Where there’s muck…

Kneeling in mud clutching archaeological trowel

…there’s some fool who enjoys playing in it.  And before you ask,  yes, we do have another pair of gloves just like those at home.

As I type this, the air outside is pulsing with the sound of helicopters.  The great and good (and rich) are being ferried back to their hotels from the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. There’s rejoicing here even though the British drivers didn’t win, because the Red Bull team that took first and second place is based in MILTON KEYNES.


(Thanks to Jeremy Cooper for permission to use the photo from Friday’s edition of the  Whitehall Villa blog – see below.)

Back in the mud again

Muddy gloves, boots and trowel

The annual Whitehall Roman Villa dig started today. It’s good to see old friends, meet new people and get muddy together as we unearth more evidence of what it was like to live in Northamptonshire under Roman rule.

Jeremy Cooper’s doing a blog on the dig website. This enables people who aren’t there to see what’s going on and those of us who are to find out what it is we’re actually doing. When you’re head down in a trench, it’s sometimes hard to tell.

Click here to find out more about the Open Day on Sunday 12 July.

Got the teeshirt…

Teeshirt with Living Library logo

Just back from a great afternoon at Milton Keynes’ Living Library.  The original idea behind the Living Library – as you’d guess from the shot above – was to give borrowers a chance to meet people about whom they might already have  fixed ideas. The local version expanded into the chance to meet all sorts of interesting folk – not only the ‘living books’ but the readers, who turned out to be a fascinating bunch.

I guess we all move in our own  restricted circles, and in mine I don’t think there’s anyone who can chat to customers across her supermarket till in six different languages, or who earns a living wage as an artist, or who is brave enough to speak publicly about overcoming depression.   Ever heard of Korfball? I hadn’t, but thanks to a conversation in the Green Room I now know it’s a sport that even I might have taken up at school, had it been on offer.

Several budding writers dropped by to chat about promising projects, and it was good to think through my own strategies for getting work done (none of which is entirely successful, to be honest). Some people came because they enjoy reading and wanted to meet a writer, and others because they thought the Living Library was a fine idea and wanted to support it.

Everyone involved in this venture was taking a risk of some kind – the staff that nobody would want to join in, the readers that their book would be disappointing, and the books themselves that they might disappoint their readers – or that nobody would want to talk to them in the first place. I guess the whole thing was an exercise in trust – and in discovering the extraordinary nature of seemingly ordinary people.

Not sure  if anybody’s told the Library staff, but as I left,  several of the books were beginning sentences with, ‘When we do this next year…’

So there’s a Jew and a Muslim and a Quaker, and they all go into a library…

No, really, they do. Or rather they will –  and they’ll be happy to talk to anyone who wants to borrow them.

Next Saturday (13 June) Milton Keynes Library will be loaning out people in thirty-minute slots as part of the worldwide Living Library movement. Living books are volunteers who combine a willingness to talk with something interesting to talk about.  People who’ve seen it in action elsewhere have been bowled over by how well it works.

The ground rules and the current books on offer can be found here.  Last time I looked there was a Firefighter on the list. So if you fancy meeting one without having to set light to something first, this could be your big chance.

No prizes for guessing who ‘writer’ is. If it’s not all too embarrassing, edited highlights will appear here afterwards. (If it is, there will just be a photo of the teeshirt.)