If I made a mistake in naming Great Britain (Blighty) a ‘Great greenYgrey island’, in answer to Bill Bryson’s ‘small island’ book title, it was that I underestimated how greenYgrey Great the rest of the world is, therefore making the description unspecific. Therefore, as I am only the original self-titled coffilosopher, rather than the original coffilosopher, or probably the best, either in coffilosophy creation or coffee consumption (I have since naming myself such read Patti Smith’s M Nights memoir, and she’s a real coffee connoisseur, as well as legendary musician and award-winning writer (I must unfortunately add that I thought my XaW Files: Beyond Humanity is better than M Nights!: for concept, writing and philosophy, although her life story is more interesting and accomplished!!), I think of Britain as Original greenYgrey rather than Great or Greatest.
I was reminded of that thought this morning when I saw the Microsoft screensaver from Luoping, China, and followed it up to find fourteen more great greenYgreys filling the screen. So I made a screensave, and it is presented below. I was lucky to visit south-west China in early 1991, as some parts were opening up to the world, and the limestone stacks around Guilin and Yangshuo is one of my favourite landscapes I’ve seen; I was reminded of it on east coast of Yorkshire this year, initially inspired to visit by the birdlife from Bempton to Bridlington. Here’s the screensave:
As I wrote the headline to this blog the warm autumn sun broke through cloud, entering my writing room, which is the only one I have, Dark Side of the Moon built up ten minutes in, and the coffilosophy brews as I just started my second mug, pouring out into this opening paragraph of new words, and Sweet Child O’ Mine inspired the title.
Lone Crete Photo Reflects Worker-Traveller Ethos
I only took one photo in my three months on Crete; or to be more correct, I didn’t take any, but had one taken of me; it was that kind of place and experience, mostly about work and drinking, experiencing day-to-day humanity in a true Beat kind of way. Me keeping a diary was the height of culture most of the time, but there were a lot of spoken gems, and comedy classics.
The photo was taken about a month after arrival, and I look like a typical worker-traveller in it, scruffy and bedraggled, unfit and under-nourished, looking to me like a Wild West cowboy out on the range – which was the kind of image I had at the time.
The woman was a sweet pretty fellow worker-traveller. Her face is hidden for her benefit, as I don’t know her circumstances, and if she’d want her appearance here.
Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for Literature yesterday, and humbly said he thought it was a mistake.
I thought it was a mistake too, as I was sure it was my year!
I thought about including this explanation before, or a self-parody warning, but thought I’d tell the joke first, as it would otherwise spoil it. I didn’t really think I was in with a chance of winning it… but do think I’m capable of deserving it, even if I don’t now.
I made that point in XaW Files (8:15), when adding to Richard Flanagan’s thoughts on how writing empties you in an Imagine documentary, after he’d won the Man Booker Prize; he’d said there was no why, there just was:
Moreover, I have also felt the same as Flanagan: that each book written and published, or even poem or philosophical thought, diminishes you.
With the benefit of time, I think the reason I think that is that the writer is sharing themselves with the world, so that their thoughts and experiences are not all theirs anymore; your mind life is scattered all over the pages and world. This can be good and bad for your psyche and soul, hypothetically, releasing negativity and sharing positivity.
Our books from life experience are also material evidence of time elapsed. We can write a limited amount from personal experience in our finite time. Each book tells the story of a part of our lives that has passed. It has been lived and written.
In childhood and youth we look forward, with our minds and lives to fill with experiences, knowledge and memories. Writing about them is evidence that some have been found and achieved. However, it also shows that your life is not as full as it once was. You have already lived some of your life, and the hard evidence is on your written page; unavoidable evidence that your time in this life has diminished.’
Funnily enough, a quote featured in the FundsForWriters newsletter this week has a similar theme:
Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.
~American Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher Pema Chödrön
Parody and Satire Critical Theory High Cost Writing
I think critical writing can be the most costly, and especially self-analysis, self-parody and self-satire; as I try to do, in part so I think I am justified in criticising, parodying and satirising others.
I thought about writing freely that I thought there was a second mistake when they said Kazuo Ishiguro is an Englishman, but now only write it as an example of how I think it is beyond the political correctness line.
Japanese and Jewish (I’m not Either! – self-parody exclamation!!)
As the U.K. left make the ‘racist’ mistake of thinking they can say what they want about Jewish people (not that I’m Jewish!) because they are stereotypically whitish and westernish, the Japanese might seem similarly open to ‘free’ parody, but I know differently.
