26 june 2018
All original writing
2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 Ian McLauchlin
Exeter Corn Exchange again and Alice Roberts was giving a talk entitled "Tamed -
The place was just about full and a projection screen sat centre stage, generating comfortable feelings of anticipation. Next to us we overheard a woman divulging to her friend that the next time she meets a so-
She'll be wearing the usual trousers won't she. A consummate grab-
Wolves inveigled their way into human settlements using the cunning of . . . a wolf. Then developed a symbiotic relationship whereby we benefited by the wolves protecting us and helping with the hunting, while they gained some protection too and also some sustenance by feeding off our left-
A bit of movement doesn't come amiss, and as if on cue, Alice moved from one side of the screen to the other. A number of times. But that was thirsty work and she paused for a sip of water. And hot work. She discarded her fur poncho while assuring us that it was faux fur and purchased in a Garden Centre in Almondsbury. Phew, that's a relief.
So how did hunter-
"Trade you six fox furs for this small bit of something strange, eh?" What could it be? It tasted good and the deal was done. It was bread. How do you make that? Take these grains, pound them into submission, and bake the result. Thinks -
Columbus sailed west expecting to hit Asia. He hit America instead and we've never recovered, but we do now have potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and cocoa.
Cows started out HUGE. They were big. But they became smaller as you walked away from them. And while you were harvesting their meat you found some milk among it. And you could drink it. Hey, why not keep them for their milk? They could pull things, like pints of milk, and ploughs and carts. Pretty useful are cows.
Some ancient pottery found in the far east had holes in it. What possible use could there be for a jar with holes in it? Then someone scraped the inner surface, analysed the scrapings, and found signs of milk. If I say 'curds and whey' there's the clue. They were making cheese that long ago, thereby paving the whey for successful portrait photography.
How about an interval during which you can go to the loo. stretch your legs, queue to buy a drink, buy a drink, go to the loo and almost fail to get back to your seat in time?
The archeological lobster. Yes, on the seabed of the Solent, a lobster was doing an archeological dig with the by-
A lot of information can be found by analysing mud. But you can't get a research grant for a project entitled simply "Digging up mud and poking around in it -
I wonder if they collected any mud from the lobster's dig? "My husband's an archeologist and never throws anything away. The house is full of the 'may-
Horses were kept for their (read ‘our’) meat. They were worth their weight in steaks. How did our relationship develop? Imagine that one day some brave and imaginative soul thought it'd be worth trying to get on the back of a wild horse. It snorted bucked and reared but he hung on, grasping the mane tightly. Slowly the horse settled down, He (bound to be a ‘he’) stroked it's neck, whispered in its ear and ever so slowly loosened the rope round its nose and head. The horse was off. He clung onto its mane tightly. It galloped into the distance, miles from the settlement. After a while it tired and came trotting to a halt, sweating like a . . . horse. He pulled its mane a bit to the left. The horse looked left and trotted on. A bit more. It turned again and after he dug his heels in it moved forward then picked up speed. Soon he was back at the settlement. It reared up and he fell off, hard onto his back. He was winded but elated. And his hands were full of dark wiry horse-
The horse became central to our culture. It would take us places, it would pull ploughs and carts but it was also used in war, thereby negating some of its civilising influence. It provided work for blacksmiths, saddlers, sofa stuffers, racetracks and betting shops. It could be bartered for kingdoms and would deliver milk and beer.
But all wonderful things come to an end and unfortunately this talk did. After applause and some questions there was the customary book-
"My sister had a friend called Alice and she was strange too."
"Are those your real legs?"
"At what point did you decide to become a superstar?"
It was time to make our way home and Alice agreed, in a Bristolean/Irish brogue and no trousers.