Jason is a Welsh Musician, and in this short book, he details his most recent Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage experience. He takes the Camino Portugués from Porto, a follow up to his previous encounter with the more traditional, and more widely known and popular, Camino Frances. We find Jason alone in his hotel room in Porto in a dusky predawn, a crazed band post-gig, having departed, and left the protagonist with little money and equipment and a pipe dream to escape yet again on pilgrimage to Santiago. This book is a modern pilgrimage, a journey to self. We are not sharing the voyage of a medieval religious monk, we share our modern chav hobbit’s punk desires. He needs not mass, blood wine and body bread, but wifi, bocadillos and plastic auberge mattresses. Our modern day pilgrim needs not God’s guidance, but is savouring the beauty and tranquility of a rustic, muddy countryside, as his mind ventures into the pilgrim spirit and devours itself in questions of self-exploration. A host of characters is met and through the hero’s transcript of muttered profanities as he describes the lurid animals he meets en route we make friends with a myriad of personalities from dotted around the globe. Most notably, German astronomer-theologian Thomaas and later, Irish reveller and journeyman Eoin. Interspersed with Spanish natives and kind Portuguese innkeepers and waiters, our bubbly hero sounds off his thoughts and shares in the rich tapestry of life of his fellow men, all the time progressing his own mind’s journey and in a self-revelatory manner, touching our soul with more profound deeper and wise philosophy. Jason loves his woman in Wales. He never quite transcends and escapes his homeland of Wales. From the murky sacred Ulla river reminding him of his hometown, Newport, to thinking of his absent grandfather having disappeared to Australia on his journey’s End, nostalgia is always a containing force to Jason, preventing him from moving on and getting the success and desires he so craves from life. Is it money he seeks? He answers and affirmative no and sees it as a means to an end in life’s great journey. He does seek Broadband and Wifi, yet after we lose communications and move out of the realm of technological contact with the outside world, our hero is not lost but finds himself again and can let his hair down properly in the taverna and hostels, enjoying more ancient revelry, wine and brandy, guitar-laden five star meals and the warmth of traditional hospitality so frequented by the tourists of these ancient routes over the Millennia. The language of Jason’s book is often shockingly coarse, but equally it is a direct language and the best philosophy succeeds in its directness. We move with the writer along the pilgrimage and as you read the book you can feel the rain pelting down, the books brevity comforting us as each night draws to a close and we settle down for the night on the auberge mattresses. Blankets or not, Chav Punk Hobbit reveals to us our own conflict in a modern age, where religion matters little and journeys of self are replaced by instant gratifications.I feel jealous, having not directly journeyed the route myself, green as I cannot feel the a priori mental revelations that resound in between the fast-flowing narratives. We must all strike out in this world and go on personal journeys to reveal our deepest thinking and to share with others the pleasures of life. Chav Punk Hobbit is an adventure and to overlook the beauty in the book’s touching simplicity means that you are not grasping the Welsh Hemingway’s poetic raison d’être. It is modern day philosophy in its most rawest essence. ENJOY!
I was fortunate enough to get to watch Calzaghe fight live, against Mikkel Kessler, in Cardiff Millenium Stadium. I followed him throughout his career and can honestly say he was the most amazing fighter. I believe that his record places him among the very best to have ever graced the sport. The ferocity in how he attacked Kessler and the grace about which he danced the ring, were truly a sight to behold. Joe’s autobiography is an outstanding read. Here we have a legend in his own words. The early years of his fighting career demonstrates how difficult a ladder he had to climb. His training regime was immense and the dedication his father showed him is a tale unto itself. Aside from the boxing and sport side of the book, it is a great story about the relationship between a loving father and a caring and obedient son. Enzo Calzaghe is as much to credit for Joe’s wonderful career, as the great fighter is himself. I found it really bizarre how Joe was overlooked by the national squad early on and denied the opportunity to represent at the Olympics. It also shocked me how meagre his wages were right up until the latter stages of his career. When you hear of the immense purses available in the sport today, you get the impression that boxing is very lucrative. Joe was world championship material and was still struggling to make ends meet and finance a humble mortgage. It was a shame for me, that the book ended where it did, as it doesn’t cover the final few years of his career, when he really hit the very top and started to get the true recognition he warranted. It would be nice if he one day adds a further few chapters to cover complete the story. Joe comes across as a humble man and his modest upbringing in South Wales and really basic training setup, make his rise to success even more outstanding. His book is an essential item for any boxing fan’s reading list and a lover of sports biographies or a lover of sport in general should give this read a go. Joe is the people’s champion and his book affirms this view.