Eamonn Lynskey's Poetry and Reading Blog

December 2, 2009

‘Departures & Arrivals’, by Eric Newby

Filed under: Books — tvivf @ 2:25

I had heard vaguely of Eric Newby (1919-2006), the travel writer, sometime in the past and chanced on this book recently, which I read for just for the first and last chapters where he talks about growing up and family. The intervening ones concern travel and travel writing usually bores me. However, I ended up reading those chapters too because they are so interesting AND well written. Lots of interesting autobiographical material too and I was particularly struck by the following paragraph: ” .. nor did I like the Church Hall, the scene of an unsuccessful attempt to ‘interfere’ with me by a bun-faced curate when I was a member of the Wolf Cub pack. The interference only amounted to my being bounced up and down on his knee but I didn’t enjoy it, as I felt that I was too old to be bounced up and down on peoples’ knees, and I told my mother and she told my father, and my father told the vicar and the curate was sent away to wherever curates who tried to ‘interfere’ with Wolf Cubs went at the time”. Well, Eric, we know now where he was probably sent, given the actions of the Catholic Church in Ireland (and elsewhere) over the past 50 years or so. He probably ended up in another parish where the people had absolutely no knowledge of his proclivities.

Newby was one of those men who packed rather a lot into his lifetime (he was taken POW during the war and escaped). He has a modest, understated, humorous style of writing which appeals to me.

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