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Published by norzamilazamri, 2022-04-11 23:07:20

Reader’s Digest Asia - January 2022

Reader’s Digest Asia - January 2022


Crawling In The Paddy Fields

pores, and no hint of smell remained. improve our circumstances, and
When I put on clean, coarse cotton lighten our burden of labour. This re-
clothes, fragrant from drying in the solve gave me strength so that when I
sun, it was pure ecstasy. went to university, and later to the US
on a scholarship, my spirit rose above
ONCE, DURING MY SUMMER holidays, personal hardships. Crawling in the
Father was sick, but he worked in the mud had taught me to take bleeding
field just the same, because there was and sweating as part of my life, and
so much to do. As I looked at his lean not to be afraid in the face of difficul-
figure, crawling ahead of me, I thought ties and setbacks. But what was more
of my own dim future. I was tied to important was that I had learned the
the land by job after back breaking meaning of “You reap what you sow”.
job, unlike other boys who had free-
dom to pursue happiness. Why were Mother used to say, “Judge a man
there people in the world who would not by his face, but by his fields.” I ap-
never know what it was like to toil, and preciate more and more the meaning
others, like me, who had been toiling of these words. The land is dependa-
ever since they were small boys, sea- ble, as long as you are willing to toil on
son after season, year after year? Why it. When the wind blew and the green
were some people sitting before elec- rice plants swayed like waves in a sea,
tric fans or in air-conditioned rooms, dazzlingly beautiful, a deep sense of
while I was panting and sweating un- satisfaction swelled up in me.
der the blazing sun? Why was there
mud and more mud in front of me? I laboured hard in the simple, iso-
lated countryside of my home, and I
Only we farmers were willing to am proud of this. Although later I went
crawl, to assume the lowliest of po- into academic research, I shall always
sitions in order to have a better har- remember what working in the paddy
vest. Even a buffalo or a horse, when fields taught me: plant your feet firmly
working for man, stands tall. I was on the ground, work hard and you will
suddenly consumed with great pity be rewarded.
and great respect for the multitudes
of poor farmers, and the focus of my The author’s brothers also found
attention began to extend beyond my- work away from the paddy fields.
self and my family. This was an impor- Yuh-hsien became an agricultural
tant turning-point in my life. and forestry official. Yuh-tang became
a deputy police superintendent.
While resting beside a field one day,
my brothers and I resolved to pursue THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN RECORDED
useful knowledge and technology
to help ourselves and other farmers AS AN RD TALKS PODCAST FOR YOUR




OTrRaY nTHgE e


It’s a sure cure for a case of
keeping up appearances

BY Robin Worthington

100 january 2022


ental health, like dandruff, crops up when
you least expect it. There was the day, for

M instance, that I ducked into the supermarket
with a scarf tied over my curlers, trying to look
inconspicuous. I never go out with my hair in curlers. But
visitors were arriving at short notice, and my emergency
shelf was pared down to one jar of pickled onions and two
tins of liver-flavoured dog food.

Anyway, I wouldn’t meet anyone I “What you need is some orange

knew. Please, not anyone neat I knew. peel in your life,” Sally said.

But there was Helen, before the low- “Some what?” I asked.

fat yoghurt display, immaculate in a “Orange peel. Let me tell you about

coral linen pants suit. it. Last summer my best boyfriend

I slammed the shopping trolley from high-school days decided to

into reverse and wheeled round, only look me up. I answered the doorbell

to be greeted with and there he stood

“Hello there!” from MY PSYCHE – with his perfectly
my neighbour Liz, ex- WAS STILL stunning blonde wife.
quisitely slender in a DENTED, BUT
turquoise shift. THE IDEA WAS “They arrived just
JUST CRAZY seconds after our
“Hi,” I returned fee- ENOUGH TO BE basset hound had
bly, pulling my slob APPEALING thrown up all over the
scarf down over the living-room rug, so
plastic rollers. “I never in desperation I took
go shopping like this.” them through the fam-
ily room, forgetting
Surely, I thought,

there must be some- that the clothes-dryer

one here who looks as was broken and there

crummy as I do. were damp T-shirts

That’s when good old Sally ap- and underpants draped over the backs

peared, wearing a faded gold sweat- of all the chairs. In the kitchen, the

shirt, paint-spotted slacks and frayed dishes were still in the sink.

floral tennis shoes. “While I was trying to apologise and

“You’re beautiful,” I told her. “Tell make coffee, I noticed what seemed

me, why do I run into everyone I to symbolise not only my housekeep-

know when I look like this?” ing but my very life at that moment:

102 january 2022

Try The Orange Peel Approach

a long, shrivelled, dusty orange peel stroganoff to the table for our guests,
curled up contentedly on the floor as my automatic apology tape whirred
if it had been there for weeks. into action.

“He saw it, and she saw it, and they “Usually when I make stroganoff,
both saw me trying to slide it casually I use steak and fresh mushrooms
to one side with my foot. Then it stuck and…” Suddenly I could see that spiral
to my sneaker and I had to bend over of orange peel dangling before me like
and pull it off. I don’t remember what a Christmas-tree ornament. I knew
we talked about. All I recall is that that, unchecked, I would continue to
wretched orange peel on the floor.” apologise. Firmly, I began all over.

