Friday, February 29, 2008

Pilgrim's Non-Progress

Happy Leap Day!

I know it's wrong to have an Eric Cartman-esque reaction to hippies, but even I couldn't help finding this story hilarious:

A man who planned to walk from Bristol to India without any money has quit, after getting as far as Calais, France.

Mark Boyle, 28, who set out four weeks ago with only T-shirts, a bandage and sandals, hoped to rely on the kindness of strangers for food and lodging.

But, because he could not speak French, people thought he was free-loading or an asylum seeker.

It doesn't say if Mr Boyle is an educated man, but even I would have been able to tell him his project was unlikely to succeed. I like the way it says "thought he was free-loading". What else would you call it?

Mr Boyle, a former organic food company boss, belongs to the Freeconomy movement which wants to get rid of money altogether.

In his online diary at the start of his journey to Porbander, Gandhi's birthplace, he said he was given two free dinners on his first evening away in Glastonbury.

Later, he was joined in Dover by two companions, and the three managed to get to Calais.

But in one of his last entries, he wrote: "...not only did no one not speak the language, they had also seen us as just a bunch of freeloading backpackers, which is the complete opposite of what the pilgrimage is really about.

"That really scared us and given that we now were pretty much out of food, hadn't slept in days and were really cold, we had to reassess the whole situation."

Mr Boyle said he could not explain in words the disappointment he felt at abandoning the journey and he apologised to his supporters.

I certainly can't explain in words the size of the grin I had on my face when reading this. You can imagine the conversation with his mates:

-What are you doing next week, Mark?
-I'm off to India.
-Wow, great, but how can you afford it?
-I'm walking.
-Er, isn't it rather a long way. And how will you carry your luggage?
-Oh, I'm sure people will help me out as I go.
-Ok, well, good luck with that, then.

However, he is undeterred by this setback:
He now plans to walk around the coast of Britain instead, learning French as he goes, so he can try again next year.

"Whilst walking in the UK, I intend to learn French and to hit the continent again as soon as we feel we are ready."

I'm not sure of his intended route, but let's hope he has time to pick up some Italian, Serbo-Croat, Greek, Turkish, Persian, Farsi and Punjabi before he sets off.

1 comment:

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Chuckle - that's a good one.