Truckers’ Tizer and an old jazz mag: Professor Alice Roberts on her archaeological dig at an A57 layby

HI, Professor Alice Roberts here. We’ve run out of old Norse settlements to explore, so we’ve moved on to laybys. Here’s what we discovered on the A57 west of Sheffield.


It appears these were part of a primitive mating ceremony in which males and females met to frantically copulate. Archaeologists are unsure why, but this ritual only took place in darkness. Possibly it was a ceremony to appease the culture’s moon god, with condoms and knickers left in the hedgerows as an offering.

Truckers’ Tizer

Our team unearthed several bottles of a cloudy yellow liquid. The hieroglyphs on the outside of many said ‘Lucozade Energy Drink’, but one of the team had a sniff and said it smelled like rancid piss. This is evidence of a tradition where traders taking their wares to market would urinate in bottles and leave them by the side of the road, possibly as a superstition to bring them luck.

Burger van sign

Laybys were the site of important hostelries, providing food and drink for weary travellers. Hostel keepers would each have their own sign – much like medieval knights had their own coats of arms – and cater to travellers from a broken-down caravan. Curiously, the more colourful the sign, the worse the victuals offered.

Many small shiny metal cylinders

In ancient times, the layby was an important meeting place for the community, and young Britons would gather there with curious shiny silver cylinders. We can’t be completely sure, but our best guess is they were used in a game called Huffing. The rules of this have been lost to time, but it appears to have been very popular as there are literally hundreds of these things.

Disposable nappy (used)

Sometimes we come across a discovery that reveals a sad story, and such was the case with this item. The nappy would have belonged to a family forced to halt their long journey and spend 20 stressful minutes clearing up after their baby shat everywhere, before flinging the item in a bush. Difficult for them, but useful for archeologists as these things never, ever biodegrade.

AA Road Map 1990

A map was a large book in which scribes had drawn aerial plans of the entire country. It sounds remarkable to us now, but ancient travellers would look up their destination on the relevant folio page and use it to guide their progress as they went. Wiser old men would often eschew such maps, using intuition, the sun and self-confidence instead. These learned elders would offer younger men advice on the best roads to travel upon, especially ‘if there be roadworks and a contraflow on ye M62 westbound’.

Well-thumbed copy of Razzle

Beneath a patch of brambles we found a surprisingly well preserved journal named ‘Razzle’, dated September 1986, which offers an important insight into the fetishes of the time. For example, several of the women are pictured reclining in barns on bales of straw, leading us to conclude that farms were viewed back then as extremely erotic, despite stinking of cow and pig shit. Fascinating.

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A confused Millennial tries to… binge-watch EastEnders from the start

By Josh Gardner, proprietor of a library of more than 140,000 memes

HEARD of EastEnders? It’s a television programme from the days before streaming, when TVs were huge because they contained analogue puppets acting out the show. 

Unlike TikToks, they go on for bloody ages and there’s no live comment from other users. Or dancing. And you have to watch it in real time. Call me perverse, but I find that intriguing.

As a cultural voyager, I’m not afraid of old stuff. I’ve got a budding CD collection, I’ve watched not only the US but the original 1960s British version of The Office, and I’ve got a pair of vintage trainers from 2019. I go retro. So I thought I’d check it out.

But unbelievably, and frankly creating a hostile entertainment environment for the young, it’s impossible to watch from the beginning. My mum says it’s because you’re not meant to, but she vividly remembers Sophie Ellis-Bextor the first time round so probably has dementia.

Yes, there are 6,821 episodes to get through as of today, but don’t underestimate my binge-watching powers. Phone on the bus, laptop in bed at night, x1.5, I’d be finished before the final season of Stranger Things.

Abandoning iPlayer, I search around but there are no DVD box-sets promising the whole story, there are no streamers carrying the whole run and there aren’t even Funko Pops of popular characters like Dot Cotton or Albert Square.

So, like any of my generation faced with a challenge, I go online to steal it. Breaking laws to enjoy art for free is edgy and cool and the creators are likely long dead anyway so it’s a victimless crime.

I head for DailyMotion, or as I call it ‘the dark web’, conscious that one wrong click could order me every credit card number in Wales. And I begin my odyssey with episode one, titled Murder In Albert Square, ready to journey through 39 years.

Unfortunately, the episode wasn’t in HD and I got bored instantly. To make things worse the characters were indecipherable like a Shakespeare play and not once did they try to shoehorn in a sponsorship code for NordVPN. In short: it was shit.

Mum says I should watch tonight’s episode because the Eddie Knight trial is really hotting up and it’s so straightforward even a dog could understand it. ‘I’m out,’ I tell her, and settle down to a good solid three-hour stream of a video game. Now that’s entertainment.