>> Friday, August 26, 2011
Whilst in Ireland for an International Song Competition, Tony Hawks was amazed to see a hitch-hiker, trying to thumb a lift, but with a fridge. This seemed amazingly optimistic - his Irish friends, however, thought nothing of it at all. "I had clearly arrived in a country", writes Tony, "where the qualification for ‘eccentric’ involved a great deal more than that to which I had become used". Years pass... but the fridge incident haunts our author.Very short summary if you don't fancy reading the summary: the author is a comedian who makes a drunken bet with a friend that he can hitchhike round Ireland with a fridge.
Until one night, heavy with drink, he finds himself arguing about Ireland with a friend. It is, he insists, a "magical place", so magical in fact, that a man could even get a lift with a fridge. The next morning there is a note by the bed. "I hereby bet Tony Hawks the sum of One Hundred Pounds that he cannot hitch hike around the circumference of Ireland with a fridge within one calendar month." The document was signed. The bet was made. This book is the story of Tony’s adventures through that incredible month. The people he meets, the difficulties, the triumphs. The fridge.
The result was, at least to me, meh. It was ok enough, but I think if I hadn't been reading it for my book club, I might not have kept reading. It's not bad, it just didn't click with me, especially the humour. It's not that the humour is offensive or anything like that, it's just a bit childish. YMMV, though, as a fair few of my fellow book clubbers thought it was hilarious. The perfect example of what didn't appeal to me was Hawks' "witty" comment when the owner of a B&B he's staying at tells him her dream is to get a Michelin star. He comes back with the supremely clever (paraphrasing here) 'I've never understood the need to get your establishment endorsed by Michelin. After all, no one cares if your food takes corners well.' *groan* But if you smiled, go get this book.
All this said, I did think the book improved as it went along. After a while the places, people and situation he stumbles into get more interesting. The people are quirkier and you start getting a feel of what Ireland is like (or was like at the time, anyway, before all the Celtic Tiger stuff happened). The last half or so I actually read quite quickly.
As an aside, I know it's pedantic of me, but couldn't help feeling he was cheating by making sure his quest was covered in a popular, national radio show. Pretty much every morning he'd telephone in to something called "The Gerry Ryan show", where the host would interview him and then tell his listeners to be on the lookout for a man with a fridge on the road between X and Y. Yes, he did a couple of times get a lift from people who hadn't heard of him and just happened to stop for a hitchhiker with a fridge, but most people who stopped (and offered free meals and accomodation) had heard of what he was doing. I think if I was his friend I would have felt a bit sore about paying that bet!
MY GRADE: A B-.