The sacrifice of blogging is poise; the pleasure of books is their craft. It is hard to read the many books and extracts I carry on my tiny memory stick without feeling a surge of jealousy as I revel in their depth and fluency. I’m still finding my voice against the backdrop of northern French internet-absence. (Perhaps everyone is still on Minitel).
When I came “home” to London last year after most of this century abroad I instinctively liked my new city. But it would take years to know it as it is now. Who was it that said memory is how we think about then, now? Now the new memories are things such as HSBC bank adverts in Polish, in South London. In Golders Green there are swathes of Japanese food stores. Free newspapers grow in the tube, telling stories of bad behaviour by performers who I’ve never seen or heard in nightclubs which surely can’t exist. Pilgrims flock to Top Shop to buy clothes they will immediately sell on E-bay.
And now, like Tom, I’m trying to respond to fresh European places after a few hours observation: I have many resources, aide-memoirs, Wikipedia; my eyes and ears. But little hope of depth. I hope somehow that the manifestation of the journey can exist online as a somewhat surrealistic snapshot of a trip that my friend Ian has always said should be called The Last Tourist.
But I remember all that fuss about The End of History. This is merely an attempt to follow one man closely, and celebrate the lives – real and imagined – of thousands of others.