Why I am a historian

I have been thinking of why I am a historian and trying to work out why I ended up here.

I think that the first reason is that when I was growing up as a I hated school and found the whole thing impossible except for history. When I was studying history I had an excellent teacher who I really liked. I could do it and I was able to flourish.

Second I really like old things. I think that they have a value beyond their physical value. Yesterday I went for a walk in a stream and found prehistoric wood, broken pot from around 1600 and roman pottery. All completely worthless financially but a touchstone from another age, other people and other values. I am a terror to my wife in junk shops, on eBay and walking past skips. I want to save everything and passionately collect all sorts of nonsense.

Finally I am romantic. I love the song by the Levellers “Do I belong to some ancient race, I like to walk in ancient places.” and I do. I dislike the modern age that seems so desperate to divide itself from the past and set its face against our ancestors. Do people not realise that the luxury of the modern age is only possible by the hard work of the past?

And that is it. I think we owe the people of the past a debt of gratitude. We need to value the past as we look to the future and seek to preserve the best of the past to hand onto our children.

Rant over.

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