Things alphabetical

Posted on May 19, 2012


I have chosen to travel the world (literarily speaking) in alphabetical order even though it would be a terrible way to travel it on foot, because, as David Rees the cartoonist once said, ‘Nothing beats alphabetical order. IT’S THE ONLY ORDER LETTERS COME IN.’  Well, for about 3000 years anyway.

I guess it’s also unsurprising given the day job that I have a soft spot for alphabetical ordering, but it does seem to be the easiest way to proceed and will force cultures side by side that would never be neighbours on the globe.

By starting at A we have a happy and unlikely alphabetical journey from Afghanistan to Azerbaijan (a short swim across the Caspian and hop across Turkmenistan on the map) via:





Antigua & Barbuda





You may wonder where Aruba is – I’m inclined to say  ‘just off the coast of Venezuela’ – but following the UN’s list of Sovereign States it is in the Netherlands and so will have to wait a while.  Likewise Anguilla, which is listed under the UK and will have to wait even longer.

I’d love to include Antarctica, but strictly speaking, it’s a continent and I’m not sure anyone has ever been born there.  However, if I’m allowed to make a recommendation, anyone interested in literature about Antarctica should read Sara Wheeler’s Terra Incognita  a beautifully written book which pulls off the almost impossible feat of writing about snow for 384 pages while not only keeping you interested but making you want to live in a cold, white desert for the rest of your days even the ones that are 24 hours of light.   And, while on the subject of Antarctica, if you get the chance, watch Mr Forbush and the Penguins.

So tomorrow we start with Afghanistan whose 18th Century founder, Ahmad Shah Durrani, said:

Whatever countries I conquer in the world, I would never forget your beautiful gardens. When I remember the summits of your beautiful mountains, I forget the greatness of the Delhi throne.’

Posted in: Reading