Living in the twilight world of freelance and voluntary work, where the days of the week often blur together, Bank Holidays generally take me by surprise. Likewise school half-terms, now that the children are beyond the education system and the grandchildren still too young for it. So, suddenly I find that this week there’s a more relaxed air about the place and – bliss – almost no traffic on my morning run.
And furthermore a special highlight of the May half-term holiday is a new series, aired daily, of Horrible Histories. This time I don’t even have the excuse of our History undergrad daughter being home to watch it with me. I brazenly just sit down with a cup of tea and a flapjack at 4:30pm and enjoy it.
The sketches actually make me laugh out loud, and the songs are wonderful parodies – yesterday’s being of Simon and Garfunkel – with lyrics that teach stuff about the Vikings or the American Civil Rights movement. In a previous series they foreshadowed last year’s discovery and rehabilitation of Richard III with a song which included the immortal line ‘Can you imagine it – I’m the last Plantagenet?’. The topics jump from era to era and entwine in a completely surreal way today’s popular culture with genuine and interesting details about the Reformation or Spartan marriage ceremonies.
In a darkened room somewhere there are tortured minds (including Dave Cohen whom I think I knew a little at Bristol University in yet another by-gone age) thinking this stuff up, and it’s brilliant, funny, clever and subtle. It knocks spots off so many of the tired/predictable/crude/simplistic sit-coms that are written for adults and which don’t need to be mentioned here.
The only issue now is coming to terms with the fact that in the current series the 1960s have qualified for inclusion.