New Year resolutions, silver linings & Quick Histories

New Year resolutions, silver linings & Quick Histories

24 January 2021

At what point in January does wishing people a ‘Happy New Year’ just sound obnoxious? Let’s give it a go. Happy New Year! Yep, that didn’t feel good.

I don’t know about you, but I’m increasingly dubious of New Year resolutions. The trick, I’ve found, is to set resolutions that are achievable to the point of being ridiculous. And really, after the time we’ve had, (and are having), that’s what we all need. Set phasers to ridiculously achievable!

In fact, one of the toughest resolutions I’ve set myself for 2021 is to dust off the blog and update it more than once this year. And check it out, here I am halfway there and it’s not even February. Nailing it!

For this resolution-nailing blog post I want to tell you about my YouTube channel Quick Histories. I’m reluctant to talk about the ‘positives’ to come from the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic because, honestly, it’s a total bin fire and has caused serious pain and grief to a lot of people.

On the Guilty Feminist podcast they were recently discussing the ‘silver linings’ to the pandemic lockdown and that’s what Quick Histories is for me, a silver lining on a huge metaphorical storm cloud.

Quick Histories is a bunch of snappy videos where I cover a different weird and wonderful history fact every week. For example: Oliver Cromwell was beheaded two years after he died. Or, Samuel Pepys buried his cheese during the Great Fire of London. The YouTube channel came about after I did something overtly nerdy during the first lockdown back in the spring.

Like many people, I suddenly found myself with a lot more time on my hands. I chose to use that time putting out a daily history fact via my Instagram Stories, more for my own amusement honestly. (I think that says a lot about my mental state at the time.)

I kept this up for about 70 days straight - a number that’s as impressive as it is sad - and actually received some lovely feedback. So, in autumn, I decided to bring the history facts back as more formal weekly YouTube videos. This allows me to explore the history over five minutes rather than a rushed 60 seconds.

I’m talking about the Quick Histories videos as if they’re some huge hit. They’re not. The videos are literally me talking to a camera with some questionable lighting and dodgy sound. And none of the videos have exactly gone viral.

My YouTube channel has a mighty 44 subscribers, (who I love dearly - thank you!), and my most popular video, which looks at Katherine of Aragon’s marriage to Henry VIII, has 318 combined views. (People love those Tudors!)

To put this into perspective, a video of a guy setting off a firework that’s lodged in his bum, (something he calls an ‘ass rocket’), has 82,752 views on YouTube alone. And it’s just dawning on me that one of those views is now mine…

But that’s fine. Firstly, because how could I ever compete with an ‘ass rocket’? Secondly, because I’m honestly happy that Quick Histories exists at all. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but never had the confidence / time / energy [circle as appropriate]. So, simply by existing, I class the Quick Histories YouTube channel as a win.

Plus, rather than trolling me, the few people who’ve seen the videos don’t hate them. In fact, some lovely folk have gone as far as buying me a coffee on my Ko-Fi page, which is bloody wonderful!

The videos went on hiatus before Christmas and I’m mustering up the organisational skills to bring them back very soon. One valuable lesson I’ve learnt is that videos - even simple videos with dodgy lighting and sound - take much longer than you think.

I’ve popped a few of my favourite Quick Histories videos in this post and you can find the rest on the YouTube channel, if you fancy.

To finish off my wittering, here are three things I’m loving at the moment because, why not?

  • A Short History of Drunkenness, by Mark Forsyth I’m a big fan of what I call popular history books - books to read when you love history but aren’t in the mood for dry academic tomes. Forsyth’s book is a corker and gives a pint-sized overview of the surprisingly long history of humans’ relationship with alcohol!

  • Knitting yarn from Wool and the Gang The boyfriend bought me new knitting needles for Christmas, which I obviously took as a sign that I had to treat myself some beautiful, fancy, eco-conscious yarn from Wool and the Gang. Their Crazy Sexy Wool is glorious! I’m on schedule to have a pile of woolly goodies for my friends just in time for spring…

  • Terry’s Chocolate Orange Christmas might be over, but my love affair with Terry’s Chocolate Orange is not. Well actually, it is as I recently polished off the last of our festive stash, but I’m hoping to replenish the stocks sooner rather than later.

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