Friday, July 2, 2010

Turning Summer's Pages

They are for every summer. Those books which are perfect for the late afternoon, sitting on the deck with a pitcher of tea, or the beach or hammock. And for me those books are the works of travel writers. Not now the winter books, the murder mysteries or intrigues. No longer the latest works of the theology of Christmas and Holy Week. And biographies and their auto-cousins are left on the shelf. No – in summer, as I remain where I am, I want to travel, at least in mind.

Most years I find a new author or a new series of travel, but so far this year have failed. Actually my search (like my writing) has been lazier, so unless I really get motivated this next week I will turn to the shelves of books that surely are crying out to be re-read. There sit my favorites: Bryson, Chatwin, Thornburgh, Sara Wheeler, Thubron, Thesiger to name a few. All well thumbed, and as many were bought second hand, falling apart in places. A time to reacquaint myself with lands that range from Chile to Arabia, Siberia to La Sud Ouest.

I’ve actually looked at the first few pages of Paul Theroux’s The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey around Great Britain. Published in 1983 it’s a bit late to review it now, but his bleak descriptions fill me with horror. In that year I was abandoning my successful corporate career and about to enter the hallowed portals of Salisbury & Wells Theological College, taking an overnight pay cut of ninety-five percent. I was moving out of a comfortable apartment in Cardiff into a student’s existence. It was all a bit of an adventure back then, and my eyes were focused elsewhere. So was it really that grim in Britain a mere twenty seven years ago? There seemed to be hope in the air, and Pope John Paul II had recently kissed British soil. Do I not remember, or was I cosseted from the realities of ordinary life by my career and vocation? I must read the remainder of Theroux’s work and give it some thought. Back soon.


Saintly Ramblings said...
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Saintly Ramblings said...

I too have read Theroux's "Kingdom by the Sea", and I don't recall the land he portrays either. But then I was involved in the same situation as yourself, looking to the future and struggling with the preliminary question from one of our lecturers ... "What is your model of ministry?" My initial reaction was to ask for a tube of polystyrene cement and the plans so that I could have an idea about what I was being asked to make.