‘The Scooter Diaries’ by Ronald Bowman

The Scooter Diaries front coverThis book has been painstakingly edited by Gordon Bowman, the son of the author, who discovered his father’s rough manuscript after his death. He had always said to his father he should write a book about the adventures he and his wife had in the 1950s travelling from Canada to Peru and back on a 150cc Lambretta.

At the time of writing this review the book is nearing the end of a kick-starter campaign http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/928997794/the-scooter-diaries to help fund publication and so I can’t comment on the characteristics of the hard copy, as I’ve read a digital preview copy. However the cover photo and blurb has been supplied and drew me to the book in the first place.

After a little bit of a faltering start with use of the personal pronoun ‘we’ far too many times, the writing settles quickly in to an easy to follow style. The reader follows highs and lows, along with romance – Ronald proposes by letter (remember those?) three weeks in and the long planned trip becomes an unexpected extended honeymoon, after the woman he loves flies down to Mexico to join him. It all makes for an entertaining read.

Contrasts to today’s political correctness do arise on a number of occasions, for example visits to bullfights, but conversely they are chaperoned at a forced overnight stop in a customs hut – as the now Mrs Bowman’s passport is still in her maiden name! Then a skirt and head covering are insisted upon for a visit to a Catholic Cathedral – a reminder to us all given the current media and political furore around Islamophobia.

Culture and history of the nations traversed are explored as seen by Ronald and his wife Tove. The photographs throughout the book are from restored slides which are remarkably good in the context of the circumstances in which they were taken. The pictorial maps of the trip that accompany the start of each chapter really are an excellent addition.Ron and Tove Managua

The naivety and innocence of travelling two-up on a scooter in the 1950s is charming, with no expectations or contemporary pretensions and gadgetry to cloud the experience.

I recently criticised another book for being much too long – I would love this book to be longer than it’s mere 126 pages, but it’s always best to leave the reader wanting more….

Gordon informs me his mother Tove has recently told him a few more anecdotes from the trip so there may be additions to the final published work. I hope it does get published and reaches a wider audience and you can help if you’re quick! Click below


Jenny Cook