to rest my eyes in shades of green

arboretum bridge

It may be the second half of October, but summer isn’t done. It’s been the mid-80s for the past few days, so on Friday I took a lunchtime walk through the shady arboretum, not intending to stop and sketch, but of course I couldn’t resist when I came across this bridge. I don’t come down this end very often, so had forgotten about this spot. I stood to sketch, and listened to a BBC History podcast. They were talking to Peter Ackroyd, who has started a multi-volume History of England because, he says, nobody gets taught the history of England any more (though he admitted having no knowledge about what schools do teach these days), and this first book is all about the Foundation of England. Wow, then this being an all-purpose tell-it-all history, it must really cover and shed light on the beginnings of England, Anglo-Saxon England, real in-depth, maybe up to the Norman conquest or even earlier, the Battle of Brunanburh or something. No – it stops at Henry VII. The whole ‘foundation’ volume must then cover about eight hundred years, which sounds a bit disappointing, as were his reasons. When asked why he’s stopping at Henry VII (and not, say, about six Henrys earlier), his answer was “well I dunno, I just did”, and that was pretty much his response for most other questions on his choices for this book. Hey, Ackroyd sells books and he knows his business, and I know he’s not taken that seriously as a historian by academic historians, I just find it a shame when popular writers of history effectively skim over the entire medieval period of England, when the country was truly founded (and reborn several times), not thinking it important enough to give at least two volumes in what’s meant to be a definitive history over six volumes (I’m sure the Tudor period alone will get a single volume), but then that’s the medievalist in me, and I’m probably being unfair, basing it on this interview. Anyway, lunchtime was up, the podcast finished, the drawing was done. Maybe on another lunchtime I’ll read the book.

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