Saturday, 31 December 2011

Clearing out the Garage - the Archaeological Report

I'm pleased to release the official archaeological report from the excavation of the Beaker Garage. We had just three days to clear out the garage, prior to hoping to get a couple of cars parked in it in the New Year.

The initial excavation revealed the sort of things you expect on the top layer of a garage - empty cardboard boxes from various electrical devices, old car tyres, a couple of bikes someone was hoping to get round to fixing, and an old fridge-freezer that has been "on its way to the dump" for several years.

Just below the carrier bags that underlay this stratum, we found Burton's old Harley Davidson. He bought it during his second, "difficult", mid-life crisis, rode it once, was terrified and put it at the back of the garage to avoid temptation. He was so pleased he went off to ride it round the grounds.

As we dug down we found evidence of a tea light-using community, as evidenced by thousands of half-burnt tea lights and old matches. We suspect that they may have had a particular fondness for Mother Julian of Norwich, to judge by the number of hazelnuts they had piled up - certainly they weren't eating them. They also used a variety of sandstone, limestone and mud-stone pebbles in worship, leaving us to believe that these people may have been the origin of the traditional Beaker saga, "When Hnaef had a holiday in Dorset". A copy of "The Hymns of Sydney Carter" could be found in this layer with burn marks and a meat skewer driven into it, leading us to think it may have been ceremonially sacrificed.

Under an unexpected layer of Betamax videos - suggesting we were dealing with a community that habitually made the wrong choices - we uncovered a civilisation so incredibly old that they still thought that Filofaxes were a pretty neat idea. However the Filofax evidence was mixed up with some broken Go-Go Hamsters and a collection of Pokemon cards, leading us to think that what we were looking at was a previous, failed attempt to get the garage cleared. The evidence being so badly contaminated - we found a Spectrum 48K, a hula-hoop and a Rubik's Cube in the same layer at one point - we had to progress carefully using small trowels and brushes. The skull of Piltdown Man we found in this layer was almost certainly a fake, and there's certainly no way he would ever have used the Philips Radiogram.

So we are pleased that the evidence has been fully analysed. We have discovered that the garage has been in use continuously for anything up to 50 years, by a series of peoples who combined being incredibly profligate with the goods they used, with never wanting to thrown anything away just in case it came in handy. In deference to their sacred memory, we've loaded the lot up in a series of skips and sent it for landfill.

Meanwhile, we're very excited about the chance to use the garage for parking cars in, which we're pretty sure was their original purpose. And we're going to be parking those cars in the garage, just as soon as Hnaef has removed all the boxes, expanded polystyrene and old wrapping paper that he's parked in there "for a week or so, so I can get the front room clear after Christmas". And once Bernie has removed the old cooker that he's just cleared out to be replaced with his new exciting Beaker peat stove. And when we've worked out whether we can fix Burton's Harley, which he's just ridden into a tree. Thankfully, being Burton, he was only doing about 4mph at the time.

In fact, from where I'm standing, the garage looks just as bad as it did before we started. Maybe next year.

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