Saturday, 4 October 2008

This is not a rant...

There are some things that put me off a writer instantly. The most damaging is if you simply can't empathise with their position, especially when they go on about it. H once gave me a manuscript to read. It started with the line "This is a rant, so hear me." I put it down after ten pages of meandering complaints, usually centring on how customers at B&Q kept asking the narrator where the lugnuts were, the selfish pricks. I was clearly meant to see the meaningless futile angst of it all, but I just ended up thinking the writer was an arsehole.

The same thing put me off Paul Theroux, despite everything great I've been told about him. His book about travelling in Africa didn't so much set the scene of the journey as start mid-whine about how noone thought it suitable a man in his 70s travelling alone from Cairo to Cape town. I gave up on page 80, with some reservations - I did want to hear about his trip, but not when it was all viewed through the prism of sticking it to his wife and fellow concerned parties back home. I don't do teenage rebellion, especially not from a septagenarian.

So it is with this in mind that I make the following statement: people don't seem to entirely understand the concept of this trip. I am going on an adventure. Safe, secure, planned - within reason, these are words I'm trying to dispense with when I think about taking off around the world. For people in my family this is an odd suggestion. Over Rosh Hashana dinner my mother got herself into a panic ('He's not even going to get to China!'), my uncle took me under his wing ('I'll phone my travel agents') and my grandmother just waved a hand and told me it didn't matter that I'd 'done it all wrong' because I'll have 'learnt for next time'. As far as I'm concerned, I couldn't be doing this better. This messy, half-schemed trip gives me a chance for a real sense of freedom, and a real sense of adventure. It's only half about the places I go, the sights I see and the comfort of where I'm staying and how I get there. The exciting bit is taking off into the unknown, testing out new things (even if that's the queue at the Indian embassy in Beijing). I couldn't have planned it better.

1 comment:

William said...

great post. great post.