Thursday, September 21, 2006
The Women Of Dalkeith Are An Anthropologist's Delight, But We Should Be Wary Of Popular Science
I was disturbed, this morning, to open my newspaper and find an image of myself staring back. For a moment I assumed that my tireless work for the community had been recognised, and I was being ennobled. But then I remembered that I had never met Lord Levy, and have never been in a position to lend a political party several million pounds. Nor, I regret to say, have I ever been offered a "bung", though I suspect these are less common in the world of competitive amateur theatrics than they appear to be in Association Football.
It's true, my eyesight is not what it was, and I may soon be forced to pay a visit to the Penny Arcade for a pair of reading glasses. On closer inspection, the picture in the paper was not my reflection. It was an artist's impression of an ape-girl from three million years ago, whose skeleton has been uncovered in Ethiopia. The "ape girl" features on the cover of National Geographic magazine, and provides a useful corrective to the airbrushed models one finds on less thoughtful publications. Australopithecus afarensis is not bonny, but she has pluck.
But, still, I am cautious about the veracity of this remarkable story. A few months ago, the remains of a "Hobbit" were found, but these have now been discredited, both on scientific grounds, and on the basis that - whatever one may think about Mr Charles Darwin and the evolution of species - it is unlikely that it occurred in a manner which could be explained with precise reference to the popular cinema of the early 21st century.
In truth, now that I look more closely, the ape girl seems less remarkable. I have come across many such anthropological oddities without digging a hole in the barren sands of Ethiopia. Indeed, a bus through Dalkeith usually does the trick.