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From the Norman Invasion in 1066 to the eve of the First World War, Stick a Flag in It is a thousand-year jocular journey through the history of Britain and its global empire.
The British people have always been eccentric, occasionally ingenious and, sure, sometimes unhinged – from mad monarchs to mass-murdering lepers. Here, Arran Lomas shows us how they harnessed those traits to forge the British nation, and indeed the world, we know today.
Follow history’s greatest adventurers from the swashbuckling waters of the Caribbean to the vast white wasteland of the Antarctic wilderness, like the British spy who infiltrated a top-secret Indian brothel and the priest who hid inside a wall but forgot to bring a packed lunch. At the very least you’ll discover Henry VIII’s favourite arse-wipe, whether the flying alchemist ever made it from Scotland to France, and the connection between Victorian coffee houses and dildos.
Forget what you were taught in school – this is history like you’ve never heard it before, full of captivating historical quirks that will make you laugh out loud and scratch your head in disbelief.
Raised in the beating heart of working-class Lancashire, the birthplace of two things that changed the world, the Industrial Revolution and the Butter Pie (wait - has that not caught on yet?) Arran is a qualified chef and graphic designer (don’t ask). He has worked as a software engineer and in that field of occupation where dreams and common sense go to die: marketing.
But in everything Arran has, often unwisely, done, one passion always nipped at his heels, an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and learning. In 2012 he nervously decided to share some of the unusual things he had learnt on YouTube. After a year of posting videos online somebody noticed, then someone else, then over two million other people noticed and subscribed to the Thoughty2 YouTube channel.
On his channel, Arran has covered almost every topic you could imagine: space, conspiracies, technology, crime, medicine, food and social issues, such as defending free speech. One topic, however, has always interested him more than all else. One topic has kept him up reading books until the early hours of the morning: history. Growing up in England, a country with perhaps the richest historical narrative of all, sparked in him, a love affair with the the medieval castles, crumbling abbeys and undulating green pastures of the island he is proud to call home. Over his entire adult life Arran has passionately indulged in all the literature he could find on the history of Great Britain and the global empire it spawned. Now Arran has put pen to paper (or, less romantically, finger to keyboard) and would like to share his unique version of this great story of a great nation with the truly great people who would like to come along for the ride. That’s you - I hope.
1851: Sir Richard Francis Burton
Typically, humans excel at one or two chosen skills. They are at best mediocre in the realm of all others. However, occasionally throughout history, there are those rare enigmas who have an astonishingly extensive list of titles, accolades and abilities to their name. One such map-divining demi-god was Sir Richard Francis Burton. It is only once you learn of the enormous breadth of Burton's talents, all of which he mastered, that you will begin to appreciate how this Victorian man became legend. Born in 1821 Burton was a British explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat. Well, I did say.
It was glaringly obvious from a young age that Burton would never be the type of person to lead a quiet life. As a teenager Burton was punished for writing salacious letters to prostitutes, he smashed his music teacher over the head with a violin case and perforated his brother’s cheek with a fencing foil. I would hazard to say that things were not off to a good start, I fear, however, that Burton would argue to the contrary.
Burton was at heart an academic with an unquenchable lust for knowledge, exploration and women - especially exploring women. At a young age he discovered a love for learning languages, he quickly gained fluency in French, Italian, Neapolitan and Latin. All of which Burton, of course, used for the noblest of deads: seducing the various bountiful women of these regions. Throughout his life, he masterfully acquired proficiency in other linguistic arenas such as Arabic. He spoke twenty-nine European, Asian and African languages by the time he had matured into an astute adult (it is important to note that in describing Richard Francis Burton ‘astute’ depicts an erudite drunk aristocrat wielding a shotgun).
Perpetually restless, Burton joined the East India Company in his early twenties...
To read on and see a selection of the other chapters to come, click Read More below.
1776: The Bloody Code gets quite bloody
At the Southern end of Edgeware-road, London, very near to the Marble Arch, once stood the world’s most frequented and public theatre of mass execution, Tyburn. In 1571, precisely on the spot where the present-day Edgeware Road, Oxford Road and Bayswater Road meet, was constructed the Tyburn Tree. A large wooden triangle supported several metres in the air by three wooden legs. Its exact location is today marked by a circular stone plaque surrounded by three oak trees. This modern monument to a thoroughly murderous medieval location is situated on the most beautiful of all man-made monoliths - a bloody traffic island. Every year millions of feet pound this ancient and terrible tomb, yet few souls note its significance.
Between 1571 and 1783, over 1,000 men and 100 women were theatrically hung from the Tyburn Tree. This wooden construct of death was designed to facilitate multiple executions. The executions themselves were grand public displays with handfuls of convicted felons often dispatched of in a single dreadful day. On the 23rd of June 1649, twenty-three men and one woman were tragically towed to the Tyburn Tree in eight carts and all hanged, simultaneously in front of a crowd of thousands. The turnout was especially large. It was like the Live Aid of the day, albeit with somewhat more maligned motives. So popular as entertainment were the Tyburn hangings that the local villagers erected large spectator stands to host the more well-to-do day-trippers in search of a good gory day out for all the family to enjoy. These premium seats came at a fee.
So fabulous an event was the sight of your cousin horrifically and unforgettably breaking their neck with the grim snap of a rope that executions were often treated as public holidays. London workers were granted the entire day off work, so they could...
- 16th July 2020 Off to the printers!
Thank you for all your patience, I know many of you have been waiting for a long time to get your hands on Stick a Flag in it.
Well, I'm pleased to announce that your wait is almost over because the book has now been sent to the printers!
This is a wonderful milestone. I've spent months going over and over the manuscript with Unbound to tweak it and ensure we are delivering…25th February 2020 New Book Cover Reveal!
I'm delighted to announce we have a final design for the cover of Stick a Flag in it.
Together with Unbound, I decided to change the style of the cover to better reflect the content of the book.
I'm so pleased with how it's turned out, I think it will really stand out on your bookshelf and I think it gives people who don't know anything about the book a good first impression…13th September 2019 Manuscript Handed In!
After countless hours spent combing over every chapter and passage to ensure the book is as good as I can make it, last night I finally sent off the completed manuscript to Unbound.
This is a significant milestone towards a published book and it means we can now move onto the editing process. There is still a lot of necessary work to do before books are in your hands…17th June 2019 200% - It's in sight!
The project's funding is so close to reaching 200% - which will mean I have a bonus chapter to write! This is hard for me to believe, the support has been beyond incredible, thank you all so much.
The manuscript is very near completion now. I keep discovering more and more brilliant knowledge to pack into the book and I'm really excited about some of the quirky things that I…8th May 2019 Manuscript Progress & Stretch Goals
I am overwhelmed by the huge amount of enthusiasm people have shown for this book. Like you, I am excited to see it in the flesh. I am currently polishing the manuscript, which will take some time. I know many of you are excited to read the book, but it's really important to me that it's as well-written, engaging and interesting as possible. I would never be happy with putting…
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