“What did your husband say when “Now tell us about your trip.”
you told him?” I asked. When our guest left they specifi-
cally mentioned that the evening had
“He laughed. Then he said, ‘Think been “relaxing”.
how happy you made them. He’s glad That’s when I became a convert to
he didn’t marry you and she figures the orange-peel approach. The battle
the old girlfriend is no threat. Don’t to keep up appearances unnecessar-
think of your ego; think what you’re ily, the mask – whatever name you
doing for their marriage.’ give creeping perfectionism – robs us
of our energies and doesn’t do a bit to
“My psyche was still dented, but endear us to the press.
the idea was just crazy enough to be As [philosopher and psychologist]
appealing. Now it’s become an offi- William James put it, “To give up
cial family tradition. Whenever one pretensions is as blessed a relief as to
of us gets caught with a case of slip- have them gratified.”
ping façade, we just say, ‘Remember So when you’re caught with an
the orange peel’, and things get back orange peel – say, a dressing gown at
into perspective.” 11am – relax. Think how happy you’re
making someone else.
My chance to test Sally’s theory
came soon enough. That evening as
I carried the hastily assembled beef

Sage Words


The doctrine of human equality reposes on this: that there is no
man really clever who has not found that he is stupid. There is no
big man who has not felt small. Some men never feel small; but

these are the few men who are.

philosopher g.k. chesterton 103


Bonus Read


In 1998 I decided to walk 500 miles
across England and into Scotland with
no money. Would I be shown enough
hospitality to keep going?

BY Peter Mortimer



104 january 2022 105


powerful voice inside me whispered that I was
being idiotic, that a man of 54 should have more

A sense. If I wanted to try walking 500 miles [800
kilometres] from Plymouth to Edinburgh without
the security of a wallet, I should have done it years ago.

I told the voice to shut up. The idea Sam in.
took root. As far as I knew, no one had “Can I help you, sir?” asked the re-
done this before. A friend offered me
Sam, her seven-year-old King Charles ceptionist. I looked around. Sunday
spaniel. “He’ll walk forever,” she diners reclined in comfort, the smell
said, “and people will like you.” Sam of roast beef was in the air. I wanted
looked cuddly. Also, he would give to order a pint, but realised that, from
me solace in hours of loneliness and now on, this was one of many places
I could snuggle up to him in the cold. I could look at but not touch. I was a
I welcomed Sam as my companion. person apart, trapped in an invisible
bubble of poverty.
For practical tips on wandering
destitute I visited a Buddhist mon- “I’d, um, like some water for my
astery 20 miles from Cullercoats, dog,” I said. The receptionist put a
my home town at the mouth of the bowl on the thick pile carpet and Sam
River Tyne in northeast England. drank eagerly. For our Sunday lunch,
The monks advised me to carry an Sam and I shared two small triangles
umbrella and wrap moleskin round of toast, plus some butter, saved from
my feet. “You will find the walk very
hard,” one monk warned, “but even-
tually you will gain strength. It will
be part of your journey through life,
so you must do it.”

Day one: At 9.35am on Sunday, July

26, 1998, I set off from Plymouth
on my odyssey. A small knot of fear
gripped my stomach. I was entering
an unknown world. For nine miles
Sam and I were buffeted by thunder-
ing traffic on the A386 out of Plym-
outh, then we sought refuge in the
spacious grounds of the Moorland
Links Hotel. Without thinking, I led

106 january 2022

My Penniless Journey

my hotel breakfast in Plymouth. The From the large parish church of

shadow of total destitution deepened St Eustachius I heard singing. We

as I tried to hitch a lift from a mid- stood at the back of the nave, wet

dle-aged couple driving away from and bedraggled, while the packed

the hotel. They looked at me with dis- cong regat ion sa ng of Ch r ist ia n

dain and accelerated away. Their re- charity, mercy and compassion. The

jection knocked me back. Then came service over, they filed past me. I

my first – albeit mixed – experience of approached several and explained I

Christian charity. needed food and shelter. They were

“Is that all you want, water for embarrassed but had perfectly rea-

your dog?” asked the sonable excuses for

rector of the nearby rejecting me.

village of Yelverton HUGE DOUBTS I felt I was an ir-
when I interrupted ASSAILED ME. ritation. I was no
him mowing his lawn. I RESOLVED TO longer Peter Mor-
ABANDON THE timer, writer. I was a
“Anything else, nat- WHOLE ABSURD beggar, a person you
urally, would not go VENTURE IN crossed the road to
amiss,” I mumbled. THE MORNING avoid. Then Geoffrey
Boucher, a young
The rector walked curate, said I could
towards his front
door. I followed. Sud-

denly he swivelled sleep in his garage.

and said loudly, “Do As he drove me to

not enter the rectory!” his home I told him

He motioned me to a garden seat. about my journey.

Some minutes later he emerged with “Actually,” he said, “you can have

water for Sam, and tea and chocolate the spare room.” I mentioned the

biscuits for me. Yelverton rector. “Ah, yes. Last year

I thanked him and apologised. “I someone came, just like you. The

wouldn’t have come inside.” rector invited him in and was badly

“If you knew what had happened beaten. He’s nervous.”

here,” he said, and returned indoors. While Geoffrey cooked me pork

We arrived in Tavistock at 7.30pm chops and vegetables, I consoled

to find the town empty. Steady rain weary Sam and unpacked the few

thrummed on to my small umbrella. contents of my backpack: a spare set

All doors seemed excessively closed. of clothes, wash bag, sleeping bag

Sam looked up at me with his big and camera. My body felt drained.

brown eyes as if to say, “What do we I went to bed, lay in the dark and

do now?” huge doubts assailed me. I resolved 107


that in the morning I’d abandon the had no idea where we might spend
whole absurd venture. the night, where we might get a meal.
I found it in a bungalow at Dunsford,
Day two: At 7.30am I awoke in better outside Exeter.

