It hadn’t occurred to me at all. We’ll not as far as this person’s abilities to communicate a topic that clearly fascinates her. Yes, I know that part of that work is to promote a book just before Christmas.

I enjoyed Dr Lucy Worsley exploration of the life of the author Agatha Christie[1][2]. She looked, not just at the chronological facts but tried to piece together Christie’s motivations and the forces that were acting on her at different stages of her life. A well-crafted story was presented that was far more interesting than may have been commonly understood.

Now, I’m told that the reaction of some people is as “marmite”, that is you either love it or hate it, with little room in-between. It seems Worsley’s dramatisation of the incidents of Christie’s life are considered frivolous and superficial by some pedantry types.

As a presenter, Worsley loves to dress up and is not shy of debunking long-standing historical myths. It’s a style that leads viewers and listeners into the feeling that things were not as simple as our school textbooks had us think. That there’s a twist and tail in every story of the past.

The snobbery that can be directed towards those who step outside the box and challenge, even with great care, embedded assumptions, and folklore is not nice to see. It’s not limited to academic historians who have a fondness for telling stories. There is a little too much of this trend in the aviation world too. Ten minutes on Twitter and you’ll be convinced.

I remember one of Quino’s cartoons[3] showing a university professor sitting in the middle of a room. In true cartoon abstract his head was a big arrow that pointed towards the roof. Sitting around him was a group of smiling acolytes. Their heads were extended too. They each wrapped around the professor’s head like a vine. The message being that it’s all too easy to give up independent thinking and follow a classical or standard line. An illustration of “group-think”. That tendency for people to cling to an ideology regardless of its sensibility.

Here’s a Christmas message. If tempted to be a pedant or a snob, even with the best intentions in mind, count to ten before launching reactions to the creative and more demanding thoughts of others. Especially, when thoughts and ideas step on your own cherished field of expertise.

It’s worth a try.




Author: johnwvincent

Our man in Southern England

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