THERE’S an oddly-phrased headline on the Guardian website asking: ‘How have you been affected by the 1947 partition of India?’
At first, I thought it was one of those adverts on the lines of ‘Are you entitled to PPI compensation?’ Or possibly the sort of nannying message you see on your television screen when you’ve just watched a drama that hasn’t affected you in any way at all: ‘If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this programme, please call this helpline . . .’
However, it was none of the above. It turns out the Guardian wants people in Britain, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh or their families who experienced partition to tell how it ‘impacted their lives’.
It’s an interesting idea seeing how people reacted to major historical events, so I started my own research – but I went a bit further back than 1947 . . .
How have you been affected by the first use of fire in 400,000BC?
‘Well, just take a look at me . . . eyebrows burned off and a singed fringe. I tell you, those glowing embers look harmless enough until you start blowing on them. They should put a health and safety warning on these new-fangled cave-heating devices.’
How have you been affected by the end of the last Ice Age in 8000BC?
‘The good news was that when the snow melted, I found the necklace made from woolly rhinoceros teeth that I’d dropped in 8020BC. But the bad news was that the animals we hunted started migrating north to the new grasslands. I don’t half miss those lovely juicy mammoth steaks.’
How have you been affected by the invention of the wheel around 3,000BC?
‘I worked on Stonehenge and we dragged the pieces into place there no bother, using wooden rollers greased with pig fat. Wheels sound a good idea, but what if you get a puncture when you’re rolling a 40-ton sarsen? They’ll never catch on.’
How have you been affected by the invasion of Britain by the Romans in AD43?
‘There I was happily living half-naked in a stinking mud hut with my pigs, when along came these namby-pamby coves in togas and sandals and started building villas, roads, towns and such. Worst thing, though, was those baths – that hot water washed off all my woad.’
How have you been affected by the conquest of England by the Normans in 1066?
‘When I saw all those Froggies piling ashore at Pevensey, I was a bit worried. But I told myself, “At least this is the last time we’ll see boats full of foreigners landing on our beaches after crossing the Channel”.’
How have you been affected by the Black Death of 1348?
‘We’d go out every night banging our cauldrons in praise of the apothecaries, but it didn’t make any difference – neither did the national rollout of leeches.’
How have you been affected by the Industrial Revolution which started around 1760?
‘What annoys me is all these mills that are springing up. They look dark and satanic. Why don’t they whitewash them?’
How have you been affected by the Great Reset which started at the World Economic Forum in 2020?
‘I’d say it’ll turn out to be the biggest-ever boon to mankind, or my name isn’t Klaus Schwab.’
How have you been affected by the ending of the Australian soap opera Neighbours in 2022?
‘Sorry, I’m too devastated to answer.’