Starting your book, “I’m not, by nature, a betting man. I’m not, by nature, a drinking man”, raises a certain level of expectation in the reader – and happily Hawks’ book lives up to this.
Englishman Hawks takes off on a one-month quest to hitchhike around the circumference of Ireland with a 2’x2′ foot fridge in tow, after making and, perhaps even more daftly, honouring a drunken bet.
Not surprisingly, he arrives in Dublin with a certain amount of trepidation and visions of loosing face/being mistaken for a terrorist/freezing to death by a lonely roadside. However, with the people of Ireland mobilized early on by the nation’s favourite radio talk show host, he soon gets into the swing of things. Together he and his fridge go surfing, enter a bachelor festival, meet the poorest king on earth – and discover a direct correlation between the pace of life and the time it takes a pint of stout to settle.
As those familiar with his British radio and TV appearances will expect, Hawks has a fluid and amusing style. He also comes across as a fairly likeable fellow, no doubt a helpful trait when trying to persuade strangers to give you and your fridge a ride.
You won’t find rapturous descriptions of Ireland’s green countryside or an insightful analysis of the country’s present-day condition here. At its heart, this book is about the people of rural Ireland, who manage even in the face of Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” economic boom to maintain a relaxed, accommodating and often eccentric take on life. Those Hawks encounters display a refreshing abundance of warmth, generosity and good humour. Above all, they understand why a man would wish to undertake such a foolhardy and pointless venture in the first place – and therein lies the secret of the book.
Overall verdict: A very entertaining read.
Random House, 1998