Sunday, 13 March 2011

Pub Walks in Underhill Country by Nat Segnit


DATE READ: March 2011

NOTES: This book consists of the notes made by the now-departed Graham Underhill. He set out to produce another in his series of walking guides but was unable to resist telling us about his own life and problems. It’s a great device for a comic novel and on the whole works really well.

Graham is a keen walker but is unable to prevent pedantry and pomposity creeping through. While describing the (genuine) walks well he tells us lots of things we really don’t want to know. In relating his refreshments he describes the “two compartment picnic cooler” which holds the “Snap’n,’lock food containers”. He is always keen to let us know about flora and fauna, geology, history, philosophy and poetry. Poor Graham. He is so well-meaning but, let’s face it, he is the person you make sure you are not walking beside if you are on a group ramble!

It is soon made clear that his marriage to the beautiful Sunita has very rocky foundations. We know this but Graham fails to see what is going on under his nose. Many of the incidents recorded are ambivalent and it becomes hard to judge what facts can be relied on.

I was drawn to this book as I like walking. So what about the walks described? I have done some of these in the past but will put some of the others to the test in the coming year. Hopefully I will not succumb to some of Graham’s potential threats: angry farmers, slippery paths, dangerous cliffs – or even aggressive schoolgirls!

Great fun.

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