I know that my parody probably makes it even more unlikely that I won’t win any awards, or get a big publishing deal, but I continue to do it, because it’s what I want to write, and would rather write freely and poorly than censored and richly.
Mainly because I just wanted to, but also to show that I’m not bitter or jealous, except for self-parody comedy reasons seen above, I’ve started reading Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant book. It’s not his most famous work, but it was available, and sounds interesting with a British pagan history timeframe, and a protagonist called Axl (Axl Rose being the lead singer of Guns N’ Roses, the band I named my first book after!).
The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller, XaW Files: Beyond Humanity and my other great coffilosophical (not the first coffilosopher, but the first to name myself such, as far as I know) books are available on Amazon:
I concluded my 30th anniversary tour of my travels starting on August 25th, 1987 with a spectacularly genius combination: returning to my birthplace of Jersey for the first time in just over 50 years! It was a week full of the ups and downs typically experienced while independent travelling. I hope to write more about it soon.
My year of returning to hobo travelling on short trips 2017 tour took in:
Scarborough to Withernsea coastal path trek in May.
Helmsley to Scarborough imprecise rest of the Cleveland Way walk in June.
Guns N’ Roses gig in the Olympic Stadium in June, camping in Abbey Wood.
Camping and hiking in Jersey less than fortnight after anniversary, and in the month of my birthday, and taking a ferry across the channel as I did in 1987.
Thanks to all those I’ve met along the way and that have played a positive part in it, and especially the awesome AAWs and great greenYliens; and Guns N’ Roses for partly reforming and touring to take part in it (little self-parody there!!).
I really hope I brightened up the day of those who wanted to see me, as seeing people I’d heard of has for me over the years, such as sports and media people in Leeds.
Sorry if I didn’t acknowledge you if you wanted me to; or if I didn’t visit your locality if you wanted me to, or enter your workplace or use your transport.
The first of ignoring people was probably because some people take offence at me looking around, and some even use it to try and entrap me within a ‘negative’ for me, ‘positive’ for them. Sorry if you wanted to be positive, but I ‘wasn’t in the mood’! Like a reality show judge once said, I don’t want to disappoint anyone, and it can be quite mentally taxing at times, hopefully without sounding too self-obsessed!
The second was probably because of either my ambition to stay true to my original travelling as possible; to prove I did it originally to others, and that I can still do it to myself, probably in a middle-aged crisis kind of way.
I’d rather have been spending more money on beer and food, and occasional hotels and transport, but I was on my own little personal mission, and if I’d strayed too far from it, or even a little, the negatives would no doubt have made a mountain out of a molehill, as they’ve tried to do with my writing and running.
Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on the negatives too much, and I’m delighted to have accomplished the anniversary I wanted. Thanks again to all those who took part in it positively, helped along the way, or tolerated me hiking and camping around.
The greenYgrey decade also finished with the greenygrey3 subscription running out on September 4th, the day I travelled to Jersey, in a triple synchronisation of my writing career significance. ‘Mastermind genius’ used in a great way, but that will no doubt be ignored by the mainstream media and publishing; or turned negatively!
The books are there are as a greenYgrey legacy, and I really recommend them, especially the last two, and hope to write more about the greenYgreyology philosophy in the future, but as me, Doctor Marc Latham. I’ve tried to be very ethical the last decade, such as reining in promiscuity, mainly because the greenYgrey could appeal to all ages, and was oppsoing the child grooming disgrace, but some people even turn that into a negative.
I’ll be keeping this site going, and hope to have a new project or three soon, with lots of ideas, but no clear direction yet, in true greenYgrey style. If there are any experts or specialists in exercise, travel, media, sport or publicity etc interested, maybe now would be a good time to contact me.
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:
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.
This post is dedicated to a fantastic Italian woman from Milan, and a nice one from Reggio Emilia, and the good Italians I’ve met on my visits there and elsewhere, as well as my fellow campers at Camp Nomentano in 1987!
There’s an old saying that goes something like ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’; but I sightsaw it in a day; well, enough for me, although I probably only saw a small amount of what there is to see, and that from a just the surface category.
A Canadian traveller staying at Camp Nomentano reluctantly went sightseeing with me, showing me around, as he’d already done it. It was an amazing day, with lots of stunning sights on a hot sunny day. We also went to see the busking team at their regular slot. I took three photos: of the Colisseum, St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and the Altare della Patria ([alˈtaːre della ˈpaːtrja]; English: “Altar of the Fatherland”) [Wikipedia], having to now look up the latter.