spirits. A new day, a new perspective. “You’d best take the caravan. Just up
Sam, too, was livelier. “Maybe we’ll the lane,” said Cliff Brimblecombe, a
not give up,” I told him. “Not just yet.” 67-year-old cider maker with a strong
My knot of fear was still there, though. Devon accent. His wife Evelyn ap-
peared in the doorway behind him.
Geoffrey gave me valuable help for “I’ll make you a meal,” she said. A few
the night to come. “I’ve phoned Alex moments later I was up the muddy
Warne, owner of the East Dart Hotel at lane, into the caravan and tucking into
Postbridge on Dartmoor,” he said. “It’s hot meat pie and potatoes while Sam
on your route and you can sleep in his crunched on dog food.
stable.” Geoffrey drove me to the edge
of Dartmoor. As we parted he held out Day four: I took care to shave every
a £10 note. “I know you intend to carry
no money. I respect that. This is for ex- morning. Stubble may be attractive
treme emergencies.” on a 21-year-old, but at my age it gave
the appearance of an old wino. Even
I took the note, realising the impor- so, I got wary looks if I tried to strike
tance of the gesture. We shook hands up conversations. That day my plan
and embraced. was to head for the village of Clyst
Hydon, where my partner Kitty had
KINDNESS AND CHAOS lived as a student. Thirty years on,

“How are you with a paintbrush?”
asked Alex Warne when I offered to
sing for my supper. For three hours
I creosoted the outside of his sta-
bles. Alex, grey-bearded and slightly
grizzled, then offered me a bath and
my first hot food of the day, chicken
casserole. Sleeping in stables sounds
romantic, conjuring up images of
soft hay, but Alex’s stables had bare
concrete floors. I moved this way and
that in my sleeping bag in a futile at-
tempt to find lasting comfort.

Day three: Terrible weather on Dart-

moor – a soaking-wet curtain of mist
and rain. Every car hurtling past me
threw up curved sprays of water. I

108 january 2022

My Penniless Journey

I found Tom Coleman and his wife worked when and where he could in

Jean still living at Town Tenement the building trade. “Often we can’t

Farm and they offered me a cup of tea pay the rent,” said Teresa, “but we’re

and a bed for the night. I was keep- madly in love.” The f lat was un-

ing a watch on a runny eye Sam had tidy, chaotic. I felt at home. We ate

and cleaning it regularly. It seemed to pi z z as, d ra n k beer a nd played

give him no bother. Scrabble. Levanna refused to go

Next day it was back to the game to bed unless Sam went with her.

of chance, standing beside the A303, I slept on the settee.

check ing my map and deciding Next morning, as I gloomily packed

where to try next. I to go out on the road

decided to avoid main again, Teresa said:

roads and large towns A FEW “We both think you
where possible. Me- MOMENTS should take a break.
andering lanes would LATER I WAS IN Rest up here for to-
lengthen my journey, THE CARAVAN day.” I thought about
but I hated the blur of TUCKING INTO it. Why not? I had
traffic, and if you have travelled 80 miles. I
no money, towns are A HOT needed a day off. Te-
depressing. MEAT PIE resa and Dave were
true friends.
Staple Fitzpaine? A

village with a name I had no money to

like that had to have offer these generous

something going for people who had so

it. I entered the Greyhound pub with little themselves, nor could I help

all the confidence a penniless man pay for the petrol next day when

could muster, explained my journey they gave me a lift to make up for

to the young male bar staff but they the distance I’d lost. I sat in the back

knew of no farm which might offer next to Sam and Levanna, whose

shelter. blue eyes stared at me.

I turned to trudge away with Sam. A f ter about 40 m i les t he ca r

“You can stay with us for the night.” A stopped. I stood at the roadside and

young couple, Teresa Hurley and Da- watched the car go, Levanna’s little

vid Takle, had been eavesdropping. face pressed against the back win-

Peeping round the table was their dow, a small, white hand waving. I

twinkly three-year-old Levanna. I felt sorry for myself but knew the an-

laughed out loud in sheer relief. tidote. Get going.

We drove the few miles to Ilmin- The problem was my feet, which

ster in Dave’s battered car. Dave, 39, were blistered and painful. In Shaw 109


village, Wiltshire, I came to a large THE TURQUOISE BATH

stone building, the Shaw Clinic of “Of course you can stay,” said Carmel

complementary medicine. My knock Gimbel, a slim, tall, elegant Irish-

was answered by the clinic’s owner woman who ran the Hygeia College

Sheila Carter, a striking dark-haired of Colour Therapy with her husband

woman wearing a white coat. She Theophilus. The large rambling build-

looked at me cautiously. I was walk- ing dated from the 14th century. Car-

ing to Edinburgh? mel, resplendent in rainbow colours,

Soon the delicate hands of Sheila, led Sam and me down a corridor to

a fully trained chiropodist, were The Blue Room, lit by a single blue

examining my feet. light. “When you’re

“I have no money,” I ready, come and have

warned, but she took I FOUND A a drink with us in the
no notice. WONDROUS music room,” Carmel
“The feet are se- FOOD, WINE,
verely bruised,” she BATH AND BED I reclined on a big
said. “I’ll try to take WERE ALL settee with a glass of
the pressure off the GIVEN FREELY chilled white wine
worst areas.” Skil- and Carmel asked to
fully she bandaged look at my feet. She
two cushions like massaged them ten-

ring doughnuts to the derly. “Your voice is

balls of my feet. It was very tight. What’s that

a work of art. fear inside you?” she

At 7pm, Sam and I were heading asked. I told her. The fear of my jour-

along the B4014, looking for a night’s ney, of not being up to it, physically or

shelter, when Avening appeared in mentally. She continued the massage

front of us, clinging to a hillside. “No and I coughed. “That’s the fear being

dogs!” yelled a middle-aged woman released,” said Carmel.

as we entered the village post office. Next, food appeared: a sizzling bar-

I tethered Sam outside. Inside, the becue of chicken legs, sausages, burg-

woman stood in my way. “How can ers, chops. I tore at them like a wolf.

you stay anywhere with no money?” Theophilus, 78, was a Bavarian who

I began to explain but she moved to came to Britain in 1949. Years of im-

the back of the shop. It was spitting prisonment during the Second World

with rain. I walked to a local pub, War, some of it in dark, solitary con-

where the barmaid was friendly and finement, inspired him to teach col-

her suggestion unexpected: “Try the our’s potential.

