'Round Ireland with a fridge.

I've said this before, but: I'm going to Europe in a little over two weeks. I'm planning on returning at the end of April. I'm looking forward to it very much.

In preparation for it I've begun acquiring travel books, maps, and schedules, and in the "travel" section of a book sale, I found a literary gem. The title, "Round Ireland with a fridge", is an exact description of the story of the book's author, Tony Hawks, as he attempts to win a drunken bet reprinted in its entirety on the front cover of the book.

"I hereby bet Tony Hawks the sum of One Hundred Pounds that he cannot hitchhike round the circumference of Ireland, with a fridge, within one calendar month."

Now, many people could find this a daunting task, and Tony Hawks is very much an everyman as he describes his fears, frustrations, and hopes in his journey. It's a gorgeous book, a strong novel that carries with it memories of great travel escapist narratives like Gulliver's Travels and hints of whimsy and the absurd like The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Hawks himself appears a cross between Arthur's responsible 'don't make a scene' britishness and Ford Prefect's irrational and beautiful abandon of any worry that things might take a turn for the worse.

I highly recommend it. You can find it on Amazon here, and on Barnes and Noble Booksellers here.

Many of you probably remember my comments about Clubbing and Discotheques contained in The Marley Warning. Tony Hawks does far more justice to the feeling than I ever did in the following excerpt.

"I was born into the wrong generation. How I would have loved to have been a dashing young man in the 1930s and 1940s when dance bands and orchestras played at dancehalls, and you could hold your partner close and whisper sweet nothings as you waltzed her into your heart.

I have never liked discos. I have never understood why, in a place specifically designed for people to meet each other, an environment has been created in which you can't be heard unless you shout. Shouting is unattractive. It's certainly not my style, and I doubt that it brings out the best in most of us. Why have we put together a twilight entertainment world which is tailor made for the Reverend Ian Paisley? For my own part I have always preferred a gentler approach to courtship, and there is no doubt about it, dry remarks lose something when bellowed.

These places are great levellers intellectually, the sharpest mind reduced to the level of the lowest common denominator -- that of being understood. At one of these 'nitespots' (and that's another irritation - spell 'night' correctly or don't spell it at all) a typical exchange might be:

Tony: (shouting at a girl) Would you like to dance?
Girl: (Shouting Back) What?
Tony: (shouting louder) Would you like to dance?
Girl: (Shouting) Yes, I have, but just on a school trip to Calais.
Tony: (Shouting a bit louder still, directly into the girl's ear) Not, Have you ever been to France? -- Would you like to dance?
Girl: (Shouting) Yes please, I'll have a large gin and tonic.
Tony: (Under his breath) Greedy Cow.
Girl: I heard that.

By the way, Tony Hawks has his own webspace, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Oh, and while we're speaking of webspace for the brilliant, funny, and surreal, I found Zach Braff's Blog today.

Friday, February 25, 2005


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