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  • When I was small I played in a distillery. With my friend Kenny. His dad was the manager.

    It was old, parts had once been houses. And the upper floor of one old building was "Keep Out Danger' signed. So of course, as children we interpreted that as "Come in. Fun."

    Access was up an old plank, precarious. The upper floor was rotted, unsafe and for half a century untrodden, apart from pigeons. And we children.

    We climbed there often and wondered at the stuff. An old chaise longue, a music stand, a suitcase, books books books, and old pictures. I still have a book, Birds of Britain, wonderfully worn and stained, coverless, but coveted. We sat around and pretended to be somewhere else in some other time, and were silent when we might be found.

    And one day I climbed onto the top of a wardrobe, the kind that Narnia might be lurking within. And on top I found an inch of dust and pigeon poop, and from it fell a folded thing.

    A yellowed, crispthick piece of parchment. It was written in flowing ink, embellished with curlicues and flourishes. It was dated 1868, and the name of the recipient (I forget what it was in its entirety) contained 'Plantagenet', 'Richard', and the family name 'De'Ath' amongst other names. At the bottom was a large ruby-red seal of wax, impressed by some hand almost (but not quite) a hundred years before. Still shiny.

    We were enthralled by the DeAth word (commas were not in our vocabulary at that age). Being in a dark, dank attic, cobwebbed and stale, with DeAth around us was a thrill.

    I took it home and kept it safe. For years and years and years. Long enough for it grow older in my possession and reach, then pass, one hundred years old.

    A century!

    I would take it out and touch it gently, wondering. An old thing, a link to some other's history I was unaware of, but one day might unearth.

    And then I went to secondary school.

    One day I told my history teacher about it. He feigned interest, but said "bring it in", in the voice adults use to placate children.

    I did bring it in. His eyes lit up. "May I see it?"

    I gave it to him.

    He fingered it covetously.

    "May I take it for a few days to read it properly?" he asked

    I said yes that would be fine.

    Days passed. He did not return it.

    One day I asked where it was and could I have it back. "Oh I'll bring it in, I keep forgetting."

    Weeks became months. He did not return it.

    I asked again. "I don't have it" he said curtly.

    "What. But it's mine. It belongs to me and I would like it back. Please." I said politely

    As he turned away he said "Go and sit down and behave. It's gone to someone who knows about these things, an expert. You can't have it back."

    And that was it. Gone. Forever.

    These "things they know about" these "experts", I wonder, do these things include my childhood? MY History? Do you think they know about me watching a 97 year old piece of parchment grow to be 98, then pass 100?

    Probably not.

    And so Mr Cameron, History Teacher, who changed the history of my childhood with your misappropriation, so I now change the story of your life, with the gift of my story.

    And the truth.

    Your story is no longer as you write it, not the history you would have us all believe it is. The way you are, or were.

    You taught me well sir. And it was a sad, shameful lesson to teach a child.

    You taught me that one cannot trust a History Teacher.

    And if one cannot trust a History Teacher, how can we possibly ever ever trust the story of the history they teach us?
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