Tag Archives: ugg and ogga

The Girl with a Flint Earring

65,000-year-old cave paintings discovered in Spain prove that Neanderthals had a fondness for creating art, making them possibly the first artists on Earth…

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Ogga (image by me)

Ogga’s flowers were dying.

Ugg had given them to her for her birthday in a heart-melting and frankly startling gesture of affection. She had placed them in a small earth pot, watered them everyday, and stared into them and into nothingness whenever he was out hunting, their beauty soothing her uneasiness until his safe return.

Now they were wilting, as if weighed down by the burden. Soon they would be gone, and Ogga knew not when she might get more, since there were no calendars and she had no idea when her birthday would next arrive.

She stared at the flowers for a long while, surprised at the tears filling her eyes. Then she picked up a pot filled with a thick, gloopy liquid, the result of an unsuccessful attempt at inventing gravy to soften the taste of roast stoat. She looked around for something soft to dip into it, found the tail of, well, a stoat, and began to paint an image of the flowers onto the cave wall.

Hours passed like seconds. When she had finished she stood back and looked at the picture, holding the stoat brush vertically in front of one eye, because that is what artists do. She frowned at the dull monochrome of her creation, then spread some of her liquid onto a piece of slate and, by adding crushed herbs, chalk and animal blood to various areas she created a palette of coiours. The flowers on the wall came to life under her flitting brush as their leaves gleamed green, their stamens flecked with white, their petals flamed red.

Ugg arrived home, dragging two rabbits, a deer, and a stoat. He sniffed the air, stared at the wall, then spoke warily.

Ugg (image also from me)

“Uh oh,” he said. “What have I done wrong?”

Ogga frowned. “Why would you think you’ve done anything wrong? ” she asked.

“Well firstly, I don’t smell any dinner,” said Ugg, “and secondly you seem to have hurled my flowers so hard at the wall that they’ve stuck there.”

Ogga laughed and pointed to the bowl beside her. “No, look, they’re still here,” she said. “I just put a picture of them on the wall too.”

“I see,” said Ugg, who didn’t. “Will they wash off?”

“I don’t want them to wash off,” said Ogga. “I want them to stay there. They make the place look pretty.”

Ugg shrugged, a imperceptible gesture since he had no neck to speak of. “If it makes you happy,” he said.

Over the next few weeks the cave’s walls filled with Ogga’s art – a picture of fruit, some lilies in a pond, a night-skyscape that was merely an oblong of woad with specks of pigeon-poo dotted about it. She moved then into portraiture, painting a picture of Ugg that secretly unnerved him, since it’s eyes followed him around the cave and he felt as if he was haunting himself.

He was more unnerved by her next suggestion, that she get Abbs the village hunk to pose naked for her, and his expression, a monalisa stony stare with added eyebrow, persuaded her to drop the idea.

Ogga’s art soon attracted notice, and Ugg got used to coming home to find villagers moving slowly around the cave, pausing before one painting after another and nodding gravely. Others then started to take up the practice, and to move it in different directions. Some painted animals, usually dead ones, since live ones would not keep in pose. Some painted historical scenes, though since history was quite short back then they tended to have titles like Aargh Stubbing His Toe On A Rock, Last Week. Others went for imagination, painting non-existent fantasies such as Round Thing That Makes Pushing Something Easier and Small Piece Of Clothing To Wear Under Your Fur To Keep Your Arse Warm.

Others tried to portray inner turmoil, producing daubs of darkness with titles like Loneliness, Fear of Spiders in a Supposedly Alpha Male, and Mixed Feelings on your Mother-in-Law Being Mauled by a Mammoth.

Ugg tried to join in, but quickly gave up after the village mocked his portrait of Ogga, in which she had one eye higher than the other and both boobs pointing off to the left.

Sadly, he was a man ahead of his time.

 

 

 

 

 

Run to Seed

Ugg (image from me)

The fish weren’t biting.

Not only that, but the mammoths were too mammoth, the sloths weren’t slothful and even the hares were evading the snares.

Ugg hadn’t caught anything for over a week now.

Ogga looked on as he stared despondently into his breakfast bowl, which she had filled with oats. She had meant no implied criticism in this, yet she knew that to him every gritty mouthful would taste of failure.

Ogga (image also from me)

And not much else, she had to admit. She sadly watched his face contort as he tried to work down a first spoonful that had sucked his mouth dry of all saliva. He looked up at her. His hollow-eyed, soul-dead expression nearly broke her heart.

“It’s a bit dry,” he mumbled, through a small spray of grains. He stood and walked to the pot over the fire, took a ladleful of water from it, and poured it into the bowl. He stirred it absently as he walked back to the table.

