Martyrs to hypochondria and general seediness, J. and his friends George and Harris decide that a jaunt up the Thames would suit them to a 'T'. But when they set off, they can hardly predict the troubles that lie ahead with tow-ropes, unreliable weather forecasts and tins of pineapple chunks - not to mention the devastation left in the wake of J.'s small fox-terrier Montmorency. Three Men in a Boat was an instant success when it appeared in 1889, and, with its benign escapism, authorial discursions and wonderful evocation of the late-Victorian 'clerking classes', it hilariously captured the spirit of its age.
This book reminded me of some not-so-successful camping trips that I took in my early twenties! Back in the day when I was willing to sleep in a tent and on inadequate padding on the ground. These are learning experiences, as you cope with rain that prevents comfortable hiking, mosquitoes & blackflies that prevent comfortable cooking, and forgotten items that could have made the trip better.
Who hasn’t brought canned food and forgotten the can opener? I read the pineapple tin scene with amusement! And I think even casual picnickers have had food disasters! As youngsters, we overestimate our abilities, learning that our cooking or navigating skills are not as advanced as we thought. Inedible food and getting lost are all part of learning to make our way in life.
Most of all, Jerome reminds us that we shouldn’t waste too much time trying to be “good.”
In the church is a memorial to Mrs Sarah Hill, who bequested £1 annually, to be divided at Easter, between two boys and two girls who “have never been undutiful to their parents; who have never been know to swear or to tell untruths, to steal, or to break windows.” Fancy giving up all that for five shillings a year! It is not worth it.
I find myself agreeing with him wholeheartedly. We must fling ourselves into life!