Sophia Money-Coutts

Back to stuff 9:58am Monday 28th September 2015

A thing about Bill Bryson

Things I used to do as a fat teenager:

i) Devise new diets to make me less fat. ‘THE NEW RULE IS ONLY TWO BITS OF TOAST AND MARMALADE AT BREAKFAST!!’ I wrote in my diary at one point. A concession, you see, because I normally ate five or six pieces and I viewed the toast merely as a vehicle for thick slabs of butter.

ii) Dream about marrying a boy I loved who subsequently turned out to be gay.

iii) Read Bill Bryson. I loved Bill with almost the same intensity of the boy who turned out to be gay, albeit in a different way. So I wrote him a letter once (Bill, I mean), declaring him my favourite writer and he wrote a sweet letter back. Except I can’t remember exactly what it said because I lost it. My mother wrote a letter to PG Wodehouse when she was little and he also wrote back, but she is a more careful person and, though faded, his letter is always stowed in her handbag for safekeeping.

Anyway, these days, not much has changed. I am still intensely greedy (I just exercise more), I still fall in love with the wrong ones and I still love Bill. Which is why I read an extract from his new book in the Sunday Times Mag yesterday and lolled to myself on the sofa. HERE is a link to it but you’ll need to cough up for the paywall.

OR you can just buy his new book, which is published in a couple of weeks and about travelling around Britain. Called The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island, it is obvs the successor to his 1998 book, Notes from a Small Island. It will be marvellous, I know, having read the extract. Much better than the current film based on A Walk in the Woods, his 1998 book about walking the Appalachian Trail, which stars Robert Redford as Bill. Slightly ambitious casting, I thought, but as Bill and I are such good pen pals I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that.

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