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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Reading Bill Bryson's 'The Road To Little Dribbling' and other thoughts . . .

Around 20 years ago I read Bill Bryson's book 'Notes From A Small Island.' It was interesting to read a book written by an American who had a sort of affection for our Green and Pleasant land. I am again reading a book written by Bryson, which is called 'The Road To Little Dribbling: More Notes From A Small Island.' He travels around Great Britain and comments on things that he sees, some of them the idiosyncrasies of life living in Britain. Much of his thoughts are similar to mine and reflects a great deal of  what I write on this blog. It's no wonder the book is so high in the charts, as published in the Sunday Times. As of the past Sunday Times (21st August 2016), the book is number 2 in the General Paperbacks section and has been in the top 10 for nineteen weeks, having sold somewhere in the region of 194,230 copies. I can see why he's so popular. An American, or even an outsider, who gives his own views on some of the quirks of Britain. He often compares America with Britain, particularly in the chapter when he discusses mobile phones (why do Americans refer to them as 'cellphones'?) As George Bernard Shaw put it so succinctly, 'two countries divided by one language.' Why are some words such as 'colour,' 'harbour' spelt without the 'u' in America, for example? Or 'cookie' in America and 'biscuit' in Britain? This isn't in the book, by the way. Just me making the observation. He discusses the obsession people in Britain have with their mobiles, and why they insist, particularly in public places, such as on trains, to have to talk so loudly when having a conversation. Why do we have to have voices in machines such as self-service checkouts at supermarkets, in lifts (elevators in America. Why?) or on moving walk-ways? These are issues I have discussed in earlier blog posts on here, and give me endless pleasure. I enjoy observing the peculiarities of people I come across in my daily activities, such as in the supermarket or when out and about generally.  A real fount of endless amusement. I think you will see this if you read any of my blog posts.  Bill Bryson made some rather uncomplimentary remarks in his earlier book about Milton Keynes, which I find rather annoying, having lived here for the past ten years. He has visited many of the same places that we visit, including Bournemouth, Dorset and the south coast, as well as Avebury, which we visited last week, Stonehenge and many other British places. Anyway, Mr Bryson and I have so much in common, including the fact that we're about the same age, although I'm probably about a year older. This particular book is on offer at the moment in Waterstone's and was one of the books you can select from a range of other books in their which they have in their 'Buy One, get one Half-Price' offers. I can't resist bookshops, and Waterstones in particular. I love books as you will have realised if you've read any of these blog posts. I have many books waiting to be read and if there's an offer on in Watersones, such as their 'buy two and get one free' or 'buy one and get one half price' I just can't resist. Well, who couldn't? But Amazon is where I tend to buy most of my books because they are generally so much cheaper than elsewhere. I know that Amazon has been vilified lately because of not paying their fair share on tax and so on, but when you can have virtually any book and then get it delivered within 24 hours (we have Amazon Prime, incidentally.) and not pay any postage or packing, it is so easy and simple to order as well as finding books that I wouldn't otherwise have found anywhere else. This is worked out because they can recommend books based on what you've ordered or have in your 'saved for later' list on their website.
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