Making Our Connections: A spirituality of
SCM Press £19.99
Church Times Bookshop £18 (Use code CT217
PINK DANDELION, writing as a much travelled Quaker, takes a long
and closely observed look at travel. Having tried both a hotel and
the urban outdoors for bed and breakfast, besides using many forms
of transport, he suggests that we need to rethink why we continue
to travel in modern times.
He sees the Grand Tour as the first secular pilgrimage, which
formed the basis for Thomas Cook's tours. Pilgrimages today he
dismisses as package holidays. Their participants are probably
obsessed with time.
The definition of a traveller we are given is someone who is
away longer than a tourist. He raises many questions about what we
see when away. Is the pub ever frequented by locals? Is a view seen
only through a camera worth the journey?
Dandelion has read widely about travel. Vita Sackville-West's
observation that "there is no greater bore than a travel bore" is
just one of many amusing quotations included. David Lodge is
obviously one of Dandelion's favourite authors, together with
Alexander McCall-Smith and Bill Bryson.
This is a serious book by an academic which is made even more
enjoyable by comments on such irritations as railway quiet
carriages that are not quiet. He describes airport prayer rooms as
"empty sterile spaces, open to all traditions and enriched by
The book, while often mentioning the disorientating
inconvenience of flight times, dwells on the danger of wanting to
be away more than at home, and even needing to be perpetually in
the air. The routine of a flight can be easier than facing problems
at home. Dandelion is concerned about single travellers' isolating
themselves on a plane, however packed, just as they do in a bland
The climax of the book is a return to its start, where he
suggests that once no trip for the majority of people would have
been more than 30 miles from home. He concludes that he has met
more people when on a bus and seen more scenery when walking rather
He recalls the early Quaker John Woolman, who claimed that
walking helped him to avoid worldly distractions of class and race.
Dandelion asks whether Paul the apostle would have met the risen
Christ driving to Damascus. "We are all called to love our
neighbours," the author says, and suggests that community may
actually matter more than travel, which only sometimes, as in a
family holiday or a wakes week, involves community.
Leigh Hatts is a former editor of In SE1, a South
Bank arts listings magazine.