Let me take you back a few years to when I was ten years old. I came home from school, packed away my stuff and grabbed my coat, pulling my mum out the door. The sky was dark, the weather cold and bitter but we trudged on up the street anyway. We reached the local newsagents, my mum exchanged words and money with the man and I had in my hand the thing I had waited so long for; Horrible Histories Issue 1 – The Rotten Romans.
I know this may sound drastic to you but I think that magazine changed my life. Now I’d been exposed to history before obviously, in school, from my grandparents, in the museums and even in earlier Horrible Histories books (I remember Boudica very clearly.) But those fortnightly magazines got me hooked. They were perfectly crafted for children but they never felt patronising or childish, they were gory and extremely and best of all, full of fun facts and genuine impressive knowledge. I think I must have collected at least one hundred of those things, prompting me to make my own comic strips on the Incas and telling every family member about Henry VIII. So Terry Deary and Martin Brown, I owe you a lot for my love for this wonderful subject.
As I got older, my relationship with you perhaps faltered as I became too lazy not just for you, but for most subjects in school. You were a persistent buggar though because the problem I had, and this still happened when I studied you at University level, was that I never lost my enthusiasm for learning more from you but I did begrudge using you and applying you in the educational way. It bored me, history wasn’t about note taking and referencing but about delving into the past, closing your eyes and imagining yourself in a world so completly different to your own. It’s about escaping and seeing how our ancestors lived, how the world we know has been shaped and how you teach us about the future.
I think people love you so much because you offer them a chance to lead another life because that’s essentially what all history is; billions of lives living all at once in their different ways. People can’t get enough of historical fiction or period dramas because of this.
Of course you’re a broad topic and one might wonder that I couldn’t possibly love ALL of you and yes I do have my favourite bits of you; Medieval England, War of the Roses, Cold War to name a few but I think you’re truly wonderful all over. I think if more people were interested in you, the world would be a much better place. You make me laugh, cry and keep me up till the early hours stuck in some magical words and worlds.
Where I am in my life right now is because I have followed my love for you. You’re something I’ll always go back to and look forward to even more.