Welcome to my blog. I am not a very regular blogger, but I try to keep this site updated with news and information. If there's none of the above I may just share my random ruminations.

Sunday, September 13, 2020


 the Media Senses that there is a Human Interest Story behind the Headlines about the new Archaeological Discovery.

Jane Smith is the first of the two principals to be grilled by a woman interviewer. 

“Do you mind this?” The interviewer lays down her recording device, and only switches it on when Jane shakes her head.  “Now … I see from my notes that you were born in Essex?”

“Yes.  But the family moved into Suffolk when my father got his promotion to bank manager.”

“Branch manager.…”  Jane does not fill the interviewer’s pause.  “After Oxford, your sister followed in his footsteps. But you left school at fifteen?”  

“I’m not brainy. Rachel inherited Dad’s love of maths, figures and statistics, but she went into the City not High Street banking.”

“Still, you did well in what amounted to your first job at Lew Chapman Roofing Solutions.”  

“I began there as a trainee” 

“But by the time you left you were the boss’s PA and Events Manager. Why did you leave?”   

Jane looks down into her lap and twists her hands together. She hopes there’s no outward sign of the shudder that zips icily down her spine. “I had gone as far as I could within the business.”  

“So you set up from scratch as An Events and Conference Planner. That was a bold move?” 

“I … I had some money. I didn’t want to be at the … at the beck and call of anyone else ever again. Fresh start. Sink or swim.” 

“You wanted to be your own boss?  The conference you organized at Lancaster College was a big deal for someone just starting out on a new venture.”

“It wasn’t the first job I’d undertaken. There were a few smaller events earlier in the year.  And I did have experience of doing the same sort of thing with…..   But yes, I’d never before planned anything on that scale, involving a stay-over of several days, accommodation, multiple meals.  But there's a dedicated hospitality department at the college who I worked with, and they were very professional.” 

“Until they tried to change your arrangements?”

“Partly my own fault.  I’d not paid close enough attention to the small print, and didn’t realise there was a degree of leeway in the contract…..   They changed the room we’d agreed to use for registration”

“That couldn’t have gone down well. I’ve heard it said, you’re a perfectionist.” 

“I’m not very … um … flexible. Some might say driven. I have to get thing right!” 

“Hence the melt-down?” 

Jane looks up wide-eyed. “Who told you … Theo?”

“No. Not Dr Tyler.  Although, after you met by chance in the pub near the college, wasn’t it Dr Tyler who tried to resolve your problem? I understand a …  “free-range” sandwich? … was involved.” 

“Oh that!”  Jane smiles broadly for the first time in the interview.  “Both problems were resolved. The sandwich immediately, in fact he ate it.  And later on the glitch over my use of the Geffrye Room which ultimately was as a result of Theo’s … Dr Tyler’s intervention.”

“And despite the differences between the two of you, you became friends?”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Just that your backgrounds are very dissimilar.”  

“We found we had interests in common. He’s a medievalist and an archaeologist and I’ve always been interested in the subject...”

Dr Tyler was not your only friend with “Archaeology” in his CV.  You went out with a Dr Adam Wiseman….?”

“Oh, him.” Jane says dismissively.  “I met him at a book fair I organized. He’s a writer. We did go out a couple of times but I suspect he was always more interested in the hoard unearthed by my mother’s uncle, during the war, than he was in me.”

 “That’s the Maidenhill hoard, isn’t it?” Jane nods.  "I’ve heard about it. Hasn’t there been a recent discovery relating to the original find?”.

 Jane blushes, recalling the circumstances of that discovery.  “Yes.  I think there has.”

The interviewer looks at her intently for a moment and then turns her attention to the notes on her tablet.  

So … what you’re saying is that you and Dr Tyler became friends through shared interests.  Wasn’t there more to it than that?  After all, your first meeting was not a success?” 

“Where are you getting all this?  All right, if you must know I initially thought he was pompous, pedantic, high-handed and patronizing. And old!” 

“Oh, come on!” The interviewer seems suddenly almost defensive.   "He is not old!”  

“I know.  I didn’t get a good look at him the very first time we crossed paths.  I only saw his white hair.  Anyway, I’m sure you would agree, first impressions are not a reliable guide to future relationships.”

“Relationships?” Again, the interviewer gives her that intent, questioning look. 

“People are complicated,” Jane goes on, uncomfortably. “You should never jump too soon to hard and fast conclusions.  You’re allowed to change your mind.”

“Indeed,” she nods.  “Your change of mind inspired you to help him track down the vital evidence he needed to halt the proposed development at Beacon’s Hill.”

“Luckily it was easy. If the individuals concerned had moved house or died, it could have proved a lot more difficult, if not impossible.”  

“And he in his turn helped you?”

