In THE SKY IS FALLING ON OUR HEADS, Rob Penn travels the length and breadth of the Celtic fringe (from the wilds of Scotland, via Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and the Isle of Man to the heart of Brittany) on a quest to get to the bottom of his Celtic roots.
Along the way, dressed in a kilt, and clutching a blackthorn stick he endeavours (with mixed and hilarious results) to become a Celtic poet. His odyssey takes him from standing on the table in the corner of an Irish pub, struggling to be heard over the shouts of the drinkers, to the stage at Lorient in Brittany where he must perform his less-then-spectacular poetry in front of an audience of 40,000. He is aided and abetted on his journey by a cast of colourful characters, including a Cornish lady with a penchant for men in kilts, the winner of the Whitest Buttocks in the Isle of Man Competition, and a crystal-clutching Californian.
Utterly engaging, and devastatingly funny, this is a captivating romp through an extraordinary - and often bizarre - cultural landscape.
Robert Penn read history at Bristol University. He tried various careers - from being a ski bum to the law via washing dishes. In his mid-twenties he set off round the world on a bicycle for three years, in search of himself. He came back more lost than ever, with appalling table manners, and chose the only option available to an unemployable thirty year old - he became a journalist. He has written and photographed for the Times, The Guardian and Conde Nast Traveller as well as a host of other publications that he doesn't admit to. He lives in Brixton with his wife and two children.
Penn has done his research and, behind the laddish wit and self-mockery some interesting observations on what it means to be a Celt gradually emerge
As hilarious as it is fascinating ... A fun and accessible introduction to a hidden world that will leave you ready to hit the road yourself
Comically astute ... Not your conventional travel fare but far more enjoyable as a result
A contender for the most entertaining travelogue cum rite of passage book of the year... Penn has a wonderfully dry, self-deprecating sense of humour which allows him to explore complex issues without becoming glib or boring ... Reading this entertaining book is education by osmosis
Richard Bath, Scotland on Sunday