So it is with great pleasure and also total empathy that I learned today about someone who I whole-heartedly relate to; a 19th Century English gentleman by the name of Alexander Kinglake. Whilst many people like to travel and holiday with people from their own countries, many, especially British people, prefer to avoid their own kind like the plague as well as avoiding any such place where they might meet such people.
For us, we either want to get away from it all. I don’t want to hear English, read English, eat any food which I am at all familiar with. Even in the middle of London, if you meet someone you know there is that terrible moment when you have to decide whether the social rules sway more towards not intruding on privacy or not having the other person think you’re rude or don’t like them… perhaps just pretending to not see them at all is best. It’s almost impossible to tell.
In many cases, I’m quite happy not to meet anyone and this was obviously the case with Alexander Kinglake who had this common problem magnified many times over when in 1835 he found himself writing his wonderful travelogue Eothen.
Mr Kinglake was midway through crossing the Sinai Desert, the seemingly small but actually large piece of Egypt that sits about forgotten compared to the rest of the magnificent country but with a character and culture all of its own.