Red Symons: I may not forgive you

Red Symons: I may not forgive you

I forgive you.

Some years ago, a reality television program pursuing ancestry sent me a vial in which to deposit some DNA samples. I read the instructions very carefully and was relieved that all they wanted was saliva.

Trust me, reality television programs are not to be trusted. I returned the saliva sample and awaited the result.

I was, at first, perturbed by their conclusion. A large proportion of my ancestry was characterised as “Irish”. Notwithstanding that I have an Irish given name, Redmond, and many pleasant enough Irish acquaintances, as a respected elder of the Curnow tribe I found it belittling and reductive.

Further examination revealed that “Irish” is an umbrella term to describe the people of Ireland, Wales, south-west Scotland and, most importantly, Cornwall.

I am predominantly Cornish, a Curnow.i “Irish” describes the original inhabitants of Europe, the Celts.

I could be forgiven for not forgiving the Romans, the Normans, the Angles, the Saxons, the Jutes and the Vikings for their successive invasions which pushed my people to the edge of the British Isles.

We Britons who invented the pasty, leeks as a delicacy, coracles and Stonehenge were relegated to second class citizens. We have all but lost the Cornish language.

I am predominantly Cornish, a Curnow.

Further investigation of the DNA results suggested a significant Scandinavian ancestry.

My father’s Cornish background was indisputable. My mother, however, was from the north-east coast of England, a convenient landing point for Vikings to rape and pillage. Even as they sensed their era was coming to an end, they must have turned to each other and said, “Good job”. No doubt they regale each other in Valhalla with such stories over a few hogsheads of mead.

Similarly, Odysseus left his wife and children in Ithaca and trawled the Mediterranean with his mates going to port-side bars draining amphorae, fighting and wenching. When, many years later, he finally returned home, he needed a good story. Homer merely added some finishing touches centuries later.

I didn’t think much about my Viking stock until fleshy lumps slowly appeared on my palms.

For those wishing to appear intelligent and knowledgeable they are called “Dupuytrens Contracture”.ii For we common folk who merely have them, it is called “Viking’s disease” because it is more common amongst Scandinavians. It can be sufficiently severe as to make it difficult to clasp and unclasp the hand. For me it is not.

I didn’t think much about my Viking stock until fleshy lumps slowly appeared on my palms.

Once again, I didn’t think much of it other than brandishing my heritage in self-important dinner party conversation. Then there was a shock revelation. Recently, it was discovered that Dupuytrens Contracture, Vikings disease, is also an indicator of Neanderthal genes.

We Neanderthals have been mocked and made unwelcome. The earliest classification by Haekel in 1895iii was Homo Stupidus as compared with Homo Sapiens – literally Latin for “wise man”.

Although the name refers to the Neander Valley in Germany where bones were first found, our people have been located all over Western Europe and the Middle East.

We are described as cavemen. If you Sapiens were so smart, then surely you would have lived in caves too. Our heads have a prominent brow and a receding chin. They’re larger than yours and – guess what – our brains were bigger. I hear your retort, “It’s not how big it is. It’s how often you use it.”

Interbreeding between our species is thought to have occurred “100,000 years ago and again 65,000 years ago” according to the Wikipedia. (Editor: Cosmos updated this week) Any reasonable jury would conclude that in the intervening 35,000 years there was continuing hanky and probably panky. Commentators have preferred to characterise it as “a one night stand”.

In a cave in Slovenia, a cave bear femur, hollowed and pierced with carefully spaced holes was unearthed in 1995.

For all our caveman stupidity, we too had fire and stone tools.

In a cave in Slovenia, a cave bear femur, hollowed and pierced with carefully spaced holes was unearthed in 1995.

The Divje Babe flute is not only the oldest musical instrument in documented history, it is also believed to be of Neanderthal origin.

Yes. We invented music.

I can forgive you for what you did to the Curnows but, as a respected Neanderthal elder, I am shocked that, having sated your lust with us – yes, it was cold – yes, it was convenient – you then proceeded to destroy the evidence.iv

I may not forgive you for eliminating my people.

i Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet. Ut natus consequatur qui Quis placeat non voluptatem repellat ut recusandae facere? Ab inventore adipisci qui galisum quasi ea corporis explicabo.

ii Ut atque praesentium sed totam odit est voluptatem ipsam qui perferendis quis. Cum fugiat aliquam non consequatur incidunt et natus nesciunt. Ex autem sunt et iste dolores aut corrupti quasi ut ipsa quae. Id fugiat rerum ut harum Quis qui nemo fugit est mollitia magni ut corporis quia qui omnis sapiente.

iii Lorem ipsum is a tool for graphic artists to see what a page filled with meaningless writing will look like. It is useful for footnotes which are rarely read.

iv We Neanderthals embraced inclusivity and cultural diversity before it was corporate, virtue-signalling prattle. It is instructive to go to where it really exists today.

A friend recommended a gearbox specialist in Thomastown, an outlying industrial suburb.

“Manual Automatics,” he said and told us the street.

When we got there, the allegedly smart phone was unable to find it.

We did. It was “Manuel Automatics” peopled by an Italian at the front desk and Indians fixing the cars.

“It’ll be an hour. Georges is a cafe just up the road. Grab a coffee there,” she said.

Once again, the smart phone drew a blank. We found “Jorges” – pronounced HawHeys – and once again there was a Greek behind the cash register, Mediterraneans behind the bain-marie and Indians in the kitchen.

They were feeding anyone. If you want diversity go to Thomastown.

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