American kayak adventurer Jim Payne paddles England’s historic Thames River from its rural headwaters to the metropolis of London. He pokes into castles, sleeps in ruined cathedrals, faces down Henry VIII, and makes friends who take him home and tell him what the English really think. The result is a personal discovery of England’s culture, history, and its people....
|Title||:||Discovering England from One Inch above the Thames|
|Number of Pages||:||162 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Discovering England from One Inch above the Thames Reviews
As usual the author's wit and great insights are always a treat. This is about the 5th or 6th book, or more that I have read by James Payne, and they are all hidden gems. If you have a chance to experience this one, you need little time, but it will be greatly rewarded. Love the little map in the book, showing the key places the author discussed in the story.I also found a few things I was not too jazzed about:1. The Chapter 3 discussion of work and play and doing work for free seemed like he missed some of the reasons why some jobs need to be paid and folks can't rely on others doing them for fun/free. Namely, the drudgery/onerousness of simply being there all day, all shift, or of doing other things that are not exactly apparent that also need to be done to make sure the whole job is able to be done over some period of time - weeks, years, decades, etc. I am not trying to slight his valid points about enjoying work and democratic virtues, & most of the things he discusses. But there are reasons why some jobs need to have professionals doing them, in order to have them done well enough to truly satisfy the demand. It does get complicated when government is so involved and the free will/demand of consumers is not apparent however. The lock keeper (full-time paying) job on the Thames certainly is one that seems to be able to be done away with as a full-time job, in any case.This issue just reminds me too closely of one of my favorite lines in my favorite book by my favorite economist, Ludwig von Mises: Socialism. It's in a footnote on the utopian socialist Charles Fourier: "Fourier has the distinction of having introduced the fairies into social science. In his future state the children, organized in "Petites Hordes" (small groups), will perform what the adults do not do. To them will be entrusted, amongst other things, maintenance of the roads. " http://www.econlib.org/cgi-bin/search...I believe Mises was trying to point out the natural onerousness or at least difficulties of paying jobs and that's why they needed to be done by the market for pay, and not in a volunteer/socialist way.2. In chapter 4 p. 32 he say that "No one ever attempts to play a song on the bells."Curious why he excluded carillons, since they can play songs, and I would consider them "bell ringing." I was first exposed to them in college. Here's a brief article about the one where I went to school: http://www.northcountrypublicradio.or...I even did just about what he did: climbed up the very long, narrow and steep tower ladder to observe the ringers/carillon players. It was an experience I still remember pretty vividly about 35 years later. In looking up "carillon" in wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CarillonI notice the exclusion of England from the list of countries that have them! Very strange, but that probably explains why the author knew so much about the quaint English "bell ringing" custom but didn't mention carillons. Maybe in a second edition, he could add a line or two about the difference?Despite these two somewhat negative points fairly early in the book, which are actually pretty minor compared to the wonderful overall benefits of reading about the trip and observations, I was very much looking forward to more adventures and humor later in the book.The further I read, the more I continued to enjoy Payne's observations about the quaint traditions and peculiarities of the English. From breakfasts to crooked houses to the fate of best laid plans, and so much more, it was such a pleasure.WONDERFUL. Really a great ending to the book.Loved the author's exposure of the idiocy of all the government over-staffing and officiousness of the Thames Barrier bureaucrats (for want of a better word). So classic.More comments on the book, than most may probably want, but what the heck:1. P. 62 he used the phrase that I first came across in John Kenneth Galbraith's The New Industrial State, which I hate, since it is sooooooo wrong: it was "the exception that proved the rule." Exceptions cannot prove rules. They can be illustrative of exceptions to a rule, but in NO WAY can they prove anything about a rule. 2. Loved his gruesome description of what Henry VIII was really was all about. Loved it!!!! I really hope it affects every reader the way it affected me. 3. P. 146 - It seemed to me that Payne offered a somewhat false dichotomy between the purveyor of a service and the customer. VERY true that when the government is the employer/service provider that the employees tend to be surly and not helpful (as I mentioned in the beginning of my comments). But the impression Payne left here is that ANY provider of a service would tend to be this way. Whereas, private service providers have every incentive to be nice and courteous and helpful. They do not all act that way, of course. We do not live in a perfect world. But at least the system's incentives all line up for them to do so. But government incentives are far different, and hence bureaucrats act badly, so much more often, as well described at the end of the book.4. p. 120 Love Payne's turns of phrase: "corpulence requiring sustenance." So clever and apt.and p. 138 "... and with her expression grim..." really neat.5. p. 161 Payne's description of a "paradox, really, how cities, by pushing people ever closer together, can render them more distant." I thought this way for many years too. But it's no paradox at all actually. The people who live in cities just naturally need to build up defensive mechanisms to the massively greater number of actual and potential social interactions they encounter by living in a city. They have to be more "distant" to most encounters with other folks in the city, otherwise they would never be able to get to their own purposes or accomplish their own goals through the day. If they paid attention to every Tom, Dick or Jane passing by who might want to interact with them, they would never have time to do what they needed to do. Not an eloquent or concise statement, by me, but I hope it does ring true with the reader.6. p. 162 This final statement seems to be at least part of Payne's reason for going on these adventures. To get away from the efficient, often electronic modern world to some extent, and have "the time of your life." I am sure it is why my dad (and many others) love to go out into the woods to hunt ruffed grouse (partridge), or to a lesser extent, play golf. It is, I am sure why many people love to go hiking, backpacking, etc. in the woods, mountains, etc. why we go camping. It's really neat to get away from technology and "modern pressures" sometimes.Payne's book is a joyous tribute to the wonderfulness of man, nature and the freedoms that make it all work together so well. Highly recommended little book.
A charming tour through England from an American traveller's perspective. We learn some secrets about England that only an observant mind like Jim Payne's (his bio notes he's a professor) would notice. We get a glimpse inside British culture from several delightful exchanges between residents he meets along the way. Payne also compares some quirky cultural tidbits between Britain to the U.S., including straight vs. windy roads, and how they influence - or are influenced by - the way people think. A fun, easy read in which you learn a lot about special quirks.
Being a lover of Great Britain and kayaking, I couldn't resist this book! The author kayaks for 29 days on the Thames stopping along the way, meeting people and telling a great story of his travels. I enjoyed this book immensely and will get his other book about kayaking in Americas Rivers. Highly recommend this book.