Wednesday 12 October 2011

History, boys.

David Cameron has said he wants potential British citizens to sit a history test. And then he ruined it by suggesting they should know about Boudica. Sorry, who? It's Boadicea, Dave. Janice Chaznay Doreen Boadicea if you want to be accurate. The name Boudica was made up by Magnus Magnusson for a series he presented in the nineteen-seventies, because when he tried to pronounce Boadicea it came out - in his heavy Icelandic twang  as áfangastaður which actually translates as 'bus stop'. So, Janice Boadicea it is.

It made me think though, that in the year 2011 AD (After Dingbat) we really ought to pay more attention to our past because he who forgets the lessons of history is destined to repeat his GCSEs in due course, after some intensive summer school and private tuition. So, listen up.

It is 1066 and King Winston Churchill II is celebrating the Battle of Britain and the defeat of the Spanish Ramada, a vicious tribe of wandering hoteliers who, having brought about the sacking of Rome (summary dismissal, for multiple offences) had been intent on bringing their voodoo religion to these shores. Anyway, our Winnie, gawd bless 'im, sat atop a bale of hay and lit a victory cigar with which to contemplate his next endeavour. He planned to write the definitive history of the English-speaking people but was struggling for a really good title.

Suddenly, an apple fell from above, hit him on the royal cranium and caused him to invent gravity instead. So busy was he drafting a new work, his incisive On the Origin of Species, that he failed to notice the burning embers of his cigar setting alight the straw bale. The ensuing Great Fire of London was initially hushed up, but a scapegoat was needed. Later that year, under torture, one Samuel Pepys, a notorious highwayman was persuaded to confess to arson. He was offered a pardon if he would blow up parliament, an offer he accepted and would have carried out had not the plot been foiled by general James 'Wolfie' Wolfe, who later became independent candidate for Tooting. Power, indeed, to the people.

As a result the clumsy fire-starter Sir Winston Frank Spencer-Churchill entered history as the saviour of our nation which has never again owed so little to so many politicians.

You see how important it is to learn our history? In the new nation that we are forging in the white heat of indignation, we will ensure that all children are thoroughly indoctrinated with our national myths and will bear in their hearts the stirring call to arms: "Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the United Dingdom lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour".

History. You couldn't make it up.

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