Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Do you think history matters?

For me, it does. I like old stones and a bumpy landscape and the prospect of finding something last held by ancient man - just to hold it. Just to hold it and think. I've watched too much Time Team....

On a personal level I spend a lot of time trying to unravel where I've come from and what made 'me'. What were my forefathers like? What shaped their lives? Which of their genes have influenced the way I look, think and behave? So understanding 'me', means a need to understand 'them', their lives and times. And they, of course were influenced by events national and international - wars and slumps and times of plenty. So on a larger scale, to understand society now, we need an appreciation of what has gone before.

It's how to make it come alive that's the perennial problem - those lists of dates and battles that were on the curriculum for me didn't inspire at all. Later the GCSE syllabus seemed to offer snapshots ('The War', 'Chinese Medicine') in isolation which also seemed a bit inadequate. So what is the answer - apart from casting Lara Croft as Boudicea or Simon Callow as Attila the Hun?

Today the nation is asked to contribute a diary entry that will be archived in the British Library as a sort of collective snapshot of October 17th. If you're interested you can contribute by clicking Make Today History. I did that - a somewhat weedy contribution - best illustrated by the photo of the view from our window this morning and might be outlined thus:

'Got up. Let out hens. Ate toast. Dodged rain. Shut in hens. Ate stew. Went to bed.'

I wonder if - circa 1880 - my predecessors not far from here might have noted:
'Got up. Let out hens. Ate gruel. Dodged rain. Mined lead. Shut in hens. Ate stew (hen). Went to bed.'

Hmm, bit more productivity in there somewhere but otherwise much the same.....

No comments: