August 20, 2009 GMT
It's Too Late To Lose The Weight You Used To Need To Throw Around

1.7.09 Ibarra, Ecuador


In the summer of 2007 I flew to Zakynthos on a whim (and back on an Airbus A300 - still a great gag! Sorry...) and spent two scintillating, Heineken-cooled weeks crisping up on Nature's Griddle. My conscious moments were divided between piloting a wheezy, hired "Kawasaki" (well - it was green and they'd stuck a KLR650 sticker on it, but I swear it was a Chinese 250) around the island, helmetless, dumb and salty-skinned; acting the porpoise in the crystal waters; and reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. Oh Dawkins! You non-crazy diamond! What. A. Bloody. Book!

Any road up, in the last week or so I've developed a gnawing desire to read it again. Imagine my clucks of disbelief, then, when I turn up at a hostel in Otavalo and there it is on the bookshelf, dog-eared enough even to be the copy I left on the plane two years ago. And yes - I can swap it for my tatty Ken Follett Gatwick-buster (Hornet Flight - it'll do if you're desperate/a wee bit dim). I can even off-load Ann Patchett's quite-nice Run ("Diff'rent Strokes" for the Obama generation), and a mucky book by Anais Nin (translated into Spanish) that H. stuffed into my pocket in Coyhaique.

That night I wax 'n' polish my brain and fire up Prof Dawkins. It's even better than I remember; frequently laugh-out-loud funny, sure, but in-between the gut-larfs a scalpel is applied to the mind-tumour of Creationism, the fatuous balloon of the Ontological Argument* is popped, and the foam-headed, can't-be-bothered-to-think-anymore intellectual ditch of Agnosticism (or, more fairly, Permanent Agnosticism In Principle) is drained. It's - literally - the tops! I'm never losing this copy and I'm already thinking (160 pages in) of going right back to page 1 when I finish it.


Phew. And he's married to a Dr Who assistant!


Here's a magical, pixie-scattered glade to visit if you're near Otavalo - Las Cascadas de Pechugas. The fairytale daydream of it all is offset nicely by the lunch of fried swine blubber I have in Ibarra. Salty and good up to the last two mouthfuls, at which point gastric common sense asserts itself. And all for 85 pence!

Johnny Rotten famously "rocked" an I Hate Pink Floyd t-shirt, and I can genuinely see why many people are rendered pasty/brought out in purulent scabs by them. I can't be doing with any of Dark Side Of The Moon myself, and everything after The Wall (and at least half of The Wall) is unspeakable horse-wash. But "Dogs", from the album Animals, always makes me go "yowwww..." ...for teenage nostalgia reasons I s'pose... and the music chap in Cafe Arte has just put it on, after exactly the right number of Pilseners (4). And turned it up! Good lad.


While we're up it, why didn't Johnny ever wear an "I Love Hawkwind" shirt? Cos he did, you know. Love 'em, I mean. He once said "The Sex Pistols would never have happened without Hawkwind". Ask him!

*me neither - until I read the book! D'you see?

Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at August 20, 2009 09:54 PM GMT

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