There'd never been a more advantageous time to be a criminal in America than during the 13 years of Prohibition. At a stroke, the American government closed down the fifth largest industry in the United States - alcohol production - and just handed it to criminals - a pretty remarkable thing to do.
If you drive to, say, Shenandoah National Park, or the Great Smoky Mountains, you'll get some appreciation for the scale and beauty of the outdoors. When you walk into it, then you see it in a completely different way. You discover it in a much slower, more majestic sort of way.
Roads get wider and busier and less friendly to pedestrians. And all of the development based around cars, like big sprawling shopping malls. Everything seems to be designed for the benefit of the automobile and not the benefit of the human being.
To me, the greatest invention of my lifetime is the laptop computer and the fact that I can be working on a book and be in an airport lounge, in a hotel room, and continue working; I fire up my laptop, and I'm in exactly the same place I was when I left home - that, to me, is a miracle.
I can wear a baseball cap; I am entitled to wear a baseball cap. I am genetically pre-disposed to wear a baseball cap, whereas most English people look wrong in a baseball cap.
We forget just how painfully dim the world was before electricity. A candle, a good candle, provides barely a hundredth of the illumination of a single 100 watt light bulb.
Maine is wonderful. It can be very hard. I mean, if you look at the profile maps it doesn't look it, but somehow when you get out there it's really steep and hard.
You don't have to know anything about baseball to respond to Babe Ruth because he's just this magnificent human being. And a really good story because he was this kid who grew up essentially as an orphan, you know, had a tough life, and then he became the most successful baseball player ever. But he was also a really good guy.
Open your refrigerator door, and you summon forth more light than the total amount enjoyed by most households in the 18th century. The world at night, for much of history, was a very dark place indeed.
In the countryside, litter doesn't have a friend. It doesn't have anybody who's saying, 'Wait a minute, this is really starting to get out of control.'
Coming back to your native land after an absence of many years is a surprisingly unsettling business, a little like waking from a long coma. Time, you discover, has wrought changes that leave you feeling mildly foolish and out of touch.
If you go out on the Appalachian Trail, you have to bring so much more equipment - a tent, sleeping bag - but if you go hiking in England, or Europe, generally, towns and villages are near enough together at the end of the day you can always go to a nice little inn and have a hot bath and something to drink.
There are things you just can't do in life. You can't beat the phone company, you can't make a waiter see you until he's ready to see you, and you can't go home again.
Personally, I've never been attracted to danger. It's not my sort of thing. I am more attracted to pubs and cafes. The known, safe and comfortable world.
I just use my life story as a kind of device on which to hang comic observations. It's not my interest or instinct to tell the world anything pertinent about myself or my family.
An awful lot of England is slowly eroding, in ways that I find really distressing, and an awful lot of it is the hedgerows... We're reaching the point where a lot of the English countryside looks just like Iowa - just kind of open space.
I once joked in a book that there are three things you can't do in life. You can't beat the phone company, you can't make a waiter see you until he is ready to see you, and you can't go home again.
Very little of what America does is actually bad, and I don't think it ever does anything anywhere that is intentionally bad. I mean, sometimes we make mistakes and bad judgments and kind of back the wrong regimes and things, but by and large what America does is really good.
Have you ever seen Glenn Beck in operation? It is the most terrifying thing. It's so bad that you think he's going to announce in a minute that it's all a great con. He makes Sarah Palin look reasonable and steady.
I hadn't realized quite how extraordinary Charles Lindbergh's achievement was in flying the Atlantic alone. He had never flown over open water before, but he flew straight to Dingle Bay in Ireland and then on to Paris, exactly as planned.