January 22nd, 2017, Sunday morning, London
Trawling the morning’s newspaper for pages without Trump triumphant I learn that today London is colder than Iceland. Which could be a good omen. I’ve just taken on a commission to produce a book about HMS Erebus, a modest three-master, which became the flagship on two of the most dramatic Polar journeys in history. The first, in 1839, to Antarctica, where Erebus, and her sister ship Terror, sailed perilously between the icebergs, reaching further south than any vessels had been before. The second six years’ later, to search for the North-West Passage, ended in disaster, when both ships, and 129 men, disappeared off the face of the earth. In 2014, almost 170 years since she was last seen, HMS Erebus was miraculously re-discovered, her hull bruised but intact, beneath the waters of the Canadian Arctic.
The story of the life, death and resurrection of the Erebus has become something of an obsession and I’ve already started research, which will soon involve travelling, like Erebus did, to far-flung corners of the world.
It’ll keep me busy in the year ahead, but there’ll be lots of other things to do, starting with a visit to Pakistan (for the first time since the Himalaya series ) for the Lahore Literary Festival in February, and appearances at The York Festival on the 19th March, and The Radio Times Festival at the BFI on the 7th April.
A lot of last year was spent waiting. This year I can’t wait to get on with it.