The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
This is the latest book by Bill Bryson, author of “Notes from a Small Island”, “A Walk in the Woods” and “A Short History of the World”. It’s out in an attractive hard cover edition (I like it, anyway).
In this book, Bryson revisits Britain in a sequel or sorts to “Notes from a Small Island” which he wrote 20 years ago – walking little known paths and visiting little known places, as well as very well known places such as Bournemouth, Dover, Penzance, and Cambridge.
Bryson’s wit is again in glorious display in this book. His observations will often make you laugh out loud. (I have said that before!) Bryson can describe a person, event or idea he is seeking to convey, in effortlessly unexpected ways, stringing words together in his own particular way; for example, in Penzance he ended up getting a lift to Tintagel with a couple of ladies, and he writes, “She appeared to be short and almost perfectly round. Her companion, a woman of similar years, was tall and lean. I remember thinking that they could go to a fancy dress party as the number ten”.
Bryson always delights in telling the reader little known interesting stories about famous and not-so-famous people and events, or people who should be famous and events which should be better known. It is like being taken by the hand on a meandering, but still purposeful stroll, and discovering treasures and delights along the way – like a treasure hunt but one you don’t know you are on.
“The Road to Little Dribbling” does paint a picture of Britain which reflects Bryson’s love for the place, tempered with gentle mocking and his frustration at the decline he also observes.
I did find that the grumpy old man did come out a little too petulantly at times, but for all that, this would make a great read or gift for anyone who likes well-written travel writing, history and biographical anecdotes.