To write any book aged 91 is noteworthy; to publish one that critics deem worth reading is remarkable. Yet halfway through our lunch, Jan Morris — the Flaubert of the jet age — casts doubt on the whole endeavour. "Was it God who said ‘three score years and 10’? It’s in the Bible, isn’t it? That’s the right age to end," she says seriously, over fish tacos by the Welsh seaside. "I wish in a way that I had died when I was 70 … Generally speaking, 70 is the age when things begin to go wrong." It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had lunch with someone who wanted to be elsewhere. Nor is it the first time I’ve wished I knew more of the Bible. And I accept Morris’s point: she has lived enough for several lifetimes. She is perhaps the best-travelled Briton alive. Her dispatches have shaped our idea of what it is to go abroad, and what it is to belong. As a writer, she left out the dry detail, and gave free rein to her impressions (she rejects the term "travel writer"; her books cover places, ...

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