Blood and Roses

The MP for Blackpool South and ex-editor of History Today describes how his early interest in history bewildered his family but proved ineradicable.

I didn’t read 1066 And All That until well into my teens, but if I had done so earlier, I would have been a sucker for it. Kings, Queens, battles and dates - all those things which some progressives assert children hate, I lapped up from an early age. Perhaps I was a peculiar child.

My mother may well have thought so when, at the age of six or seven in Stockport, the small town in the north-west where we lived, I wanted to investigate the gravestones in St Mary’s churchyard. While my mother shopped at stalls in the cobbled market place nearby with a watchful eye on me, I was in search of the oldest obit I could find. I still remember the date: 1697.

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