The ride arrived on time. But its proud gait, gleaming mane and the big red bow tied to its reins at a jaunty angle could hardly disguise the fact that it was a couple of hands short of being a horse.… Read article
The pygmy village of Yandoumbe stretches for about a kilometre along a road of red earth outside the small town of Bayanga. Banana and mango trees shade the wooden huts with their palm frond roofs, an… Read article
‘The sun always shines in Korea,’ one of our two compulsory guides declares. We have nicknamed her the Laughing Policeman. Not only does she never smile, but – being a state-sponsored guide – … Read article
The first time I had the honour to meet the late Count Pázmány, I lent him my last 20 korona to pay for a bottle of champagne. He said he needed it, and a cursory appreciation of his somewhat frayed… Read article
‘But inasmuch as any entity within-the-world is likewise in space, its spatiality will have an ontological connection with the world’ – Heidegger I. I’m on a couch at the back of Columbi… Read article
Exhausted, feeling hemmed in, I took the first northbound train. Making notes in a moleskine pad I wrote down everything good I had: girlfriend, sister, one or two friends, some skill with words, … Read article
8.15am on a Monday morning in 1908. Ruth Belville leaves her modest house on St Luke’s Road in Maidenhead and walks to the station. She gets there 20 minutes later and boards a train for Paddington.… Read article
‘Who wants me dead?’ Cheevers was cowering with Gilman beneath a large desk in the centre of the office. In one clammy hand he clutched a bottle of lukewarm Riesling whilst Gilman swiped … Read article
On the BBC’s old General Overseas Service, every news bulletin began the same way. Twenty-eight seconds before the hour: ‘This is London’. Next, the jaunty tune we call ‘Lilliburlero’. Five … Read article
In 1974 the philosopher Thomas Nagel asked: ‘What is it like to be a bat?’ In 2013 I set out across Mexico to direct a BBC film crew following the thousand-mile migration of a small and unusual… Read article
Originally commissioned by Oliver Coates for Harmonic Series at Southbank Centre, London, March 2014 to accompany L'Île re-sonante, a piece of electronic music by Eliane Radigue The Î… Read article
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
MacNeice’s lines are worth remembering in our digital age, because however we succeed in connecting up the world, we won’t make it any simpler or smaller. At the same time, being online has loosed us from our geographical moorings. So far, The Junket has been published from London, Cambridge, Devon, Moscow and New York, and there's no reason for us to stop there. True to its name, this magazine is not content to stay put.
I wanted to celebrate this itinerant spirit here in our 11th issue, and am delighted to present to you a collection of writing from the pens of fellow rovers and nomads.
Some of these pieces are in the traditional mode of the quest, that archetype not just of travel writing, but of storytelling itself. Nick Haslam sets out, full of Romantic notions, to find the source of the Nile and Tom Mustill goes bat-shit crazy filming in the caves of Mexico. By contrast, the ecstatic ritual witnessed by William Dunbar in the forests of the Central African Republic has never been captured on camera. More than recording a physical journey, Alex Niven’s poem ‘North Sea Travelogue’ plots the course on a spiritual map, exhorting us finally to ‘Remember, love, smash the camera’.
Other pieces focus on the cultural encounters enabled by travel. Lucy Beresford finds unlikely common ground in North Korea, where warmth and humanity somehow endure in the face of repression, while for Fleur Macdonald, a family wedding in rural China becomes an absurd episode of mutual incomprehension that brings out all her next of kin’s prejudices and eccentricities.
Elsewhere, writers are concerned less with travel than specificity of place. In evoking the haunting Île de Ré, Graham Riach overlays the emotional landscape of an affair that never quite crystallised there, while on either side of the Atlantic, wandering academic David B. Hobbs probes the spaces in which he works and their relationship to his productivity and thought.
Sam Kitchener’s ‘Duck Soup’ is more about dislocation, as the story’s charlatan protagonist exploits the disorienting flux of interwar Eastern Europe for his own ends, while the ironic scenario of Dan Stevens’ ‘RWMR Has It’ sees a man who has made billions in the boundless world of cyberspace reduced to cowering in the cramped space beneath his desk.
Finally, two essays explore the correlation between space and Greenwich Mean Time. Josephine Livingstone charts the global regulation of time as it developed from the needs of navigation into something potentially more sinister; and Jon Day’s curious tale of a London ‘time cartel’ fits into a wider story of how the modern metropolis expanded to the ticking of the clock.
We may have less time than ever, but thankfully, the world remains stubbornly, incorrigibly plural. I hope you’ll strike out with us; we are on the move again.
List of Contributors
Lucy Beresford is a writer and broadcaster. She is the author of Happy Relationships: at home, work & play, the novel Something I’m Not and several published short stories. She also reviews fiction.
Jon Day teaches English at King's College London, and writes for the London Review of Books, n+1, the Telegraph, the Financial Times and others. @Jonhinius
William Dunbar is a journalist writing mainly on the politics and culture of the Caucasus. Based in London and Tbilisi, this was his first trip to the Central African Republic. @undrawbill
Nick Haslam is a public policy adviser and travel writer. He lives in Kenya and works throughout East Africa.
Sam Kitchener is an author. Published works include War and Peace (different one). @sam_kitchener
Josephine Livingstone is a doctoral candidate and teacher at New York University. @jo_livingstone
Tom Mustill is a director. So far he's directed lions, camels, giraffes, racehorses, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry, Shami Chakrabarti, Harrison Birtwistle, sperm whales, giant squid, a bunch of heavily armed Mexican Federales and ants. You can see some of what he's done at www.grippingfilms.com @tommustill
Alex Niven is from the north-east of England. His study of the Oasis album Definitely Maybe is out in July via Bloomsbury, and his first poetry collection The Last Tape will be published this autumn. @Alex_Niven
Graham Riach studied at the University of Glasgow before starting a Ph.D at Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 2011 on the contemporary South African short story. He works as a translator of French and Japanese, and composes music for films. @GrahamRiach