OK, we have moved from page 145 to, what, 332? Yes, that's it. So, I've work through almost central half of Hops and Glory this weekend - still 50% off at amazon.co.uk by the way - and our lad, Pete, has gone on a cruise liner, a tall ship to Brazil and then a container ship to India. As before there is a patch of the life of Pete Brown, then a patch of the history of the English beer trade to service the East India Company's needs. Pete, beer. Pete. Beer. But then something funny happens. From 237 to 306 the pattern is dropped. Not much history. Mainly just Pete and his boaty bits.
"What was he doing?" thought I. If I use the hockey analogy and, being Canadian, I will - it gets a bit second period. A bit "boy not yet realized which girl he really should love" if we analogize to date movies. Which got me thinking about Tristram Shandy, that odd proto-novel-deconstruction thing from 1759 or so which I now know is just three years after "grog" was set out in British navy regulation. It's an interesting book, Tristram Shandy, because it is self-conscious and is a bit about what a novel would be if one could not suspend one's imagination or if one did entirely or something like that. Eighteenth century literature class was 26 years ago, you know. I'll let you can judge the value of the academic investment. It's also about the bleaker end of age of enlightenment as was, we learn, the East India Company.
Anyway, the point is that for 237 to 306, Brown takes us into his internal experience - into the doldrums of the sailing ship and then into the small heart of darkness that is the international shipping trade today - by seemingly forgetting to slip back into the history. It's a good technique. It weighs a bit, wears a bit. But it still takes us along as if to say "it's alright, Al, no need for you to ever go on a container ship from Brazil to India all alone for five weeks... I've done it... don't bother." Thanks Pete. I won't. It's off my to do list.