Eminent historian Oliver Cyriax walks the ghostly footprints of time to reveal the ancient civilisation of Bracknor Wot.
Lydia Sinforth, Hammersmith’s Comparative Therapist
“Imagine an affordable 500 kHz pulse rate city-mapping system that measures high-density strata on the urban floodplain,” yells the mustachioed pilot as we make our third helicopter pass over Cardross Street. He holds our bird steady at 3600 nautical feet. “Look, down there.”
The invisible laser-beams stream silently earthwards from our ‘copter, probing west London as we terra-map Brackenbury 1,000 years before Christ (B.C.) from the skies.
Archeological experts across the world are rethinking the past with the aid of LIDAR’s remote-sensing technology that reveals the ghostly footprints of vanished civilisations. Enhanced computer tomography enables skilled analysts to peer into the interiors of long-vanished buildings.
West London is at the forefront of the new discoveries. Wags inside academia are already calling the newly-found temple complex “Bracken Or What?”
Yet, to my mind, little has changed. It is not the mystic Wisdom of the Ancients that we now see plainly inscribed in the stone pylons marking out our ancient capital. When the lost kingdom of Brackenbury ran to Tooting and beyond, it was civic protocols on waste-management that the master-stonemasons carved.
A domed administrative palace lay nestled within a fourteen-plethron alcohol-free site, roughly where the Angelsea is now.
Archeologists recently voted its shadowy towers, visible at last in outline, as the West’s “second-best ruin”.
Artist’s impression: Aldensley Villas, ca 1048 BC
A lost world
Yet W6’s newly-revealed pre-Colombian empire was run on ruthless military lines. “The ancestors of West London Man nursed a primal terror of nonsense”, explains bearded Dr Hugo Davovitch. “Garbage disposal was a profession of prestige. Each year (on the 5th day of the 11th month) failed legal arguments and unread papyri were incinerated pitilessly.”
But that was just the start. Temple functionaries ceremonially collected what we would now call “psychological rubbish”, making assiduous house-to-house visits. Anti-social sentiments were carefully excised and then diluted with ritually-sanctified water from the Brak (q.v.). Advanced hydraulic engineering piped the mix to huge natural reservoirs with Archimedian screws.
Newly-revealed records show the level of trash kept on rising. “They ended up by creating a huge inland sea of what I characterise ‘liquid spiritual nonsense’”, says Hugo. “Periodically, it flooded.”
Outside the temple complex the well-to-do built their houses on stilts, stacking one aromatic room on top of the other. “Like Jenga towers”, says Hugo, “the ruined tomb of the “Unknown Architect” – on Brackenbury’s Plaza of Sacrifice – says it all. Less-favoured exponents were eaten alive by aggrieved clients as snacks. Public feast-days were a testing time.”
The Scattered Embers: a Theory of Ululation
Amidst these travails, the formal religion of Braknor Wat strikes a warming note. Lydia Sinforth, Hammersmith’s reader in Comparative Therapy, explains that Brackenbury’s ‘Cult of Affirmation’ did what it said on the tin. “Have you ever made a crackingly-bad decision?’ she asks winsomely. “You know, given up your job – without a source of income? Decided to leave your spouse – on the chance you might find someone better? Refused to go to the doctor – because you hoped it was just a boil? Felt you might be creative? Taken out a mortgage – on interest-only? If so… that’s where organized Group Affirmation came in! In effect, devotees dressed in white silk would ululate while telling each other, “Don’t worry, it might never happen”.
Brackenbury in the Third Neoprene Era
But it did. At the end of the Third Neoprene Period, married men complained that packs of “Groan Women” locked them in dank public huts where they were obliged to drink raki sundowners – all for the fun of laughing unkindly when their husbands came home and toppled over. Lydia points to a vast circular shadow on the terrain-survey. I had naively assumed this was a perimeter roadway for chariots. “If you look carefully,” she says, “that’s underground.”
‘A hadron-collider from pre-history?’ I venture.
“No,” says Lydia, shaking her head grimly. “These tunnel systems were packed with spider-yams – our local currency. The most valuable shells were shaped like Alessi juicers.
The protuberances provided high-tensile structural support. Yet, puzzlingly, in 782, Brackenbury converted to Maoism. They switched from yams to papyrus. We still don’t know why. Yam production fell off a cliff. The empire put its faith in what were collectivist script-paddies in all but name! The young had nothing to respect – the elderly either became very poor or unaccountably rich. In a few years, tunnels collapsed, the levees failed – and the regime with it… Bracknor Wot faded from memory. The lianas were… greedy.” She stifles a forlorn sob.
Lydia recovers: “Until now, thanks to LIDAR.” She manages a brave smile. “Did I tell you about my latest research – on the Hanging Gardens of Nineveh? We’re going to twin.”