College of Colour Therapy.” “A colour bath would help,” Carmel

110 january 2022

My Penniless Journey

said. “Given your mental state, tur- that I was anti-foxhunting and he
quoise would be best.” Into my bath shrugged, as if on such a brief con-
water went two drops of natural blue tact he wasn’t interested in a fierce
dye, then two drops of green. It in- debate. But isn’t foxhunting cruel
stantly transformed into a shimmer- and unnecessary? “There’s a lot of
ing turquoise. I lowered myself in, ignorance,” he replied. “The fox is
propping my bandaged feet above dead within seconds of being caught.
the taps and the turquoise embraced In theory the best method of killing
me. I closed my eyes. I had found a a fox is at night, with rifle and spot-
wondrous house where food, wine, light, but you’re never sure the fox
bath and bed were all given freely, as is dead. The fox is a pest, and sheep
if charity were the most natural thing farmers around here would agree.”
in the world.
Helpfully, he recommended Clifton
Day eight: “Try the Cotswold Hunt upon Teme Hunt Kennels at Tedstone
Delamere near Worcester for my next
Kennels,” said a woman in Ando- night’s shelter. Nobody seemed sur-
versford, outside Cheltenham. Thus I prised to see me at Clifton. The owner
entered the world of foxhunting. The was on holiday, and Peter Harper,
kennels had 100 hounds. “You can James Cook and Johnnie James were
have a mattress in the back room,” holding the fort. They told me I was
said Julie Barnfield. “The spare welcome to sleep on the settee in the
room’s being decorated.” bungalow’s living room.

I mentioned to her husband Julian That night my feet were burning
like furnaces. In the morning I found
a nearby chiropodist willing to see
me – “I have no money,” I told her –
but her earliest appointment was the
next afternoon. “Stay here as long as
you like,” said Peter in his Welsh lilt.

For two days I experienced the
hospitality of a world that fascinated
and horrified me. The kennels, kept
spotless by Peter and shy 17-year-
old James, held 120 hounds. When
I stood by their enclosures they
pushed noses and paws through the
steel, big softies desperate for af-
fection. Then I saw them at feeding
time. They feasted on dead cows and 111


sheep. Ferociously, they tore off long I was north of Stafford by late after-

strips of flesh, pushing and snarl- noon when I tried a large detached

ing at one another, raising bloodied house. A man stripped to the waist

snouts from the carnage. I imagined smiled as he opened the door, smiled

them at a fox. as I stated my case, and smiled when

I set off next morning feeling he said no can do. “Why not try the

bouncy. The chiropodist had care- Scout camp?”

fully shaved layers of dead skin from The Kibblestone camp site, 80 acres

my feet. “One reason they hurt so of secluded woodland, was half a

much,” she explained, “is the liquid mile up the road. I threw myself on

trapped under the the mercy of the war-

skin.” den Paul Westwood,

Day 13: Miles trav- SHE LOOKED a youngish man with
ME UP AND a ponytail. “Officially
elled so far: 230. I had DOWN LIKE we’re not allowed
evolved a new method A SUSPECT IN guests,” he said, “but
of walking. Sam and A POLICE you’ve got an honest
I would walk for 90 IDENTITY face and you’ve come
minutes, then rest a long way.” Sam and
for about 30, when PARADE I were given a fairly
I would remove my spartan but comfort-
boots and socks, and

have a nap. We had able eight-bunk room.

moved into Stafford- Now hunger pangs

shire and we were on had begun to gnaw.

a bendy dangerous road. I needed a I drifted among the various Scout

lift. At a lay-by, I approached a mid- groups encamped through the forest.

dle-aged couple munching sand- The leader of a Devon group was la-

wiches in a four-wheel-drive. “We’re dling out hot portions. Could I have

full up,” said the man. “Got the dog in some? She looked me up and down

the back.” On the vast rear seat was a like a suspect in a police identity pa-

tiny terrier. rade. “Food supplies are on a strict

A truck driver was no more charita- budget,” she said. “So much a head

ble. “I’ve only just stopped,” he said. and none to spare.”

“Be here a long time yet.” Two min- Another group leader said: “We

utes later, he hurtled past me without have come here for a special holiday.

a second look. Was it my appearance? The last thing we want is strange men

Was it Sam? From now on I decided approaching us begging.”

