Friday, October 10, 2014

Sill-yness....Written in Lead

In some ways I am a very sentimental fellow.  For instance, I love the Hadrian's Wall country of Northumberland.  I love the solitary beauty.  I love excavating at Vindolanda.  I love the home away from home conviviality of the Twice Brewed Inn.  I have been going "up North" each spring for seven straight years now, and it delights me each time I show up and find it unchanged.

Which brings me to the bad news of the day.

For a while now there has been an ill conceived plan to plop an 11 million pound visitor center/inn/cafe/bar smack in the middle of peaceful little Twice Brewed.  Consultants have consulted. Architects have drawn.  PR flacks have, well, I suppose flacked.  Local opinions have been ignored. Here is what it will look like:

It resembles a glass aircraft carrier run aground 50 miles from the sea.  Although designed to exploit the popularity of Hadrian's wall walking this artists conception does not even show the Wall.  It also does not show the Twice Brewed Inn which should be in the left hand side of the view.

Who knows, it might succeed and be a good thing.  But most hair brained schemes launched without local support end up thrashing around just long enough to destroy the existing business community before going "tits up" as my UK pals would say.  I foresee a glittering relic ten years from now.

Well the darned thing has gotten planning approval now so if they can weasel up the money it will happen.  The road to Vindolanda will be blocked for long stretches of time.  It will siphon off money from my favorite pub.  It will be an offense to look at, a twinkling shard of glass sticking out of a grievous wound.

But what to do....

I have an idea.  Back in Roman times if you felt you had been wronged economically you usually wrote up a "curse tablet".  These were thin sheets of lead, etched with your message then left in a sacred place or tossed into a body of water.  Of the 500 some known from the Empire as a whole, about half have been found in Britain.

Usually they had to do with pilfered goods.  The format was along the lines of:

So and so beseeches the gods that the thief of my goods (and if you wanna go nasty, you name them) be cursed.  Often the curse is spelled out in detail. One of my favorites asks that the thief not be able to urinate or move their bowels until the property is returned! (Somewhat off topic, there is a notion that Tolkien came up with the idea of a cursed ring from his work translating a curse tablet!)

Lacking other options perhaps we can't do any better than cooking up a nice modern day Curse Tablet.  How about:

Oremus igitur, ut Genium, ut malediceret Septentrionalibus peccato. Ut suo sumptu esse naturalia. May rara avis nidum suum in fronte machina. Ut rutrum a prima moventur super terram, ut possit revelare Monument Accedant, non turbarentur.

This is probably a low grade translation from Google, but that's ok, most of the Curse Tablets were written in rather dodgy Latin.  My sentiments in English:

We ask the Genius of the northern lands to curse the Sill.  May its funding be constipated.  May rare birds nest in front of their machinery.  May the first shovel of earth they move reveal a Scheduled Monument that cannot be disturbed.

It should not be difficult to whip up an inscribed version on a thin sheet of lead.  Then one simply has to fold it up and nail it to a wall in a sacred place.  And I know right where it belongs....


mooseandhobbes said...

Good plan, but as the use of lead is now frowned upon, perhaps you electronic curse will suffice.

May I suggest a couple of tweaks/additions? Rare birds are good, but a sudden influx of Great Crested Newts could kill the project stone dead. Perhaps we should ask for a plague of newts?

Tacitus2 said...

M and H
I would be rather surprised if the pipes at the Twicey did not contain a little lead here and there. For all we know it is built on Roman foundations.

Newts, huh? But I do like the phrase rara avia...


Harry said...

They may also discover that this is one of the rare breeding grounds of the red squirrel. I could round some up, ship them to Brian, and have him plant them!

Tacitus2 said...

Oh Harry,

I can just imagine the response from the Sage of Liverpool...

"Brian, we are sending you a bunch of squirrels from the States."

"Oh, so just like every spring then?"