“Careful,” said Ogga urgently, “that water’s boil-”

She stopped, and the two gazed in horror at the bubbling gloop that was forming in the bowl. They watched as it grew, as it turned a sullen gray, as it sent tendrils over the side. Ugg dropped the bowl, which rolled around on its edge before settling.

“We should warn the village,” said Ogga. “It’s going to devour us all.”

“No, look,” said Ugg. “It’s stopped.”

Sure enough, the substance had ceased expanding and now seethed balefully, like an angry brain.

“What will we do with it?” asked Ogga. “Pebble-dash the cave?”

Ugg stared at it for a long time. “I’m going to eat it,” he said quietly.

“Oh, please don’t,” groaned Ogga. She snatched up the bowl and held it upside down. None of the glop poured out.

“Imagine what that will do to your insides,” she said flatly. “You’re going to fossilize yourself from the inside out.”

“What it will do to my insides,” said Ugg, ” is fill them. It’s still just grains and water.”

He took the bowl from Ogga and stuck his spoon into it, trying to ignore the sucking sound as it forced its way in. He dug out a small amount, lifted the spoon and slurped the ooze into his mouth. Ogga watched, open-mouthed, as his closed mouth worked it down.

“What’s it like?” she breathed.

Ugg swallowed. “It needs salt,” he said.

“Salt?”

“Yes. Or sugar. Or honey. Or fruit. Or cowpat. Anything, really, because it tastes of nothing.”

“Never mind,” said a relieved Ogga, reaching for the bowl. “Here, I’ll get you some more oats.”

To her surprise, Ugg pressed the bowl to his chest. “I didn’t say i didn’t like it,” he said.

He ate the rest, in silence, then trudged off hunting. Ogga was left with the task of trying to clean the bowl. In the end she buried it in the woods, and made another one.

Ugg returned five hours later. On his spear were skewered three salmon, strapped to his back were the carcasses of two deer, and he was dragging, for his first time ever, a sabre-tooth tiger.

“Where did you get all them?” gasped Ogga.

“I caught them,” said Ugg proudly.

“Well, we can certainly eat well now,” said Ogga. “No more grains for you.”

“No,” said Ugg. “It’s the grains that did it. I just felt so strong and full of, well, full, mostly. I felt invincible, possibly because I reckoned I could be gored in the stomach and not be harmed. It really is the Breakfast of, of, of people who win things. From now on I’m going to get my oats every day.”

Ogga looked into his beaming face. My Ugg is back, she thought. She took his arm in hers and smiled.

“You certainly will,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got The World On A String

A piece of 50,000-year-old string found in a cave is the oldest ever discovered. It suggests that Neanderthals knew how to twist fibres together to make cords – and, if so, they might have been able to craft ropes, clothes, bags and nets (New Scientist 09/04/2020)….

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Ugg (image from me)

All morning Ugg had been in his man-cave.

This was the small opening in the rock beside his and Ogga’s own cave, where he went to “invent” things, a process which seemed to Ogga to involve a lot of hammering, a lot of swearing, and the occasional unexpected fire.

Now Ugg appeared at the entrance to their home, carrying a number of items which he set on the floor. Ogga looked at one of them and screamed.

It was the world’s longest worm.

“Get it away from me!” yelled Ogga.

Ugg looked down at it and laughed. “Don’t worry,” he said. “It’s not a worm. It’s a piece of string.”

Ogga stared at it. “How long is it?” she asked.

Ugg thought. “I’ve no idea,” he said.

“Well, what’s it for?” asked Ogga.

“Lots of things,” said Ugg. “Look, you can wrap presents.” He handed her an object, something around which a small piece of animal-hide had been wrapped, the whole thing being secured by a short piece of string.

Ogga took it, looked at it in confusion for a moment, then pulled gingerly at the end of the string. She gasped at the effect as the bow opened, the string fell away, and the parcel unfolded like a flower. Then she frowned.

“It’s a stone,” she said, stonily.

“Well, yes,” said Ugg. “I was just showing you this as a prototype, it’s not an actual -” he saw her expression and moved on hurriedly. “It also ties things together,” he said. “Look.”

Two stones,” said Ogga. “Presumably for people who don’t want to carry one in each hand.”

Ogga (image also from me)

“Ah, yes,” said Ugg, “but what if you wanted to carry three stones?”

“And why would I ever want to do that?”

“Not stones, then. Logs. Fish.”

“That’s what you’re for,” said Ogga. “Any other uses?”

“Oh, lots,” said Ugg. “I’ve imagined quite a few.”

