1st World Trip - 465 Days Around the World (1950-51)
“Mummy! Daddy! Wake up: Africa’s come!” I shrieked as the SS Athlone Castle, was edging its way past Cape Town's Table Mountain at five o’clock in the morning.
The background to this, our 1st World Trip, was Dad's 1949 journey to America to sell himself to agents and publishers.
He failed miserably. 'John thank you so much for coming all the way to see us, but (that colossal three letter word) you'll never break into the American market, because your books are just too parochial.'
Memories of the 743 rejections slips before becoming a sucessful crimewriter in the UK must have been ricocheting around his brain.
My only contribution the story is that Scoop, my 363 days older than me brother, got the 'cowboy' kit, while I ended up as a 'red indian'.
I don't know what Mum got, but Dad claimed the big prize, Mum's agreement to sell her 'perfect' house, 10 Nairn Road in suburban Bournemouth, and set off on a world trip.
Dad had polio as a child, which up until then was an excuse not to drive, but Mum was adamant she was not going round the world by train, so he learnt to drive.
A year later, almost to the day, 10 Nairn Road had been sold and the family set sail from London to Cape Town on the SS. Athlone Castle.
Whilst on board Dad wrote a book and sold it to a South African publisher.
He also found publishers in Pakistan, India, Australia and New Zealand for that and other books he wrote, many during our 456 day world journey.
And so, by the time we reached New York, Dad was de factor an international writer.
Inspector West was the first series to be taken up by an American publisher, all his others followed – over 400 books.
And the whole journey ended up costing one shilling.