Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Five Go Christian Hunting: Let’s Read (and get mad heated about the racial and social implications of) “The Roman Mysteries: The Code Of Romulus"

No video this week I'm afraid guys, bit busy with dull university stuff. Speaking of...

As some of you may have gathered, me and Aaron both go to the same University. Next year, the campus we are both currently on is being sold off to some yuppie cunts to make into trendy twatty housing or something, so all the lecturers are having to empty their offices to move into their new ones.

An unexpected benefit to this, a lot of the books they no longer want, or the library didn’t think were needed, are now on some shelves in the SU bar, where we can help ourselves. I’ve taken to rooting through this looking for weird books, and after missing the chance to take home The Joy of Sex for One (complete with diagrams) I picked up this odd little book which seems to be The Famous Five, but with added slavery and discrimination against Jews.

Join me as I take a sojourn through it’s pages and pick apart a person’s labour of love for no real reason but spite and some forced humour. Fuck yeah!

 The story opens on the main character, Flavia Gemima, throwing a strop about being 10 and not being taken seriously as a detective. This leads to a linguistics debate where a Greek and a Roman talk in Latin, written in English, about Latin words and what they mean.

“The word tego means “I cover”, so detegere means “uncover” and detective is “someone who uncovers the truth”.

What that would sound like spoken aloud in the correct context I don’t know, are the Latin words meant to be Latin, but the English ones are as well? We’re only on the first page and I’ve having troubles with this children’s book.

We then meet the rest of our plucky heroes, Jonathon ben Mordecai (writer’s draft: character name as Oy Vey Goyim Goldstein?), Nubia and Lupus.

Nubia is the ethnic minority, though Rosencrantz Bilderberg probably also fits that bill. I’ll try not to sit on the naming of the black character as “Nubia” too long, but I am really hoping we meet a character from near the Black Sea called Caucasio, because that’s pretty much the level we’re working with here. She’s also an ex-slave.

Caucasio! With the power to gentrify entire towns, and summon artisanal breads!

The last character is a mute ex-beggar boy named Lupus who is apparently the brains or something? I think he’s mainly a plot device for when the writer can’t think of a way for a 10 year old to deduce anything because they are fucking ten years old.
Insert joke about House and Lupus here. I have not watched House.
Anyway, Flavia hasn’t done her homework, so gets told to wash out the shit bucket, but throws another strop and demands a case to solve to prove her worth. Like Sherlock does. She’s the Sherlock in this I think, a stroppy borderline idiot who gets lucky. Her tutor, a Greek dude with bronze hair and rippling muscles (probably) tells her to find out who’s been stealing poppy-seed rolls from the bakery. 

Look at that alien make up.
Who the fuck is this guy, to assign children to do the job of I assume the vigilies or some night watch type deal. What if it’s a mad homeless guy who will stab the shit out of them? This is bullshit.

Yeah, a 10 year old will be fine against this
Their reward for solving this crime which apparently is so heinous it is well known, is they get to read bits from a scroll full of sex and violence. This is a very irresponsible tutor, and being that this is Ancient Rome, they could probably get all the sex and violence they could want on a Saturday out in town, but whatever.

Pictured: CBeebies

The intrepid children go to the bakery, and meet a chubby little prick who neatly sums up the lurking unpleasantness behind setting your children’s book in Rome with, “Work here, what do you think I am? A slave?” Followed by Flavia introducing herself as “Flavia Gemima, daughter of Marcus  Flavius Geminus, sea captain. And this is Jonathon, Nubia and Lupus.”

Our fearless white leader has titles and a history, but these are just like, the others, they don’t get two names because fuck ‘em they got tick the diversity boxes innit?

A bit of blather about bakeries later, and we get an insight into Lupus’ mental gaze, as he notes a big slaves “muscular chest and arms dripping with sweat.” Lupus, you dog you. Also, marks for the author in fitting homoeroticism and appreciation of the male form into a children’s book, well done.

