Tall stories that get you everywhere

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IT IS hard to keep up with all the new trendy travel books being issued these days, so here is a selection of some of the more adventurous that have come out in the last couple of weeks . . .

Travels with my Jukebox, by Arthur Winstanley.

Unable to get an advance for a round-the-world trip on bike or unicycle (it's all been done, they told him), Winstanley decided to take his favourite jukebox with him. It opened doors for him everywhere, especially in countries where they hadn't seen one before. Most countries in the world have a small coin that fits the average jukebox, so he was seldom unable to play requests. Despite a serious setback in Afghanistan, where all his best Chuck Berry records were nicked, he made it round the world in less than six months. Full of quirky details, such as that you can still find priceless early Portuguese 78s in Goa, mostly by Tommy Steele.

Travels with my Stamp Collection, by Jeff Wimbush.

Not many people would set off round the Americas with no money, but the philatelist Jeff reckoned there were enough collectors for him to cash in his stamps here and there. Full of humorous moments, such as the time he tried to realise his favourite Paraguayan triangular in Paraguay, only to have it confiscated as a national treasure. He encountered the world's largest printer of fake Penny Blacks in Bolivia and a man in Chile with a collection of British stamps who had fallen deeply in love with our Queen.

In Paul Theroux's Footsteps, by Ray Chester.

Chester had always been fascinated by Theroux's railway travels, so decided to retrace the route taken by the intrepid American. Amazingly, he found many a ticket collector and wayside stationmaster who still remembered the passing of the slim, tall, sunglassed Theroux, though he also found himself paying for many a cup of coffee that they claimed Theroux had drunk but not paid for.

Round the World with the Radio Times, by Dorothy Mayfair.

On previous travels, Dorothy Mayfair had always found that when she bumped into other British travellers, the first thing they wanted to know was what had happened in Neighbours or The Archers. So she devised the idea of a world trip paid for by charging British wayfarers a small fee to bring them up to date on the soap or serial of their choice. Every week she would phone home to get the details from her family, then travel on. In Madagascar she found, extraordinarily, a Hitch- Hiker's Guide to the Universe fan club, which worshipped Douglas Adams as a god.

The Round the World Poker Game, by Sebastian Perch.

An above-average poker player, Perch decided to finance his travels by his card winnings. The main snag he found was that in numerous countries they had never heard of poker, so he was forced to make a good many delays while he taught the locals the game, and then took their money. He almost came to grief in Jamaica, where they taught him the local card game and cleaned him out. He also came across a nonstop poker school in the business class on a scheduled flight to Singapore where he did very well until the co-pilot joined them and took the pool.

Travels with my Kidney Donor Card, by Sidney Long.

If Long is to be believed, he spent six months travelling the world paying for everything with his kidney donor card, which was assumed by everyone to be a minor kind of credit card. He nearly came to grief in Malaysia, where a backstreet surgeon recognised it when he flashed it in a bar and tried to secure him for his kidneys.

No, I am not Clive James, by Theodore Gubbins.

Gubbins had not realised until he left home on a European jaunt that he was the spitting image of Clive James - enough, at any rate, to be greeted everywhere with cries of 'Hola, Senor James' and 'Ah, monsieur, j'ai lu tous vos morceaux de tele- criticisme]' Everyone who 'recognised' him assumed he was making a BBC documentary or was at least doing an Observer travel piece, and to his amazement he was given free board and lodging, and many a free drink, wherever he went - except in Estonia, where he was mistaken for Warren Mitchell and forced to give a six-part lecture on Till Death Us Do Part to the local television circle.

(If you are unable to get hold of any of these books, don't worry. There will be another one along in a moment.)