As anyone will know who read the gorgeous Fiona MacVie’s interview with me today, I am a history nut.
This is nothing to do with my schooling which gave us history, probably one of the most fascinating of subjects, as dry, dusty and boring, presented in a lazy, stereotyped way that could not fail to leave most of us yawning. Even being asked to imagine myself in a certain time-period was only a veiled attempt to entice me to regurgitate what I had read in the poorly-illustrated books we studied.
No, I owe my love of history to the novels I read outside of the classroom, starting with Henry Treece’s fabulous Viking Trilogy. At that point it all became alive to me, peopled with real, living humans who felt, thought and acted differently from me. I began to sense the enormous cultural differences and appreciate the old saying “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there”’.
Of course, these days we are spoiled rotten with terrific history programmes on the TV. I particularly like the “historical detective stories” where faces are eventually put to ancient skulls and the intricacies of life in the past are untangled. My ideal evening is glued to one of those with my knitting and a large pot of coffee.
So you will understand why I love my author friends who do just that on the written page. They take a long forgotten era and make it live for me. The most recent work I’ve read that caught me up in the long, long ago and made me breathe it was Tim Taylor’s “Zeus of Ithome”. I was so pleased that he liked my Christmas present to him, a promotional video which I reproduce here as a “thank you” to him for writing such a fascinating book.