Minstrel's Tales

Stories From a Guitar Case

September 29

Posted: 1 October 2017

Ever since I was a boy I have suffered from a little known condition called dromomania. Severe as it may sound it is not at all life threatening, in fact many may say it is life enhancing. Dromomania is defined as an uncontrollable psychological urge to wander. There are many who are afflicted by this malady, and I include amongst my fellow sufferers Michael Palin, Paul Theroux and the incomparable Elizabeth Jane Cochran, who is perhaps better known by her pen name as Nellie Bly, an American journalist who is best known for a record breaking trip around the world in 72 days thus proving that anything Fogg could do, Bly could do better. One famous dromomaniac was a gas-fitter from Bordeaux named Jean-Albert Dadas who would suddenly set out on foot to places as distant as Prague, Vienna and Moscow without apparently any memory of where he had been or what he had been doing.

According to George Baillie in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, a frustrated dromomaniac if ever there was one, the three most exciting sounds in the world are anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles and there is certainly something utterly compelling about travelling. Busy airports and railway stations are places full of anticipation about what this particular journey may have to offer. Unless of course you have just missed your train or you have just been told that your flight has been cancelled indefinitely, then they become temples of frustration, but even those long delays and missed connections add to the overall excitement in travelling.

Little did I think as I left Glasgow airport last October, after returning from what was truly a life-changing experience in India, that in less than a year I would be making a return trip to Kerala to work with TAOS, a local arts foundation which aims to take music and art into schools in Kochi.

To help with this work and, like Phileas Fogg and Michael Palin before me I will need the help of my own Passepartout. Both of these legendary dromomaniacs set great store in their respective Passepartout’s and felt them to be absolutely essential to the journey. Fogg’s Passepartout was his valet/travelling companion, while Palin’s was a five man team for the BBC. Mine will be quite different. In fact it wont even be human. My Passepartout will be my Martin 00028 guitar, a beautiful blonde lady who may not be much good when it comes to helping to carry bags but is in a class of her own when my spirits need lifting.

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