“Mnmm,” nodded Ogga, intrigued. “String theory. And what have you imagined?”

“Well, clothes.”

“Clothes?”

“Um, yes, for summer, when it’s too hot to wear this hide. I pictured myself in some sort of top made of this.”

“A string vest?”

“Yes,” said Ugg. “I think it would be cool.”

“I suppose it would,” said Ogga, “though only in one meaning of that phrase. And what would I wear?”

“Well, I was thinking of a sort of string two-piece -”

“Dream on, caveman,” said Ogga pleasantly.

Ugg blushed. “Most of all, though,” he said, “I could use it for hunting.”

“What, as a lasso?” said Ogga. “It’s going to be some sight when a mammoth charges through the village with you skidding along behind it, frantically trying to use your heels as brakes.”

“That’s not what I meant,” said Ugg. “I could make a net and could use it to catch fish or small animals. For bigger ones I could use this.” He picked up a small branch which had been bent into a curve by having a piece of string too short for it tied at either end. He also picked up a short stick, sharpened into a point.

“Watch this,” he said. He placed the rear end of the short stick against the string, then pulled, bending the branch even further. He turned and aimed out of the cave.

Ogga held her breath.

Ugg released the string. The branch unbent at enormous speed. There was a lash-like whipping sound.

The pointy stick dropped to earth, landing between his fortunately well-splayed toes.

“Why, Honey,” said Ogga mock-sorrowfully. “Failure to launch.”

Ugg pulled the stick out of the floor. He looked so downcast that Ogga regretted making fun of him. She took his arm, hugging it. “They’re great ideas,” she said, softly. “They just need work.”

He smiled at her. “I’ve one more idea,” he said. “I’m going to make bags.”

“Bags?”

“I’m going to make a small kind of mesh with handles,” said Ugg. “For women to carry stuff around.”

“We could keep absolutely everything in it,” breathed Ogga, agog.

“Exactly,” said Ugg. “I was thinking of calling it a Her-mesh Hand-bag, and -”

“I want one,” said Ogga.

 

 

Wanna Be Your Man

“Precarious masculinity” has been cited by psychologists as a possible reason why only 24 per cent of vegans are male (BBC Future 18/02/20)….

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Ugg (image from me)

Ugg trudged wearily into the cave, flung his spear into a corner, then flopped cross-legged to the floor.

“Honey, I’m home,” he said.

“Hello Dear,” said Ogga. “Dinner’s almost ready.”

Ugg lay onto his back, letting the tension of a long day’s hunting ease from his muscles. Gradually, though, he felt uneasy. Something was different. He sat up with a jerk when he realised what it was.

There was no smell of bacon.

“I thought you said dinner was ready?” he called out.

Ogga came out from the back of the cave, looking nervous, and held out a stone plate. Small cubes of food were piled upon it. Ugg raised one eyebrow, this being the maximum number available to him.

“What’s this?” he asked.

Ogga gave him what she hoped was a bright smile. “It’s tofu,” she said.

Ugg glared at her. “Have you been hunting?” he asked.

“Hunting?” said Ogga, startled. “Why would you think that?”

“Because I certainly didn’t catch this,” said Ugg. “I’ve never even seen a tofu, with its beige skin and -” he looked down at the plate “- its apparently square testicles. So you must have caught it.”

Ogga (image also from me)

“No, dear,” said Ogga “It isn’t -”

“Is my hunting not good enough for you?” said Ugg. “Do I not catch enough boars, and oxen, and mammoths?”

“You’ve never caught a mammoth,” said Ogga, before she could stop herself.

“Well,” said Ugg defensively, “that’s because they’re huge. The clue’s in the name. You should try it sometime -” he stopped, realising where this was taking him “- actually, no, you shouldn’t. Leave the hunting to me.”

Ogga sighed. “I’ve been trying to tell you,” she said. “Tofu isn’t an animal. It’s coagulated soy milk.”

Ugg looked in disgust at his plate. “You’re not really selling it with that sentence,” he said. “What’s soy milk?”

“It comes from soybeans,” said Ogga.

“You milked beans?” said Ugg. “You must have used an awfully low stool. Anyway, why bother? Why not just roast some boar, like you normally do?”

This was the part Ogga had been dreading. “Because we’re vegans now,” she said.

“You’re saying that like it’s an actual word,” said Ugg. “What’s a vegan?”

“Someone who doesn’t eat meat, or fish, or eggs,” said Ogga.

“You’re thinking of vampires,” said Ugg.

“No, I’m not,” said Ogga. “I’m thinking of people who believe that animals and humans should share the planet, with no killing.”

