History, My Friend


It’s Friday, so perhaps it’s the moment for some sentimental nonsense. Or perhaps it’s the rain. Anyway, my oldest friend called me.

Over the years and many tours he has spent fighting in the UK’s wars we had written to each other about the daily crap (me: London is busy, and I ate/hate xyz – him: I am in a tent in the desert, and I think that was a ship to ship missile that just went over the tent.). Ten years ago he married the most incredible woman, who is never not smiling or properly laughing. They have two smart, confident children.

Last week they were in London for the afternoon. We met up and George (9) asked me what I did.

George: Do I know you?
Max: George, that’s rude. You do.
Me: Only since you were born. But I’ve had my hair cut off so maybe that’s it.
George: Okay. What do you do, for work?
Me: I’m a historian.
George: I’m not very interested in history.
Max: George, that’s rude.
Me: No, it’s fine.
Max: No it’s not, Lucy’s written a book.
Me: It’s not a qualification for being interesting.
George: Is the book any good?
Me: It’s a valid question.
George: So tell me why should I be interested in history?

I like a challenge. Poor George. I gave him boys through my centuries: cancerous chimneysweeps, doomed princes, blind musicians, canny pickpockets, successful orphans and the hero children of the Blitz. (George was drinking fruit juice, I was drinking grape juice.) He said, ‘You’re quite interesting, I think’. He gave me a hug at the Tube station.

Yesterday, Max heard George regaling a circle of his friends with the stories of Blitz children and St Paul’s. And how he’s really interested in history now. And his friend is a historian. ‘A real one.’

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One thought on “History, My Friend

  1. Philip Wilson

    That actually gave me a lump in my throat. The wonder of history – magical in so many ways and so fertile to the minds of children – there is hope, a great deal of hope.

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