(A British pub in the 1960’s. Pete and Dud are seated at their favourite table. Two pints of beer are in front of them.)
Satisfactory Dud, satisfactory.
What you been up to lately then?
Well, I’ve been reading Dud; reading this here amazing bestselling tome.
What’s it called Pete, give us a gander.
(Dud stretches forward and reads: Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind, on the front cover.)
Ooohh, what’s Sapiens Pete, what’s it about?
Well, as far as I can gather Dud, being I’m only on page 14 see, sapiens, or Homo sapiens, is the scientific term for us.
You don’t say Pete!
Oh, but I do say Dud.
I thought we was human beings Pete. What’s Homo sapiens when it’s at home?
It’s a sort of sub-section of the genus known as Humans, or Man, Dud………Homo to give us our Latin name. You see Dudley, millions of years ago there were many different types of Homo’s, all descended from one of the great apes, and they all had different names like Homo Rudolfensis, Homo Floresiensis, Homo Soloensis, Homo Erectus…
(Dud slops his beer and supresses a smirk)
What’s so funny Dud? This here tome is intellectual stuff I’ll have you know….so .get your mind out of the gutter please. Of course, it’d go right over your head this would.
That’s cos I’m only 5’ 2” Pete. It just sounded a bit rude Pete, that’s all. Is it against the law to have a laugh now is it? Do you mind if I have a sandwich?
(Dud takes a sandwich out of his pocket. Pete gives him a derisive look)
Not at all Dudley, munch away. For your information Homo erectus was so called ‘cos he was the first Homo to walk upright and that gave him all kinds of gyp Dud…all kinds of gyp…..back ache, neck ache, fallen arches, bunions, the lot……in fact, Homo erectus probably died out ‘cos of the little known medical condition that is the Gyp.
Oohh, you don’t have to tell me Pete. This bunion on my right big toe, the one I told you about last week, has been giving me awful gyp all week, been throbbing like a Belisha beacon it has. I didn’t know it was all down to me being a Homo erectus Pete.
Well neither did I Dud ‘till I found this book lying on our table. Come to think of it, I don’t remember seeing this book before, let alone reading it, and yet I seem to be cognisant of its contents. Strange things appear to be afoot Dudley, which would tie in neatly with your current problem. Anyway, I’d put you down as more of a Homo neanderthalensis myself Dud. More commonly known as Neanderthals. They was short too; in fact just about your height Dud. Stocky, a bit podgy Dudley, like yourself; very small brains, as thick as your proverbial two short planks.
Thanks a lot Pete. What type are you then?
Homo sapiens of course. Sapiens meaning wise. Wise man, that’s me Dud. And not surprisingly it’s blokes like me what ended up ruling the world.
What happened to us Neanderthals then?
You got wiped out Dud by us sapiens.
How am I still here then?
You must be one of them throwbacks Dud; you might even be the missing link.
(Dud chokes and spits a bit of sandwich out)
That’s another thing Dud, where’d you get that sandwich, it wasn’t even in a cellophane wrapper or anything when you pulled it out of that mangy pocket of yours. What else you got in there?
Ah well, it was a stroke of luck Pete. I was down the betting shop having a flutter see, as you do…..
as you do Dud…..
…..as you do Pete, when I noticed this sandwich just lying there on the pavement. Pristine it was Pete, pristine. I thought funny, funny……
…..that is funny Dud, don’t see many pristine sandwiches on pavements Dud, bloody funny if you ask me……
exactly Pete, bloody funny….
funny………I picked it up see, gave it a little sniff, a bit of a poke around and thought I’d have it for me lunch.
Well that really marks you down as a caveman Dud that does. They was known for their foraging ways you see.
What’s foraging then Pete?
It’s when you go rooting and grubbing about on the ground, picking up any bits of old rubbish Dud…. berries, nuts, old fag ends……probably bits of twigs and manky worms in there too…..bloody disgusting if you ask me. And them cavemen probably caught a few primeval mice and squirrels too whilst they were at it, but it all tasted like your proverbial old socks….
…..bit like this warm beer Pete…
……until us sapiens invented fire o’ course. And that changed everything ‘cos they could roast the mice and saute the squirrels, and probably garnish them with a couple of gently boiled twigs and worms, and then agriculture came along, and then farming, and this bloke, what wrote this book here, thinks we should stop eating meat, ‘cos farming is E-V-I-L Dud, it’s the work of Satan himself Dud. In fact you can’t get much more evil than farming Dud, even if you was to try. For example, if you was to come home and bash your own sweet, gentle grandmother over the head Dud, you still wouldn’t be as evil as them farmers.
My granny wasn’t very sweet and gentle Pete, she was a right old battle axe…..
