93 Men in a Boat [63] : The Learned Professor

One cannot but admire the calibre of quest speakers we get on our trips around the world; learned scholars happy to impart their knowledge of the specific region in which we are travelling. Our last trip was graced by none other than a Professor of History, no less. A most interesting chap he was too!

Speaking from the hip without notes, he was able to give illustrated lectures using only three slides in the best part of an hour’s talk. No-one questioned anything he said during or afterwards – mainly because he usually got the graveyard slot after lunch that gives one the opportunity for a good snooze…

It was our good (?) fortune to be graced by his presence at our dinner table one evening. Naturally, he didn’t stop professing his favourite subject : history. It was most illuminating! Did you know, for example, that history has nothing to do with facts but rather the extrapolation and interpretation of events? I didn’t. That’s probably why I failed by history ‘O’ level all those years back. History is, apparently, subjective. I’m sure George Orwell would have endorsed such a view most heartily.

It seems the good Prof had written over 100 books so I looked a few up. My particular favourite was one about alternative pasts, presents and futures. Being a huge fan of Harry Turtledove – a US history buff who writes fictional accounts in the same vein – I was surprised to find the book listed under non-fiction

Still, what do I know? I’ve never managed to bore half my audience into somnolence no matter how hard I tried, so I take my hat off to him for that achievement if nothing else.

And despite several conversations during the course of the trip, I’ve yet to find out what he does in real life.

Actually, I’m not sure he has one…


8 responses to “93 Men in a Boat [63] : The Learned Professor

  1. History should be fascinating and engaging. It is also full of mystery, like a good “who dunnitt”. When I used to write my occasional historical diversions for Anna Raccoon, I was amazed at how mysterious history can be, and how things we think we know, we need to question.

  2. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……….

    What happened?
    Where am I?

  3. “…….Did you know, for example, that history has nothing to do with facts but rather the extrapolation and interpretation of events?…….”

    I suspect you exaggerate with the phrase ‘nothing to do with the facts’, but the man is indeed correct. “History” is our consideration of the past. Facts are used to bolster interpretations.

    For example:

    1857 A bunch of folks kill a bunch of other folks in various parts of India.

    UK History:
    The Indian Rebellion of 1857 aka: The Sepoy Mutiny aka: The Indian Revolt of 1857 aka: The Indian Insurrection
    Notice the use of the words ‘rebellion’ and ‘mutiny’, ‘Insurrection’ and ‘revolt’. This word usage implies the locals were insubordinate ungrateful louts rising up against their rightful masters, the divinely ordained order of the world as it were. It was illegal. It was immoral. How dare they!

    India History:
    The First War Of Independence.
    A noble and patriotic attempt to throw off the vile yoke of the Imperialist White Dog oppressors!
    Gora Go Home!

    History is our consideration of the past. Facts play only a small part.

  4. Harry Turtledove’s alternate histories aren’t a bad quick read. You kind of know what’s going to happen, but you plough on anyway.