For years now, I have been collecting golden nuggets of info from books, online print-outs, and tales passed on by word of mouth. I have scribbled things in notebooks, on sticky notes, and on napkins. Trying to track all this back and piece it together into something of an anthology is going to be quite a task, as I am now just beginning to realize! My current plan is to locate as much of the scattered data as I can, type it out on a Microsoft document, and then worry about organizing it later. Granted, the results may be rather frightening as King Alfred and Major Andre share page space, (to paraphrase the Duke of Wellington, “I don’t know what effect it will have on the reader, but it certainly scares me!"), but things will begin to get done, one step at a time. Speaking of the Duke, I am considering using another one of his quotes for the title of my "disaster-piece": “The Nearest Run Thing”. Yes, I know he meant it to refer to the Battle of Waterloo, but this project will be a close second in the history close calls!
To start this massive process of unearthing buried treasure, I decided to dig out some of my worn and tattered folders that I have been compiling since I was 12, plus some of my ancient and dusty notebooks back from the early 2000's. It gives one a funny feeling, like taking a step back in time, viewing my messy handwriting and lovingly organized folders which my mom helped me label. Some of the labels read as follows: "British Biographies 1", "British Biographies 2", "British Biographies 3", "More British Biographies"; "British Battles"; "British Saints"; "History of Pipes"; "Maj. John Pitcairn"; "Catholic Loyalists", etc. There is something about the process of digging through old things that helps you better understand how you became what you are.
Indeed, my writing lacked polish in the old days, and it was punchy and somewhat riddled with triumphalism. It was simplistic in tone and missed major historical points in favor of telling a good yarn. But it came from the heart, and it showed a burning love for the two things that I still love more than my life: The Catholic Church and the
But the sum total of my mission statement is a little harder to explain. After all, there is an abundance of British historical literature by learned authors, and quite a few good folk compilations. But I still feel a strong pull to retell the old tales in my own words and explain why I love the things I do about Britishness. I do not mean to make this book some sort of hagiography; I am fully aware and willing to discuss at length the bad as well as the good. Also, I want to seek the answers to some very important questions: Is the story of
I suppose this book, or draft, or file, or whatever you want call it, will be something of a philosophical study as well as an historical one. But then history is the story of man, and man is a thinking being. Not only thinking, but loving, hating, seeking, grasping, clinging, and capable of exerting great good or evil based on his philosophy of life. I feel the weight of this fact more and more as political developments and human behavior are increasingly corrupted by misplaced priorities and droopy-eyed indifference. I wish to express my concern for the international community, and
But more importantly than my nationality is the fact that I am a Christian and a Catholic, and I will be writing with a Christian and a Catholic world-view. Unlike Anne W. Carroll, who wrote some strikingly propagandist Catholic text books for high school students, I will not seek to twist history to fit my chosen scenario or give two-dimensional accounts of persons and events to make the story more easily understood in a "good guy vs. bad guy" context. I will not seek to be overtly preachy or pushy, but rather let my faith shine through in a subtle way, as part of an author is always left behind in his/her work. As Tolkien did with his fantasy, so I will seek to do with my history. Now won’t my “Ringer” buddies be happy with that interpretation? ;-)
|Rummaging, reading, and ruminating......|