I guess I can find some residual respect for all the accumulated effort and knowledge. Much less so for people who buy Lotto tickets and then have a few hours fantasising about what they'll do with their millions until the draw inevitably dashes their hopes. Each week, on average, someone wins the Lotto: but to the nearest whole number it will never be you. Ah what harm? you may say, it's only €4, twice a week. For my latte-buying readers, that's only a cup of coffee. For the dispossessed - who are demographically much more likely to Lotto up - €8 a week is €400 a year which is a lot of potatoes and/or school dinners for the kids. That math applied to me during my time-rich, cash-poor 2012. In the recession that year I was down to one day a week working. In 2011, we'd often knock off a couple of bottle of cheap plonk a week [it's only a glass with dinner each night] but in belt-tightening 2012 that was a month's pay-check. I stopped drinking and never really got back into the habit. Only recently has it been explained that giving up the gargle has almost certainly improved my sleep.
I'm reading The Black Sea by Neil Acherson [LRB review], which I looted from my mother's house when I was visiting in September. I started it there and brought it away to finish later, in the same week as I started back at work, so have only gotten back into it now. It's a deep history of the region, informed by Acherson's travels through post-Soviet Russia in the 1990s: very erudite - it's a racing certainty that Acherson doesn't read the racing post. But horses feature very strongly: mainly carrying Cossacks, Tatars, Scythians and Sarmatians about the broad steppes of south-central Asia. Horses also appear in many of the archaelogical digs which are the richest sourcce of information about these much travelled and unlettered people.
Acherson makes an attempt to tease apart the difference between looters and archaeologists which essentially comes down to the difference between
- me, and people like me, who believe there is value in scraping at pot-sherds with a tooth-brush to discover something new about the human journey
- people like the Man of the Racing Post and the lads sweeping the ground with a metal detector who believe that somewhere out there is a pot of gold which would remain hidden without that they set out on the weekend with the tools of their trade.