Quondam means ‘a period of time that has passed’. Now that you have read it or perhaps listened to the story, I guess it is a ‘quondam’ one for you! Thank you indeed. I hope it engaged and was an uplifting experience! I shall endevour to take it onward from where it abruptly ended, but… patience please!
Some asked how the detail of such a journey could be ‘recalled’ from over thirty years ago. The answer is simple, firstly, the writing of Quondam would have been impossible without detailed diaries. While on the road these were attended to without fail, like the brushing of one’s teeth! Secondly and more to the point, the experience of travelling then, was altogether different to today. As I wrote in the book, there was ‘…no-where-else-to-go with what you witnessed and experienced.’ It could not be ‘uploaded’, off-loaded or instantly ‘shared’… even discussed with anyone, (I was solo for the most part.) You went to your tent with everything the day offered, to chew, or not, over it all! In the travel-bubble of that time, the experience went more ‘in’ than ‘out’, (ie ‘out’ as it mostly does today.)
If thoughts and observations were not recorded immediately, they certainly they were recorded intimately. Not all but many a journeyer approached that ‘travel-diary’ with a sense of…at times, reverence, and many wrote as if it would be the last thing they would ever do! There was a commitment to the diary and recording the daily stuff, the little things, the small or the grand, mattered a lot. On the long-road then, especially with the slow pace of a bicycle… those small things didn’t just come to life, they burst to life, and as anyone who travelled for a lengthy period would confirm, in the end, they ‘became’ one’s life. The world was ‘smaller’, more engaging, indeed, more intimate you might say, and the mind which witnessed was a different mind to todays, more ‘contained’ or self-contained.
And thus, to dive into the nuance and detail of dozens of hand-scrawled diaries over thirty years old – so as to extract the ‘marrow’ between the lines, and be as true as is possible, to the truth of that journey – was a daunting task. It would have been far easier to simply ‘tell’ the story straight from the diary, to merely recount it, but In my opinion, too many travel tales, though great physical journey’s in themselves, are merely ‘recounted’, merely ‘told’, straight from the diary page! This is not enough. It leaves the story dry, impersonal, academic or even, sadly, with many, just superficial, without an attempt to ‘get-at’ the inner subtle-substance that is…at least half the journey. ‘Do NOT tell, show. Write, as if to your own mother…‘, so said one literary adviser I have not forgotten.