Overland Odyssey to the Orient – The Prologue

The Prologue

The cliche that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step is misleading. Before I took that first step on my 5,150 mile journey* I felt like I had run a marathon.  The list of tasks to be completed seemed endless at first. Obtaining a CELTA qualification and quitting my awful job was the easy part. Sorting through a lifetime’s accumulation of bits and pieces and miscellaneous crap, throwing away what was not required and putting the rest into storage was hard. Everything had to be moved, as much as possible was recycled.  The St Gemma’s Hospice and St George’s Crypt charity shops both accepted a lot of my stuff hopefully, they will make some money from them.

Getting my house into a good condition where it could be rented out was even harder.  Planning my journey was fun but getting the tickets and visas was less so.

A Citycabs black and white taxi

Before I left I managed to fit in a day at Headingley to watch a county cricket match between Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire with Percy, Chris and Cousin Martin.  Yorkshire had a bad day at the crease but went on to win the match. A sunny day , the sound of leather on willow, good company, good food and plenty of ale – life doesn’t get much better than this.
The last few days were hectic but on August 7th at 13:00 British Summer Time I found myself standing outside my house waiting for a taxi that would take me on the first part of my journey.
* That’s as the crow flies the actual distance travelled was much greater.

Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen
8 October 1917 – March, 1918

A shrine to war poet hero Wilfred Owen

from The Daily Telepgraph

The forester’s house in which Wilfred Owen took refuge hours before he was killed in 1918 has been re-built in his honour.

1605 vs 2011

Gunpowder Plot 1605

“A brief account of that bloudy & subtle Design laid against the King, his Lords and Commons in Parliament, and of a Happy Deliverance by Divine Power.”

Real IRA Plot 2011

The planting of bombs and buying guns is an example of plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, although the sentences for those arrested are now much less severe:

The plotters were hung, drawn and quartered and their heads displayed in Westminster

A Google news search for ‘terrorist plot’ gathered 2,110 results. In  2011 the alledged  perpetrators of terrorism are:

an ex-Soviet officer in Columbia, the ‘Real’ IRA, various Islamist conspiracies, two Swedes found to be innocent, Iran & the USA making accusations and counter-accusations … and the list goes on.