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Book Review
Slogging The Slavs
Published: 2006
Pages: 304
Author: Angus Bell
Publisher: Fat Controller Media
Rating: 4 stars
By Archie Mac
16 Jul 2007


I don't mind sleeping under the stars, as long as there are five of them. So a book such as Slogging The Slavs, is about as close as I will ever come to backpackers motels, pickpockets and hitchhikers.

At first I thought this must be a book of fiction, but soon realised that not even a collaboration between Raymond. E. Feist, Clive Barker and Ben Elton, could produce such a hilarious mystic adventure as this one by Scottish author and cricket tragic Angus Bell.

It was that other fine Scottish writer and cricketer Ian Peebles who wrote; "A cricket tour is the best form of travel yet devised, and has but one snag: it spoils one for any other sort".

I am not sure Mr Peebles had quite the same cricket tour in mind as the one Angus Bell undertakes in Slogging The Slavs. With fingerless fielders, MI6 spies, corrupt police officers, a shoe string budget, and an itinerary that has almost as many holes as a Serbian road.

The author Angus Bell had visited many of the locations mentioned on a previous holiday (I use the word loosely), which he had undertaken with his younger brother, and many of the most amusing anecdotes mentioned in the book are from this earlier jaunt, especially the highly amusing meeting of his Canadian girlfriend (you will have to read the book!).

The book itself is written in a fast paced style, is brutally honest, and contains a cast of characters that would make the Monty Python gang look almost normal.

It is quite amazing just how many fellow countrymen, Poms, and Aussies, Angus Bell manages to find throughout his tour. My favourite was the middle aged Lancastrian running a B&B in the Harz Mountains.

When asked "does anything unusual ever happen here?". Replied "No noothing unusual ever happens here. In fact, noothing ever happens at all." It turned out that the 350 inhabitants were all having lascivious affairs, our Lancastrian was being stalked by a jealous husband, and the B&B was haunted. No noothing ever happens!

I never thought I would be envious of Bulgarian cricket players, but after reading in Slogging The Slavs, that you can take a five year degree in the subject of cricket, I am tempted to discover if they offer a degree by correspondence. I wonder what letters would follow ones name; CT (cricket tragic)?

The most disappointing aspect of the book, was the lack of actual cricket that the author was able to participate in, with a number of opponents crying off at the last moment.

You had to feel sorry for our gutsy traveller, after risking life and limb to reach his destination just in time to line up for a match he was met with some pathetic excuses such as; "no friendly farmer (was) willing to scythe his meadow" (so they had a pitch to play on). Or, "there will be no game today because the boys want to watch a live cricket match on the TV" (to be fair it was the first cricket match televised for five months).

And finally the worse excuse came from Poland after Angus Bell had driven just over 7,000 miles; "we can't organise any cricket now. Simon organises all our games, and Simon is in England now. We don't really play cricket in summer. You should come back in winter".

I highly recommend this book (readers should be aware there is some strong language however).

It can be ordered through our partners Sporting-Gifts here for only 9.99.

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