What can we conclude from the news that people living in the 21st century, with all its faults, plump for the Victorian age as the period of history they’d pick at a pinch?
Well, all I can surmise is that people don’t really know their history.
They’re probably looking at the past through the rose-tinted spectacle of TV costume dramas and kidding themselves, like everyone does, that if they somehow found themselves transported back in time to that supposedly golden age they’d be part of that tiny minority who had it easy.
According to the magazine which commissioned the survey, people were attracted by the sense of excitement, wonder and possibility in the days when Britannia ruled the waves and much else.
Fair enough, it’s a wiser choice than the other popular options which included Ancient Egypt, medieval Britain or Wild West America.
But by any rational judgement, the only sensible thing to say to any genie who pops up and offers to transport you to the period of your choice is to pass and, if pressed, get yourself transported back in time about a fortnight having first had the foresight to take with you a list of recent winning lottery numbers.
There is absolutely no doubt, however depressing it may be to the carpers and the grumps, that there has never been a better time to be alive if you’re lucky enough to live in these parts.
The Victorian era may seem attractive but only if you’re prepared to take the chance that you won’t have any need of a health service, most other forms of social support, and the vast bulk of what passes these days for entertainment.
I’ll happily bet the bank that anyone who did have the chance to slip back to the days of bustles and beards would be banging on the door of the time machine after less than a day, or even sooner if they started to sniffle.
But what can you expect from a survey group that nominated Shakespeare, Churchill and Elizabeth I as the top dinner guests from history?
If afraid that’s indicative of a lack of knowledge again.
Elizabethan nobles used to dread the Virgin Queen dropping in for a bite to eat – not only was she a nasty cow, by all accounts, but she would expect you to bankrupt yourself to serve up the sort of spread she regarded as her royal due.
Churchill would also have been an expensive option as a dinner party guest – that man could stow away the sauce, and it’s unlikely that you could fob him off with special offer supermarket wine and brandy. Those big cigars don’t come cheap, either.
And as for Shakespeare, the top choice? Have you seen what passes for jokes in a Shakespeare play? A gloomy Brummie might be your idea of an ideal dinner companion, but I beg to differ.