In his cold cottage, 'Pelican House', near Oxford, Redmond O'Hanlon is preparing for new expeditions around the world. This time he will follow in the footsteps of 19th-century explorers who refused to believe that the world stopped at the physical boundaries of their own little countries. Amidst an incredible chaos of books, photographs, eggs, skulls, and last week's food remains, Redmond is studying his heroes, seeing if there is anything else he can learn from the way they used to prepare their voyages.
Redmond's wife Belinda and his best friend Ian McEwan try to discourage the directors from setting off with Redmond, warning them that O'Hanlon is capable of doing anything for a good story, including sacrificing his own travel companion. The crew prepare for the worst.
Redmond doesn't care what they say: he is so caught up in the preparations for his mission that he even takes a taxidermy course. Then, later, he can bring home lion skins without his whole suitcase smelling of dead animals.
Redmond in his study:
"The books have sort of multiplied by themselves in a fairly random way."
He does not throw anything out, because it has long passed 'the point of no return', says Redmond.
Ian McEwan has only one piece of advice for travelling with Redmond: "Double the budget." McEwan says that O'Hanlon's predilection for the 19th century originates from Redmond's depressing childhood. According to McEwan, this often leads to a far-reaching melancholy for days long gone.
"He wouldn't even notice it if he left me behind somewhere on a journey, I swear!" To which Redmond says, under his breath and unconvincingly: "Sure I would."
Roel van Broekhoven, Maaik Krijgsman