“You should tell that to the bears,” said Ugg. “Anyway, if we don’t kill animals, there’s nothing to eat.”

“There’s loads to eat,” said Ogga. “There’s fruit, and vegetables. There’s seeds -” she saw the look on Ugg’s face, and hurried quickly on “- and pulses. Grain and rice. Nuts.”

“It certainly is,” said Ugg. He put down his plate and looked away from her, into the fire, the fire that he that morning had lit. He stared into it, through it, far off into an unfathomable distance. His meal remained untouched, and eventually Ogga took it silently away.

Then she came back, sat down beside him, and put her arm through his.

“You’ll still be my man,” she whispered.

“Will I, though?” he burst out passionately. He turned to look at her, imploringly. “I hunt. I catch our food. That’s what men do.”

“That’s not all that men do,” said Ogga. “You’ll still be my protector. You’ll still fart louder than I do (Ugg knew that this wasn’t true, but also knew enough not to say so). You’ll still understand the offside rule, though neither of us have any idea what its purpose is.”

She nodded at the fire. “You’ll still make my fire burn.” She hugged his arm tighter, and winked. “In every meaning of that phrase.”

Their gaze met and locked, bonded by a shared life, shared respect, shared love. Eventually he shrugged, then laughed.

“What is it?” she asked.

“I’m just thinking about the cave artists,” said Ugg, “having to draw men with spears, chasing a potato.”

 

 

The Tooth Is Out There

The return of Docc the Neandertal Doctor, and his patient patient Ugg…

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Docc’s practice had improved since we last met him.

He was now an expert in aromatherapy, clearing his patients’ sinus problems by getting them to sniff small bowls of sloth-poo. He used faith-healing, with his catch-phrase “trust me, I’m the Docc”. He used reflexology, rapping people sharply on the knee with his club, though he did use this only on people who hadn’t paid him for the aromatherapy.

He even dealt with womens’ complaints, learning as he did so that most of their complaints were about the lack of help with the cavework that they got from their menfolk.

And he had moved into dentistry, which is why we find Ugg once again walking hesitantly into Docc’s cave.

“Ah, Ugg,” said Docc. “What seems to be the trouble?”

Ugg pointed to his mouth.

“Your ugliness?” said Docc. “Can’t do anything about that, I’m afraid. I don’t do cosmetic surgery.”

Ugg shook his head, which elicited a sharp stab of agony that caused him to yelp in pain and slap his hand to his cheek, which caused him to yelp again.

“Toothache?” asked Docc.

Ugg went to nod, thought better of it, then simply raised one thumb.

“No problem,” said Docc. “Sit up onto this slab and open your mouth.”

Ugg did as he was asked, and Docc held a torch up to his mouth while he looked inside. Ugg began to sweat, which is what usually happens when someone holds a flaming torch a few inches from your face.

“I see the one,” said Docc. “I’m afraid it’s going to have to come out.” He handed Ugg a small stone goblet. “Here, take a mouthful of this.”

Ugg looked into the goblet, which contained a luridly pink liquid. He poured some into his mouth, and discovered that it had a tangy, metallic taste.

“It’s just water from the stream behind the cave,” said Docc. “I’m not sure why it’s that colour, I think some dying animal might be bleeding into the water somewhere further upstream.”

Ugg spat the liquid violently across the cave.

“Very good,” said Docc. “I was just going to ask you to do that.”

He started to work in Ugg’s mouth. Ugg could feel poking and tugging, had Docc’s fingers in his mouth and had his jaws open so wide that they were beginning to ache. Clearly, he was in no position to speak.

“So,” asked Docc, “how’s the wife?”

“Hiii,” said Ugg.

“Fine, eh?” said Docc. “And what about work?”

“Hay ho hay ho,” said Ugg.

“Same old same old?” said Docc. “I know how you feel. Going anywhere on holiday this year?”

Ugg came out with a long unintelligible sound that Docc guessed was a probably a village in Wales. “Very nice,” he said. It was only many hours later that he realised that Ugg had said “oh, for feck’s sake”.

“Now,” said Docc. “This isn’t going to hurt a bit.” He stepped away from the slab and thrust his right hand towards the cave mouth. Ugg roared in pain.

“See?” said Docc. “It actually hurt a lot.”

Ugg opened his mouth to shout at him in anger, then stopped in surprise. He realised that the pain in his mouth had gone, as had one of his back teeth. “That’s amazing, Docc,” he said. “What did you do?”

