The Road to Little Dribbling – Bill Bryson Cantankerous in the nicest possible way, Britain’s favourite grumpy old man shows us in all our eccentricity, boorishness and surliness.
It’s impossible to take offence at his wry observations because at heart he’s an admiring Anglophile who finds much to amuse in our foibles and foolishness.
Get him on pet topics of sullen service, dog shit on pavements and littering though, and he reveals an entirely different side to his character. He’s a grammar Nazi too, so watch your punctuation.
For the most part it’s a journey in which he finds much to like, an extended love letter to his adopted country.
There isn’t a landscape in the world more lovely to behold, he declares, and suggests it might be Britain’s most glorious achievement.
Britain, he judges, is calm, measured and quite grown up, a nation that appreciates small pleasures and is made up of “the only people in the world who become genuinely excited when presented with a hot beverage and a small plain biscuit”.
Under cover of advancing age, he does a nice line in bafflement at the world around him and incomprehension at living in a country full of celebrities whose “names I don’t know and talents I cannot discern”.
He’s an ideal travelling companion with a sharp eye, an inquisitive mind and an opinion on everything. He’s probably seen more of the British Isles than anyone who lives there – and still manages to like us.