After an eventful time in northern Spain my last day was a good one socialising with a fellow worker-traveller in Figueres, home of Salvador Dali. The first day’s diary below covers that. I then hitched across the south of France into northern Italy, where the hitching was good, and the Riviera cliffs to beaches scenery even better. I spent a night sharing a room in Nice with another hitcher I shared a lift with, after his suggestion. I briefly stopped in Pisa and Florence, before reaching Rome, told in the second day’s diary below. The whole journey’s told in my memoir, The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller. If you want to see the diary days in-between these two, please request.
I know there are lots of nice places in Belgium (especially for art and history, such as shown in the In Bruges movie), but I was glad to get out of there after my first day on the continent. It had started well, with a lift from Ostend port to the edge of Brussels, but it was raining all the time there, and it was ages before I got a lift. I later pitched my tent in a field, which flooded after more rain! So I was glad to get into France, which had been my initial first destination before being offered the return ticket to Ostend.
I took my first photo in Lille, featured a couple of blog posts ago in the first of this series looking back at my first travel 30 years ago, and also made my first sterling to foreign currency transaction; in the pre-Euro Europe. Here’s the receipt:
I know countries’ borders are only on maps, ground and water, and not in the weather; and was probably due to it being another day rather than country, but it did dry up in France, and Paris greeted me with hot summer sunshine. More of that next time…
My first travel memoir, The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller, was published by Chipmunka, and I have since written several more, available on Amazon.
Travel 25 years has become 30, with a trip to the beautiful Baltic last year to complete my 12 years – marathon every 3 years until 50 – ambition in riveting Riga, Latvia, continuing to enchanting Estonia (Parnu and Tallinn) and holistic Helsinki, Finland; articles published on TravelThruHistory and available from the above links. I’ve also been on trips around the U.K., from Abbey Wood in Kent to John O’ Groats on the northern tip of Scotland and the U.K., and hobo hiked around Yorkshire and Cleveland.
Hobo Travelling Trip Down Memory Lane… Coastal Path
In May I recaptured some of the ethos of my first trip by hiking and camping from Scarborough to Withernsea through Hornsea (about 55-60 miles over three days). Some of the secluded beaches were particularly reminiscent of some of the European deserts if I ignored the sea to the side (seeing Hornsea’s Marine Bar in the desert was like a movie mirage!); while being able to dip into the sea and waking up to the rising sun reminded me of times living on the beach. The birdlife on the chalk cliffs and stacks from Bempton to Flamborough Head looked truly world-class.
Last month I did an even longer walk from Helmsley to Scarborough (about 90 miles over four days), seeing some nice dales scenery, especially around Hawnby, and walked down the Cleveland Way coastal path from Saltburn-by-the-Sea; a picturesque coastal town like a bigger version of the more southerly villages of Staithes, Runswick Bay and Robin Hood’s Bay either side of Whitby.
Secluded beaches above Scarborough were a great way to finish the walk on a sunny Sunday, and the town had great food and drink to replenish and refresh (UNESCO site(s) of future after Lake District celebrating award on weekend!?).
Guns N’ Roses Reunion Trip down Memory Lane… Balmy Day
My visit to Abbey Wood campsite, an idyllic green space replete with wild parakeets in the trees, was to see Guns N’ Roses at the Olympic Stadium, London, with Duff and Slash rejoining last year for their current very successful world tour. The gig reminded me of Wembley Stadium in 1991, which was also hot and sunny.
I was just getting to know Guns N’ Roses’s Appetite for Destruction this time 30 years ago, and it provided the main soundtrack to my travels.
I left on August 25th, 1987, and I’ll hopefully complete this site’s backwards chronology working to that date this year in 2017. My first eleven months journey was originally just supposed to be around Europe, but extended to the Middle-East mainly through a desire for more sunshine warmth over the winter; with tourist sites a secondary factor.
It was immortalised in my memoir The Guns N’ Roses Worker-Traveller, published by Chipmunka, realising an ambition I’d had since reading Jack Kerouac’s On The Road: to travel, keep a diary and write a book about it.
That fulfilled my writing ambition, but I’ve continued writing for a decade; fulfilling no more ambitions, for there were none; but creating some new concepts, supporting some good causes and improving my writing.
My name is Marc Latham, and I’m still alive. My story is true, and I’ll prove what I can to you…