I’d either arrange a lift at my night stop I saw myself in a new light – a sus-

or do without. picious character wandering among

112 january 2022

My Penniless Journey

young boys. I’d be lucky not to get ar- exclaimed Freda. John shot me a
rested. Then I saw a tent pitched on its look.
own, with a man, a woman and two
boys. I sensed they didn’t belong to a Freda gave me a cup of tea, fruit,
group. I came straight out with it. “I’m biscuits and dog biscuits for Sam.
pretty hungry. I wonder if you could
share a bit of your food with me?” Day 18: In high spirits I strode out

“Sure!” Dean Coffield, a former across the open, flat landscape of the
Scoutmaster from Dudley, was with Vale of York, at one point plunging
his wife Sharon, their 12-year-old waist deep through a field of corn.
son Jon and Jon’s mate James Sutton. Sam became a rustle of white and
“There’s not that much, but you’re orange somewhere near my feet.
welcome to it.” They had beans, sau- The Buddhist monk at the monas-
sages and garlic bread. We sat around tery I visited before setting out was
their fire. right about me eventually gaining
strength. I was fit, lean, fast. We
As I rose to leave, Sharon put a achieved an 11-hour, 24-mile day.
plastic bag in my hand. “For break-
fast,” she said. An hour earlier I had At Whixley one woman, in answer
faced a hungry night followed by a to my request for food and shelter,
hungry morning. Now look at the told me slightly sniffily, “I don’t think
kindness I’d received. people do that kind of thing around
here.” Someone else suggested the
This night virtually marked our pub, which was shut, and a third
halfway stage. Ahead lay Derbyshire householder didn’t answer my knock,
and the Peak District. so I had to fend for myself.

“HE NEEDS REST” The door to the pavilion of Whix-
ley’s cricket club was slightly ajar. By
I liked to think my doorstep manner 8pm, Sam and I were on the floor in
was improving. Freda Chadwick, a my sleeping bag. I was worried about
lively woman in Cauldon, near the Sam. The temperature on the road
Peak District border, was amazed to Pontefract had been in the high
when I leant on the lower half of 20s. He panted like a steam engine,
her stable-type kitchen door, told lagged behind and I’d had to carry
her about my journey and asked for him for a while. I pulled him closer
water. “Are you totally mad?” she to me, whispering affections in his
asked, and shouted for her husband little pink ear.
John, who appeared looking slightly
uncomfortable. He had a prominent The next day I dropped in to see
pot-belly. “He’s travelling from Plym- two old friends, Tim and Jude Tribe,
outh to Edinburgh with no money!” at Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire.
Jude looked closely at Sam’s runny
eye. “It needs seeing to,” she said. 113


“There’s a vet next door.” Enter Chris- give me shelter? “Take the caravan
tine McCormack. Her verdict was in the field.”
damning. Sam had developed a deep
ulcer in his eye. “I can give him oint- After daybreak I thought of mak-
ment for now,” said Christine, “but ing my usual early start but Hughie
he needs more treatment and a lot of was keen to show me his farm, his
rest.” Sam’s odyssey was finished. life. “Stay this morning,” he said. “I’ll
make up your lost miles.”
Guilt consumed me. King Charles
spaniels were not the world’s greatest First I admired his 90 milking
canine explorers yet Sam’s wee legs cows. Next, he led me into a win-
had carried him 370 miles. I’d turned dowless shed, 125 feet long and 40
him into an exhausted wreck. I ar- feet wide, for an extraordinary sight.
ranged for his owner, Sarah Davidson, The floor was covered with 9000 two-
to pick him up, then stood staring at week-old chicks. The dull light and
Sam on the settee. It was the end of an humid atmosphere contrasted with
important relationship. I’d known this the constant chirruping of the chicks.
journey only with Sam. Hughie took great pride in keeping
the shed clean and habitable.
“Just go,” said Jude. “That’s the best
way.” I went. This room was the chicks’ en-
tire life. They would live here from
Day 20: Approaching the village of day one to six weeks, then be taken
away for slaughter. They would never
Gilling West, north of Catterick, I even know of the sun’s existence. I
came to a large stone house, heard
voices and peeped over the garden
wall to find a group of people looking
uncommonly festive for 4.30 in the
afternoon. I’d happened on a double
celebration. Brian Sperring was 56
that day; his partner Dorothy Halford
would be 50 the next.

Would they kindly fill my water
bottle? “Of course. And have a cup
of tea!” Did they know anyone near
by who could put me up? “Ask the
farmer Hughie Bird.”

Energetic Hughie, 60 years of age,
welcomed me into the kitchen of
Mill Farm like some long-lost rel-
ative, shoving a mug of tea and a
piece of pork pie at me. Could he

114 january 2022

My Penniless Journey

wondered how I would feel, buying a caravan in Frosterley? I was virtu-

my next supermarket chicken, yet ally through the village when I spot-

this was a normal part of Hughie’s ted Bridge End Cottage. Next to it was

world and if I worked in it, it would a caravan. I rang the front doorbell.

probably become normal for me. “You’d better come in.” Joyce Cro-

Hughie’s lav ish hospita lit y at sier seemed amused by my plight.

mealtime was a revelation. We sat She and her sister-in-law Joanne were

around the big kitchen table and his waiting for their husbands to return

wife Joyce cooked a monstrous pile with an Indian takeaway. Meanwhile,

of bacon. Every time we attacked would I like a glass of wine?

the pile more rashers When Ron and Bar-

appeared. There was rie arrived back to

fresh bread, scones, HUGHIE find a destitute itin-
butter. We ate, chat- WELCOMED erant on the settee
tered, laughed. Then, ME INTO THE they opted for charity
as promised, he gave KITCHEN OF rather than indigna-
me a lift. HIS FARM LIKE tion. I had chicken
SOME LONG- korma that night – and
My buoyant spirits LOST RELATIVE the caravan.
sank at Frosterley, in Next day I spotted
the Wear Valley. At another caravan, this
farm number one I

had to walk through time behind a cottage

a yard with chained near Slaley in North-

dogs only to be told it umberland. My knock

was no go. Farm number two: dogs, was answered by Ernie Auriemma,

no go. I knocked at a third door, a cot- a big man with a thick dark mous-

tage. A shrill female voice shouted: tache and a Mediterranean appear-

“Who is it? What do you want?” I ance. Could I sleep in the caravan?

