Monday 21 February 2011
Charles Nevin: Must we regard our ancestors as cannibals?
Start the week: Do you ever think we're a touch tough on ourselves as a species?
Happy Monday. Do you ever think we're a touch tough on ourselves as a species? Unthinking bullies, selfish despoilers, that sort of thing? Our ancestors get an especially hard time. Give an archaeologist a bone, and it's human sacrifice before you can say cannibal. This hollowed-out skull found at Cheddar, too, I see, is right in the frame as a vessel for drinking the blood of fellow members of the then Big Society. But couldn't there be a slightly more benign explanation? A flower bowl, for example, or a useful receptacle for those little bits without a proper home in the cave, or a souvenir from Stonehenge? Exactly.
Men, apparently, are unimaginative when paying compliments to their partners. A quarter of them are said to involve "nice", a word difficult to imagine appearing in concert with "We'll always have Paris", "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars", or "An hundred years should go to praise thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze". I would counsel sparing use, and never with "that's", "dear", "is it new?", "nearly as good as" and "my mother's".
You will have noticed that there are some things impossible to take seriously. The sausage, for example. So much so that a prosecution involving a house party guest being hit in the face by a flying one has been judged beneath the dignity of a Crown Court. In Essex, another undeserving fun object. Come on: we're all in the BS together now. This week, can we try, please, to be, yes, nicer, and not snigger at bananas, pigs, pouffes, UKIP, custard, bow ties, crumpets, poodles, 4x4s, plug-in air fresheners, hats, urgent government direction of travel manoeuvres, or jelly?
Excellent news about President Obama's visit. I trust he will find time to return to his roots, which are, of course, firmly fixed in Lancashire. Indeed: his great (times 11) grandmother was one of five sisters sent to America from Sutton, now part of St Helens, to find a husband after the Civil War here (they were firmly of the Royalist persuasion, Ma'am). Mr and Mrs Platt, who live in the old family home, have assured me it would be fine for the Obamas to pop in. Interestingly, too, the President is known to be very fond of that local delicacy, the pie. This week is National Chip Week, by the way. Happy Monday.
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