We make history – (but not in the circumstances of our own choosing)

How much history can you tell in exactly-ish nine minutes? Quite a lot, it turns out.

The Deaf Institute, a rather lovely space on Grosvenor St, just as you enter UniversityZone south of Manchester, hosted “We Make History” tonight, part of the “Being Human festival.” It was basically 8 (less than the advertised 9) historians or kind-of sort of-historians talking for allegedly-exactly (there was a prominent countdown clock, but no taser enforcement)

The audience was ably warmed up by Steve Cross, who apparently comperes science – and of late history – events around the country.

There were four historians in the first half;

The first, Elaine Tierney looks at festivals and public events from the 16th to 18th century. She did it ably, as a dos and don’ts for project managing festivities. Lay on food (but expect stampedes if your guests get over-famished) and don’t go back near fireworks, seriously.

The second Tereza Ward was from the Manchester Jewish Museum, and was giving excerpts from a holocaust survivor, Helen Taichner, whose account they had mislaid for 25 years. Worth remembering how we dehumanised and persecuted people. Thank goodness we would never ever do that these days.

The third, a ring-in with only four hours notice, was James Sumner. It was a barn-stormer, lamenting that the people who get blue plaques tended not to do the stuff they were famous for while in Manchester (Marie Stopes, but especially Ludwig Wittgenstein, we’re looking at you). There were puns, passion and one of the most appallingly bad (i.e. good) meta-jokes I’ve heard in yonks.

Last up was Dave Haslam, talking about sex and drugs and rock and roll, from Thomas de Qunicy to the Hacienda [a contractual obligation], with rude words about Stoke. He has a new book out.

I didn’t stick around for the second half – knackered- but wish I had. These sorts of of events are a good laugh, a good learn, and the sort of thing that makes living in a big city, with loads of students, fun. Richard Florida, you kind of sort of maybe have a point.

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