Round Ireland With A Fridge, by Tony Hawks
This book answers a question that I do not believe I have ever wondered about, and that is how one successfully travels the circuit of Ireland with a fridge. This book lives up to its title in a very simple and straightforward way, giving the details of how a drunken bet turned into a mock epic journey around Ireland and demonstrated to the author (and likely the reader as well) the general friendliness of the Irish people. Given that I am not much of a drinker nor have any desire to hitchhike anywhere, it is not as if this is a book I can identify with to any great degree. That said, as someone who enjoys reading oddball travel books , this book certainly meets the standard of an enjoyable sort of work that one can read without wanting to emulate the author’s achievement. Indeed, the book is endearingly quirky and demonstrates the author is precisely the sort of eccentric person who could likely write this sort of book for the rest of his life and earn a good living while doing so. Endearingly bumbling Brits abroad make for good travelers, after all.
This book of just under 250 pages tells the story of a man who engaged in a drunken bet that he could get around the nation of Ireland, including a few specific locations, in a month while hitchhiking with a fridge. And, spoiler alert, that is exactly what he did. In the process, there are a few patterns that the reader will note, including the way that the Irish are surprisingly generous to people who are engaged in daft bets that have no economic sense–until you count the book royalties, the trip itself was a definite money-loser for the author, given that the bet was for 100 pounds and the fridge cost a bit more than that itself. Besides the striking generosity of the Irish, we see the author’s insecurities about being single and some jokes of the insecurely masculine variety, and the way that he found his way around Ireland helped by people who engage in transportation-related work, including quite a few people who make deliveries of some kind, and someone who works in swan rescue (?!). The author fornicates in a dog house with one young woman after nearly getting cock-blocked, and in general the book as a whole has a lot of time spent in pubs around drunk people, along with a lot of time spent talking on the phone or in person with various members of the media, who naturally took the chance to gain some popularity by talking about the author’s quest, allowing it to be successfully undertaken.
It is unclear if there are any life lessons that are intended by this sort of book. The author makes reference to his general bumbling nature around women, which is somewhat odd given that the author does not appear to the sort of guy who would have trouble with girls. Aside from his drinking, he is at least somewhat Nathanish, in being full of odd observations and enjoying the company of others but also finding conversation occasionally wearisome. One might be tempted to say that it would be good not to drink too much, but the author does not appear to be chagrined by his drinking and at times blames not drinking enough for a long and sleepless night he spent in a hostel. His drinking habits did lead the radio host he communicates with often, though, to comment on their problematic nature. The Irish times gets it right that this book is part memoir, part travelogue, and part alcohol-induced ramblings, and there are worse things to read than this, and if you like odd travel books, this is quite a pleasant one indeed.
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