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Monday, 13 February 2012

History, not just for Geeks!

Ask a youngster what their least favourite school subject is and many will say ‘History, it’s boring!’ However, thanks to more enlightened teaching methods and the power of the Internet, it suddenly becomes as gripping as an episode of Eastenders or Hollyoaks

Having worked at living history activity centre and taught at a further education college, I know that young people love blood, gore, murder, bodily functions and skeletons to mention but a few of their favourite story topics; my ‘true crime’ and ghost tours aimed to cater for at least some of those delights.  It would seem though, that adults also enjoy a good scare or a tale of cloak and dagger intrigue.  So what happens when they cannot come on a tour, but as ex-pats or second-generation Aberdonians reside in far flung corners of the globe?  They can read the Hidden Aberdeen blog of course!

Last time I described how useful social media had been for promoting my walking tours business; now I give you the tale of how I started blogging for our national television company. 

I have had several blogs for years, covering topics such as holidays, folklore and local history.  I started a one recently called Quite Interesting Aberdeen, after that excellent BBC panel show presented by Stephen Fry.  The idea was to write about the peculiar things I discovered as part of my walking tours including maps, pictures and quotes.  I could ramble on at length about my discoveries and share them with the fans of my company Facebook page and ‘Tweeps’ (Twitter followers).  The response was positive.

I then received an email from the editor of Scottish Television’s Aberdeen website asking if I would consider writing a blog for them on this theme of curiosities from the city’s past.  The challenge was to do so in four hundred words! Most of my blog posts were over 500 words and ranged about wherever I pleased!  Anyway, I agreed to do it.  The first post appeared as a feature on STV Local Aberdeen in August 2011 telling the story of the 17th century Spa Well which sits in a rather forlorn fashion outside a car park with nothing to explain its curious presence there.

The posts continued using topics from the tours, but unlike QI Aberdeen, they were precise, bite-sized pieces of local history.  I really began to enjoy fitting facts to my word limit in this snappy editorial style.  An ex-colleague from the college commented on this, “Ideal for the students,” he said.  Exactly!  Something that caught the attention because of its quirky subject matter, for example ‘The Aberdeen Body Snatchers’, yet presented the story with the speed and brevity of a tabloid article.  Proof that history could never be boring if packaged in the right way!  And if people want to know more, they can come on a tour the next time they visit.  Local history, it’s not just for geeks! 
(Hidden Aberdeen blog appears on STV’s Local Aberdeen features page every fortnight:

By Dr Fiona-Jane Brown
Tour Director
Hidden Aberdeen Tours
(501 words - ©FJB 2012)

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