pottery and crawled around the insides of a 5000-year-old burial monument. I’ve even dabbled in philosophy, and had my mind twisted by the thoughts of the more out-there scholars in the field. It’s been a weird couple of years.

Off the back of this unexpected enjoyment, I can’t face the idea of stopping studying it, so I’ve set myself the ambitious aim of getting onto a Masters course at a university even better than my own (which as it happens is really rather good). I’ve got one exam to smash, a paid placement that I can use to alter the working environment of the discipline, and I’m just starting along the path of my dissertation, a piece of research that is not only endlessly fascinating, not only centred around my own home, but is genuinely new research, with the possibility of contributing to the world’s collective knowledge about our own past.

I’ve got a lot to do, and although historically I’ve baulked at any amount of work presented to me, I’m excited to do it, and slightly scared at where it could take me. Now excuse me while I try and convince myself to actually do some if that work. I’ll be back here very soon.

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