He wanted to produce a historical map of the British Isles, stuffed with fascinating – and geographically specific – facts from the beginning of time right up to the present day that would tell the story of Britain in a visually spectacular, non-dry way. And would I like to research and write the text for it?
It sounded brilliant: I was in. And I'm telling you now, because the 'Around the British Isles in 228 Facts' limited edition print has finally hit the shelves or, rather, the walls (all 13,000-odd words of it).
What do you think? Here's a closer look, to give you an idea of some of the facts.
It's a smorgasbord of facts, everything from: the history of British traffic roundabouts; Augustus John's Welsh diving accident; a pioneering sixth century nun; countless gruesome deaths, particularly the one in Thetford Forest; Edinburgh's six-foot millipedes; the location of the first ever mobile phone conversation in the UK – and what Morecambe and Wise had to do with it.
It was an absolutely fascinating project to work on and I now feel very clever, having learnt so much about British history. So thanks to all the friends who lent me or recommended brilliantly vital books about the history of the British Isles, English Folklore and guides to specific regions. Invaluable. As was the stream of texts from others (especially Declan) with leads on obscure pop history facts linked to various UK locations.
The print has been very beautifully designed by the very talented Well Made Studio, and I spent lots of time round at their HQ poring over layouts as we proofed it together. Special thanks to Doug who not only designs very nice things, but is also a demon typo spotter. Well Made, formerly known as Mercy, were also behind the beautifully designed book about the Great Outdoors that I worked on with the Gladstones.
All this has come about from meeting Charlie and Caroline back in 2010 for a piece about them I wrote for the Independent, and simply hitting it off. Funny how things turn out.
Post by Kate