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…