Letter: Tell Frank Barrett to hit the road

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The Independent Online
Sir: I found your feature on hitchhiking (Weekend, 29 August) appallingly negative. Why ask 'former practitioners'? Why ask Frank Barrett? He has not hitched a lift since 1972.

I have been hitching since my first year at university, and although I suppose that I could perfectly well afford a car now (one more for the road), I still prefer to hitch for the following reasons:

1. You do not know when or if you are going to get there.

2. You get to meet people you would never otherwise have met.

3. It is ecologically sound.

4. It is very cheap.

In my time on the road, I have met lorry drivers who yearned for the days of the empire and told gory tales of stringing natives over cannons pour encourager les autres, anti-Darwinian Church of England vicars, had a short tutorial in liquor purchasing from a Jaguar- driving wine merchant and an

offer to crew a yacht in the

Mediterranean.

I have had a lift in a Rolls-

Royce (in the wrong direction, but what the hell), a fish lorry (you stop noticing the smell after a few minutes) and an open-topped Thirties tourer (cool and breezy).

Like any guidebook, The Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe should be read with a pinch of salt handy, but the basic advice it gives is sound: look like a nice kid and you will zip around pretty fast. I have found no problems hitching alone, or with a woman. I agree that women would be well-advised not to hitch alone, and most drivers will not pick them up for fear of the reverse sexual harassment that Esther Oxford describes.

Hitching is not dead. Let Frank Barrett stick to his package tours.

Yours faithfully,

DOUGLAS CARNALL

York

29 August

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