“Reading” on the Challenge

I read on one of her terrific posts or journals that on a long boring TGOC slog, Shirley Worral, “Peewiglet,” listened to a recorded version of one of Patrick O’Brian’s wonderful Aubrey-Maturin books. These are my favorites, too, and Patrick Tull’s spectacular acting sells them completely to me as a listener.

I went out for a longish walk the other day, tucked my iPod in my pocket, plugged in the earbud, and sailed away with Jack and Stephen for a couple of hours. Readers of the series will know that there are moments, and sometimes long sections, that are irresistibly comic, usually based on sometimes not-so-lovable character flaws and weaknesses displayed again and again by the main characters. Headed home, I found myself walking along laughing out loud. Not smiling or chuckling, mind you. Laughing out loud. The writing is so perceptive, so sharp, yet so genuinely and generously humane, it’s irresistible. Marvelous stuff.

I think I’ll follow in Shirl’s footsteps (literally in some cases), and bring an iPod on the Challenge. I’d use it mostly in the evenings, I think, but I’ve got a few slogs to get past, too, and I’d probably plug in then, as well. I’ve got what’s now called a Classic, with O’Brian, lots of Alan Furst, some Donna Leon and, optimistically, a bunch of language courses, among other things. And music, of course…mostly, but not entirely jazz. I wonder if I dare bring this mechanical device on the Scottish hills with me. I do also have a tiny Shuffle, which I sometimes shuffle with, but as far as I know, it can’t be recharged except by plugging it into a computer, and besides, it has no way to let you see and choose. I’ve never carried music or spoken books in the mountains, so I don’t have much of a feel for this.

(The Shuffle is my second. I returned the first, having apparently sweated it to death—right in the middle of Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti—on a steamy day last summer by clipping it to the top of my running shorts with the control wheel and its little interstices directly against my glowing back. A wop bop a lu bop, a wop bam boom. “Should have known better” has been my motto for years.)


“Reading” on the Challenge — 4 Comments

  1. Glad you’ve found the diaries to give you some background info on the TGOC. Hope you’ve also tuned into the 2006 and 2007 series of podcasts I did while on the trip, for even more info and hours of listening fun on your iPod?

    You can find them both on the listing page on backpackinglight.co.uk or theoutdoorsstation.co.uk

    Have a good trip in 2008, sadly Rose and I are on the shortlist, so not sure if we will make it.

    Damn the publicity we’ve given it!!

  2. Hi, Bob. I have indeed tuned into your 2006/7 TGO podcasts. I’ve even started to use the phrase “bits and bobs,” much to the bewilderment of my friends. Hope you get in off the waiting list!


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