Well today is National Pickle Day and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate it than by turning the blog over to the big pickle from Bournemouth, John Howland. Enjoy…
A Traditional Remedy
One of my friends is a poultry farmer in Cornwall where he rears free-range turkeys and chickens, though he keeps a dozen prize geese for special customers and occasions. He’s also a very keen treasure hunter with access to lots of land thanks to many of his farmer pals, and by return, allows them to shoot game and foxes on his land.
Some weeks ago apparently, one of his prize geese escaped. He managed to track it down to a neighbour’s garden where it laid an egg, and that’s where and when the trouble began. The neighbour was man who liked to be known in the community as an ‘archaeologist’ and in an effort to earn greater communal respect went to great lengths to portray himself as educated,erudite, but had the unfortunate trait of treating everyone he met with utter disdain. He also ran a blog slagging-off treasure hunters, collectors, the US, Israel, and various heritage organisations, though ironically was himself a clandestine collector.
To cut a long story short, my friend made contact with the arkie, who for brevity and the purposes of this story, I’ll refer to as ‘Paul.’
“I’ve come to collect my goose,” says my pal.
“Well, hurry up about it. I haven’t got all day” he snapped, “And by the way it has laid an egg, which I’m going to have for breakfast.”
“Sorry, but that egg belongs to me,” says my friend.
“No! It laid the egg on my property and I’m going to keep it, that’s the law.”
And so the argument raged for several minutes. Finally my pal says to ‘Paul’, “We’ll settle this once and for all in the traditional Cornish way.”
“What’s that?” says ‘Paul’
“It’s a contest of stamina,” says my pal, “Whoever gives in first, loses. OK?”
“Oh, very well, if you must, anything to keep you quiet,” says Paul, “What do we do then?”
“We stand three feet apart facing one another and take turns to kick each other in the balls,” says my pal, “And as it’s my goose, and as tradition demands, I get to go first.”
With that, my friend proceeds to kick ‘Paul’ in the balls. “Oooh, F-f-f-f…f-f-f-f,” screams ‘Paul’ as he slowly sinks to his knees, eyes watering profusely, clutching his groin then rolling on the grass in agony. After five or six minutes, ‘Paul’ staggers to his feet clutching a severely bruised pair of plums. “Right. My turn,” he says.
“Nah, it’s all right mate,” says my pal, “You can keep the egg.”
Ich bin ein Schatzsucher
“…there were no “experts” back then,[‘70’s and 80’s] just a few “regular” guys who liked share a beer, metal detect and have fun.” So writes Dick Stout. Hmmm! But I must take issue with him on this one; yes, there were ‘experts’ back then – and he was one of them and will long be remembered for his ground-breaking ‘Washington Update’ column in Western & Eastern Treasures. He’s right too about the 70’sand 80’s. They were indeed great times spawning names and personalities that would morph into treasure hunting lore and legend; ‘Hardrock’ Hendricks, Karl Von Mueller, Jimmy ‘Sierra’ Normandi, Charles Garrett, and Ty Brook, to name but a few.
Since those halcyon days of thirty-five years ago, our hobby has undergone an amount of self-inflicted dilution. The expressions ‘treasure hunting’ and ‘treasure hunter’ for example, have since become No-No’s; unacceptable terms in polite archaeological society. Nowadays, we are all ‘amateur archaeologists,’ or ‘detectorists’ or worst of all perhaps, that most cringe-worthy and sickening label, ‘Responsible Detectorist.’ Yuk!
The greater part of this utter tosh materialized so as to ease the pastime’s passage into the ersatz approbation of archaeology’s top-brass who, by the ‘90’s had the NCMD’s balls firmly in their hands and were gently squeezing. The hobby’s hard-core defenders had long been back-stabbed so as not to compromise the conspiratorial New Way…that of…appeasement.
Unlike thirty-five years ago, the hobby survives today, not because of representative, or Governing Bodies, but in spite of them. Even back in those days they (the CBA among others) were trying to sweet-talk the NCMD of which I was then General Secretary (and a Founding Member) to adopt changes to the Code of Conduct. The part of the Code that really got up archaeology’s collective nose came out at a subsequent meeting with the CBA.
Our Code of Conduct included a statement (among others) that it was a perfectly simple task to remove an artefact from the ground with a trowel. “We’d like that changed,” said one of the more pompous CBA delegates. He got two words from me; the second one was, “Off.”
In their minds, the phrase, “a perfectly simple task to remove an artefact from the ground,” devalued, or lessened archaeology’s mystique; they couldn’t have mere mortals saying such things…oh, no! Hoiking stuff out of the ground was a specialist task! Little seems to have changed in some quarters down the years; the acid nowadays is thrown not at treasure hunters so much, but at the hugely successful Portable Antiquities Scheme Database (PASD). The odd-ball and often narcissistic antagonists are riven by spite and envy that their long-term enemies – metal detecting hobbyists – have at last found official recognition and funded by government.
Last word must go to Dr Katherine Robbins, who in August 2014, wrote: “With over 90% of artefacts attributed to metal detectorists, it is the process of metal detecting and the relationship between metal detectorists and archaeologists that has principally affected the development of the PASD.”
“Don’t think for a second that reticence to debate with fools is a sign of acquiescence”….Wayne Sales
I’ll see y’all in the bar!