shouted my apologies and left. “Sure.” As simple as that. “Go and sort

your stuff out, then come back to the


A key to gaining invitations into At the kitchen table, Ernie’s wife

British homes, I was coming to re- Vivien gave me food, while Ernie,

alise, was the presence of a caravan, an estate worker looking after 450

as with Hughie Bird and with Cliff sheep, told me his stor y. He was

Brimblecombe, the Devon cider- here because his Neapolitan father,

maker. It gave a wanderer shelter but a POW at neighbouring Haydon

reduced the donor’s sense of territo- Bridge, had fallen in love with the

rial invasion. Now where could I find enemy after the Second World War, 115


brought over his Italian sweetheart offered to help. Bernard’s face lit up

and they married. –  he had a surprise for me. Although

Day 24: Gorse moorland high in the kennels specialised in looking af-

the Pennines, forest tracks and ter holiday dogs, the Whiteleys kept a

shale paths made for hard, unsta- special pack of their own.

ble walking. After 20 miles the cold “Ever walked huskies?” Bernard

began to seep through my clothes. asked. No. He gave me the leads of

My tired limbs cried “Stop!” but my Sholk and Patchy and I whizzed down

soul wanted to sleep that night in the lane behind turbo-charged, twin-

Scotland. booster rockets. All I could do was

At 6pm I reached hang on and hope.

the border at Carter Only two more

Bar, little more than I KNOCKED AT nights now, the first
two lay-bys and a A THIRD DOOR. on Walter Inglis’s farm
mobile snack bar. I at Lilliesleaf, near Sel-
marched up to the A SHRILL kirk, some 50 miles
young man at the FEMALE VOICE from Edinburgh. My
snack-bar counter. SHOUTED: “WHO final night was in the
“If I were to tell you I IS IT? WHAT DO hamlet of Heriot.
had travelled penni- YOU WANT?”
less all the way from “There’s a room in
the annexe waiting

Plymouth to get here, to be decorated,” said

would that be worth a Gillian Torrie, land-

cup of tea?” I asked. lady of the Dug Inn.

“Aye, it would.” His sing-song Scot- “Nothing in it, but you’re welcome.”

tish accent, plus the hot tea he put into Friday, August 21: Twenty-seven

my shivering hands, lifted my mood. days and 530 miles after leaving

Fellside Boarding Kennels, the very Plymouth I came to the vast plain out

first buildings I came to, gave me of which Edinburgh rises.

shelter. “You can have the caravan,” By now I was a walking machine.

said Bernard Whiteley. My speed had increased to three and

Early next morning I stood in the a half miles an hour. I felt uplifted. The

kitchen of the house, eating a slice of knot of fear in my stomach had com-

bread and feeling alone. Was I taking pletely gone.

my welcome for granted? Was I be- The lonely country roads were be-

coming a parasite, crawling my way hind me. Then I landed on another

through the nation’s generosity? planet: traffic jams, men in suits with

When Bernard walked by exer- mobile phones, restaurants, depart-

cising a brace of dogs, I ran out and ment stores, office blocks.

116 january 2022

My Penniless Journey

HOME AGAIN more to life. One answer I believe
is travel.
Back in Cullercoats with my partner
Kitty and 14-year-old son Dylan, I There’s a Hindu tradition of going
returned the £10 note given to me by on pilgrimage after the age of 50.
Geoffrey Boucher. I also wrote and Most of us are still physically active
thanked everyone else who took a and have enough experience to fortify
chance on me. us against new challenges. Yet many
are rushing into early retirement.
I was asked: “Did you find any What’s ahead is more important than
regional differences in degrees what’s behind, on a 500-mile trek or
of friendliness?” Not at all. I was on your last day on earth.
shunned and made welcome in all
parts. Many people distrusted me, Comparatively few people really
but only once (at Whixley) was no travel. They make surrogate expe-
help forthcoming. I found that those ditions on TV documentaries and
who offered shelter and food had are shuttled off on package tours.
more open faces. Where is the sense of wonder, the
As a townie, I discovered the star-
tlingly simple truth that everything Real travel is less high-tech, more
we humans manufacture, we even- unpredictable, and better.
tually tire of. W hat’s created by
nature, on the other hand, never EXCERPTED FROM THE BOOK BROKE THROUGH
A friend of mine joked: “I’m broke REPRINTED WITH THE PERMISSION OF PETER
all the time!” MORTIMER.

“No, you’re not,” I replied. Update: Twenty-three years after
Total penury, like I experienced, his walk through Britain, Peter
brought a dreadful sense of aliena- Mortimer still marvels at the
tion and exclusion. It made me un- challenges he faced. “The mental
derstand how lucky most of us are. and the physical battles were close
We take for granted a standard of competitors,” he says. “I could never
living much of the world has never bear to think how far lay ahead or I
known. Despite poverty, most of us would have succumbed.”
need not wonder where we will sleep
tonight; hunger is a temporary state, These days, he wouldn’t consider
relieved by a chocolate bar until the such an ambitious walk. “I was in
next meal. my mid-50s then. The knees would
And yet, despite our good for- forbid it now.”
tune, many of us are restless and
unfulfilled, and feel there should be Peter’s latest book, Planet
Corona, is a collection of his recent
newspaper columns. 117




R ichard Williams (Will Smith) violence of the LA suburb the
is father of tennis greats family of seven live in behind.
Serena (Demi Singleton) and Richard believes fiercely in his
Venus (Saniyya Sidney). The movie daughters’ talents and uses
follows his dream and unwavering unconventional methods to get
plan for his daughters to play them there. This movie will make
tennis on the world stage (or you laugh and cry (happy tears) in
court) – and leave the gang equal measure. A feel-good film.