Docc went outside the cave and returned a few moments later holding Ugg’s tooth, which was attached by a piece of string to a small round object. “The idea,” said Docc, “is that you attach the tooth to a door and then slam it, but since I’ve no idea what a door is I’ve come up with this.” He showed Ugg the device. “I’ve made it circular so it will roll. I throw it out of the cave and it runs down the hill, taking the tooth with it. I called it a ‘wheeeel’, because of the noise it makes when it’s rolling.”

Ugg was almost hopping up and down in excitement. “This is an incredible invention, Docc,” he said. “We could put it on the sled that we drag carcasses back from hunting with.”

Docc stared at him. “Nah,” he said. “Sleds don’t get toothache.”

 

What’s Up, Docc

Neanderthals dosed themselves with painkillers and possibly penicillin (Principia Scientific International)

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Ugg walked up to the cave, and hesitated. On the wall beside the opening was a sign, in chalk, saying “Docc is IN”. The rubbed-out letters “OUT” were just visible beneath the last word.

For over a minute Ugg took a few steps toward the cave, then away from it, like a man doing solo line-dancing. Then he made up his mind and turned to walk away, but he was too late. A figure appeared at the entrance. He looked earnest, eager and way too young.

“Hi!” said Docc. “Come on in.”

Ugg looked him in panic. “Er, actually, Docc, I feel fine now,” he said. “It’s true what people say, ‘go to see Docc, you’ll feel better after it’. Thanks a lot, you’ve been great.”

“Oh, come on,” said Docc. “I won’t bite.”

“Well, of course not,” said Ugg. “I never thought that you would.”

“Not unless you’ve a snake-bite and need me to suck out the poison,” continued Docc.

“Ugh,” said Ugg. “Well, I haven’t.”

“Good,” said Docc. “Then come in.”

Sighing heavily, Ugg followed Docc into the cave.

“Have a seat,” said Docc, indicating a rock in the corner, “while I get the file.”

“I haven’t got one,” said Ugg. “I’ve never been here before.”

“Not that type of file,” said Docc.

Ugg shuddered, but sat anyway. On a small slab in front of him were a number of slates. He picked one up. It had a picture of a hand waving in the top left-hand corner, and a series of drawings showed the cave furnishings and art of a well-known couple from the village.

The slate was at least two years old. Ugg knew this because the couple were no more, thanks to a sabre-tooth tiger. Well, a sabre-tooth tiger rug, on which the woman had found the man with a younger woman.

Docc returned from the back of the cave and sat at another slab, which was plainly his desk. Ugg came and sat in front of him.

“So,” said Docc, “what seems to be the problem?”

“I have a really bad headache,” said Ugg.

“I see,” said Docc. “And do you have a really dry mouth, and a desparate need to eat something fried?”

“Yes,” admitted Ugg.

“You have a hangover,” said Docc. “You had too much Giness last night.”

Giness, shortened over time from Giddiness, was a local brew that the villagers concocted from hops, water, nettles, cayenne pepper and, to give it it’s distinctive black colour, mammoth-dung. It had a kick like a mule, and could make you fart like one.

“Well,” said Ugg, “I did have a couple with the lads after hunting.”

“A couple?”

“Three,” said Ugg.

Docc sceptically raised one eyebrow, which, since he was a Neanderthal, was the maximum number available to him.

“Nine,” muttered Ugg. He looked up plaintively. “Can you help me?”

“Don’t worry,” said Docc. “I have just the thing.”

Ugg felt that he looked supremely happy as he said this, and in truth he was. Docc was living his dream.

Ever since, when he was aged four, his mother had made the pain in his scraped knee go away by spitting onto a small piece of fur and gently rubbing the sore spot, Docc had wanted to cure others. Early attempts had not been a great success, because of the lack of anyone to train him and the limited equipment at his disposal. His most often used tool had been a small club, with which he used to make patients forget the pain in, say, their ear, by giving them a bigger pain in, say, their shin.

Not for nothing was his business called a practice.

But over time he had improved. He had learnt, by trial and error, the uses of the plants of the area. He learnt that lemon balm helped sleep, that plantains eased insect stings, that onions helped the heart. He learnt that parsley increases urine output, though he had yet to find a situation in which this was helpful.

And he discovered that that the crushed bark of the willow tree, what we now call aspirin, helped ease pain.

So now he handed Ugg a small amount of powder and a stone mug of water. “Take this,” he said. Ugg did so, and almost immediately began to feel better, just by knowing that he was in the hands of a professional.

“Thanks, Docc,” he said. “You’re a genius.”

