Tuesday, 13 October 2009

History as she iz rememberized

On the school run I get to listen (oh joy) to our local commercial radio station Heart FM, the replacement for the sadly missed GWR. (That's on the way to school - on the way back I can flip over to the Today programme on Radio 4.)

For all Heart's faults (do they really buy bulk rights to certain tracks cheap? they always seem to play the same 10 songs for weeks at a time), they have a quite entertaining breakfast duo in the matey sounding Jez and Roo, inherited from GWR. This pair have a good line in banter, but this morning demonstrated a worrying lack of grasp of history.

They were celebrating the fact that the Tatler magazine is apparently 300 years old, and wondering about the contents of the first edition. This would make it 1709, remember. Amongst the suggestions were that the latest fashion accessory would be a crossbow, and that hot celebrities would include Napoleon and the subjects of assorted witch burnings.

Napoleon wasn't born until 1769, so that would be prescient indeed. The crossbow had long been replaced by guns. And the last execution for witchcraft in England (where witches were hanged, not burned) was in the 17th century. All in all, they couldn't have got it more wrong if they'd tried. Now, okay, it was just a bit of fun, but what saddens me is that they couldn't invest five minutes effort into researching what was around in 1709 - something any teenager could do with Google without breaking a sweat - which would have enabled them to come up with equally amusing but chronologically sensible suggestions. It's lazy and pig ignorant.

However, one thing I did like. They suggested each magazine came with a free peasant on the cover, which I find a rather delightful concept.
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