History is a most interesting ingredient of life.

For it is all about things which are not about to happen or happening, but things which have happened.

It fascinated me at school, although I really couldn't put my finger on exactly why.

At intermediate some of the kids stared blankly out the window looking at lazy clouds while the teacher told of the terrors of the great plagues which swept across Europe back in the olden days before TV and FJ Holdens.


And of the Great Fire which swept through London in the olden days before fire brigades and smoke alarms.

I was indeed fascinated and listened and tried to envisage what I was hearing.

And they inspired me to draw pictures.

There were probably only about six or seven of us, amidst the 30-odd kids, who were not interested in gaining a degree counting lazy clouds or trying to spot one that looked like a cow.

"It's all in the past... it's all over with," young Jones the cloudwatcher third from the left in desk row four would bemoan afterwards.

"Yeah, who cares," added young Emerson, the lad sent from the room just four minutes into the lesson for loudly passing wind to make the girls laugh.

But I liked to hear about the olden days and pondered how errors as well as desires and ambitions and imaginations got woven into history as ingredients for what we called progress.

When something bad happened people would think of ways to make things better so it did not happen again.

One of the sad exceptions to this line of thought however is the act of war... history and the lessons it delivers can't solve everything I guess.

At high school I continued to embrace history and went on to see the subject score the highest marks for me in what was then school certificate (children ask your parents).

I think much of it was to do with the fact I had very good teachers whose passion for the subject became even more evident when they were posed a question or three about what they were telling us.

And sitting around at home looking through old photos from the early lives of mum and dad and their mums and dads also kept the spark glowing.

But I never really wanted to take my enjoyment of days and events long gone by with me anywhere in terms of making a bob in life.

I was simply, just fascinated.

Still am because the events of past times will simply continue to emerge to both enlighten and entertain.

So much happened and it happened every minute of every hour of every day in every year.

And when I read these ever-emerging things I am continually delighted and yep, I still find myself trying to envisage the scene and the words which those scenes sparked.

Every now and then there is a true gem.

True head-shakers.

And true ground-shakers.

I regularly enjoy casting my mind and imagination back a century - a willing passenger aboard our regular Hawke's Bay Today time machine tagged '100 Years Ago'.

Recently there was an absolute classic which unveiled the following... "A house at Tisbury, a few miles from Invercargill, which was being prepared for the reception of a couple about to be married, was completely wrecked by an explosion of gelignite stored in the house in anticipation of stumping operations."


There's a wedding taking place and where do they store high explosives?

Well, in the house where the bride and groom will be hosted after the service of course.

I can see the celebrant at the church two miles away cocking his head to one side and asking "did you hear something?"

And the errant housekeeper sending a messenger lad to the church with a note of paper which reads "dinner is off I'm afraid".

A second note would have added "so is the roof".

The distraught bride would arrive and tearfully ask where the gifts are.

The still slightly smouldering man of the house would gesticulate to the landscape of debris.

"Oh there's part of one over by the lemon tree.. and the lid of the breadbox is over there and there's a frying pan embedded in the side of the neighbour's woodshed."

I hope they didn't have a cat called Rocket.

The resulting explanations, accusations and conversations would, I daresay, have been as explosive as the gelignite, and I just hope the marriage lasted and that they had lovely children, including a daughter called Dinah who was always keen to try and make tea.

"Who's making dinner my dear?" Mr Husband would arrive home and ask.

"I think Dinah might," Mrs Wife would have answered.