Once Graham heard he was to inherit the farm from his uncle who had died plans were afoot to drive back overland to England.
Graham had always known he was to inherit the farm. He was an only child and had latterly attended agricultural college near Bedford in preparation. He was just in Australia waiting to take on the farm. His friend Barry had also been at the college as well, I think. Graham’s uncle had been in a mental institution near Banstead, close to Worcester Park, for many years before he died. Apparently he had refused to grow what the ministry demanded during the war. Obviously a case for detention. The farm had been administered by the Official Solicitor during his incarceration. It had been let out to various local farmers and we found the house and land were in very poor condition when we eventually arrived.
Meanwhile, a VW van for the trip was bought on hire purchase. I wasn’t that set on staying with Gerry but thought to myself I would at least get back to England with him. All the household things, including the new curtains, were packed into a container bound for the UK. Our boat tickets were purchased for Singapore but when we boarded we found that the van had been impounded as not all the payments had been made!
This meant that we had to travel by train through Thailand and we stayed with some Subud members when we arrived in Bangkok. Seeing the countryside during the train journey was fantastic. I remember being struck by the women working in the fields and their local attire of dark long tops and trousers. We went on a boat trip around the floating village in Bangkok and saw the local way of life and tasted local food. I loved the rice cakes cooked over open fires in cast iron plates with multi semi-circular indentations in them on canoe type boats.
Gerry almost got a job there through the local contacts as a proof reader. Why we didn’t stay I will never know. I do remember smoking some opium while we were there. It was horrible and gave me the complete horrors; it made me see Gerry as evil and all sorts of nasty hallucinations.
So moving on, we had to fly across Burma, because it was a closed country at the time and you couldn’t drive through, but not all in one go. It was necessary to overnight, probably in Rangoon. We were escorted to this brilliant old colonial style hotel. Completely run down and very Ernest Hemingwayish. There were huge ceiling fans lazily circling overhead and big baths with brass taps and plumbing. The dining room was deserted but we did get something to palatable to eat in the end. Next morning we were driven back to the airport and got the plane to Calcutta. Quite an experience.
The sheer pressure of people in India had to be seen to be believed. It was hot, hot, hot. We rented an apartment which was beautifully cool indoors with marble floors and ceiling fans but as soon as you stepped outside the heat was oppressive. How the Indian people keep their clothes so clean and white I don’t know as everything seemed to get grey with sweat and dust immediately you went outside.
I’ve just remembered probably why we were keen to leave Aussie but that’s another story, as they say …