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Stop The World - I want to get off

Owain Treece- on travel writing...

It's heartening to read a writer recommending travel writers to stay at home, Michael Sean Morris on 'Why I can't be a travel writer' and while they're at it - shut the fuck up and throw away their pads, pens, typewriters, wordprocessors, pods, cameras, mobile phones, the wallets containing the currency they will fear losing/buy a year's worth of cocaine with/hand over to a cab driver by mistake and all the other too familiar accoutrements of their so-called art.

Read the historical record if you wish to read lies, damned lies and the stories of men with heads up their bottoms - thinly veiled propoganda of the state and the self in most cases, to generalise a wee bit. As travel has spread the state has been so, so very effectively replaced by the self.

Travel broadens not the mind - with luck some interesting tropical bug may cause swelling of the cranium, but the mind will stay resolutely the same size and shape it was when you first stuck those sunglasses on, they will fit when you return, and, no doubt, remind of many an interesting experience when they fall off in a bar, cripes the mind has shrunk!

If anything, travel reinforces stereotypes - even if even they are amusingly struck down for effect in the first paragraph: "of course Las Vegas/Wales/Iceland isn't all gambling/eisteddfodau/whaling and top-price whores/mountains/members of Blur these days", yes they are, I've been to a Rhyl holiday camp blubber and bloated weekender, you obviously haven't.

No-one is more likely to come out with the ludicrous (check the population figures before you judge just how ludicrous it is) sentence starter - "of course the Chinese", than someone who has been to China. A couple of weeks in Africa and people will start telling you things about "the Africans" - yet when you tell them thirty years in England has left you convinced of the blinkered, up-yer-own-arse arrogance of the population, they take offence - go figure.
Stay home young man, stay home.

© Owain Treece August 19th 2003

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