Months ago, Kileen suggested a night out. Of course I agreed. We arranged the eating part & connected with the others. We were going to a talk by someone I was only just aware of – a floppy haired tv explorer chap. I’d seen a programme or two, but he’s been doing it for years and I’m not an explorer type of gal.
I got home hours later than expected, and am now a fan. Bloggy buddies, Simon Reeve is your man. He was a troubled teen, leaving school without qualifications and with mental health problems. When he admitted to being overwhelmed by life, a kind woman at the dole office told him to just take things step by step, and he did. To the gate, to the corner shop, to the train station, to Scotland, to Glencoe, to that rock, up another bit. Somehow, woefully unprepared, he avoided the need to be rescued & celebrated enormous physical achievement. He even made it home again in one piece. Prior to that, his experience of exploring had been in Granny’s car, directing her to go left, right or straight on, regularly ending up by the biscuit factory.
Eventually, Simon got a job sorting the post for the Sunday Times. When he gathered himself enough to look round the workplace beyond the post room, he got involved in investigations. By 19, he was leading a team. By 20 he had the bit between his teeth and left to research his own book, The New Jackals. That was published in 1998, was quietly well received, and vanished.
In 2000, he published One Day in September, about the massacre at the Munich Olympics in 1972. The accompanying documentary of the same name won an Oscar.
When the attacks happened on September 11, 2001, Reeve’s phone started to ring before the second tower was hit; it didn’t stop ringing for a year and a half. All that research for The New Jackals had made him the author of the only work on Bin Laden & al Qaeda, and in demand.
By this stage I was entertained, moved and agog. There is more to smiley tv guy than I could have imagined. Isn’t that the way?
Nearly half way through the show, and he moved to chat about the programmes made for the BBC. There are many, many series, starting with Meet the Stans and Places That Don’t Exist, moving around the equator and the tropics, and currently working on the Americas. I have much to catch up on.
Tales of toilets (and pigs), being arrested by the KGB and starting down the barrel of a rocket launcher. Armoured undies, wooden swimming goggles & a huge bolt (thrown locally, Belfast is kind to visitors) were all pulled out from travel kits.
The message wasn’t about tall tales or beautiful views; instead, you haven’t journeyed unless you’ve met people. Talk to people, eat the food, experience the light and shade of the world. Push yourself to experience a wee bit more. Look for adventure close to home. Meet people.
When questioned about when or where he’d like to have lived, Reeve was also clear that he’s happy with the here and now, the opportunities to travel, and ‘my lad’.
Grounded and humble, curious, open and grateful, Simon Reeve is worth checking out. I have much to explore!