Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Rabbit Hole

We spent part of the day helping with a move. 

Once home, it was time to sprawl lazily in front of the television. Following a suggestion from Northsider, we watched 'The Dig'. It was a gorgeous movie, set into the backdrop of England's entrance into WWII. Tim and I both really enjoyed it. 

You know how sometimes novels can take terrible liberties with a story? I found myself wondering how much of the story was true. 

Assisted by the wonders of the internet, I wandered off to lose myself in reading about Basil Brown. What a remarkable person he was! I cannot imagine someone so in love with learning, that even after he dropped out of school (to help support his family), he continued to learn on his own, earning diplomas of distinction in geography, geology, and astronomy from a 'self learning' university.  There was a real passion for knowledge, one that really did affect his life. He wrote books on his interests. 

You've got Stuart  and Peggy Piggot, minor characters in the movie, but very compelling in real life. Both of them came from rich families, studied extensively on archeology, became renowned for their work in the field. Both of them were prolific writers as well. They did divorce after 12 years of marriage, but both of them were life-long notables in their fields, and spent their later years teaching at university. 

Stuart and Peggy were geniuses, driven by a passion for the work they did, devoted their lives to it. Quiet Basil Brown was also a genius, a remarkable mind, no less driven, no less passionate about the work that he was doing. Had the man been born into wealth, able to attend any university, able to pursue his passion without worrying about supporting himself and May, he would have stood along side Stuart and Peggy as a peer. He would have had the same recognition that they did. He would have given lectures. He would had a comfortable life had he chosen a career open to him, but he followed his passion, and worked odd jobs to support himself. His wife May worked as a domestic all her life, but was devoted to him. 

They had no children. but his activities drew children to him no matter what he happened to be doing. A natural born teacher, he was quick to begin explaining what was happening, telling stories about ancient civilizations, putting them to work even, finding little things for them to do. He would have made a beloved schoolmaster. 

It all struck me as so very unfair, but yet when you look at pictures of Basil, you see a man who looks very happy. His work was evidently all the reward he needed. A man fulfilled by his discoveries.

I went on to read about Edith Pretty. I considered a wealthy woman who turned down a proposal when she was 18 to take care of her father after the death of her mother. She did that for 24 years. A huge sacrifice. But even more poignant was that Frank Pretty waited all those years, never marrying. Both of them were extremely wealthy people, and they bought Tranmer House knowing about the mounds on the property, curious about what they contained. 

Edith had her first and only child at 47. The marriage that both parties had waited so patiently for ended within 8 years when Major Pretty died of cancer. 7 years later, she would die too. Their 12 year old son Robert was sent to live with her sister, and never returned to Tranmer House. Ironically, he too, would die in his fifties, just as his parents had. 

I then wandered in to read about Sutton Hoo. I was engrossed, and headed off to read up on the Anglo Saxons...

In the middle of one of my readings, I heard the clocks chiming midnight from their respective corners of the house. I winced a little. How does time get away from me like that? I made up my mind to finish the topic I was reading on and get myself to bed. 

I headed towards bed as the clocks nagged once again...a single chime, a bit of ghostly music, a cuckoo, a deep double tone. It was 12:30. I fed the fire and climbed into my warm bed. Tim mumbled half asleep, "What time is it?" 

A bit abashed, I told him and then explained about the google rabbit hole I'd fallen into. 

He's used to it. He listened groggily and said, "That is neat."

It wasn't long before he was snoring once again. 

I lay there in the dark thinking about fate, and about our lots in life, about being part of something larger than ourselves, and before too awful long, I was sleeping too. I cannot tell you whether I was snoring.

'The Dig' was a beautiful movie, but Lord, when it was done, I dug myself right into a major rabbit hole. I fell asleep dreaming about treasure and what came before us. 


  1. You've done some digging yourself Debby. The film is based on a book.

  2. I found the book, and am ordering it. Again, thank you for calling it to my attention. We really did love it. One day I will stand before the Sutton Hoo treasure and see it with my very own eyes.

  3. You are the second person to say you enjoyed that movie. I guess we'll watch it.

  4. We haven't watched "The Dig" yet, but it's on my watchlist. Isn't it so cool when you get inspired by something like that and wind up going deeper and deeper into it? I love doing that. The wonders of the Internet!

  5. I haven't watched the dig but thoroughly agree about the joys of lifelong learning (now there is no pressure). I'm enjoying resurrecting rusty languages using Duolingo at the moment.

  6. I always go down rabbit holes when I watch something. I think you're very normal! I need to know the whole story and what is true and what is artistic license. English children learn about Sutton Hoo in school, but it's new to us Americans. I've read the whole Ellie Griffiths mystery series; her main character is an English forensic archeologist. So, much of the story didn't surprise me. Beautifully filmed and acted!

  7. Thank you for this post, Debby. I LOVED it! I saw The Dig also and enjoyed it immensely. I appreciate your going down that Google rabbit hole for us. I looked up some things too, but you searched tunnels I didn't find to get a much clearer picture.

  8. I watched it a few weeks ago too. You’re right — beautiful!

  9. It's on my Netflix list waiting to be watched. I really need to just sit down and watch it as you are the umpteenth person to like that movie.

    I always love learning new things and enjoyed all my college classes though I didn't really care for the college experience as a whole. Now with kids, I simply don't have the time to dedicate to other structured activities but once they leave the house, I fully intend to utilize the marvels of online degrees.

  10. Sutton Hoo is intriguing, isn't it? My stepfather, a farmer, found a neolithic axe head in a field. One has to keep one's eye out. It's amazing what you come across

    1. I found a hide scraper while planting asparagus. My sister found a grinding stone while moving dirt.

  11. I live just over an hour's drive from Sutton Hoo and have been meaning to go there for years. I must visit once our "lockdown" for Covid is over. In the meantime maybe I'll read the book.

  12. I'd be interested to know what you think of it. The movie was wonderful. The book however is out of stock in multiple places. It was a pleasant discovery that the real life story is just as compelling as the movie.

  13. I have recommended the film and have only had one person say that she didn't like it. If people like fast-paced movies, they will be out of luck. But I loved it, as does almost everyone from what I can tell.


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