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You are going to read an extract from the biography of a travel writer, Alan Fold, written by his wife. Six sentences have been removed from the article. For questions 37 – 42, choose the correct sentence and move it into the gap. There is one extra sentence which you do not need to use.
The Little Things
No matter how many places he visited, Alan never lost the ability to see beauty in the ordinary. It was one of the things I most loved about him. I remember the first time we went to Athens, in Greece – we were celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary – and I got so excited about the classical architecture. I was blown away by the Acropolis and the Parthenon. They’re just so grand. I read all the information in the guidebook, spent hours walking around them, and used up a whole roll of film (this was before digital cameras).
That evening, we were sitting in a restaurant and Alan said to me, ‘Did you see that woman at the Parthenon?’ Apparently, an old Greek woman had sat down near us and sung quietly for a few minutes. Then she’d spread out a beautiful but tiny picnic on a silk handkerchief, eaten it alone, and disappeared. Alan had been fascinated. When he wrote his travel guide to Athens, that woman was in his opening paragraph. He must be the only person to have visited the Parthenon and come back with a story about bread and salami.
Towards the end of his life, Alan had no interest in tourist hotspots. He adored Japan for that reason. The popular image of Japan as a nation of high-tech cities and perfectly maintained nature is a half-truth. The country’s small towns are in crisis. Young people are moving away to urban areas, and former industrial towns, especially, are in a state of decay.
Most people would have no interest in visiting a factory town, miles away from anywhere, whose glory days were long gone. But that’s exactly what Alan did. He would find these out-of-the-way places where most of the shops had shut down, and everyone who lived there was over 60. He’d photograph traces of the town’s previous life. Alan took up photography in his later years, in spite of his failing eyesight, and he captured some remarkable images. It’s of an elderly Japanese man standing in a port with a broken boat. It shows Alan’s love of the everyday, but I think it also shows his state of mind at the time. He knew he was dying, and he was afraid.
It was filled with writing he had never published, about a trip we’d taken to Scotland two years previously. It couldn’t have been written by anyone else – it was full of these incredible details. Funny street names, a bird we’d spotted, conversations on buses, particularly good potato soup. I wondered why he’d kept this notebook private, and never discussed it with his editor. When I got to the end I realised why. He’d written it for himself, or maybe even for me to find. In the final pages he talked about how happy he’d been in Scotland, how happy his life had been with me. I still can’t read it without a tear in my eye, but what a wonderful gift to leave.
- He found them stressful because of his illness, but visiting smaller places allowed him to focus on those everyday details.
- After he passed away, I found a leather book in the drawer of his desk.
- There's a kind of fried cheese you can buy there called saganaki.
- You've seen the buildings a hundred times in books and on postcards, of course, but nothing compares to standing in front of them.
- He caught the details of our life like he caught the details of a place.
- I had no idea what he was talking about.
- There's one that hangs in our bedroom that sometimes makes me cry.