If you blog with WordPress, you receive little notifications from time to time, telling you when people “like” your posts, or if you have followers, sort of thing. They also have a virtual trophy cabinet, marking your significant achievements in WordPressery.

The Mortal Bath has been publishing for five years, I discover today. Five years! Hoopla. During which time I also changed career, helped make a child, managed to stay happy in the face of near-constant provocations from The Man and all his little wizards… as well as doing some writing.

Here is a selection of my favourite posts from the last five years:

2009: Fat Duck and Little Chef, an everyday tale of nostalgia and terrible food.

2010: Tiger Feature, Disneyesque Metro parody that also contrives to include reference to Wildlife Photographer of the Year controversy.

2011: Has to be the Iron Maiden Powerslave one, which remains my most viewed post, I like to think for the honest writing although I suspect it’s actually the enormous image of the album cover. I am rather fond also of That rumble in the chest.

2012, the year I wrote a lot of drafts that never saw the light of day: A bit of semi-fictional Dylan-nodding in stompingly yours, Lazy Henry. Or, writing about writing, and a game changer announcement, and a chance to turn the pages over.

2013: Consider her ways, concerning gender bias in kids’ products.

Well, happy browsing. All The Mortal Bath output is solid gold genius, of course.

Having said all THAT… in fact, there is actually only one thing that happens in my brain when I hear the words “five years” – FIVE YEARS!

So here it is: some vintage Derek.

“I suppose it’s another quotation from Derek Bowie is it?”

SO last millennium… being a publication of some selections from the author’s zine archives… a project explained in another Mortal Bath post right here.

One of the things that had an enduring influence on my brain in the late 1990s was a prog broadcast on Channel 4, Quest For The Lost Civilisation. You can watch it all on 4OD, in the UK, anyway. Well done Channel 4.

If you haven’t seen this, do have a peep. I’ve sort of kept up with Graham Hancock’s work, which is still usually interesting, and I continue to think there are some great ideas covered in the original QFTLC programme. However, rather than rehearse those for the millionth time, I present these fancies, aligned with the pub around 13 years ago, including two scenes from that great Lost Civilisation sitcom, Graham and Santha.

From Thingy episode #4, 1999:
[Many of you may be familiar with the work of Graham Hancock, whose recent book and corresponding TV series Heaven’s Mirror detail the interesting ways in which various global historical monuments might be aligned with different constellations, in about 10,500 BC. For example, the Great Pyramids in Egypt can be shown to align with the constellation of Orion. The suggestion is that a hitherto unknown civilisation knew loads about the stars and our place in the firmament and decided to leave great big clues all over the place to try and help the future students of architecture work it all out.

While we greatly enjoyed the theories put forward by Mr Hancock, we can only wonder what it must be like living with a guy who sees patterns of great significance everywhere. We take you now to the home of the Hancocks, where Graham’s partner, the photographer Santha Falia, has just popped a nice breakfast on the table:]

SANTHA: There’s your breakfast, dear.

GRAHAM: [To camera, earnest yet excited] Incredible as it may seem, these boiled eggs – and this piece of toast – can be linked with the teapot and the kettle, in my kitchen, five minutes ago. Time and again, orthodox science tries to tell us that this is merely… coincidence. Yet, surely, one must acknowledge the weight of such evidence. I believe that, prior to these eggs being placed on this table, the work of a greater, earlier hand was at work.

[Santha looks at the camera and rolls her eyes, pointing at her chest with a wry expression. The letterbox clatters.]

SANTHA: Oh, sounds like the post’s here, dear.

GRAHAM: [Framed in the doorway of the kitchen looking down the hall] It seems scarcely believable that these letters are arranged on the mat in the exact shape of Canis Major, at 08.15 this morning, one minute ago. Conventional history deems this… impossible. Yet time and time and time again, these figures re-appear. And if we examine this location to see if there is a connection between these letters and other artefacts, sure enough we find, here, the hall table. Arranged on top of the dresser, there are other, earlier letters. Yet… what does this signify? If we look here, in the garage…

SANTHA: Christ almighty.

[If you aren’t familiar with either the Heaven’s Mirror book or tv series, all this is absolutely fucking hilarious, incidentally.]


(aaaand from Thingy episode #7, 2001)

This was going to be a serious article about how amazing and non-fruitcake the work of Graham Hancock is, detailing some of the more mind-boggling facts and figures he’s brought to our attention about various archaeologically unique sites dotted about the world. How the Great Pyramid at Giza can be seen, for example, amongst other things, as a pretty much exact (1:43,000) scale representation, geometrically speaking, of the northern hemisphere – no, really! We also wanted to show how we think that his work reaches beyond run-of-the-Hamlet’s-mill conspiracy theorising and into an important message to us all of a need to contemplate our planetary heritage and the notions of transcendence communicated in diverse sites and cultures throughout the world conspiracy theorising. But no! Read his books, they make a lot more sense about the subject in a far more lucid manner, and besides, we’re ultimately more concerned with imagining what life might be like for Graham Hancock’s partner, the photographer Santha Falia, as Hancock sees patterns of great significance everywhere. Again.

Artist impression of potential pyramid configuration in the British Isles. We could have had pyramids; we got Buchanan Galleries and the St Enoch Centre.

This week: Graham and Santha are out for a meal.

[Scene: A table for two, candles. Waiters bustle about quietly in the background.]

GRAHAM: [Earnestly, yet relaxed, to camera] Many reasons have brought us here to the Chandigarh Tandoori on this most auspicious of dates. A vegetable bhuna, some naan; a chicken jalfrezi – and rice. But what ties these seemingly random dishes together? A straightforward, affordable menu? So the food guide would have us believe. But we are here… for the truth…

SANTHA: No dear, we’re here for a dinner because your mum said she’d look after the kids. Have some drink.

GRAHAM: [Lifting his bottle of Tiger beer] Here, a bottle of beer. In almost perfect alignment with this carafe of water, these glasses, and some – apparently carelessly placed! – cutlery. Images captured by my partner, the photographer Santha Falia, reveal them to be identical with other configurations on different tables throughout this restaurant…

SANTHA: Look, we were in eating, they were doing the new menu, I said I’d do the photos for a freebie. Now will you please…

GRAHAM: [Oblivious]… and yet, it is said, this is coincidence. Mere similarities of form…

SANTHA: It’s mise-en-place!

GRAHAM: Yet I believe that what we are witnessing is the gradual revelation of a grand design, the hand of parties as yet unmentioned in the history books. But why? Why take the trouble to replicate these patterns with such unerring accuracy, time and again? Why the painstaking attention to infinite details? Why the almost mathematical precision?

SANTHA: [Stern] Graham. Stop being preposterous. It’s always beautifully laid out. In fact, they’ve just been awarded their second star from the Good Food Guide. Rashid’s trying for a… oh… dear…

GRAHAM: [Off on one] The fabled third star. The offset point on Orion’s belt. Symbol of the mysterious Michelin movement. The truth of the hand behind this awe-inspiring configuration can surely point only at…

SANTHA: [Sighs] …Ramesh the waiter. Eat your poppadums, for the love of Osiris.

[Next week: Graham and Santha try to buy a car – with hilarious consequences!]