Home Page The world could end - and still we have no pedestrianisation 21/12/12

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Matthew Hancock
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Hart of the Matter

For a day when the world was supposed to end, today has so far passed off pretty uneventfully. Mind you, I was never worried because - and you may be unaware of this – I am an expert in reading Mayan glyphs.


That’s those curious little pictures and shapes carved in rock by the Maya thousands of years ago which show they were one of the five earliest civilisations on the planet and one of the first to invent writing.


Writing is, of course, one of the main transformative inventions of the human race and enables us to learn a lot about peoples who otherwise would be buried under the sands of time – or in this case the trees, because the relics of the Mayan civilisation in central America were covered by jungle until the late 19th century.


These glyphs – or one of them, at any rate – are what led plenty of loopy American post-hippies, and some Brits as well, to imagine the world would end at midnight on December 21, 2012, the final day of the Mayan calendar. Many of them bought up $70,000 underground shelters to try to survive the final catastrophe.


In fact, this glyph probably says nothing of the kind. My colleagues at the centre for central American studies think it just speaks of some sort of spiritual change. But it may also be the Maya were just plain wrong.


I have discovered the Maya made several other prophecies and it is curious to see how fallible they have proved. One glyph, which no one had previously been able to decipher, I believe actually represents the name ‘Haverhill’, and once you understand that, many other mysteries become clear.


There is a long straight line on this stone, with dots either side, each of which rests on two short strokes. It is clear to me that these represent people, walking on two legs. At each end of the line are four circles, which clearly represent some form of four-wheeled cart, being prevented from proceeding along the line where the people are walking.


The date attached to this particular picture corresponds to April 15, 1971.


Another glyph on the stone shows a thin curving and winding strip, usually interpreted as a serpent. It passes through the glyph which represents Haverhill and connects two large pyramids, one in each corner of the stone.


Four rectangles form a chain on this strip at one point, each containing several dots, similar to those representing people. The date on this picture corresponds to September 25, 1995.


A third glyph beside the one representing ‘Haverhill’ has been interpreted as two small snakes and a pit with a spike in it. However, if this is rotated through 180 degrees it can be interpreted as M&S. The date for this corresponds to January 1, 2000.


Close to it is an ellipse with two parallel curves beneath it. These stones would, of course, have been highly-coloured originally, but all that has worn away. The exception is here in this unusually deeply-incised glyph where a particular shade of red and of yellow have been discovered. The date for this corresponds to July 3, 2006.


So we can see that the Maya, although predicting that Haverhill would arise to prominence during the latter half of the 20th century, or the 13th baktun, as they called it, have proved inaccurate in their more detailed forecasts.


Before the end of the world was reached, Haverhill should have achieved full pedestrianisation of the High Street, the renewal of the railway from Cambridge to Colchester, an improved retail offer and a McDonalds.


My colleagues and I are now trying to establish how such precise mathematicians and astronomers managed to fail so signally in this area.


We have consulted some noted astrologers who suggest their calculations may have been rendered inaccurate due to the unlooked-for presence in our solar system of two connected phenomena, the variable planet known as Narcissus and the dust-cloud Hydra.


Narcissus is believed to create strong waves of self-interest among people in power, while Hydra, named after the many-headed monster of mythology, obscures progress with a cloud of bureaucracy.


The Maya were unaware of these phenomena and failed to take them into account when they made their initial calculations. In any case, they would have found it very difficult to allow for the number of variables which these elements put into any equation, given their simple numeric system.


By using the calculating power of modern computers, however, my department has been able to re-calculate the dates for the achievement of these aspirations which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is exciting news as we approach the festive season and demonstrates how well we have spent the £5million consultants’ fee which Suffolk County Council has paid us.


The new forecasts are as follows: McDonalds – July 3, 2016; M&S (as a benchmark of improved retail offer) – January 1, 2025 (this is only a partial calculation as it is believed M&S will by then be a branch of Wallmart); railway line renewal – September 25, 2041; full High Street pedestrianisation – incalculable, but probably beyond the end of the next 13 baktuns.


As an intellectual exercise we have also tried to predict when Suffolk County Council will discover the exact location of Haverhill, but these calculations are still ongoing.


Merry Christmas.


David Hart
David Hart revives his personal take on the week in Haverhill, covering everything from major town developments to what we do with our rubbish.
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