Spotlight on ...
Recently, I had the pleasure of talking to Neil on the excellent Ancient History Hound podcast and told him how I became interested in classics and ancient history. Now, I turn the tables: I asked Neil some questions about his interests and the podcast.
How did you first become interested in ancient history? As a kid I loved mythology, particularly the Greek myths. At school I wasn't that bothered by history and it wasn't till 6th form that I took a history related course, it was ancient history. Ironically, it was almost a side thought but after the first class I was hooked and new it would be something I'd always be with.
What is your favourite classical text/piece or art/archaeological site, and why? Many years ago I had the luck to visit Delphi and Pompeii, they both left huge impressions on me. Often the experience of a site is to try and reconcile what existed with what little now remains, but in both these instances I was wrapped in an ancient space. I could see the walls, walk the route and perhaps view the landscape and see exactly what someone in antiquity saw (minus the odd airplace!).
In terms of the textual, I tend to find the everyday and seemingly mundane fascinating. I don't have a set favourite text, but when I'm feeling a bit low I'll flick through the Letters of Pliny or Cicero or similar and enjoy a moan about a dinner guest or something innocuous.
If you could have any guest, living/dead/real/mythological on your podcast, who would it be? Wow - I feel as if this is payback for what I asked you to do. I'm going through a mental rolodex here and expect within a few minutes of answering I'll want to change my mind. I'd probably ask for Sappho. Not just for her poems, but for her insight and experience. Sappho travelled in antiquity, she understood political setups, her work related to worship. There are so many possibilities and areas of discussion to get into.
If not Sappho then I'd ask a family living in the 5th century, someone in a small village in Greece so I could hear what daily life was like for men, women and childen.
What do you like to do when not working on your podcast? Brace for a moan! Much of my spare time is either researching a podcast, writing, scripting, note taking and editing. I'm a one-man band with a full time job, as such my weekend and spare time is taken up with doing something for the podcast. Burnout is a serious issue for podcasters and I've had chats with other podcasters about this. In short you are driven to understand the worth of your podcast through downloads, which is something you obviously want but not obsess over. I suppose it's akin to being addicted to 'likes' on social media.
I'm far better at balancing my time now and appreciate that, unless I win the lottery, I'll only be able to put out content at the current rate I do and am happy with that now. So, to answer your question. I enjoy gaming, I run and go to the gym (it's a good balance) and spend time with Bodhi (my rescue dog). l also like the odd whisky and real ale (yes, one of those types but without the bravado or knowledge).
What is something that would surprise people to know about you? There's a number of experiences forming a carousel in my head and many need a couple of whiskies to explain. I'll go with the fact that I'm not bothered, generally, by music. I'll much rather listen to a drama, documentary or podcast than music. I do have a playlist with a few songs but if I want something in the background I'll put on the Skyrim soundtrack or something classical. My friends cannot understand this.
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