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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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.

The Pit and the Pendulum

The irony is that Stranger Things (which also takes place in a little town in Indiana) is set before Eerie Indiana, but Eerie Indiana was made before Stranger Things. Only a matter of time before the 90s Kids have their day, mark my words…

I’d like to share a post-Hallowe’en Horror story with you. It’s a scrying, a divination, of one possible future. I don’t want it to happen. It needn’t. We can stop it. But for the purposes of a thought experiment, let’s gaze into Galadriel’s mirror at what a future happens when we let it. I’ve embellished it with some science fiction, horror, and fantastical elements.

Dare you ponder that which is story, and that which is real?

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Making a Mockery of Tragedy

I wasn’t going to comment on a recent piece in an anti-independence newspaper which once again chooses to inflate a stushie into a stramash, ably deconstructed here. But I do have to comment on this:

“That march showed that elements of the Yes movement are no better than the White Supremacists who ascended upon Charlottesville or the yobs within the Scottish Defence League.”

At the same time as this, we had the former chief of Project Fear and the billionaire author & professional litigator both promoting an identical “Brexiters are copying the Yes Campaign” agenda to newspapers you normally wouldn’t associate with left-wing, socialist sympathies. This would be tasteless any time, let alone the anniversary of the 2014 independence referendum which still hurts every independence supporter to the bone. But to do it when the Spanish Government – the same Spanish Government who they so eagerly acclaimed as another reasonable voice against “separation,” & who then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron actively collaborated with to thwart Scottish Independence – is actively suppressing the Catalonian’s right of self-determination in a manner more reminiscent of mid-20th Century Spain?

Aye, it’s terrible when friends fall out.

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A Few Thoughts On What In Blazes Is Going On

In fierce anguish & quenchless flames
To the desarts and rocks He ran raging
To hide, but He could not: combining
He dug mountains & hills in vast strength,
He piled them in incessant labour,
In howlings & pangs & fierce madness
Long periods in burning fires labouring
Till hoary, and age-broke, and aged,
In despair and the shadows of death.
– William Blake, depicting post-Brexit Britain (probably) in The Book of Urizen

You know what? Forget my worries about being a Cassandra. I’m just going to call it like I see it. World’s mad enough as it is.

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