I’ve spent the day time travelling across several millennia. One in the morning saw me somewhere editing the far distant future of space colonisation while most of the day I have spent in the 7th century. No, I haven’t completely lost the plot, though it feels a bit that way after trying to make sense of two royal houses, their political affiliations, family ties and religious beliefs. Let alone so many unfamiliar and yet similar sounding names… even within one family unit… and you wouldn’t believe how many of them ended up either murdered or as saints! From science fiction to ancient historical fact has been a hell of a jump.
Interesting, though; the 7th century is not one we learn much about in school, and unless you have a particular fascination with that era it is not something you are likely to come across all that often. So you don’t really notice how little you know until you actually need information. Then you ask yourself a question and see a great, gaping black hole in your knowledge. Now, at this point, the sensible thing, I can assure you, is to step back from the edge and walk away, preferably humming to yourself to cover any unwanted curiosity from getting hold of your attention. Because we’ve all seen the sci-fi films, right? And we know what happens when you get too close to a black hole, yes? That’s right, you get sucked in. And where … if … you come out is anyone’s guess.
Me, I’ve only come out temporarily, for a coffee break. I only actually needed a few historical details… I could, potentially, have filled in the gaps with a bit of creative common sense… but no… completely sucked in, hooked and caught in the current of a world I barely knew existed…
I am actually amazed at how much still remains in terms of contemporary historical records. You have to love this country for its history! Not always, of course, for what we have done… there are as many blots on the fair pages of our history books as any other nation…but in terms of the sheer richness and breadth of history one small island can generate… it always astonishes me.
Working on the books with Stuart we come across these gaps in knowledge, but usually one or the other of us knows enough about a particular period to give us a jumping-off point, we delve a bit, make sure we have any facts straight, then take it from there. There is a flow from here to prehistory when you take a wider view and where the knowledge of history runs out it flows seamlessly into legend and on into archaeology… and that’s fine… that works well with what we have done so far. This time, with Doomsday, we hit a period we seemed never to have studied… that bit right on the cusp of where knowledge does run out, and before legend kicks in.
So it has been back to the drawing board, so to speak, for the past few months, as we realise that the idea of history that we assume we know is incorrect or has huge gaps of several hundred years and many of our preconceptions have been seriously challenged. Including asking ourselves quite why this period of history seldom seems to be mentioned outside of specialist studies… and thereby hangs a tale in itself…
But the coffee is finished and there are still questions to answer… the black hole has a lure all of its own. If I’m not back this side of morning, send in a search party… and tell them to bring coffee.