While decluttering my old tin trunk I found a diary that I had kept as a teenager. This was the year I first flew from Africa to Europe. My parents and younger sister had travelled by passenger liner – Union Castle – but I was not permitted to take time off school. I can’t remember if I flew BOAC, SAA or CAA. The plane was probably a Vickers Viscount. As far as I remember the route was Salisbury, Nairobi, Khartoum, Rome and then London, so probably BOAC. I’m not sure why the flight was diverted to Kano but may have had something to do with the Benghazi aircraft accident. I do know my parents were extremely concerned that I may be on the aircraft that crashed – and were happy to see me safely in Rome! It was a long journey for a solo fourteen year old, but I don’t remember being in the slightest bit nervous.
According to my diary we left Salisbury (Harare) on the afternoon of 9 August. The preparations I made for the journey were to have my hair done (no doubt a nice big bouffant which I promptly redid when I got home) and read a book: The Mask by Stuart Cloete.
To say I was boy-mad is an understatement! My first impressions of Rome seem to be mainly concerned with the handsome men I saw. Apart from checking out the talent, we did a lot of sightseeing including the Trevi Fountain.
Dad took us to the opera – Aida – performed outdoors at the Caracalla Baths. According to my diary I was impressed by the scenery, the camels pooping on the stage and the size of the opera singers. Oh, and staying up till after 1.00am.
I can’t remember the return journey but we were away for at least six weeks, touring Europe and the British Isles. I didn’t return to Europe until 1976 with Roland and Kath.
Decluttering has turned up some amazing memories so I shall continue.