The Matrix Resurrections


T he Matrix returns – 20 years
after the first film was released
– with the fourth instalment in
the movie franchise. Neo (Keanu
Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne
Moss) venture back into the
Matrix and even deeper down the
rabbit hole in this mind-bending
adventure. Set in a provocative new
world where reality is subjective,
Resurrections comes up trumps
with the kind of visual effects that
helped define it in pop culture at
the turn of the century.

The Addams Family 2 Animation

Morticia and Gomez and the freaky family are back in an animated
comedy sequel. Like all kids, the Addams children are growing up,
and Mrs and Mr Addams are distraught that their kids are skipping
family dinners and totally consumed with ‘scream’ time. To reclaim the
family bond, Gomez decides to cram Uncle Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley and
the rest of the crew into the haunted caravan and set off across the US for a
family holiday. Totally out of their element, what could possibly go wrong?

120 january 2022

RD Recommends


The Last Days Of Vincent Van Gogh

The bright, sunny colours of Dutch painter Vincent
Van Gogh’s canvases belie his tragic ending. But
his last years and final days would also see him
create much of the dramatic and intense art that
made him a legend.

PH OTO S: F RO M TO P, G E T T Y I M AG E S; W W W.YO U T U B E .CO M; U N S U N G S C I E N C E .CO M; AU D I B L E .CO M Shandee’s Story

Award-winning journalist Hedley Thomas – who
created The Teacher’s Pet and The Night Driver –
investigates the unsolved murder of 23-year-old
Shandee Blackburn, who was attacked as she
walked home after work in the Queensland sugar
and mining town of Mackay in 2013.

Unsung Science

TV presenter David Pogue, a six-time Emmy winner,
takes you behind the scenes into the worlds
of the people who have created mind-blowing
achievements in science, technology, transport,
food and health – who reveal their first inspirations,
journeys and the times they almost gave up.

What Happened To You? Audio
Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain expert
Dr Bruce Perry discuss the impact of our
childhoods and how healing should begin
with the way we phrase our questions.
Rather than asking “What’s wrong with you?”,
try “What happened to you?” Search for
‘What Happened To You?’ on YouTube.

HOW TO GET PODCASTS To listen on the web: In a search engine, look up
‘Shandee’s Story’, for example, and click on the play button. To download: Download
an app such as Podcatchers or iTunes on your phone or tablet and simply search by title.

TO LISTEN TO RD TALKS GO TO and click on the play button. 121



Challenge yourself by solving these puzzles and mind
stretchers, then check your answers on pages 126.


Test your general

1 Fabric (8) jellyfish (3-2-3)
9 Longing (8) 2 Breathtaking (7)
10 Merchant (8) 23 Austere (7) 3 Vague (7)
11 Imagine (8) 24 Hallway (8) 4 Ailment (7)
12 Candidate (7) 26 The world of schools 5 Small harp-like
13 Precarious (8) and universities (8)
14 Goes backwards (8) musical
18 Exceptionally tense (8) 27 Its capital is instrument (4)
Little Rock (8)
122 january 2022 6 The gathering
28 Locate exactly (8) of crops (7)

7 Uncommon (7)
8 Cuddle (7)
13 Doorkeeper (5)
15 Stonework (7)
16 Portal (7)
17 Like Abba (7)
19 Make clear (7)
20 Underwater
missile (7)

21 Inhabitant of,
eg, Tehran (7)

25 Coarse file (4)

Answers brought to you by


6 74

52 37 6

3 69


29 74


78 9

8 65 27

27 6


HOW TO PLAY: To win, you have to put a number
from 1 to 9 in each outlined section so that:
• Every horizontal row and vertical column
contains all nine numerals (1-9) without repeating
any of them;
• Each of the outlined sections has all nine
numerals, none repeated.


15 minutes, you’re a true expert
30 minutes, you’re no slouch
60 minutes or more, maybe numbers aren’t your thing

"Write, Erase, Rewrite"




Spot The Difference

There are ten differences. Can you find them?


Your book club is doing an exchange How many common English
with each person getting a book words can you make by adding a

someone else has bought and read. letter to each of the blanks
There are six members, including below? We found four. Proper
you. Each person will pick a name
out of a hat, and you’re hoping to get nouns don’t count.
Kathie, your best friend in the club.
It’s your turn to pick, and you’ve M __ R __ Y

overheard that someone who
picked before you drew the name of

your other friend, Paula.

What are your chances of picking
Kathie’s name?

124 january 2022

The Genius Section


Test Your General Knowledge

1. Actors Dolph Lundgren, Ken and Lake Van in Turkey are all

Jeong, Mayim Bialik and Rowan what kind of lake? 2 points

Atkinson share what educational 8. In 1844, Samuel Morse sent the

background? 2 points first long-distance message using

2. What bird is the national symbol what new technology? 1 point

of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and 9. Recent findings show that Earth

Ecuador, yet is vulnerable to has an eighth continent, though

extinction? 2 points it’s largely submerged under water.

