I love, love, love the history section in Waterstones.

All those big paving slabs with fine art prints of Catherine the Great, Ceasar, Stalin and Shakespeare on the front. Bliss. Where else would all those people be hanging out together, but upon shelves?

I stand there, wishing to have all the contents of all the books inside my head. I recently treated myself to two, as give or take a few years, one quite closely follows the other.

I have always been interested in the Gunpowder Plot, how much of it was true, how much exploited by government, and my deep sadness that houses no longer come with priest holes. I’m not saying Catholics should be persecuted enough to hollow out a wall and feel driven to form explosive plots, but that house builders are missing a trick. Would it really hurt them to put in the odd false fitted wardrobe back? And how about a tunnel under the garden? Handy storage AND somewhere to hide from Gestapo/Zombies/canvassing politicians.

Secondly, the Civil War interests me, the whole thing of Cavaliers and Roundheads, hiding up trees, plus ‘When did you last see your father?’ was on the wall when I was a child.

(c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I can’t help but think the parliamentarians ruined things for themselves. With the royals gone they have the chance to make the country fair and just, and get the public love them by giving out free goats or something. Instead, they cancelled Christmas. I love to imagine how it would go down now (riots). Even more relevant would be how the Americans would take to it, as they also adopted the ban, and it was Puritanical beliefs after all that disliked all the feasting, and even the word, Christ-mas (mass) is a very papist term. Technically in a post-reformation country Christservice might be preferred by the government (but less catchy, and would play havoc with the lyrics of carols, Slade songs and let’s not forget poor old Father Christservice.) I love how far from the original ideals of Puritanism — sacrifice, hard work, big hats and no fun — America has steered away from, but still proudly embrace as their roots. Puritans would have gold-living-room-dweller Donald Trump in prison so fast.

 

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Also the idea of a civil war in the UK seems so absurd, until recently that is (illustrating the need for more hidden doors in bookcases). As someone whom I can’t remember the name of once said — ‘Everything that is in the past was once in the future’. So, we maybe won’t have to go back to covertly baking hot cross buns and eating small meat pies in the shape of Jesus’ manger (the origin of mince pies, but personally I prefer the kind you can have with custard), but covert blue EU biscuits and a bloody, authoritarian movement to ban Pokemon Go could become a thing.

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