Well, we’ll suspend our disbelief Dud. Where was I? Oh yes, this bloke thinks we should go back to foraging, cos we’d be much happier, much thinner and there wouldn’t be any McDonald’s.
(Dud guiltily removes a slice of spam from his sandwich, but looks longingly at it just the same)
What’s McDonald’s Pete?
I don’t know Dud, but this here bloke seems to think it’s also the work of the Devil.
He’s got a point there hasn’t he Pete? All those billions of animals being murdered just so we can chop them up into little pieces and turn them into this here spam. Makes you want to vomit really don’t it?
Yes Dud, spam often makes me want to vomit.
Imagine Pete, just imagine……..are you imagining Pete?
What do you think this dreamy, faraway look in my eyes is Dud?
Imagine if we got took over by aliens, and just cos we don’t speak the same language as them, and don’t look like them, they’d think we was dumb animals, just like all them cows and sheep and chickens, and they’d round us all up, keep us in big alien sheds and only let us out so we could get bigger and fatter and then they’d kill us, cover us over with some sort of alien sauce and eat us up for dinner.
You’d be marked out as a dumb animal for sure Dud, but I see your point, it’s sort of like an animal holocaust when you put it like that. Of course, every animal is part of the food chain but no other species captures and breeds their prey just to kill it on a cruel and industrial scale, and we weren’t even made to eat meat every day Dud. We was just runty little scavengers out in the savannah……
(Dud munches his sandwich noisily. Pete gives him the evil eye)
…….looks like some of us still are Dud. Grubbing about for grubs, we were, and occasionally getting a bite out of something some lion dropped, like you and that sandwich you’re stuffing your face with.
(Dud cradles his precious sandwich protectively)
You got all serious there Pete, have a drop of beer, it’ll help you get over it. What was you saying earlier about missing links? If you’re so wise Pete, why you hanging down the pub with the missing link? How did your sapiens lot come to rule the world anyway?
Well there’s the mystery Dud; no-one knows. Homo sapiens did master the use of fire, which gave them a very handy leg up on other species, but nobody knows what made them get cleverer and cleverer and their brains get bigger and bigger until they ended up landing on the moon.
Have we landed on the moon Pete? I must have missed that.
Well, we haven’t Dud have we, but somebody has, or will. That’s the other amazing thing about this book I’m reading, it was published in 2014.
How can that be Pete?
It’s another mystery Dud; how you and I can be sat in this pub, during the year of our Lord 1965, and be discussing this book what was published 49 years in the future, by some skinny bloke who isn’t even born yet.
Who is he Pete?
His name’s Yuval Noah Harari. He’s a lecturer in History at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem and he’s a Homo sexual.
Is he really Pete? Does that mean sexy man Pete; he doesn’t look very sexy in that photo does he?
No, but intellect is sexy, is it not Dud?
I wouldn’t know Pete, I’m just a Neanderthal. ‘Ere Pete, I think I know how we got cleverer and cleverer though. It’s coming to me, I can feel it……what happened see is this giant black rectangle thing appeared out of nowhere, and it magically taught a bunch of monkeys how to beat each other over the heads with bits of animal bones, and that was the start of us using tools and killing off all the other monkeys, and one day a monkey chucked a bone into the air and it turned into a spaceship see…………..
Plausible, very plausible Dud, if it weren’t the opening sequence to 2001 Space Odyssey, you idiot, and that film won’t come out until 1968.
Are we in some kind of weird time warp Pete?
I think we are Dud. I’ve been feeling that for some time; like you and me have been stuck here in our raincoats and flat caps for years and years. I mean, I can’t remember being anywhere else, or how I got here, or where this book came from. And another thing, I’m sure I died round about 1995.
Is it ok to make jokes about homosexuals Pete, if it’s no longer 1965?
I think it is Dud, it’s just humour of the times – you know like them sexist Carry On films and, I mean, this is nothing like the future Derek and Clive is it?
Ooh err Pete, I’m feeling all strange, all sort of wibbly wobbly like. I think I’m dead too. I think us being dead explains why this isn’t nearly as good as our other stuff – you know the Greta Garbo one, the Tarzan one, the one in the art gallery and the one about Jesus.
You’re right Dud. Someone else is writing this rubbish, ‘cos I was a genius I was.
So was I Pete, you can’t take all the credit. Do you recommend that book you’re reading Pete?
As it happens I do Dud. Very clever it is, I’m sure the Homo sapiens’ll love it. Not sure about a Neanderthal like you Dud.
(Dud finishes his sandwich and downs his pint)
It takes all kinds Pete. Yin and Yang. A posh kid from public school and a working class kid from Dagenham, for example. Where would you have been without me?
Indeed Dud. Let’s exit arm in arm stage left. I feel a trip to an art gallery coming on.