Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan


(UK, 2002)

I thought I’d follow you anywhere, Michael Palin. I’d have done almost anything to go along with you when you went Around the World in 80 Days. I’d gladly have gone with you from Pole to Pole. Himalaya was rough, and with the current state of my feet and legs I could never do the hiking you did, but as a younger man I’d have jumped at the chance. I haven’t seen your Full Circle or Hemingway Adventure, but I’m pretty sure I’d have had a great time. But on this journey, traveling around and through the most forbidding desert on Earth … It’s like Lee said at one point: “I’m glad he’s going there, so I don’t have to …”

Lordamighty, do I ever agree. He goes some places few people ever go, sees things that only a handful of westerners will ever see. But he walks a great deal of the way, in 56 C. heat … that’s 133 F., boys and girls. And that’s the air. The ground would be hot enough to fry shoe leather. I would have collapsed after about ten steps. So, I’d have skipped that part.

He also travels through Algeria, where Muslim radicals have declared a fatwa against all westerners. All of them. White skin, and you’re a legitimate target. He travels on a train that has been bombed dozens of times in ten years, and stopped by murdering fanatics even more often. I’d have skipped that part, too.

But don’t be discouraged. The whole point is, you don’t have to go, and you can still see all the wonderful and amazing sights he sees, without sand in your food. Michael is his usual charming, endlessly inquisitive self, and he even does some Python stuff in Morocco, at the scene of what must have been two months of madness during the filming of Monty Python’s Life of Brian. “Over there is the tower where Graham Chapman fell off and was rescued, rather implausibly, by a flying saucer …” As he points out, it’s not everyone who gets to revisit the site of his own crucifixion.

“Always look on the bright side of life …”