• T.P. O'Dúnín

On the Trail

Somewhere in my parents’ attic there is a copy of a now out of print partwork magazine called “The Ancestral Trail” released somewhere between 1992 and 1994. I wonder if any of you remember it? Someday soon, I must dig it out and read it again, although I suspect that my memories of it from years ago are not to be trusted and I’ll not find it as entertaining as I did then. Much of my childhood books are in storage in that attic, and because I’ve moved around quite frequently, many of my adult book purchases also reside there, carefully stored in thick cardboard boxes. Occasionally my parents threaten to sell them all off to free up space and I’ll assure them that as soon as I have the space myself and stop moving around, I’ll take them back. It’s been ongoing for twenty years now and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. The reason I brought up “The Ancestral Trail” is because, it, like many of the books that I enjoy reading, are a product of their time. Take the most recent book I finished, “The World is all Islands” a book detailing a circumnavigation of the globe by three amateur sailors. Many of the reviews I’ve read have described the book as dull, despite the subject matter, and in some regards, I’d have to agree. What interested me was that, being a travelogue of sorts, it was a window into the people of the time and the places they visited. The journey took place some seventy years ago, between 1946 and 1948. Having finished the book, I wouldn’t call it a page-turner but rather an honest, if dry, account. There was evidence of casual racism throughout, but it was more of the time than anything ill-intentioned. The primitive technology they were working with was interesting, at least to me. I have no doubt that in today’s world of health and safety gone mad, they would not have been allowed out of port with the equipment they had with them. If you’re looking for a well written travelogue, I’d suggest “Jupiter’s Travels” by Ted Simon. A book detailing the author’s journey around the world by motorbike between 1973 and 1977. I must go back and read it in the near future.

In Time and Again, I wrote about my sudden interest in essay writing. This carried me through my final year of Primary School and then Secondary School hit me. If I thought I disliked Primary School, I was in for a complete shock once I had left it. So many different subjects thrown at me all at once, with so much homework left me somewhat adrift, nowhere more so than in my English classes. Suddenly I was being asked to write essays with titles or themes that I could not work with. I had no idea how to tackle them. So in my usual fashion, I resorted to reading, as at least there I could escape life for a while. I had already discovered that I loved fantasy and gothic horrors, but had yet to discover proper adult fantasy. What I did discover was the magazine that I mentioned above; “The Ancestral Trail”. I lived for each release of that magazine, slowly building up my collection. With it came a series of cards, each containing a single legendary creature and a short story about it. I still have those cards. As simplistic as they are, they are still interesting and have on occasion given me some inspiration. That magazine became the spark that inspired my first project, an effort that took me three years to complete; while at school I could not write a single A4 page essay. Something would have to change.

T.P.

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