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Preface, or rather: apologies and excuses

I started out to write this account as an experiment, to see if I was capable of putting down in words what a group of people had experienced in the flesh. Therefore, it was unimportant to me that we were not doing anything record-breaking or earth-shattering. We were a group of friends going on vacation together, and I was going to try to record the event.

When I actually sat down to write, I was surprised to find that far from being at a loss for words, the words just came tumbling out. There were too many of them, not too few. But what surprised me more was the discovery that the words were not, as I had planned, describing the experiences of the flesh, they were describing the experiences of the soul.

Not so surprisingly, this has had a profound effect on the way the story unfolds. Instead of chronicling four experiences, I chronicled just one: mine. This is not what I wanted either, but I feel no inclination to try to change it. It is only an experiment after all, and the odd feeling of unburdening that I have, of "getting it off my chest", suggests that this is what I needed to do. One of the adverse side-effects of this is that it pushes the writer to centre-stage, and his companions are reduced to bit-parts. This is clearly a miscarriage of justice, all the more so when you realize that if anything, it is often the writer who has the bit part, as he becomes too absorbed in his thoughts and observations to provide his fair share of the plot.   

The other side-effect is that all opinions expressed are personal, and therefore very one-sided. There is one passage in particular, and you'll know it when you get to it, that I struggled long and hard over. I desperately wanted to represent both sides, but it just would not come out that way. This is particularly bothersome since I know that I was in the wrong at the time, and this account makes it look as if I was in the right. I hereby apologize for this further miscarriage of justice. I still have a lot to learn.

Before I finish, I just want to make one final apology: for such a pompous and long-winded preface. I promise to try to eradicate all such tendencies in the text itself, but as I said at the beginning, this was an experiment. It is the first piece of "fiction" (well, non-technical work) that I have written, and for my own interest I wanted to record here in the preface everything that I struggled with. So there you have it: the preface is for me, the text is for you.

Richard Thomson,

November 1989, Biot, France

Preface to Interweb Edition

Twenty years later and I'm saddened to report that we never heard from Martha and Alfie again. Over the years I've made a few attempts to use the latest technology to find them, but to no avail.

It even took me more than a decade to go back and read the account, but today I'm pleasantly surprised by how well it brings the trip back, and at how positive it sounds in the main. Ironically the images, first taken with an old-fangled 35mm camera have faired so much better in their digital (scanning) transfer that this account now looks fresher than the Coast-to-Coast, recorded ten years later using a state of the art 640x480 pixel digital camera.


January 2010, Stow, Massachusetts.

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