The Dark Man of Cheddar

Cimmerians. These people were descendants of the ancient Atlanteans, though they themselves were unaware of their descent, having evolved by their own efforts from the ape-men to which their ancient ancestors had sunk. They were a tall powerful race, averaging six feet in height. They were black haired, and grey or blue eyed. They were dolichocephalic, and dark skinned, though not so dark as either the Zingarans, Zamorians or Picts.
– Robert E. Howard, “Notes on Various Peoples,” The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, p348-349

Then when I was about twelve I spent a short time in New Orleans and found in a Canal Street library, a book detailing the pageant of British history, from prehistoric times up to – I believe – the Norman conquest. It was written for school-boys and told in an interesting and romantic style, probably with many historical inaccuracies. But there I first learned of the small dark people which first settled Britain, and they were referred to as Picts. I had always felt a strange interest in the term and the people, and now I felt a driving absorption regarding them.
– Robert E. Howard, letter to Harold Preece, 20th October 1928*

Prof Mark Thomas and Dr Yoan Diekmann at University College London analysed the sequences generated at the Natural History Museum to establish what Cheddar Man looked like. It was previously assumed that Europeans developed paler skin many thousands of years before Cheddar Man, so he was thought to have had reduced skin pigmentation and fair hair. The results however, indicate that whilst Cheddar Man had blue eyes, he also had dark coloured curly hair and ‘dark to black’ skin pigmentation. This means that the lighter pigmentation now considered to be a defining feature of northern Europe, is a far more recent phenomenon.
– The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man Press Pack 

The recent news about Cheddar Man will come as no surprise to people with an interest in anthropology, or even ancient history. Britons with dark skin & black, curly hair have been recorded since the Roman period, with early 20th Century folklorists such as Margaret Alice Murray, David MacRitchie, and G.F. Scott Elliot detailing stories of the early inhabitants of the British Isles.

What is perhaps more surprising is the reaction to that news.

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The Opposites of Traitors

The logic of scorpions extends to many a party.

Mind how I say the Opposition Party are not traitors? Neither are the UK Government party – if anything, they’re the opposite of traitors. They may talk about how proud they are to be Scots – and they do, at length. They may claim they put their constituents’ interests first and foremost – and they do make such claims. But they are members of a party which is dedicated to the perpetuation of their chosen state. Their state is the United Kingdom. They can never work with the cause of independence, for it represents nothing short of an existential threat to them. Keep this in mind, next time you see some pundit acting surprised that a member of the UK Government’s party voted with the UK Government, even if they are Scottish. “Scottish” doesn’t enter into it. Scotland doesn’t enter into it. It never did.

I’ve had a look through the maiden speeches of all 12 new MPs who, we were told, would vote as a bloc for “Scotland’s interests.

Scottish Tories expected to vote as bloc to protect Scotland’s interests
Sources say leader Ruth Davidson will tell MPs to champion Scotland in Westminster, adding to pressure on Theresa May

…Scottish Tory sources say Davidson will use her authority by asking all 13 MPs, including the Scottish secretary, David Mundell, to “champion the Scottish national interest” both at Westminster and inside the government.

That includes fighting for greater Scottish powers and spending on fisheries and agriculture during and after the Brexit negotiations, to reinforce Holyrood’s existing powers in both areas under devolution.
She is also expected to ask the UK government to fund the Borderlands initiative, a cross-border economic and infrastructure investment coalition of English and Scottish local authorities which UK ministers had promised to support. The Scottish Tories won all three Borders seats on Thursday.

See if you can square their honeyed words with what happened last night. I would simply love to know how they think they are representing the interests of their constituents by denying their Scottish Parliament the right to even have a fair say in the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

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The Point of No Return

Cartoon by Rob Murray

The “people” who exercise the power are not always the same people with those over whom it is exercised; and the “self-government” spoken of is not the government of each by himself, but of each by all the rest. The will of the people, moreover, practically means the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people; the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority; the people, consequently, may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this as against any other abuse of power.
– John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1869

I knew Leave was going to win the EU Referendum months before the vote – on the 7th of September 2015, as it happens.

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The Problem With “Meritocracy”

It’s a fraud.

Sure, the idea of meritocracy is sound: that the people most qualified to do the thing should be the ones who get to do the thing. In fact, it sounds like basic common sense. But when we’re dealing with people who are selfish, paranoid, and desperate to hold on to what they have over other people, it frequently becomes something else entirely. People like this are perfectly happy to cheat to get what they want: to buy high IQ scores, to plead their way into university, to rely on their famous relatives’ influence, all under the guise of “merit.”

Hence how Toby Young, a person who would be struck off the register if he was a classroom assistant, who won a place at Oxford as a result of a clerical error and his distinguished father’s intervention, who just happens to be a close friend to people in high places, was (briefly, thank heavens) appointed to a position of enormous influence over the education of millions of people.

