CHRONICLES PART II: One Week in the Life of Dr. Keith Crichton, an Alcoholic Archaeologist

CHRONICLES PART II: One Week in the Life of Dr. Keith Crichton, an Alcoholic Archaeologist

Make sure to check out the first part of Brett Mottram’s Chronicles before reading Part II, so that you don’t spoil the story for yourself!

Here follows the account of Keith Crichton, PhD., commencing from day 22/01/2021 of the Common Era of the Modern Terrestrial Calendar. Reproduced from Datum 262424957931683918849Bai67, recovered from hard drive 138403446666868046480846482222444483620.

Entry: 22/01/2021

T.G.I.F! Shame that there’s no dancing on tabletops and skinny-dipping after dark (still surprise myself that I like examples of modern music like that), but oh my, can we still have some fun?! Wow! Still reeling from the long-anticipated session with Helena! The fact that Max insists on having a regular time to hide away in his man-cave composing his crap music is almost enough to make this atheist devout. Perhaps I’ll see the light once we’re able to rendezvous in person again. Zoom is no substitute, even if it does let us still see and hear each other and leaves us both warm with the feeling of ‘sticky love inside’ afterwards (Kate, you utter goddess, you really knew how to write lyrics!). I wonder how many other people do what H and I do.

Must shower soon…

Rest of day prior to that is dull and mostly full of teaching preparation. No, that’s not quite right: got another rejection from a journal too. But then it all might be toss anyway, the article, the journal, the career… I’m due to get external reviewer feedback soon on that other submission, but it might be worth rethinking such aspects of my career at some point. I’m able to teach competently well enough, but the research commitments… God, what the hell am I going to explore next for those…?! Neither my mind nor my heart is in it.

Which throws the teaching side of my commitments into a clearer light. It’s quite shocking how much of the buzz of my current position comes from teaching in person, even without the trips to sites. I guess that’s why the recent renewed lockdown has hit me so hard. The brief reprieve of online and in-person teaching was like the torture inflicted on a starving dog by showing it a small bowl of food without letting it even have a single mouthful of it…

Speaking of which, I bought food today – went to the ‘Economy Emporium’ (naturally, my own coinage) and so stocked up on cheap fizz. Descriptions of what seems to have been the most boring inauguration ever are beginning to trickle through and make it all feel more like reality rather than some fucked-up, intoxicated dream. Two empty bottles rest exhausted in the sink and the content of the first glass of the third winks at me invitingly. Come ‘ere, you!

Entry: 23/01/2021

‘I must give over this life, and I will give it over.’ Yeah right – fucking Falstaff again! Being able to remember lines like that must be why they still teach Shakespeare (but do they, really? More research needed there). You wake up feeling as though a rat has carked it in your mouth after having gorged itself on cigarette butts, and by 10pm you’re back on the sauce which had lured the rat into your gob to begin with. At least it’s a different flavour of sauce this time though: gin and coke. Unusual combo — remember some odd looks from bartenders in clubs back in the day, but it’s all I’ve got left, so I’m drinking it. Couldn’t very well go to the same shop as yesterday again; I’d start to get funny looks. Shouldn’t care really, of course, but hey-ho, I’m a coward in the face of social pressure.

Other than that, I ate breakfast, which was exciting and might be becoming a new (and healthier) habit. It was only an instant noodle, but that’s still progress. Just need to try to have it before 3pm in future though. Must get back to Wednesday’s delayed New Year Resolution plan! It’s a New Year, so there should be a new and better Me..! I need to ‘Build Back Better’ (or whatever every politician keeps saying at the moment).

Entry: 24/01/2021

Catbiscuits and Rat hawkers! Fricative friers and foppery-filled fisters! Fuck!! I have to get back into the music. Seriously. Now! H’s husband apparently heard some of the noises she was making on Friday night, and got suspicious. Luckily, he bought her excuse that she was passionately singing and that our call was some kind of musical thing. But now he wants to bloody collaborate! I have to cook something up, even if it’s shit. Because if he even begins to cotton onto what we’re up to, I’m fucked, and not in a good way. In fact, all fucks will end. Oh, how the hell did he get to where he is? Just a kid, and technically my superior within the department! He’s skilled enough, but I’m sure more of it’s because his research is more fashionable now and draws the lusting eyes of funding bodies…

But all will be well. I just need to record something which H can try to sing along with (Aghhh-ha! O, BALLS!). I’m too old for these shenanigans, but we all need something to keep us feeling young…

Anyway, I have at least purchased an acoustic. If my playing’s not up to it, I’ve got the excuse that I’m rusty after all these years. Took an age choosing one, though – hours spent watching demos and assessing the sounds of different models, and then an equal number of hours trying to find the best deal for one. Still, it’s ordered, so it should be here by the end of next week. It is Sunday, after all – got to give these companies a chance.

Picture Pulled From Dr. Keith Crichton’s ‘Art Collection’ Folder, Reproduced From Datum 785672350091567Bai and Recovered From hard drive 138403446666868046480846482222444483621.

