Of Rippers and Strippers and Adventurers

To Travel is To Live - this be the notebook


Christmas, that wonderous and magical  time for the giving and, (you hope), the receiving of gifts – and it is at this time we see that the world is firmly divided into two distinct, and seperate tribes: THE RIPPERS and THE STRIPPERS.

The former are those who, feverishly, unceremoniously and even (dare I say it), uncaringly, rip the wrapping from their presents.

They let rip at lightning speed  with little thought for the attractvie seasonal wrapping and little, or no consideration for the time and trouble that someone has taken to carefully wrap the present.

Wrapping gifts for rippers – for the time and consideration the display in their    riotous and discourteous unwrapping, you might as well have wrapped their gift in newspaper.

As for THE STRIPPERS (of whom I am one) – we are those people who first,  carefully receive the gift from the giver (as opposed to the RIPPERS, who literally rip the gift from the giver’s hands). STRIPPERS admire the beauty of the wrapping, conscious of the time it has taken someone to achieve perfection. We will often remark on the beauty of the paper and how «it is so lovely it almost seems a shame to unwrap it.»

Before the act of «stripping» we will poke and prod and shake and feel the gift . We will hold it up and rotate it and persuse it from different angles. We might hazard a guess as to what is contained within the wrapping.

Finally we will slowly strip off the paper like some kind of striptease, where the artiste will tantilisingly  remove each layer of clothing for the pleasure (titilation) of the audience.

Unwrapping is part of gift pleasure.

It is not everyday that you get a present. For the giver, the buying and wrapping of a present are both acts of love.


RIPPERS and STRIPPERS will approach the gift moment in different ways. In those familes where ripping is the norm, then entire tribe will leap out of bed on Christmas morning, rush downstairs and feverishly grab and rip open all the «goodies» that Santa has left them . Within seconds the scene around the tree is one of devastation and carnage, moreover, for the ripper, once the presents have been opened, it is pretty much the end of Christmas – just remains the few minutes or so that it will take the ripper to wolf down his turkey, before spending the rest of the day, skulking behind a screen to try and sell the new Christmas presents on line.

Strippers don’t leap out of bed. Strippers don’t cram ther entire Christmas into just a few minutes. Strippers have turned Christmas day into a moment of joyous lethargy – bouts of eating punctuated by the thoughful opening of presents. As in striptease, all strippers seek to prolong the suspense, anticipation and pleasure. We don’t just strip, we peel and procrastinate.

If you rip open all your presents of Christmas morning, what are you going to do for the rest of the day.


My daugher hands me a delightfully wrapped, and exquisitely proportioned present – not too large to be oversize, ostentatious, gaudy, gargantuan or grotesque – and not to small too be mean, miniscule or (lord forbid) new, minituarised gadgetry. Today’s gadget is tomorrow’s relic. I prefer something timeless and classic.  The present is perfect – slim but not thin, book size but not airport paperback dimensions, and from the beam on my daughter’s face, it is something useful but not utility, and fun but not frivilous – a present I will be delighted to receive and use.

I contemplate, rotate, peruse, prod, poke, and peel away as all good strippers do. The fastidious, procrastinatory unwarpping finally over, I have  … a notebook, and I like notebooks. I am the owner of many half-finished, well worn noteboooks, filled with unfinished well-worn thoughts in scrawly undecipherable handwriting – The cover of the new notebook is nothing less presumptuous than a map of the World – and should I be so presemptuous to think that my world is actually interesting enough to write about? Indeed why in the world would my world interest anyone in the world?

On the cover of the new notebook, a title



«There you are dad,» beams my beaming daughter more beamful than before. «Here’s a notebook to write down all your travels and adventures.»

I am very touched, but this is possibly going to be the shortest or even emptiest book ever. I never travel anywhere very far or exotic or exciting, and I ceratinly never have any adventures (unless I can’t avoid them).

I point all this out to my daughter who retorts with that well-worn cliché (which I have so worn so many times it is now more than a little holed and threadbare) EVERYDAY IS AN ADVENTURE (for better or for worse.)

This is my «getting out of bed phrase», to galvinise me for the day ahead. I have other such phrases, that I have often quoted and requoted to my daughter, to the point where she (and even I) have ended up believing them.


And such phrases galvinise and inspire. They are those phrases that you say everyday, when you know full well that everyday will be the same and the last thing you want is an adventure. You just want to get through the day so you can get back to bed.


I am now the owner of an exquisitely-proportioned, attractive, but empty notebook, in which I can write all my adventures. It is the sort of notebook that makes you want uncap your classic fountain pent to scrawl down idle thoughts, theories and observations.

This notebook though is uniquely for adventures, though I never have any. I shall therfore use these pages to chronicle my drifting, for I am prone to drifiting – mostly long, pointless, aimless, meandering drives into the middle of nowhere.

I say pointless, though drifiting is far from pointless. I drift, which is the whole point, and, I always end up somewhere (as opposed to nowhere), which was the whole point of going in the first place – to end up somewhere, that could be anywhere.

I am not sure however if drifiting can constitute an adventure?


  1. Adventures should start and finish at your own front door, for there is nothing better after an adventure than coming home.
  2. For an adventure to be adventurous, you must go somewhere that you have never been before, or go somewhere you have been before, but not in the same way.
  3. Adventures are voyages into the unkown. Remember that you never have to go too far to find somewhere you don’t know.
  4. Adventures should never be so far away that you cannot be rescued if something goes wrong.
  5. Adventures should never be so long or so far away that you cannot be home in time for dinner.
  6. Adventures should bever be so far away, or risky, or perilous, that you cannot get home to tell everyone about your adventures. After all, is not the whole point of adventures, to come home and thrill everyone with tales of your adventures? Adventures are only adventures if you live to tell the tale.

I am quite definitely not an adventurous person. The very opening of my daughter’s gift was an adventure in itself, and now, I have the adventure of filling up my new notebook. Doubtless my adventures will take me beyond my own front door, to that place where all the world begins: the end of my street