Folk all across the political spectrum have thoroughly denounced the UK Cabinet’s appointment & subsequent defense of said appointment, proving this is not just another lefties vs righties bunfight, but a seriously bad judgement by a government practically making an Olympic event out of bad judgements. Many have, quite correctly, excoriated the inexcusable comments Young has made in regards to women, children, and minorities – but in the process, I can’t help but feel that something much darker and more terrible has been allowed to slip by unnoticed.

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Top of the Year, 2017

Thanks for all the well-wishes from everyone: I never like to jinx things, but I have been getting a bit better over the season.

So I don’t go all of December without a post, I thought it would be nice to have an end-of-year review of the Wilderness.

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Sick

Today is St. Andrew’s Day. This is how Google, the world’s most popular search engine, chose to mark the day.

This is how BBC Question Time chose to mark the day. “A nation of equals” with no representation of one of the “equals” on a UK-wide TV programme, on one of their national days. “Lead, not leave.” “We will never have been so popular.”

Except we’re not. We never were. We never will be. Not when the needs & wishes of England are more important – after all, there’s more of them, isn’t there? Needs of the Many, and all that. So Grimsby and Cornwall and the Fishers and Farmers and Wetherspoons and all the other places that voted or advocated leaving the European Union can demand exemptions, but Scotland, where every counting area voted to Remain, & multiple European figures asserted their enthusiasm for Scottish EU membership, gets nothing.

This is every single day in Scotland for independence supporters. The rest of the world looks on us as a de facto real county, if not de jure, inviting our elected representatives to speak at Arctic Circle conferences, UN talks, the European Parliament. Our own “public broadcaster” harangues us with the drip-drip-drip of mediocrity & inadequacy, about how other elected representatives call our government a failure at everything from broadband to bridges to schools to pensions, regardless of whether our government is even permitted the ability to affect those things in any real way.

I had a bit of a meltdown elsewhere on Social Media:

Several outright, brazen untruths in the past few days, unquestioningly repeated by media. Silence from other parties. SNP respond – react – on the defensive. They’re distracting us. Preparing. Something’s really scared them.

The pseudo-generosity – “£2billion for Scotland! VAT exemptions! All thanks to Scottish Tories!” – suggests groundwork being laid for 2 possibilities: – Snap Election 2 – Breaking Sewell Convention

If it’s Snap Election 2, clearly trying to present Scots Tories as “honest brokers” with UK Gov – when promoted by media & met with silence from other parties, easy to push a Big Lie like that.

If it’s breaking Sewell, then Scot Tories can just say “look, we got an extra £2billion & VAT exemption, you can trust us, right?” for everything from overruling Holyrood, to repatriating powers, to even more. Notice the rise in “abolish Holyrood” vox pops?

There are 3 Big Lies for each of the major UK parties’ Scottish branches: Scot Tories: “we can reason with the UK Gov, & Deliver for Scotland!” Scot Lab: “we can ensure a Corbyn Gov, For the Many!” Scot Libs: “we will do anything to stop Scotland leaving the EU!”

Tories do what their party (or a major subfaction within) tells them. Lab could never guarantee a Lab government even if they won every Scottish constituency. Libs reject even considering independence as a possibility to maintain EU membership.

I’m just so utterly tired of it all. I’m sick of their lies. & their cruelty & their hate. I’m sick of everyone falling for it. I’m just sick of this twisted, hateful mockery of a democracy.

I’ll be away for a while longer – not long, I hope, but enough to recharge. I’ve had a helluva time of it the last few months, & it’s likely to continue for a bit. A minor illness means I can’t grin & bear it anymore. So, a break from the siege.

I’ll be back.

Remember In Your Own Way

1 ‘Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention; otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven.
2 So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win human admiration. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward.
3 But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing;
4 your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
5 ‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward.
6 But when you pray, go to your private room, shut yourself in, and so pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
7 ‘In your prayers do not babble as the gentiles do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard.
8 Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

– The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6

Every 23rd of August, I commemorate the death of William Wallace. Sometimes it’s something public, be it a simple post on social media, or an article. Others, I simply take a moment to reflect, read a section of The Scottish Chiefs, or one of David Ross’s books. I have a broad enough sense of humour to laugh and make jokes about Wallace, but not on that day, and not about his death. I don’t expect all Scottish nationalists, independence supporters, republicans, or whatever mast of the ship with which you align, to do this; nor do I think it should be mandatory. Freedom includes the freedom not to observe or commemorate anniversaries: I’m only interested in how I mark the occasion.

Similarly, I do commemorate the deaths of all those who lost their lives in war – all deaths, be they soldiers or civilians, human or animal, in the immediate carnage of battle or in the aftermath of sarvation and disease and ruin. But I do not wear a poppy; I do not watch the Cenotaph processions; I do not listen to politicians and civic leaders and celebrities pontificate. I remember in my own way.

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