Back in January 28, 2007 I wrote over in Marginalia about the subtle erosion of the low tech/high sophistication expertise. To be honest the experience of researching and then writing the article uncovered something that has nagged away at me ever since.
I always wanted to be good at history – it was my Dad’s thing in life. When I got to school I found history and I were on different paths. I believe history is a documented collection of people’s opinions, interpretations, and ideas – all carefully selected, edited and reconstructed. I’m as guilty of this as anyone – when I take a photo I include or exclude according to my desired outcome – and no matter what, it’s still a photo and not the actual event.
The second divergence for me is my belief in the concept that history is not the sole province of rich and famous, the illustrious, the leaders – effectively the minority. I believe that history is made up of the modest sweat of working people, and I benefit hugely from the unseen and unknown toil of my ancestors and their peers. As an example, I enjoy the heritage roses in the Botanic Gardens because creative people decided to give the idea of bringing roses out to Wellington from the UK in teacups or hollowed out potatoes. The street we live in was once a track, the whole area having been first cleared of the native bush cover and farms being developed.
Now I find more and more examples where everyday people have worked hard and produced creative solutions – not always of the most astounding strategic importance, but simply to make their and their family’s life easier or more pleasant.