Born a middle aged woman as I was, I love Bill Bryson’s books. The Road to Little Dribbling has Bill travelling across Britain to mark the anniversary of Notes from a Small Island, which is apparently the best-selling travel book of all time.
Bill makes me laugh, even when I have no idea who, or what, he is on about.
I flicked through the channels to see what else was on and the very best option available was Michael Portillo riding a train in the north of England in a pink shirt and yellow trousers, clutching an old guidebook. Occasionally he would get off the train and spend approximately forty seconds with a local historian who would explain to him why something that used to be there is no longer there.
‘So this used to be the site of the biggest prosthetics mill in Lancashire?’ Michael would say.
‘That’s right. Fourteen thousand girls worked here in its heyday.’
‘Gosh. And now it’s this Asda superstore?’
‘Gosh. That’s progress for you. Well, I’m off to Oldham to see where they used to make clogs for sheep. Ta-ta.’
And this really was the best thing on.
Who is Michael Portillo? Bill’s talent is in making it not matter, while dishing up the LOLs. Chortle is probably an apt verb to use here.
Bill is getting very grumpy in his old(er) age, especially about threats to Britain’s countryside. The conservation of the country’s natural beauty is very dear to his heart and the backbone of his trip, and the book.