Two years of work have led to the discovery
of the “lost” medieval bridge in the River Teviot near Ancrum.
Medieval, eh? Pretty old, then? I guess so.
Experts, using radiocarbon dating,
have confirmed it is from the mid-1300s.
Wow. That doesn’t happen every day, eh? I guess not.
They said that makes them
the oldest scientifically dated bridge remains
found in their original position
across one of Scotland’s rivers.
Wow. The oldest. But wait. What’s that strange tingling? Could it be my spidey-sense? I guess so.
Just look at those qualifiers on “oldest.” Scientifically dated. Found in their original position. Across one of Scotland’s rivers.
Now, I entirely get the geographical qualifier, but I am puzzled as to who (other than scientists) has been going around dating bridge remains (and what possessed them to do so), as well as how frequently brick-or-stone bridge remains drift downstream. I mean, where else would you find them but where they fell?
Setting these issues aside, as I often have to do, I also have to admire the discipline of the precision, the restraint in claiming a record. In this era of marketing and political rhetoric increasingly indistinguishable from boasting, I say, “Good for them.”
It got me thinking about that impulse to claim a record in any field of human endeavour. Well, in any human activity, anyway, “endeavour” seeming a bit generous in some cases. The home page of Guinness World Records cites these:
- Most-viewed video on YouTube (Baby Shark)
- Fastest speed by an electric ice-cream van (80.043 mph)
- Largest collection of Ghostbusters memorabilia (1,221)
- Most Grand Prix wins (92)
I dunno. On the face of it, it seems sort of silly to me. (Well, except for that YouTube video one. I mean, I’d like more views for my creations.) And yet . . .
I think records-thinking does a few things. It spurs some on to great(er) effort: Here I’m thinking of the electric ice-cream-van driver. It puts some achievements in a context that is helpful for the uninitiated: Here I’m thinking of Grand Prix wins. And of me.
And it gives us a harmless way to take more pleasure in our admittedly mundane accomplishments: Here I’m thinking of “earliest arising time on a Tuesday without snow on the ground” perhaps, or “longest stretch of days without missing exercise in a month starting with A.”
Yes, suitable qualifiers make all the difference. With sufficient discipline and restraint, anyone can be a record holder. In their original position.