Hitching to Gomorrah

In New English Review Dalrymple recounts his youthful hitchhiking trips around Britain and Ireland, sleeping in a tent by the side of the road:

Ever since my youth, and in moral recompense for all those people who took me when I was by the side of the road, I have always taken hitch-hikers unless they positively had the appearance of serial killers, which few of them have. I have never had any cause to regret it, and it seems to me a small and very easy way to be generous, to give away something for nothing, and to give hikers a more favourable impression of their fellow-beings and of life in general. One of the ways to destroy trust, an invaluable social asset, is to mistrust when there is no need of it; and mistrust is the most frequent reason given for people not to pick up hitch-hikers. I much regret that there are so few of them nowadays, either because the trust no longer exists to sustain hitch-hiking as a means of getting around (the mistrust of those who give the rides as great as that of those who want them), or because young people now have cars or money enough easily to afford public transport, and render hitch-hiking unnecessary. I regret the latter almost as much as the former, for youth should be an age of exigent means rather than of ease, comfort and opulence.

The other day I picked up a couple, a young Frenchman and a young American woman, who were together, though he spoke little English and she no French. I joked that they had chosen the best method of language tuition, and they laughed.

He was a history student, and his long brown hair was done into dreadlocks, as if he were a Rastafarian…

Read the whole thing.

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