Narrow Dog to Carcassonne
3 journalers for this copy...
When they retired Terry and Monica Darlington decided to sail their canal narrowboat across the Channel and down to the Mediterranean, together with their whippet Jim. They took advice from experts, who said they would die, together with their whippet Jim. On the Phyllis May you dive through six-foot waves in the Channel, are swept down the terrible Rhône, and fight for your life in a storm among the flamingos of the Camargue. You meet the French nobody meets - poets, captains, historians, drunks, bargees, men with guns, scholars, madmen - they all want to know the people on the painted boat and their narrow dog. You visit the France nobody knows - the backwaters of Flanders, the canals beneath Paris, the heavenly Yonne, the lost Burgundy Canal, the islands of the Saône, and the forbidden ways to the Mediterranean. Aliens, dicks, trolls, vandals, gongoozlers, killer fish and the walking dead all stand between our three innocents and their goal - many-towered Carcassonne.
Terry Darlington's writing style does seem quite funny. However, I found this book difficult to read because of the lack of quotation marks for dialogue, the stream-of-consciousness style of writing, and the blue text. I honestly don't know why the publisher decided to print the book using blue ink. When they still hadn't got to France after about 70 or 80 pages, I decided to give up.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Thanks for the book, klaradyn.
(... first blue ink book sans quotation marks ...)
I enjoyed the book. The occasional going off on a tangent and the lack of quotation marks for dialogue sometimes called for re-reading to make sense of a passage. I found this mildly irritating, and a good editor should have sorted it out. However, if one can live with that, there are many gems to be found. His writing style reminded me of those travelling programmes of artists making rough sketches of their observations through the day, later to be cleaned up and finished off in colour with ink or paint. With this book one gets only the rough pencil sketches.
The story of their journey is told with dry, (mostly) subtle humour, but also with compassion and sincerity when the occasion deserves it. Moreover, he never takes himself too seriously.
A taste: (remember, they are pensioners themselves)
The next morning we went to the pensioners' matinee at the Odeon. The grey ones were creeping in from all over the city like lichen across a damp floor. There was a long queue. Don't worry, said Monica, some of them will have died before they reach the ticket office. I expected the ticket lady to say Sorry sir you can't possibly be that old, but she was a trusting soul and let us in. For two pounds each we got a free cup of coffee, and a chocolate-flavoured biscuit as a further gift from a grateful nation.
The film was about the writer Iris Murdoch growing old and going mad and dying in Oxford. This happened very slowly. The audience took it well, considering. There was a choking and a commotion near the end, and I guess someone didn't make it, but most of us pulled through.
Given to barge enthusiast friends. It's the kind of book to read while dreaming of a next trip.
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