Docc smiled modestly. “It’s not rock science,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

The Charge Of The Tight Brigade

Irish State Broadcaster RTÉ is apparently losing TV Licence revenue because some people have no actual TV, and the Government believe that they are watching programmes though their computers instead. Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte is therefore introducing the Public Service Broadcasting Charge, payable by all households, saying “I don’t believe that we have cave men in the country. I don’t believe that there are people who don’t watch television and don’t access content on their iPad or iPhone.”…..

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There was a knock at the front of the cave, followed by the strangled curse of someone who has just unthinkingly rapped on a stone wall with their bare hand. Ugg went to the entrance and was surprised to see Patrabid, one of the Village Elders, standing there sucking his knuckles.

“I’m here about your television,” said Patrabid, eventually.

“What’s that?” asked Ugg.

Patrabid indicated a large box on the cart behind him. “It’s a device that provides entertainment, information and opinion,” he said.

“Don’t need one so,” said Ugg. “I’ve got a wife for all that.”

As if on cue, and not at all because she’d been eavesdropping, Ogga came to the front of the cave to join them. “Are you trying to sell us one?” she said.

“Of course not,” said Patrabid, “because you already have one.”

“No, we don’t,” said Ugg.

“Of course you do,” said Patrabid. “I don’t believe that we have cave men in the country-” here he stopped and looked at the cave in which Ugg and Ogga so obviously lived, “-well ok, we do,” he admitted, “but I don’t believe that there are people who don’t watch television.”

“Well, we don’t,” said Ugg.

“But you should,” said Patrabid. “It’s great, look, I’ll show you.” He lifted the box off the cart and carried it into the cave. The three of them watched it for a while.

“It’s not doing anything,” said Ogga eventually.

“Well, no, it doesn’t yet,” admitted Patrabid. “Yeddi’s son in the village is working on something he calls electricity that he says will power it, but until he gets it right the box does nothing. When it does, though, it’ll be great – weather forecasting -”

“Snow tomorrow, snow the next day, bright spells with snow spreading from the west later the day after would be my guess,” said Ogga. “This isn’t called the Ice Age for nothing.”

“There’ll be nature programmes, like ‘When Mammoths Attack’ -”

“I already know when they attack,” said Ugg. “Every bloody time they see a human, that’s when. I’m a hunter, trust me on this.”

“Well,” said Patrabid desperately, “there’ll be fascinating little programmes about fur-skin making, or arrow-head crafting, or why the square wheel industry is dying out.”

“But we know why,” said Ugg. “It’s because the round wheel is all the rage now. Dunno why, at least you never had to chase a runaway square wheel down a steep hill.”

“Listen” said Ogga, “come back when it works, and we might buy one.”

“I told you, I not here to sell you one,” said Patrabid. “I’m here to collect the charge for you having one.”

“But we don’t have one,” said Ugg.

“Not my problem,” said Patrabid. “You have to pay for having one anyway.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” said Ogga. “It’d be like having to pay off bank losses that you weren‘t responsible for.” The other two stared at her. “Don’t ask me what that means,” she said. “The phrase just popped into my head.”

“Why does anyone have to pay anyway?” asked Ugg. “Why not make it pay for itself by charging for advertising?”

“Advertising?” said Ogga.

“Yes,” said Ugg. “A man could appear and tell you to keep your skin soft by washing more than once a month. He could say it’s because you’re worth it.”

“Excellent idea,” said Patrabid. “We’ll do that too.”

“Then why would we still have to pay the charge?” asked Ugg.

“It’s to fund Public Service Broadcasting,” said Patrabid.

“What’s that?” asked Ogga.

Just then a loud shouting started up outside. “Here is the news,” yelled a voice. “Mammoths attacked some hunters. Snow is forecast for later -”

That’s Public Service Broadcasting,” said Patrabid.

“That’s just The Old Yeller,” said Ogga.

“He’s providing a public service,” said Patrabid, “and we have to massively overpay him in case he decides to leave and join another network.”

“Is that something to do with spiders?” asked Ugg.

Patrabid was about to witheringly reply when Ogga said “we don’t listen to him.”

“You can’t  possibly not,” said Patrabid. “You can hear him from half a mile away.”

Ogga picked up a bucket of slops, walked to the front of the cave and hurled it out. The shouting abruptly stopped, there was a brief shocked silence, a lot of hawking and coughing and then something that sounded very like a man blocking one nostril and blowing hard, in an attempt to clear the other one of poo.

“As I was saying,” said Ogga calmly, “we don’t listen to him.”

“Well, you’ll still owe -”

Ogga looked into her bucket. “There are still some slops left in this,” she said matter-of-factly.

Patrabid decided to chicken out, or at least to whatever-the-prehistoric-equivalent-of-a-chicken-was out. “Er, there are of course certain caveholds that will be exempt,” he said.

