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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bernie's voyage of self-discovery ...

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Whilst on the subject of cranial protection, or the lack thereof, Bernie Dawson writes: "C-H-M has managed to produce an exhaustive blog that pretty much captures most of the events that happened at Crickley Hill over the years. [How kind of you to say so, Bernie - there's a tale or two yet to come ...] However there is one important omission which you will forgive my indulgence if I attempt to rectify. I refer of course to the complete lack of risk assessment for activities that were undertaken on the hilltop. Circa 1980 to 81 -- I am not sure what year it actually happened, as I have since attempted to obliterate it from my memory, I was delegated to work with Mike the Whale in dismantling the observation tower.

You will remember of course that the observation tower was a series of scaffolding poles, or similar, culminating in a platform of horizontal planks upon which our esteemed leader would spend hours taking the occasional photo and musing over perceived patterns of wear in the limestone below (my take on that was always ‘differential trowelling’, but I digress). On the said occasion, Mike the Whale was removing the planks and handing them down to me. I would then take the plank and lay it on the ground before looking upwards to receive the next one. I had taken two or three planks when suddenly I felt a thud on the top of my head, coincident with a cry of ‘Bernie’ from above, closely followed by what I think was a comment along the lines of ‘oh sh*t’. As the plank impacted on my cranium, I collapsed onto the grass and felt a warm liquid trickling round my neck. Poor old Mike had accidentally let go a plank which had then made a beeline for my head below. I was clearly very lucky that it hadn't been a few inches further back or it would have hit my neck with possibly much more serious consequences. A quick dash to the local hospital courtesy of I think Mr. Anderson, resulted in four stitches for said cranium. Apparently young Mr. Courtney that night informed a distraught Mike that the news from the hospital was not good, and that I was unlikely to return.

Return I did however, to spend the next four or five days washing and classifying finds. I still bear the evidence to this day and the dent serves occasionally to remind me just how lucky I was. Nowadays of course there is no such thing as an accident and a risk assessment for the activity would have resulted in the wearing of hard hats. When I see Phil Harding on Time Team wearing such a hat in a cutting just a few centimetres deep it does make me laugh, little does he know the real dangers on a dig!"


I take the liberty of showing Bernie before the accident, a photo-reconstruction just after the moment of impact, and now, when the full effects have become clear ...

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