“In many many more ways than one……………..!” 

Theo Tyler is the next to be interviewed. 

“Doctor Theo Tyler?  How do you do.” The interviewer sits down and puts her recording device on the table between them.  “I see from your web page you describe yourself as a historian and a desk archaeologist. What do you mean by that?”

 “You can be historian without being an archaeologist, but you can’t be an archaeologist without being a historian.  My life isn’t spent excavating.  My archaeology is mainly theoretical. By interpreting landscape, place names and documentary evidence where it exists, a lot can be inferred about past events and where settlements might have been established.” 

“So, what in your background drew you to this area of study?"

He smiles slightly “Most boys are interested in the Vikings, aren’t they? A boyhood fascination developed into a more general attraction to the period from the fourth to the twelfth century. 

“The Dark ages?” 

“A rather reductive term. It doesn’t mean the peoples of these islands were mindless primitives. Those centuries are only so-called because the documentary and material evidence from the period between the Romans’ departure and the arrival of the Normans is far more limited than before or after. I prefer Early Medieval as a descriptor.” 

“You’re upbringing was unusual.  The debutante and the punk rocker…?” She smiles and arches her eyebrows at him. 

“I have no wish to talk about my family. “

“But life was hard after your father died,” she pursues. “Your mother didn’t cope well….? 

“It certainly wasn’t easy. My mother is … was…..” Theo clears his throat. “Needless to say, we survived the trauma and the press intrusion.  It took her awhile to come to terms with his death, but as I said, it’s not a time of my life I want to revisit.”

The interviewer clears her throat, “Fair enough. Um … you went to a red brick university for your under-graduate years? You could have attended Oxford or Cambridge, but you chose not to?” 

“My rebellious phase.” 

“And that was when you began a relationship with Aniela Sobieralska? I’ve heard it said it was fiery?”

“Not at the start. It grew into a tempestuous association. But she’s moved on. I hope she’s happy now.” Theo lifts his hand and circles his finger-tips at his hairline, above his temple. ‘”I hope her husband has given her what I couldn’t, or wouldn’t.” 

“To get back to your rebellious phase. You’re teaching here now. Do you repudiate your youthful idealism ….?””

“Not at all. I’m just older…”

“And wiser?”

“I’m more pragmatic. I have less energy to expend on trying to overthrow the class system.”  

“And yet you’re…?”

“Just a temporary university lecturer at Lancaster College, filling in for a permanent member of staff who is engaged in a research project.” 

“You’re hopeful of tenure here?”

“One day.  Here … or somewhere else.”

“How did you react to Jane Smith, when you first met her in the Spring of 2016?” 

Jane?”  Theo pauses, his mouth quirks up at the corner. “It was a very brief encounter. There was no time to respond.”

“Your first impression then?” 

Theo covers his mouth as if to disguise his expression, but then nods.  “I was a bit put out, to be completely honest. It was a surprise.  She and her associate were established in the room I usually use in the college.  The colours she was wearing were very … gaudy.  And she was…...” He shakes his head as if he’s decided against pursuing the subject.  


“It doesn’t matter.  Whatever I thought of her was unexpressed and I had no expectation of ever meeting her again.”

“So how did that come about?”

“A few months later we met in the pub over the road from Lancaster. It was a pure fluke that we were both there at the same time.  But if it hadn’t been for her free-range sandwich……….” 

“Can you explain that?”

“She misspoke.” He shakes his head and now there is a definite smile hovering around his mouth. “Jane was there filling in time before an appointment. We got talking, slightly unwillingly on her part. But I’d remembered she had been engaged by the NITP to organize a September conference at Lancaster College. As I was thinking about holding a conference myself, I thought her expertise might be useful to me. I decided to put aside any preconceptions and raise the subject.”

“And did she help?”  

“She gave me an overview of what I needed to take into consideration. But to be honest the subject rather went onto the back burner after she told me what her appointment was about.”

“Which was?” 

“She was obviously upset. She’d come in to talk to Lancaster’s conference manager about an imposed change to her arrangements with the college. Strangely her problem intersected with one of mine.  It raised my suspicions of an improper relationship between the hierarchy of the college, a developer, and the planning department of Beacon’s Hill council … for whom I’m the archaeological consultant.”

“That sounds complicated.”  

Theo nods.  “You could say that. Had it not been for that coincidence and the subsequent discovery that she had a strange story to tell about her own family connection to a wartime find of a Viking hoard … well, none of it would have happened….” 


Anne L Harvey said...

Fabulous blog, Gilli, especially as I've read Buried Treasure (which as you know I loved!). I do think you're really clever to think of interviewing both the main characters. Extremely well done!

Gilli Allan said...

Thank you Anne. I'm very pleased you found it convincing. Gillix