Off the map, by John Harrison

John Harrison’s “Off the map”, is an account of an eccentric Englishman on an Amazonian journey.  I am never in the mood for English eccentrics, particularly when they are – as they do tend to be – not really eccentric at all, but just opinionated un-original anti-American lefties.

In Deorla Murphy’s foreword to Harrison’s “Off the Map” she writes “the Harrisons wanted to remain in touch with…life as it was lived…before technology rendered our survival skills redundant”.
This is the purest nonsense.  Technology has not rendered our survival skills redundant; it has only changed what those survival skills are. These people would reduce us to hunter-gatherers, and they should be stamped on from a great height!

Harrison writes of garampeiros (gold prospectors) “they are a different breed from the Brazilians who opt to stay at home. They are sharper, harder working, more adventurous and less tolerant of hierarchies and bureaucrats” [there is more.] This is a profound and powerful truth. It goes to the heart of what R.A Heinlein writes, that those who emigrate are inherently cleverer and more able than those who remain behind.  This description of the Brazilian Amazon frontier is most instructive.

Harrison can surely write the most excellent English, but he comes across as someone I’d not want to meet.

Every glass tells a story

A selection of glasses seen here after washing up. Each glass tells its own story. Each glass has a history.

The red wine glass at the rear was made by my brother-in-law.  It is one of a pair gifted to my wife, his sister. They are not quite identical. My brother-in-law does a little glass blowing, or at least, he used to. He is a skilled craftsman living at Winsley near Bradford-an-Avon. See

The pint pot on the right at the rear was a gift to me from my first employer. I got such a glass by serving on a commercial survey ship over Christmas. Originally I had three of them, one for each Christmas I worked offshore.  Two of them are now lost. One of these, I broke at New Year any days after I was given it. This was a long time ago. This glass dates from the late 1980’s. It is Norwegian lead crystal, engraved with the name of the vessel. And thereby hangs another tale.

The two sherry glasses in the middle are all that remain of a set of six which my wife and I received as wedding presents these 27 years ago. There were wine glasses too, and also, whisky tumblers. Most of them are now gone. As a married lady I know once remarked, “we’ve been married quite long enough that much of the crystal originally given us as wedding presents is long gone.” You can tell the half-life of a marriage by looking in the glass cabinet.

The small crystal glass on the right was inherited from my mother-in-law. It is one of six, very small, and they see much service for drinking malt whisky.

The silver tankard in the foreground is from my wife’s Aunt Josephine, who died last Spring.