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Coast to Coast on an In-Growing Toenail
by Mike McKever
Published by Lulu/ Numfunct Books
As early as the fourth page, Mike McKever makes the point that this is not a guide to the Coast-to-Coast Walk. As he says, ‘If you want to know which way to go, I suggest you consult Wainwright’s excellent little red book; after all, he devised the route.’ Instead, it is an account of the walk he and his wife Gill undertook in September 2004; it tells of the people they met during the walk, the places they stayed and some of the experiences encountered en route. All of these combine to make a highly entertaining and humorous book.
Mike is in his mid-fifties and I got the impression from the book that he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. I suppose he would be an ideal age to be classed as a ‘grumpy old man’ (well if Stuart Maconie can appear on the TV programme of that name at the age of 47, then those of us over 50 certainly fall into this category). Mike’s nicknames for fellow walkers they met had me in fits of laughter, as did the descriptions of some of his and Gill’s inexplicable scrapes and problems they encountered during the walk.
Part of these problems were medical, hence the unusual title for the book, and part were brought upon themselves by forgetfulness (cameras being left behind at lunch stops and toothbrushes at overnight B&Bs) – another affliction that occurs once you pass the age of 50.
Even if you have not walked the Coast to Coast, I would recommend this book, if only to find out the pitfalls you may possibly encounter before you embark on this grand walk. If you’ve ever read Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat and fallen about laughing then this book is of a similar ilk and may be just the pick-you-up you need.
reviewed by John Burland - Member No. 2