Fragment 2 – The History Professor

He waved rapidly, if not a little vaguely, at the bare top a nearby grassy hill. “It was there upon that hill where the Huscarl stood resolute as the Norman tide surged and broke against them” he spat the words whilst chopping and thrusting with his arms as if they were swords. “Arrows darkened the sky and slammed into the stout shields of a human wall. Crossbows made their first deadly appearance on British soil.” By now we had reached the bottom of the sloping ground. The Norman position. He gestured to his right where a tangle of wild flowers spoilt the verdant green. “The Bastard, William, unleashed his secret weapon from here. Knights. Not like the knights you’re imagining I’m sure. There’d be no plate on this battlefield and therefore no knights in shining armour here. These would have been the first knights, cavalrymen in chainmail, carrying a kite shield and lance. Swift of horse, manoeuvrable, deadly to isolated footmen. So alien to the Saxon fighting man that rode to battle and then dismounted to fight on foot.” Despite his advancing years the Professor charged up the slope, his thinning grey hair being lifted by a gentle breeze. I struggled to keep up. He was fuelled by passion, I merely flirting with the idea of it. Near the crest of the hill he stopped and turned to look back down the slope. His eyes, originally cold and a little hostile sparkled with life. “Here,” he whispered, “is where the Saxon story ends. This very spot.”

I took a moment to consider my acquaintance. I began to think to myself that this strange Professor may be a little unhinged but certainly not unlikeable. In fact he had me enthralled, carried along by his passion like a stone in a roaring river. Bouncing along just below the surface but very much a part of the process. There may have been a gulf of years between us but this man transgressed the ages as though the years were seconds. Whilst he seemed slow at first impressions he quickly traversed vast distances both physically and culturally. He was a man in love with the people of the past and that clearly endeared him to the people of the present.

By now he was gasping for breath have not stopped speaking whilst performing acrobatic feats a man twenty years younger would have been envious of. He stopped for a heartbeat longer, contemplative, finding the strength to renew his assault on the events of the past. This time from within the Saxon shield wall itself.

Eventually, this piece of writing might find itself fleshed out into something more. I’m just waiting for the inspiration to come to me.


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