Pudgy prick from earlier, who has introduced himself as “Porcius” (Do you get it, because he’s fat, and like a pig) shows the gang his room, because of reasons, and they meet his cross-eyed sister, who they keep mentioning is cross-eyed, because her being cross-eyed is very noticeable. She’s cross-eyed. The laughing at the disabled makes way for a comment on slavery, as a slave in the bakery has been whipped is dismissed by Porky as not feeling pain, like an animal. So that’s nice.

Yeah this looks totally kid friendly.
The children convene to discuss tactics to catch the thief, who is stealing a dozen poppy-seed rolls every 7th day. Tactics include: Following every member of the household to see if they steal anything, or looking at everyone’s teeth for poppy-seeds.

They ah… aren’t too great at this.

Their investigations bring across the titular Romulus, and his code, which is just a palindrome. Romulus is a slave who was a school teacher before he ran into debt. They also decide that one of Pistor’s (the baker) sons has worms, and then there’s a lovely little discussion about staring at a small boy’s shit for a bit, but a doctor does it, and while the kid does have butt parasites, he didn’t steal the rolls. They ascertain this by asking him, and he says no.  JUSTICE.

This is bullshit!
With Worm Butt eliminated, our team turn to Porky, whose earlier expressed interest in chariot racing means he is stealing them to sell to run away and join the chariots? But he sells them anyway in the shop? So…. Turns out children are not great investigators, Nancy Drew and Young Sherlock Holmes lied to us. LIED.

That's put me on a watchlist.
Cross-eyed lady is accused because she is cross-eyed. I’m not making that up, the reasoning is she is taking the rolls to offer to Venus to make her uncross-eyed. Man, leave her alone, she’s just a bit boss-eyed, it doesn’t make her a criminal Goddamn.

Suddenly, the doctor who looked at a small boy’s poop announces that he, Jonathon and Lupus will be busy tomorrow, for they are going to do secret Christian meetings which is illegal. To which Flavia, upon being confronted with the harrowing truth of the oppression which surrounds her privileged existence, she sighs and grumbles “I forgot you’re Christians as well as Jews.” Oh shit Flavia, sorry your friend’s ethnical and religious discrimination, which could well get them executed, is impeding your ability to win a bet with your tutor so you don’t have to wash out your own faeces for a change. Man, fuck this kid.

To further cement my fury at this little bastard, she solves the fucking thing in a dream, she fucking solves the stupid palindrome thing that Romulus was doing in her head, and it leads her to a secret meeting of Christians, where it turns out he was stealing a tray of rolls once a week to keep some aspect of his old self alive during a religious ceremony, as opposed to submitting fully into his slave role and falling into despair. Then Flavia makes him stop stealing the rolls, no, fuck that, let the poor bastard have some rolls, and keep himself feeling human, or even buy them for him with your mad stacks of Roman coins!

She even considers selling him out for a second just to win a bet, but right at the last second decides to act like a human being for the first time and doesn’t.

CONCLUSIONS: Yo, fuck this book, Flavia is a bitch, the other characters basically disappear after the opening, and she doesn’t learn a goddamn thing. This child’s book has got me far too heated.
Also, that thing about no video? That was a lie. 

Here's one for you, my persistent reading ducklings. (best with headphones because I still haven't got the hang of audio levels apparently)


  1. Nubia? Seriously?

    Did Monty Python write it?

    1. If you say Monty Python 3 times in a mirror, a nerd comes and quotes it for an uncomfortably long time

  2. I hope you know you are treading all over Harvey's area of expertise with this review. It will all end badly. Buckets of tears.

  3. Butler, excellent good man, but nex t time you call me a duckling I shall have to disembowel you with a biro.

  4. Butler, could you ask the other two to answer their comments like you do.They sit there unloved like unanswered texts.....

    I like your articles, you have slipped into the genre seemingly effortlessly.

    1. I crave for affirmation from the internet, they're probably a bit more adjusted.

      And thanks man, it's been more enjoyable than I'd feared at one point

    2. Butler has mostly hit the nail on the head. Although I'm also busy at the moment trying to work out how to use After Effects to edit the short film I made. The frustration it causes gives me no desire to interact.