3. Aiming to make fashion more What is it called? 1 point

inclusive, Aille Design uses 10. What country has the world’s

Swarovski crystal pearls to create only non-quadrilateral national

what design element for T-shirts flag? 1 point

and masks? 2 points 11. What six-member team made

4. Approximately how many its official Paralympic debut at the

islands does the Philippines Tokyo games? 1 point

comprise? a) less than 1000; 12. Female researchers

b) more than 10,000; comprise 30 per cent of the

c) around 7500? 1 point global workforce in the

5. What country has sciences, but more than

the most vending double, at 63 per cent,

machines per capita? in what South American

1 point country? 2 points

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES 6. Which were invented 14. How many times 13. King Louis XIX of
first: skis or wheels? France and Portugal’s
can the New Year be King Luís II Filipe share
1 point celebrated as clocks what royal record?
strike midnight around
7. Lonar Lake in India,

Kenya’s Lake Nakuru the world? 1 point 2 points

16-20 Gold medal 11-15 Silver medal 6-10 Bronze medal 0-5 Wooden spoon

ANSWERS: 1. Master’s degree or higher in STEM. 2. Andean Condor. 3. Braille phrases. 4. c) 7500,
although it depends on the tide. 5. Japan. 6. Skis, more than 10,000 years ago. 7. Soda lakes (high
alkalinity).8. The telegraph. 9. Zealandia. 10. Nepal. 11. Refugee Paralympic Team. 12. Bolivia.
13. Shortest reign (20 minutes). 14. 38 (because there are 38 different local times). 125



From Page 122


1M 2A T 3E R4I A 5L 6H 7U 8S G Sudoku
W E 1 69827345
10R E TA IL ER R U U 54291 3786
S N IS AG C 73846591 2
S 11E N V N 4751 98623
12N O MI NE U G A 291 356874
V S EE TA BL T 6832741 59
M 13U N S 3 5 7 68 2 491
14R E VE RS L E 81 6549237
ES T 924731 568
15M 16D 17S C 20T R 21 I
18E L 19E
23S P
27A R KA NS O 25R A D A
26A C

28P I N

Spot The Difference Book Exchange

1 in 4, or 25 per cent. There were
six names in the hat to start.

But you know Paula’s name has
already been taken out, and it
wouldn’t make sense for you to
get your own name and the book
you had bought. That leaves
four names, and you’re going

to pick one.

Fill in the Blanks

Marry, mercy, merry and murky.

126 january 2022

The Genius Section


Short But Challenging

Four-letter words are the most
popular in word games like Scrabble.
Here are some to add to your vocabulary

BY Linda Besner

1. calx – A: medical symbol that 8. apse – A: recess in a church.
features two snakes and a staff. B: iron frame of a wheelbarrow.
B: pivotal point in an argument. C: sparse hedgerow.
C: powder formed when a metal
is heated. 9. tare – A: tenth portion reserved
for charity. B: bundle of kindling.
2. gaze – A: break a promise. C: weight of an empty container.
B: disagree using strong words.
C: look steadily and intently. 10. wend – A: travel in an indirect
fashion. B: wrap tightly.
3. razz – A: tease. B: add sparkle or C: walk while holding hands.
glitter. C: bulldoze an entire area.
11. quip – A: witty remark.
4. cyan – A: wistful yearning. B: blow bubbles. C: waylay.
B: greenish-blue colour.
C: reddish-brown colour. 12. sere – A: endowed with wisdom.
B: extremely dry. C: full to the brim.
5. ankh – A: feeling of anxiety
and depression. 13. echt – A: concisely argued.
B: Egyptian symbol of life. B: out of style. C: authentic.
C: abscess in a molar.
14. rapt – A: spellbound by
6. silt – A: fine dirt sediment. something seen or heard.
B: funnel for pouring cement. B: of a freckled complexion.
C: slippery undergarment. C: quick-witted.

7. quay – A: visible repair. 15. mazy – A: absent-minded.
B: thickened buttermilk. B: full of twists and turns.
C: hard surface beside water. C: extensively cracked,
especially of glass. 127



1. calx – C: powder formed when a 9. tare – C: weight of an empty
metal is heated. Antoine Lavoisier container. The gross weight of a can
famously compared the mass of of peaches includes the tare weight
mercury with the mass of its calx and peaches, whereas the net
after burning. weight excludes the tare weight.

2. gaze – C: look steadily and 10. wend – A: travel in an indirect
intently. His gaze shifted to the fashion. While the shadows
doorway as Julia entered the room. lengthened, Penelope and Miro
wended their way to the river.
3. razz – A: tease. Eli was always
razzing Sonia about her old- 11. quip – A: witty remark.
fashioned clothes. Sebastian and Bill laugh out loud
at Brian’s quip.
4. cyan – B: greenish-blue colour.
Four-colour printers usually hold 12. sere – B: extremely dry.
cartridges of cyan, along with The desert landscape was sere
magenta, yellow and black. and bright.

5. ankh – B: Egyptian symbol of life. 13. echt – C: authentic. Pauline’s
The first known examples of the party outfit, complete with bell-
ankh sign in Egyptian artefacts date bottomed jeans, tie-dye T-shirt and
back to the Early Dynastic Period. love beads, was echt 1970s.

6. silt – A: fine dirt sediment. The 14. rapt – A: spellbound by
fertile silt that accumulates as the something seen or heard.
Nile River empties into the sea The guide at the dinosaur exhibit
makes the soil rich in nutrients. lectured to a rapt audience of five
year olds.
7. quay – C: hard surface beside
water. Down to the end of the 15. mazy – B: full of twists and
18th century there was only a turns. Paul and Anne navigated the
primitive quay on the river side for town hall’s mazy corridors to the
shipping purposes. marriage-licence desk.

8. apse – A: recess in a church. VOCABULARY RATINGS
The apse of St Peter’s Basilica in 4–7: Fair
the Vatican City contains a bronze 8–11: Good
throne that the saint himself is 12–15: Word Power Wizard
believed to have used.

128 january 2022

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