This book was recommended to me by a friend. He thought I might enjoy it as ‘it has something of the thoughts-on-a-walk feel of On the Moor about it’. He was right: I did enjoy the book; and the device of going off on all manner of random tangents inspired by things encountered on a journey was indeed reminiscent of my own book (albeit, as my friend observed, the themes were different).
In ‘Watling Street’, John Higgs uses a sporadic trip up the eponymous Roman road as an excuse to investigate such diverse topics as:
- fortifications under Dover cliffs;
- the code-breakers of Bletchley Park;
- conflicting hypotheses about what inspired James Bond’s code-name, OO7;
- the link between Charles Dickens and Rod Hull & Emu;
- highwaymen (and women);
- rugby football mythology.
It’s all very entertaining stuff, set against the backdrop of the UK’s insane Brexit vote (my adjective, not Higgs’s). Oh, and there’s even a four-part podcast, which is a nice touch.
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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