An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries, by Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant

“As soon as we got in [to the Taj Mahal] we were greeted by another queue. This time it was to get on the Princess Diana bench. This is where Diana had her photo taken when she was having her problems with Charlie. Everyone said this is why she looked so miserable, but to be honest I think it was nothing to do with him. I just think she was sick of being in India. It does have that effect on you. If you’re having a low moment in your life, India isn’t a great place to come to try and get over it. I’d have suggested Center Parcs to her over this place.”

I bought An Idiot Abroad about a million years ago, when some Kindle deals were still 20p. I mean, you can’t get much in life for 20p anymore, can you? Can’t say fairer than that for a few easy laughs. Ricky Gervais-esque humour has always been a bit hit and miss for me, so I’ve never seen An Idiot Abroad on TV, or indeed anything save the odd YouTube clip of Karl Pilkington. All I really knew was that my step-dad likes reading his stuff in the loo, which, as praise goes, isn’t quite a Booker Prize.

But you know what? I can’t disagree with most of Karl’s philosophy.

“There is too much fruit in the world, and I don’t like buying a lot of it, as it goes off so quickly. Maybe that’s why we’re told to eat five portions a day, just to get through the stuff before it turns mouldy.”

LOGIC.

In some ways, reading this little travelogue made me want to watch the accompanying series… but at the same time, am I really missing anything? Karl spends a lot of time describing the many toilets he visits, and you know what, I think I can pass on seeing that in any greater detail.

Still, although Karl remains distinctly unimpressed by most of his trips and destinations, it has confirmed for me that I definitely want to visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem when I’m in Tel Aviv next year. (Around this point in the book, I may have gotten side-tracked into researching camel farms.)

An Idiot Abroad isn’t a real travel guide, and it’s not a side-splitting laugh-a-minute riot either, but I enjoyed its gentle humour, and found it a refreshing palette cleanser in between crime dramas.

“I texted Suzanne to let her know I was about to do some wrestling. She just said to be careful but then went on to ask how to set the DVD player up as it wasn’t plugged into the telly. It’s not the greatest encouragement, is it? It’s not the sort of message Rocky got from Adrian before a big fight.”

[Read from 1-5 November 2016]

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