“I thought there might,” said Ogga, swinging her bucket gently.

Patrabid left. Ogga was about to go back to the kitchen area when she noticed that Ugg was looking at a small flat slab of stone. There was writing on it which said “Village Elder For Communications And Snide Remarks Patrabid has today introduced a charge which you will have to pay even if you aren’t using the service that you’re being charged for.”

“What’s that?” said Ogga.

“It’s the news,” said Ugg. “Soothsaya in the village will chip it out for you each evening for two flints.”

“But what are you reading it on?” asked Ogga.

Ugg held up the slab proudly. “This is my Tablet,” he said.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

Another camera-free go at the WordPress Photo Challenge…

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Ugg was lying on a stone slab in the blazing sun, which was shining directly onto his face. His face was the colour of a tomato, and his nose had begun to peel. His wife Ogga lay on a similar slab beside him.

Of all the hardships of their cave-dwelling lives together, the coldness of the nights, the fleeing from boars, the visits from her mother, he had never endured, nor imagined, any situation as bad as this.

They were on the first ever package holiday.

Their friend Tomascuk had come up with the idea. He had told them that it would be relaxing, that they would have a carefree, fun time, and had persuaded them and twenty other couples from their village to leave their caves for two weeks to go to the village (or ‘resort’ as it now termed itself) of My Orca. To stay in smaller caves.

Relaxing it was not. Each morning Ugg had to get up at six to place two fur-skin towels on two of the slabs, because this apparently warded off evil spirits,  and other tourists.

Nor was it fun. There was a small pond in which the tourists could paddle, catch malaria and have their toes nibbled at by coelacanths. This seemingly was known as a Waterpark.

Nor was it carefree. They were harassed out of any chance to enjoy themselves by people who were determined that they would enjoy themselves.

Each day they were made to go on coach tours, in which a coach would give them morning fitness exercises and then make them jog around visiting local rocks, lichens and places of interest.

One of the places of interest that they had visited had been their own village, which after all was only five miles away.

In the evenings they were in the hands of the Entertainment Organiser. He made them play a game called bingo, in which they would put stones on numbers that he called out. If they were first to cover all of their numbers they had to shout out “cave”.

Later they would wear huge daft hats and drink the local drink, which tasted like something that had been passed through a vole. They had to form something called a “conger”, where each of them grabbed the hips of the person in front of them and they impersonated a giant eel.

They were made to do the actions to The Birdie Song, because it has been around forever.

Ogga (drawing courtesy of me)

Ogga (drawing courtesy of me)

Now Ugg sat up and looked at Ogga lying on the slab beside him. She, however, was lying on her front,  and to his horror she had untied the top half of the two-piece fur-skin that she wore. He noticed that while he was getting redder by the second, her bare back was turning a golden brown. He also noticed that while he was lying there with nothing to do, she had a drink beside her, in which floated a small red round fruit and an umbrella. She also had a book, seven hundred pages of cured leather which lay open and face down on the table beside her.

“What are you reading?” he asked.

“It’s called a holiday novel,” she said. “Boy meets girl, girl dislikes boy, boy goes off with other girl, girl realises she actually likes boy, other girl falls into bear-trap, boy and girl get together.”

“What are the boy and girl called?” asked Ugg.

Ogga thought for a second. “I honestly can’t remember,” she admitted. “The thing about a holiday novel is that it goes in one eye and then seems to vanish up its own arse.”

Ugg lay back and was mentally counting down the seconds until they could go home and he could fish at weekends, dozing happily and being truly carefree, when he heard the yell “mammoth”!”.

He looked up. Sure enough, a huge mammoth was lumbering into the resort.

The Entertainment Organiser raced passed them, all duty to his charges forgotten in his charge. Ugg pulled Ogga to her feet and her top to a level of modesty, and they joined the stampede of fleeing fellow tourists.

As they fled Ugg panted “this is no different to what we have to do at home most days”.

“No, it‘s different,” said Ogga. “Listen to the mammoth’s roar.”

Ugg listened.

The mammoth was roaring in a foreign language.

Where The Hearth Is

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “structure”…

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Argh had leapt up that morning full of hope. Today he was going to catch the woolly mammoth that would feed his whole family for the entire winter. As the day had gone on this optimism had waned, down to I’m going to catch a boar, then a stoat, finally a rabbit. He sighed.

It’s not easy being the breadwinner at a time when they haven’t invented bread.

He decided to go into the forest to pick berries and shrubs. Gradually his family was involuntarily becoming vegetarian.

