Although we didn’t find Venetian traveller Marco Polo whilst gallivanting across the Mongolian Silk Road, we do still have a few questions ready we would have asked him.
For those of you unaware – Marco Polo was a legendary (there’s an airport named after him – this is his status) traveller who journeyed out to Mongolia and spent time in the court of the great Kublai Khan.
The latter bloke was the merry leader of the Mongols, and he whisked Polo under his chubby arm for a long old time to act as his accountant.
Mr. Marco Polo
Yes! But our enthusiasm for our search was somewhat dampened by the knowledge Polo has been dead for a thousand years, but nonetheless we remained optimistic he would turn up briefly to answer our questions. So what were they, dear reader?
Marco Polo, looking resplendent below, wouldn’t have had such an easy time of it out on the Mongolian plains. Nor out at sea.
Disease and misery were commonplace a thousand years ago, so the continual fight against scurvy (a disease no one understood) and boredom (no TVs back then, dear readers) would have been… er… continual. Anyway, below is the ageing Mr. Polo we could imagine meeting for an interview. Below are the questions we can only dream of asking him.
As an ice breaker we thought: “What’s your favourite type of jam?” would go a really long way to relaxing him up a bit.
A loose tongue is a looser brain, you see. Then would come the big questions. Laurence Bergreen, in his excellent book Marco Polo: From Venice To Xanadu, argues that Polo was an opium addict.
So, balls to the pleasantries, a simple, “Are you an opium addict, Polo?” would go down a storm! We’re guessing this might make him a bit grumpy, though, so a bit of joshing would be in order next.
Something such as, “So, just how much of a lard arse was Kublai Khan?” Followed by the ever serious, “Did you ever get scurvy and wobble your teeth about with your finger to make people say, ‘Ewww, gross!’?”
This would be followed by questions about his beard, and more of his consideration about scurvy. Things like:
- “Nice beard. How do you groom it?”
- “Is it difficult to maintain your beard when you have scurvy?”
- “You know scurvy? It’s a funny name for a horrendous disease, isn’t it?”
- “Did you ever find a rat sleeping inside your beard?”
- “Did you know that rats can produce vitamin C and so, consequently, can’t get scurvy?”
After this we feel he might be getting a bit sleepy, so we’d ask him about his bedtime routine.
“Did you get a good fix of opium before you went to bed, you know, to ward off the scurvy and help your beard grow?”
We’d wrap things up with a hug and a kiss, and an exchange of gifts from our era. A Pot Noodle, some Jaffa Cakes, a can of Coke Zero, and a jar of marmite.