Well, my particular forest is quite disgusting.
To be honest, that’s one of the things I adore about it. Only a couple of places in the world have a continuous, multi-thousand-year history of dog-eat-dog hustle that can hold a candle to London’s particular mercantile chaos.
London. The original, the template for that particular foul-smelling, winner-take-all global arena. For much of its history it has been literally full of shit.
And weirdly, shit is something Dan Snow seems genuinely interested in.
Oh Dan, like I wasn’t already obsessed enough with your piercing blue eyes, Oxbridge accent and unstoppable nerd-passion for history. Now you have to go and computer animate medieval London and show everyone how crazy and disgusting it was? All I can say is that I can’t be blamed if the constabulary find me crying and going through your garbage in the middle of the night.
Now you’re pouring medieval waste onto the streets I walk down to buy my frikking lunch?! Amazing.
This is genuinely fascinating stuff. If you haven’t seen Dan in action before then you are in for a treat. His passion for history is absolutely infectious.
One of the key reasons I like programmes like this is that they serve as antidotes to that all-too-often indulged romanticisation of the past that magical folk tend to indulge in. Sure, the past was amazing but it was also so covered in shit that they had to invent platform shoes to go on top of their existing shoes just to walk down the street.
I watch a lot of documentaries. I think about reviewing them on this blog. But then I look for the magical angle and wonder if it isn’t too tenuous.
For instance, one of the BBC’s best documentary series last year was the Normans. In the first episode, the presenter explains how in northern France Christianity overlaid oven the Norse beliefs of payment and sacrifice to the gods and this more than anything, is why the North of England (and France) have such amazing Norman abbeys. You see, once you had butchered/conquered/raped/invaded an area, you kinda needed to buy back God’s forgiveness. Now that God wasn’t Thor or Odin, that meant you built enormous abbeys and filled them with monks to pray for your soul and balance it out.
I love this idea simply because it shows that amazing Nordic pragmatism is at least a thousand years old. You could also spin it into a couple of posts about sacrifice and offering and the pre-Afro-Caribbean origins of paying the spirit world for physical effects in European magic and so on… But… Nah… This is a blog of action, of real world advice.
And my real world advice?
Watch this. Based on my Google Analytics you either live somewhere near London or live somewhere that London served as a template for (as well as a place to get the fuck away from). Documentaries are where it’s at at the moment.
It’s good, engaging history. You’ll get a lot out of it. And besides, the next one is about Paris. Filthy, filthy Paris. Brilliant!
If you’re in the UK you can watch it here. If you’re not in the UK… well… you know what to do.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a moderately attractive TV presenter saying dirty words in an Oxbridge accent. (This is seriously about 200 metres from my office. I’m annoyed I didn’t see them filming it.)