Tag Archives: 1980s travel

Writing Home to Myself: Sending Diary

There were a lot of times when I was travelling I wished I was totally free of humanity; with no relations to worry about, or worry about them worrying about me; but family is good in other ways, and has benefits such as being a base. The way I travelled back in the 1980s, before all the portable and online technology of today, I may not have kept a diary together, and been able to write the book I did.

First Batch of Diary

The arriving in Rome day of my diary, scanned into a couple of posts ago, was the last of 17 pages of what I think was originally a notepad I sent home to myself from Rome; containing my journey hitch-hiking from west Wales via Belgium, France and northern Spain from August 25th to September 16th, 1987.

Here’s a scan of the envelope, with the postage wrong in typical traveller style:

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I don’t know what the situation is now for long-term travellers, I guess most just do it online, but back then you usually relied on getting your mail sent to ‘poste restante’ at post offices around the world, providing a post office address that you planned to visit in a couple of months.

Rome from Home, Mystery of History

About three weeks after leaving home I reached Rome and spent a few days in Camp Nomentano. The shed beds were cheaper than pitching a tent, so I took that option. It turned out to be good on a social level too, as there was a cool crowd of people there. It was my first community away from home, and one I look back on with nice nostalgia. There was hot sunshine, and Rome being on the doorstep was a bonus.

Idyllic History Time Blurred but Still Recognisable 

Knowing more about humanity now, I wonder how long it would have lasted, and put the good atmosphere down to the time and place, rather than any inherent goodness in or about anybody. It was a great time because it was brief and shallow, without work or competition, new interactions with people who shared my old dreams.

It was special to me because it was my only such experience in my travelling around Europe, before reaching the stationery worker-traveller communities on Crete. For the others I met at Camp Nomentano maybe it was just another campsite; one of many they stayed at in Europe; or just another weekend for those staying longer, like the busking team.

But however much I try and diminish it, with the benefit of 30 years worth of experience and knowledge, now living in middle-aged grumpiness, knowing some of the current young hunt people like me with the ferocity of rabied rats; as I then viewed older people!; unable or unwilling to recognise anything other than their own disgusting desires (money, sadism etc), it still sparkles in my memory like the sun through greenY leaves while lying in one of the hammocks revelling in youthful laziness.

Here’s some photos, flyers and receipts from my time when Rome became my first home from home:

Rome Campsite, 1987, Photos

I’m in the green in front of our ‘shed’, with the sunshine and trees visible in the background. Homophobic conspiracy theorists will probably consider it evidence of gayness, but I put my distraction down to my self-diagnosed ADHD.

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My fun-loving-not-caring-about-acting/looking-the-fool personality was evident in this photo too, when I fumbled over taking the photo, but that brought out an even better one; I think, not remembering the original; with much merriment amongst my fellow travellers:

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Rome, 1987, Campsite Flyer

Here’s the flyer for the camp:

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Rome, 1987, Campsite Receipts

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Scorpions and AC/DC in Spain, 1987 Hitch-hiking Lifts

I didn’t take any photos in Spain or collect any memorabilia, apart from a couple of pesetas; I probably would have in Barcelona, but as my diary extracts show, my lift took me straight past it. I kept a coin or two; or note if that’s all there was, as in some countries; from each country. Here’s a photo of the two peseta coins I kept:

Hitch-hiking in Northern Spain

As my diary extracts show, hitch-hiking in northern Spain (Basque region) was difficult, but the lifts were eventful when they happened. Some Germans lifted my mood playing the Scorpions, and a local put AC/DC on.

The German ‘Scorpions’ lift, walking above Zaragoza and arriving in Figueres (I found out while there it was Salvador Dali’s birthplace: the museum was closed as it was a Saturday!) all made it into my fantasy fiction travel around Europe to Google Maps original concept XaW Files: Beyond Humanity book; cross-referencing through time and writing genres, via the motorways and crossroads of my mind; neurons of memory and creativity perhaps travelling from different parts of my brain, and meeting at the greenYgreyesque corpus callosum.

The Zaragoza to Figueres lift started off a spaghetti western storyline in Chapter 6 Episode 18: ‘I had felt shimmering significance in Figueres, time distortion in Barcelona and at a crossroads in Zaragoza.’ I had made it to Barcelona in 2013.

The German Scorpions lift was referenced in a fantasy storyline with the real Scorpions singer Klaus Meine, twisting it around to him having read my memoir, which is of course separate to the greenYgrey trilogy: ‘Klaus was very understanding about it, and gave me a lift to Hannover, his home town, which was on my way west. He played the Scorpions’ Worldwide Live album on the way, which is one of my all-time favourites. I told him I’d referenced a couple of Scorpions songs in the opening paragraph, and he said that was a coincidence, because our drive reminded him of one in The Guns N’ Roses Worker Traveller.’

My 1987 Diary 

Here’s my diary recording my brief time in Spain. I had intended spending longer, but as I write in the diary, the hitching wasn’t very good.

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In 2005, after a decade in further education I became Dr. Marc Latham, the Chav Philosopher; possibly Blighty’s best value and poorest doctor of philosophy. My memoir, poetry and fiction books are available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marc-Latham/e/B004SP40J0/

Paris, 1987, Eiffel Tower Experience Monumental!

Although travel for the sake of travel was the main reason for my first travelling experience thirty years ago, I wanted to see as much of the world as possible, with significant world sites second only to beaches at the time; I originally only planned to do Europe and North America, a hitch-hiking sojourn ending in L.A., then buzzing with my favourite rock and metal music. So reaching Paris after a few days was totally uplifting and quite mindblowing, especially as the sun was shining hot summer heat. It would stay mainly sunny for the rest of my trip over the next month, until reaching Athens at the end of September. Here’s the photos I took in Paris, from and of, the Eiffel Tower:

This memoir was published as The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller, and like Marc Latham’s other books is available to buy or borrow on Amazon and some great big bookshops.

Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction Always One Month Ahead: Passport to France

When I decided to finish this blog off to commemorate 30 years since my travels started last week I didn’t know Guns N’ Roses were planning a thirtieth anniversary event for Appetite for Destruction. Today I read they are playing a special AFD gig in the Apollo, New York on Friday July 21st to mark its 30th anniversary/birthday on Planet Rock and Classic Rock. Best of luck to the band and fans for that… will Izzy and Steven be there… hopefully!

Passport and France Photos

When I left home and travelled to the European continent a month and four days after AFD was released I had a passport from 1982 with the photo of me as I was then: a typical young rock and metaller with hair down to shoulders and a denim shirt:

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After hitching from the Belgian coast via the outskirts of Brussels I reached Lille and took my first photo of my travels in its main central square. The blog continues after the photo, which includes a big space below it from the scanning:

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My first travel memoir, The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller, was published by Chipmunka, and I have since written several more, available on Amazon.

I’ll continue blogging my travels, which greatly influenced my fantasy travel trilogy pioneering the new concept of writing fiction from Google Maps and web information.