Rest of day dire. Didn’t even have any snotting breakfast because I was writing that introductory lecture, and badly preparing classes on the fundamentals of cuneiform script. Fucking ball-ache, that. Not even amusing in the way that a few of my old Latin classes used to be (‘Now onto demonstrative pronouns: hic, hunc, huius, huic, hoc, ho, ho, happy harems hop and honk horsehair like pigs: HUIC! HUIC! HUIC!’). Some of that stuff at least went in: I’m still saying ‘hic’ now, even if it is because of the knock-off bubbly…

Entry: 25/01/2021

Monday: the official start of another week. Looking over the above entries, the first (Wednesday) reminiscence is pretty shocking even if it was relevant to the diary theme. All true, though. And I doubt things have changed much, even if the sense of principle in Winnock’s remarks would be absent nowadays. Nah, who am kidding? The rebuke would probably be used as an example of some contemporary societal group rather than those poor Victorian kids. Hell, even Eton’s going down the drain by the looks of things, with that smug twat running the place now…

Am I getting old, is that it? Perusing the news suggests not: Biden claims to be committed to new unity, but the rest of his party still denies that the previous incumbent of his office got there fairly; and on the other side, Trump’s supporters contest the election results. And then Biden goes and spoils it all even more by systematically reversing Trump’s policies. Things over there will get worse before they get better… And some young people agree, even if it’s a minority. Like that chap I spoke with after that research seminar years back, in… I forget where it was. The benefits of being smokers and having a rare opportunity to be honest outside of the usual academic gathering… Was he called Brett? Yes: I’ve gone through some emails we exchanged afterwards. He sent a link to an article which I read at the time, but which doesn’t seem to work now (page not found, etc.). He’s probably doing well in whatever niche aspect of the Renaissance he said he planned to study, but I wouldn’t wonder if he’s thinking of abseiling down the ivory tower about now, and just running away from it all… Maybe I should do, too… try to teach, properly, in a principled and rigorous school somewhere on the other side of the world…

But will it happen? No. Because I’m a coward. And, more importantly for the purposes of this, my own weird personal, confessional enterprise, I need to admit (looking over what I’ve written above) that my sense of resolution is pretty fucking piss-poor. Another secondary-school teacher’s comments come back to me now: ‘perfect preparation prevents piss-poor performance’. God, I’m nostalgic even for that… But why…?

Still, my official work has still gone rather well since I began this diary. I’m coping. The issue is just that I’m still gulping and puffing. But am I gulping and puffing less? Maybe just, though I still feel the ill effects of it whispering to me warningly now and then… Need to work on the eating too. Can’t just order takeaway deliveries if I forget to buy proper food. Classes on cuneiform weren’t abysmal…

Entry: 26/01/2021

Jim got back to me. Having a wretched time as it turns out. His family are well, but he’s managed to get the virus. He’s gotten over it, but it’s scary when it hits someone you know. To date, I’ve only encountered two cases of it among people I personally knew. It obviously exists, but how serious is it, really? We’re not exactly wading through bodies in the streets. It’s not ‘bring out your dead!’ Other than that, he’s fine, which is a relief. I can still treasure the fond memories we’ve shared together in far-flung corners of the globe. God, I can’t wait to be able to have times like those again… Emails and the odd Zoom call with friends aren’t the same at all.

Also spent today preparing classes on site excavation – again, rather dull, but at least genuinely useful. How to analyse artefacts is – surprisingly – still exciting to me. Sutton Hoo, though it lies without my area of focus nowadays, still contains some objects which contest the current consensus regarding the religious beliefs of those who owned them. Interesting… Yet as ever, the problem really lies in making the class engaging…

Wine might help with that…

Entry: 27/01/2021

Guitar arrived today, far earlier than expected. Gorgeous thing – even holding one again made me feel a little fluttery inside (such a sentimental sod!). Tried to play a few half-remembered riffs, and though my fingers’ stamina needs to return, they do still have some residual recollection of where they should be positioned. I love muscle memory! Just need to decide on a track to maintain the bullshit fiction that H and I are collaborating musically…

Heard from Dora earlier as well. Yet another friend on the far side of the globe. I miss her. Turns out she’s been diagnosed with depression, which apparently, she’d had for a while. We always seemed so similar, same tastes and habits, etc… I wonder whether that’s what I have. There are certain times of the month when it all seems utterly futile to go on… While we’re at it, I have considered the drastic act more than once, but in those tear-streaked, dark nights of the soul the image of my parents (as near to dropping off the log as they are now…), what their life will become if I do it, that stops me. God knows, there’s enough suffering in the world already. No, I’ll soldier on.

But even so, depression… it’s just too easy to get a diagnosis for it nowadays, and if others can be helped by being diagnosed and treated, fine. But I always wonder about even that. I mean, what difference would it make if I knew, clinically, I had it? They’d probably send me to a therapist who would insist on rooting all of this in my childhood or inner psyche, and fuck knows what even I really understand about either of those, let alone a stranger relying only on what I told him/her/them!

And that reflection makes you question other sectors of the scientific community, too, even if psychologists are always going to be a borderline group within that. What with the news over the weekend about how the new strain of virus might be deadlier, you do wonder whether there is an overall plan behind locking everything down, even if you don’t believe specific conspiracy theories.

Excitingly, might have found a way of making the fundamentals of site analysis interesting to first years, but need to think about it further…

And they’re trying to impeach Trump even after he’s left office, just so that he can’t run again… They always hated him, yet I fear that something worse than hell will await them all if this goes through… I feel real pity for that country which was founded on hope and promise… The way of all flesh… Difficult to find anything even on YouTube which offers any real alternative points of view nowadays…

Time to sleep.

Status update of 02/05/08 of the Common Era of the Galactic Calendar:

Error: the requested datum cannot be located.

Status update of 03/05/08 of the Common Era of the Galactic Calendar:

Item possibly deleted from hard drive: 138403446666868046480846482222444483620 in 08/04/2026 of the Common Era of the Modern Terrestrial Calendar.

Illustrated by Andrea Miranda

About The Author

Brett Mottram

Brett is a freelance writer, researcher and teacher who is interested in everything and nothing else. In spare moments, he enjoys indulging in musical pursuits and experimenting in the kitchen.

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