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  • Grave Mistake by Phil 'Boz' Evans

    By Ceri Shaw, 2024-04-22

    Screenshot from 20240422 104412.png

    Tony Robinson looked nervously at the television camera. This was a first even for the ‘Time Team’ and its archaeologists. The deep scan of the Norman crypt at Morlais Castle in Merthyr Tydfil had revealed a hollow
    chamber behind the inner walls and the readings for metal possible gold and silver were going off the scale.

    Tony genuinely believed they had discovered a treasure hoard possibly confiscated from local Celtic chieftains in the 13th Century. He felt giddy at the prospect of being as famous as Howard Carter, who had discovered the
    unopened the burial chamber of King Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt in 1922.

    What treasure lay beyond these limestone walls that had remained hidden for 800 years?

    He wanted to be recognised and not just being remembered as that ‘Baldprick’ from Black Adder who was ridiculed and bullied by Rowan Atkinson.

    Tony scraped away at the remaining millimetres of limestone rock concealing the chamber and finally managed to pierce its inner layer enough to get a flashlight in the tiny aperture. He had been excited at the potential find and had in his childlike state put off using the toilet in all the fuss- he wanted to be the one to have the fame. Besides, there were no longer any public toilets in the Merthyr Town centre due to Council

    As he peered inside, he suddenly frightened the film crew who feared a booby trap for a grave robber, as he came face to face with a figure of a Norman soldier completely dressed in armour. The shock made Tony piss himself uncontrollably, as the result of a mixture of fear and anxiety.

    There was another more welcoming emotion too- relief -as like Magnus Magnusson on Mastermind he had started so he may has well finish.

    “ Oi Slackbladder...do you mind ?...You’re pissing on my suede shoes!” said the hatted figure of Time Team regular Mick Aston.

    The warm of the yellow liquid on a cold grey day in a Valleys cave was welcome, but pleasure quickly became misery as he had ruined his expensive corduroy trousers. The cameraman panned down at the front of them to compound Tony’s misery. Ever the professional Tony said to the screen “ Be careful if you go into limestone caves as there is a lot of water around that can splash your clothes indiscriminately- drips from stalactites go down and stalagmites go up!” he said trying to bluff his way out of the embarrassment.

    “ Oh and be careful of incontinent television presenters too ....always give them room to go into a dig ...in case they shit on you!” said Mick taking the mick.

    Tony looked at his sidekick with a stare that could kill. He concentrated on the task in hand. He continued to gouge at the circle of wet rock in a circular fashion with a small hand drill until he had enough of a gap to get his head in.

    When he had done so, he placed the torch in his mouth and shone it around with a jaw movement . If he hadn’t had to hold the light source in his teeth he would have been open mouthed. “ Is the crypt untouched.....the Norman seal intact?” asked Mick impatiently.

    Tony withdrew his head and pass the flashlight to Mick.

    “ See for yourself!” he said almost whispering.

    Mick peered through the hole like an amateur gynaecologist and his jaw dropped. He could see row after row of Norman soldiers clad in full battle regalia like they originally wore in the 1066 Normandy invasion.

    “ We have found the limestone equivalent of the Terracotta Army!” said Mick leaping on Tony in his joy forgetting momentarily that Tony had pissed himself earlier.

    “ This is a living Bayeaux Tapestry....its priceless!” said Mick punching the air.

    “ I have dreamt of finding something of this magnitude and historical importance all my life -even when I was a homeless student archaeologist....looking for ‘digs’!” said the one time stand in for Worzel Gummidge.

    The overpowering smell of urine reached his nostrils, as he too realised he now smelt like he had trench foot.

    Tony & Mick began hacking at the remaining wall to allow full bodily access all the while watching out for ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ style booby traps for intended grave robbers.

    Mick half expected a giant ball to come rolling out of the darkness or for a crossbow to hit him King Harold style in the eye.

    There was however, a warning written in French on a plaque above the head of the first soldier which the pair took to be William of Normandy.

    They guessed this was the case as the towering figure was well over six feet tall and had a massive Eric Cantona- style nose .

    “I assume that is William the CONKeror!” laughed Tony slipping back into character.

    “ Can you read that sign in French?”

    “ Of CORSE I CANNES!” quipped back Aston purtting on a phoney French accent and talking quickly.

    “ It is a warning that if the seal of this burial chamber is broken the nearby Hamlet will suffer 200 years of decline, depression , famine and flood!” replied Mick.

