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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Round Ireland With A Fridge

Ignore the long commercial at the beginning; it gets better after that


A long time ago, when I revisited my old "home" Thursday Island, I put up at the island's Federal Hotel (and 'put up' are the operative words as my lodgings were decidedly sub-standard: the bed was lumpy, the television didn't work, the fridge was rumbling, and a single light-bulb hung from the high ceiling).

Sitting on the Federal's verandah looking down on T.I.'s beachfront - a setting Graham Greene would have revelled in and Somerset Maugham did - , I was joined by Alan, an Irishman on a working holiday in Australia who looked a bit like an extra from the movie HAIR but was really quite a decent chap.

He was reading Bill Bryson's A SHORT HISTORY OF ALMOST EVERYTHING which I had read too; so we started talking about this book and some of the other big questions in life, such as 'Why is there a light in the fridge but not in the freezer?' and 'How come the Americans choose from just two people for President but fifty for Miss America?'

He was well-read and of a serious turn of mind, having also read George Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm". As he was working on the island and would be staying for a while longer, I was happy to furnish him from my book-bag with another George Orwell volume, and Camus' "The Plague", and a copy of Joseph Conrad's stories.

In return, he gave me a book he'd just finished reading, "Round Ireland with a Fridge", a slightly surreal tale of a stand-up comedian who, for a bet, resolves to hitchhike around the circumference of Ireland with a fridge. Luckily, he’d undertaken his voyage in a country which understands and empathises with the average idiotic quest, so much so that the book has since been made into a movie.

Watch it if you must but, please, don't send me any hate-mail!