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Walking in Ruins by Geoff Nicholson

Walking in Ruins

by Geoff Nicholson

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There is something evocative about a ruin, dark beauty, a edge of danger (real and imagined), sadness and loss and excitement, a physical connection to our history, a jumper off for stories and a reflection of our own morality. OK OK so I am huge fan of ruins, I can stare endlessly at photos of ruins and often ignore beautiful vistas to see a ruin and I adore reading about them.

So what I am saying is this should of be a perfect fit. It wasn’t. Nicholson may share my love of Ruins but I recognised nothing of the above, they just didn’t evoke the same feelings. Myself and Nicholson have what you could say was a personality clash. From his choice of ruins (Alcatraz, Stonehenge, bunker turned museum) to his erudite displays of learning and humour which often descended into sneer. Only try this if you can unlock the meaning of spending pages describing pages of others work.

Let me give you an example. Late on there is a chapter on prisons. He starts with a multitude of quotes before spending a page and half sneeringly describing The Road (he didn’t like it) and then a few more pages describing the plots of various films I haven’t seen before dashing off into a bible quote (ok it’s about ruins) and then going on to discuss his trip to Alcatraz. He worries it’s not a ruin (sigh), he worries he could not have coped as an inmate(I am very tempted to visualise a painful knife fight), he smugly takes off his audio guide and breaks free of the forced walk so he can spend it calling everyone zombies. He briefly loses his wife (I cheer for her) and well then.. I stopped reading at this point ( I did flip forward but he started talking about Samuel Beckett). Looks his behaviour is catching, even I’m sneering now.

Bottom line I don’t find the same things interesting as he does, his ruins are lifeless and dull to me, even places I have visited and loved. Sometimes I could connect, sometimes his topics sparked an interest but usually the path he takes is bland and vaguely annoying. It is like walking a dull, muddy, barren field which hides its history of a battlefield well. It may be interesting but only if have the key to unlock it.

Totally not recommended. ( )
  clfisha | Feb 11, 2014 |
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I was walking in Jaywick, on the south coast of Essex, a town that people had been telling me about for years, describing it as weird, gloomy, bleak, melancholy, isolated, vaguely threatening: all the things I love and am drawn to.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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