    “ Bit late for Merthyr either that or someone beat us to it!” laughed Tony his voice echoing around a chamber not opened for over half a Millenia.

    Tony checked to be sure there were no trip wires in front of him before approaching the Norman Warlord.

    “Look at that armour...imagine the weight of carrying that into battle every day!” he said looking up and realising he only came up to the nipple line of the historical figure.

    “ I wouldn’t have lasted long against someone his size!”

    Mick too was in an orgiastic state seeing such historical splendour laid out in row after row stretching back into the darkness almost as if the army was ready to march on the command from their leader.

    “ We are Sooo privileged to be the ones to find this lot!” he said.

    The eerie silence was broken as a whooshing sound was heard as a projectile hit the wall near the newly created entrance in the limestone rock. The normally bluey-white rock was suddenly covered in an explosion of orange.

    “ Don’t move or Baldprick gets it!” shouted a Welsh voice from the Darkness.

    Mick Aston suddenly realised the projectile hadn’t come from the crossbow of a Medieval army but a more modern source of a paintball gun.

    “ These figures and any gold and silver in their pouches belong to us!” said another voice.
    “ Who are you?” asked Tony.

    “ We are the guardians of this chamber and these soldiers are our ancestors- we are the Normans from Bramble Close in the Gurnos and you are standing in our family grave.!” said the first voice obviously the leader.

    “ We are from Time Team from the television...perhaps you have seen us on the Discovery Channel?” replied Tony.

    “ No!” was the straight reply.

    “ We found them in the same way we ‘found’ those frozen cod steaks when someone broke into the Merthyr Tydfil Iceland store....we call it ‘Findus Keepers’ or you might recognise it as ‘Treasure Trove’ a rule established prior to the coming of us Normans in 1066 under Edward the Confessor.” said the musclebound Gurnos Warrior.

    “ You on the other hand are trespassers!” boomed the voice filled with the sound of aggression.

    “ Do you know what we do in Merthyr to grave robbers?” asked the leader, all 6 ft 8 inches of him enjoying terrorising the minor celebrity.

    “ No?” gulped Tony.

    “ We eat them!” said the Big Boss.....” Bones and all!”

    Baldrick’s incontinence flared up again and he promptly shit himself.

    A small trickle of a brown rivulet rolled down from his Don Estelle-style shorts into his socks...turning khaki into kak.

    “ I wouldn’t eat him now if I were you !” argued Mick.

    Mick had heard of some tribes in Papua New Guinea being headshrinkers and cannibals, but didn’t think it still went on at home in England & Wales.

    “ Do you know what we call you English in these parts?” asked the Leader licking his lips.

    “ Long Pig!” said the Norman.

    “ Do you know why?”

    “ We taste....like.... bacon?” stuttered Tony.

    “ Correct....like HG Wells Time Machine we are the Morlocks and you the Eloi...!” said the voice.

    “ Is that camera on...filming live to the Nation?” asked the Morlock Leader sharpening a barbecue spit knife.

    “ Yes...!” lied the spluttering Tony...hoping it might be his Saviour. 

    He knew Merthyr from reports in the Sun newspaper was renowned for having the laziest, un-fittest, workshy bunch of scumbags this side of the Great North/South Divide and had a lower life expectancy than Sierra Leone but cannibalism?

    He bumped into the first soldier in the ranks and it fell backwards in a domino effect knocking down row after row of priceless historical limestone figures shattering and cracking them as they toppled one by one.

    Tony’s heart was pounding and his blood pressure through the roof- if the Normans would eat him for entering their sanctuary what would they do to him in light of this sacrilege? He suddenly noticed another man stepping out of the shadows who had a familiar rubber face.

    “ Rowan....is that you?” asked Tony clutching his chest.

    The man responsible for Johnny English , Mr Bean and Blackadder bent over with laugh. He was joined by the fake Normans.

    “ No... this isn’t Team Team or Not the 9 O’Clock News ...we are filming but a new edition of Candid

    Camera as the BBC has run out of ideas....!” laughed Rowan .

    “ Smile for the camera...it’s called Rowan’s laugh in!”

    “ You bastard Atkinson....I nearly went the way of Mel Smith then...!” said Tony picking up his slurry filled pants that were hanging low like an MC Hammer video.

    Looking at the grey limestone colour on Tony’s face , Rowan realised how close he had been to sending another member of the cast of Blackadder to that great Comedy Forum in the sky.

    “ I think we both nearly made a grave mistake.!” said Atkinson.

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