A Ramble Round the Globe Revisited in the Footsteps of Tommy Dewer
Malcolm Greenwood – 1999-Neil Wilson Publishing – 92 pages with monochrome illustrations by Erik Foseid and some full colour and full page glossy adverts at start and end of the book. No index or glossary.
Malcolm Greenwood was a sales manager for Glenfarclas whisky and as such was well used to international travel in the name of work. This travel led to 2 books ‘A Nip Around the World’ and ‘Another Nip Around the World’, neither of which I have read but both sound interesting.
The problem I have with books like these is that they can draw me in with the idea that they will be about whisky but then disappoint me when I find out that the whisky aspect takes a back seat to the travel. This book has a few things about it that compensates for this. Firstly, it is written in a light and easy style with large print and not many pages. This means that the reading is easy and even if it isn’t what my main interest is, the easiness means that it doesn’t drag. Secondly, it follows the journey of Tommy Dewer and by default has a relationship with whisky even when not directly talked about.
The process of this book is simple. Tommy Dewer spent two years travelling the world selling whisky, Malcolm Greenwood spent a far shorter period using modern transport to trace his journey. The book is then written with alternating passages from Tommy Dewer’s journey and Malcolm Greenwood’s journey. The advantage of this is that the changes in style and time reference lead to stimulating variety.
On the negative side I was left feeling that Malcolm could have given more direct relevance between the two commentaries, there were times when the journeys were only slightly related and some golden opportunities to literally follow the footsteps and comment on the changes were missed. An example of this would be hotels, Malcolm tended to stay in Hilton hotels but there is no real mention of what happened to the ones that Tommy stayed at.
However, there are many positives in this book such as the interesting expression of a level of political correctness that would not be deemed appropriate in today’s society. An example of this being Tommy’s account of being told that ‘Johnny Chinaman’ makes a good worker due the fact that he can not have any alcohol without red rings forming around his eyes – to the point that one can work out how many drinks he has had by counting the rings. Another positive is the short list of ‘Dewerisms’ at the back of the book along with an imaginary discussion between the two travellers.
I read this book as a second hand purchase 12 years after it was published– has it aged? The simple answer is yes. However, I think that it has actually matured rather than aged. This book was written before the turn of the millennium within a world that changes at a very fast rate. This means that if the book is read today one gets almost two slices of history for the price of one, which makes the fact that the book is cheaper as a second hand book even better value.