Jaqui's Daily Blog

A Walk in the Woods With Mr B

Mr B and I are reading together Bill Bryson's book "A Walk in the Woods". It's about a long excursion taken by Our Bill and his mate, Katz, along the Appalachian Trail which stretches over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine. We only read a couple of chapters at a time (I read, Mr B listens) because it's so, so wearying, just tramping along the trail, even if only in our imagination.

I am reminded of watching the film "Lawrence of Arabia" at the cinema before we were married. It was such a long film that there was a break half way through. You should have seen the run on the drinks and ice-cream, everyone was gasping for ice and water after so long living the desert life with Peter O'Toole.

I love books that swallow you up, making you live the life as it were. Even if it means finding yourself grubby, smelly and with only noodles to eat on the Appalachian Trail. "Shall we have a Bit of Bill?" I ask Mr B every day. He always says yes. Generally I reckon it is better to "have a Bit of Bill" after lunch. It's not a good idea, I have found, to set out for a Walk in the Woods on an empty stomach. Over the past few months, we have organised the 2012 Olympic Games with Seb Coe ("Shall we have a Bit of Seb?"); beaten World records with Steve Ovett ("Shall we have a Bit of Steve?"); and time travelled back to 1927, again in the company of Mr Bryson ("Shall we have...?" ) I'm sure you get the message.

We think once we have reached the end of the Appalachian Trail - which, at two chapters a day, will take us about ten days in all - we should organise a trip to the cinema to see the film. Robert Redford plays Bill and Nick Nolte is Katz. I imagine every fella of a certain age, finding themselves featuring in a film of their life, would choose to be portrayed by Robert Redford. Even though he must be a lot more grizzled than he was when, guns blazing and accompanied by the equally splendid Paul Newman, he charged out into an ambush at the end of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" to be freeze-framed for eternity. Robert Redford is actually ten years older than I am and even older than Bill Bryson - but I doubt if Our Bill was too bothered when told which famous actor would be immortalising his journey on the cinema screen.

I check out local cinemas but it seems we may have Missed Our Moment. Mr B says not to worry, he will order the DVD from the Amazon Jungle as soon as it is released and we can watch from the comfort of our arm-chairs. It's not quite the Jolly Trip Out I was imagining but I suppose it will save some pennies.

I remember reading Bill Bryson's "Notes From A Small Island" years ago on a beach in some foreign Holiday Land. I was chortling away somewhat loudly to Mr B's (i) embarrassment and (ii) annoyance; I was, he complained, drawing unwelcome attention to myself. Tables were turned when we exchanged books later in the holiday and Mr B found himself beset by involuntary guffawing and consequently (as I took pleasure in pointing out) "drawing attention to himself".

On a Business Exchange Trip to California in 2000, Mr B and I were driven by our host, the Inestimable Wally, all the way from San Francisco to Alamein and back. We enlivened the journey by listening to Bryson's "Down Under" on the car's cassette recorder (remember them?) Travelling through America listening to tales from Australia was both highly entertaining and somewhat disorientating.

Bill Bryson has a new book out. It's called "The Road to Little Dribbling" and Mr B and I can't wait to read it because apparently it includes Our Bill's description of his travels on the 700 Coastliner bus which travels between Brighton and Portsmouth, with our home town of Worthing along its route. Mr B and I once travelled on the Coastliner between Worthing and Chichester, a journey of such tortuous length that Mr B ( as in, my Mr B, not Mr Bryson) has threatened to divorce me, should I ever make him join me on the 700 again.

We can't wait to read what Our Bill makes of it.

My own Mr B could certainly write a book about it. It would probably be a horror story...

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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