Thursday, August 7, 2008

How History Should Be Written

Got my pay today after much wrangling and arm-twisting. Long story. It involved the usual cast of characters: Mr Incompetence and Mdm Inconsideration, narrow-minded caricatures living down there on narrow-minded street. After making my necessary monthly payments, I headed off to MPH and found this really funny book on British history by John O'Farrell called "An Utterly Impartial History Of Britain Or 2000 Years Of Upper Class Idiots In Charge". This is probably the best book out there on British history. If more history books were written in this vein, my students would be standing in line to grab hold of it!

Some samples from the book:

On The Normans:

"Er, why's he called William the Conqueror?"
"Don't worry about that, it's just a nickname"

"In fact, during his lifetime... he was actually called "William the Bastard.. owing to his illegitmacy... and the fact he was a complete bastard... he thought nothing of having a man's tongue pulled out and nailed to his front door.. so you'd probably exercise a certain amount of caution before calling him it to his face... "

On Henry VIII:

"Our popular image of Henry is of a very fat and arrogant man with an annoying beard. In fact when he first came to the throne he was handsome and athletic... played the lute and is even credited with writing 'Greensleeves', the very essence of a renaissance Man."

"38 years later he died a bloated, disabled, paranoid despot, condemned to hell by the Pope, 5 failed marriages and the kingdom fiercely divided. Still, 'Greensleeves' is quite a catchy little number."

On the Creation of the Metropolitan Police:

"One thousand constables were introduced on to the London Streets to direct tourists to Tower Bridge, tell people the time and pull over any liberated slaves driving an expensive car... It is of course from Robert Peel that we get the slang word 'Bobby' for Policemen and well into the 20th Century the police were still nicknamed 'Peelers' Sir Robert Peel's middle names were 'Bill', 'Fuzz', 'Pig', 'Filth' and Rozzer'. "


"America also gave assistance to China who had turned up to the Second World War far too early in 1937. Relations between the United States and Japan were rapidly deteriorating as the latter took over French Indo-China. 'Why can't places like Vietnam just be left alone?' argued the Americans."

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