“History is bunk,” declared Henry Ford, whilst executing an elaborate handbrake turn. Fast forward 100 years: Ford Motor Company is sinking like a stone and Adam-Hart Davis is on telly every other night. Now who’s bunk Mr Ford?
I love historians, they’re so dusty. A good historian should be fearless and incorruptible; a man (or woman the historiette) capable of independent thought, with a taste for danger (like Indiana Jones); unsparing and unpitying. You cannot help but admire their thirst for the truth, the patches on their jackets and their battle cry: “I feel the need, the need for TWEED!” My old friend, Ann Historian, said that it’s imperative as historians we learn from our mistakes. “The only clue to what man can do is what man has done before,” said Anna, thoughtfully. “Ergo, if you are concerned that the Romans are about to plunder your village or fearful you neighbour will run over your dog, all you have to do is ask: have they done it before? Thus is the historian born. Can I have a hug now please?” Ann’s got one of those Blue Plaques above her front door. It reads, “Alan Pob, inventor of the Blue Plaque, lived here 1948-84.” She reckons it doubles the value of the property.
I myself am from a long line of historians: my great Grandfather wrote a book called ‘The History and Social Influence of the Potato’ (this sounds made up but is true), my Grandfather penned ‘A History of Leatherworking Tools 1700-1950’ (this is also true) and in 1989 my father compiled a short pamphlet of my shortcomings (this is a lie – it was actually 1991). As for me, at university I specialised in the Jesuits, the Mock-Tudors and the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson. Oh, and I once shared a cheeseboard with Dr David Starkey.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start being historians! Do brass rubbings, interview your gran, purposefully buy out-of-date crisps from your local grocer. There is much to be gleaned from the past. Just remember this: history continues to repeat itself… especially after a curry.