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As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (Penguin Modern Classics)

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He also perfects the local requirements for busking - checking if he needs a permit, making sure the coins don't pile too high in his hat, playing the right tunes. Since this was during the years of economic depression, there were also many men on the road looking for work. Reading prose written by a poet is a wonderful experience, every line is a carefully crafted work of art and "as I walked out" is one of the most beautifully and perfectly written books you will ever read. Lee walked pretty much everywhere in Britain and in Spain, mainly on back roads and there are lots of descriptions of small, poor Spanish villages.

The taverna is the only place that Kostas and Defne can meet in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic and chilli peppers, creeping honeysuckle, and in the centre, growing through a cavity in the roof, a fig tree. I wriggled out of the blanket, crawled on to the ridge and lay in the rising sun, and was met by the resinous smell of drying bushes, peppery herbs and stones. Lee meets a whole host of interesting and strange characters on his journey and certainly sees a lot of the world, travelling almost entirely with just his violin, playing around England (and then Spain), to make his money.Bringing their own unique and counter-balanced personalities to proceedings they ask questions such as: what is happiness? Its 1934 and without of a job 19-year-old Lee leaves his Gloucestershire hometown to tramp to London. Along the way he meets bootblacks, peasants, innkeepers, drovers, priests, soldiers, fellow buskers, limbless beggars and of course a variety of women. I try to be tolerant of the mores of another age, but it was noticeable that men were consistently described as humans and women and girls as objects. The "War" chapter brings some more physical happenings aside from Lee's (mostly) aimless wanderings.

It is not uncommon on a country road to see a small white van parked in the shade and one man with a mattock, hoeing in a large field of weeds.

I wish I could have believed his depiction of Spain on the brink of war with Generalissimo Franco’s fascists. At times, his account is a little hard to believe - for instance, could he really have lived just on handfuls of dates for days on end, as he claims? As I warmed my stiff limbs, I looked down the valley from which the sharp hard cries were coming, and saw a group of old women, as black as charcoal, slapping out sheets along the banks of a stream. I look back on my life and consider that I was roughing it when I would travel internationally without an ATM or credit card so when you ran out of money, you were out of freaking money. In his description of life on the road to London, Lee is able to capture the essence of the failure of capitalism during the Thirties (our current failure being but an echo of it’s father).

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