I hadn’t read Bill Bryson in a while. I remember him being an interesting writer, providing facts about a place that I never knew would interest me, yet do. I also remembered him as being quite funny. Both of these proved to be accurate recollections.
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain is a follow-up to Notes from a Small Island, a sort of farewell tribute tour to England, his adopted hometown of twenty years. In this latest, he returns to some of the spots and explores some new ones. It’s been twenty years since that book came out, and he writes in that specialty mode he has, that of being a transplant to a place, and yet as one who loves his home. He’s lived in England longer than he’s lived in the U.S., and so he can pontificate on their quirks as both an insider and an outsider.
Pontificate is a good word for what he does this time around. Grousing is another. And if I were going to name the person making the comments, I might call him a curmudgeon — not a jerk, more like a lovable grumpy grandpa.
He’s either highlighting the thing that makes Great Britain unique or shaking his finger at someone — usually a younger generation — who is ruining it.
I laughed a lot, because honestly, the older I get, the more curmudgeonly I get as well. In addition to making me laugh, Bryson strengthened my resolve to visit England one day, and probably moved it up on my list of trips. In fact, about halfway through I figured out that I should be marking the interesting museums and walks that he mentions, and so I did.