He emerged into a small clearing and stopped, staring in amazement at the structure in the centre. It was made of logs, had four walls, and a v-shaped piece that covered the inside like a lid. There was a small column pointing from one side of this lid.

In the middle of the front wall there was a large oblong panel. In front of the panel there was an animal pelt on the floor, with a sketch of two people rubbing noses, the cave-drawing symbol for ‘welcome’.

Argh knocked on the wooden panel and called “hello?”

“I’m coming,” said a voice, “and you might want to step away from the door.”

Argh stood back and heard from within the sound of someone charging toward the slab, a shoulder striking wood, and a yelp of pain. The slab fell slowly outward.

“Sorry,” said Ugg. “That’s the only way we can open it.”

“Ugg?“ said Argh. “What are you doing here? What is this place?”

“We live here now,” said Ugg. “Moved in last week.”

“Out here in the woods?” said Argh, “How s-”.

“Exactly,” said Ugg. “We call it a house, because that’s what people used to say when I told them about our plan for.”

It’s because they were starting to say “how stupid”, thought Argh. He followed Ugg inside.

“It’s not a house,” said Ugg’s wife Ogga, coming in behind them carrying, to Argh’s shame, a whole deer. “It’s a charming log cabin with a large south-facing garden and stunning views.”

“Views?” said Argh.

“Yes,” said Ogga. She pointed to a hole in each wall. “That’s what the windows are for.”

“Ah,” said Argh. “I thought they were just really big knots in the wood.” He looked out of one of them. “All you can see are trees,” he said.

“Yes, but they’re stunning,” said Ogga in a tone which suggested that it would be wise not to dispute this. “Shut the door, Ugg, there’s a draught coming in.”

Ugg walked outside, gripped the door to lift it then slowly pushed it into place. He then climbed in through the window. There was silence after this, the silence of two people who know they’ve made a mistake and one person too kind to point that out to them.

While this was happening Argh was trying not to look, while still sneaking a look, at what Ogga was wearing. It was a two-piece outfit made from animal fur, and while it covered parts of her that the other cavewomen didn’t cover, this somehow made it more alluring. She went off into another section of the house, where she could be heard shouldering a door open.

Racquel Welch“What’s she wearing?” whispered Argh.

“It’s called a racquelwelch,” said Ugg. “Apparently it was the fashion back when we used to live among the dinosaurs.”

“What are dinosaurs?” asked Argh.

“According to Professa in the village, huge fearsome creatures the size of, well, a house.”

“Where are they now?” said Ugg, suddenly thinking that hunting might have been an even worse career choice than he had previously thought.

“Oh, they’re all dead,” said Argh. “Professa says they were wiped out by a meteor.”

“That was a bit unlucky,” said Ugg. “All of them being standing together exactly where the meteor landed.”

“Er, yes,” said Ugg, a little uncertainly. “Anyway, fear of the dinosaurs was why man moved into caves in the first place, and now that they’re gone we can move back out. This is our future.”

“But caves are warm,” said Ugg. “And you can draw on the walls. How can you do that here?”

Ugg pointed to some drawings, the traditional ones of men chasing large animals, large animals chasing men, and alien spacecraft. These, though, were drawn onto animal hide, and were pinned to a door.

“We stick them on our fridge,” said Ugg.

“Fridge?”

“It’s a small cupboard where we leave food and forget about it, then every month or so go through it and throw out anything that’s gone bad,” said Ugg. “Which is usually everything.”

“I see,” said Argh. “Well, I’d better go. It’s getting a bit chilly.”

“Oh, please don’t,” said Ugg. “We’ve never had visitors before. I’ll light the fire, it’ll be the first time.” He struck two stones together and a small spark fell upon a little pile of sticks, which began to smoke gently. The smoke drifted up and out of the column above it. “I call that a chimney,” said Ugg. “We won’t have to spend our evenings with our eyes stinging from the smoke.”

Argh hadn’t been listening, ever since Ugg had banged the stones together. “Let me get this straight,” he said slowly. “You’re lighting a fire in a structure made entirely of wood?”

Ugg looked confused by the question, then the light of comprehension crossed his face just as the light of flames began to lick their way up the wall.

Just then there was a crack of thunder and outside it began to rain torrentially. The rain poured straight down the chimney and onto the fire, which subsided in a cloud of steam.

“And of course,” said Ugg, “that’s its other purpose.”

Argh was just about to say that that was a bucket of shite when Ogga walked out of the back room carrying, well, a bucket of shite. She walked passed them to the window and hurled the contents out. Then she turned to Argh.

“We’ve got en suite,” she said proudly.