London: Gavin van Marle’s Twitter description of himself is typically self-deprecating. “Editor at The Loadstar; logistics journo; substandard village cricketer,” it reads. While we cannot vouch for his cricketing capabilities, what is clearly undeniable is that he is a very fine writer – an award-winning journalist, no less. His recently published book, Around The World In Freighty Ways, a pun on the Jules Verne classic, is a rip-roaring read of globalisation through the past decade where van Marle and his wife, Alex, wonder around the world without taking a flight, noting down the weird and wonderful peculiarities that supply chains tend to throw up in the back and beyond.
Just over 10 years ago van Marle was working as the shipping reporter at the now defucnt International Freight Weekly (IFW). He recounts how he had had enough of the London grind and day-to-day trade journalism and having gone on one too many business trips where he always felt he’d seen something of the world outside but never enough to satiate his curiosity.
“I decided to ditch in the job and travel around the world without flying,” he says. At which point his then-editor at IFW offered him a monthly travel column on the paper with a broad remit to go and interview the people behind the freight business. That trip eventually took three years and he wrote around 40 columns which form the basis of the book.
“The thing was,” he says, “as Alex and I travelled around the world, the world itself was changing – the-outsourcing-to-Asia trend was booming – so the whole thing became a personal study of globalisation, if you will.”
The travel columns have been supplemented with a series of chapters on various aspects of globalisation such as the rise of the internet and mobile communications, the spread of English as the global language and the omnipresent expat.
Van Marle’s trip took him to 36 countries in total. The ones that interested him most were Russia, India and Cambodia. “The most socially challenging countries tend to be the most absorbing,” he says.
Van Marle and his wife are the founders of the supply chain news site The Loadstar, a site that has gained much plaudits for its intelligent, independent logistics reporting.
The book, Around The World In Freighty Ways, is available here. [11/08/14]