Greg Jenner at Hay Festival 2015 by Patrick

You may think you don’t know Greg Jenner, but if you’ve ever watched ‘Horrible Histories’, you have Greg to thank. He is the historical consultant for all the series (and occasionally pops up as a corpse or two in a few episodes!). His latest book, ‘A Million Years In A Day: A Curious History Of Everyday Life’ explains the origin of everyday objects and practices; things to which we don’t give a second thought, for example brushing our teeth or going to the toilet.

In his talk, Greg took us through an average day, from the moment we get up in the morning to when we go to bed, and explained when each object was invented and where in the world it came from.

In fact, much of our everyday life dates back to an even earlier time than we think. For example, the first bed was invented 77,000 years ago, with mattresses woven from plants. The first toilet seat was invented 3,200 years ago.

Do you want to know where your underpants came from, or when alarm clocks were first invented? All the answers are in Greg’s new book!

Another thing he showed was that hygiene didn’t improve over the years – for example thousands of years ago, hygiene was far more sophisticated than in the 18th Century.

Because Greg is used to writing for ‘Horrible Histories’ he was able to make it accessible to people of all ages, and he brought the history to life by using humour, making a few jokes about recent politics: “In history, there have been 128 billion people in the world, which is nearly as many times as Nigel Farage has been on the BBC!” Whether you’re 8 or 98, this event is not just informative, but extremely entertaining.

Patrick

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