Hard though it was to believe, our time was soon up and we had to return to the U.K.. I don’t suppose I ever thought we would return. When I was an adult, my mother used to enjoy embarrassing me by retelling the story of when I asked her, ‘When are we going back home, mummy?’ after we had returned to the U.K. from the Far East. ‘Home’ was where aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents lived. It wasn’t home to me. That place was cold and had snow and lots of drizzly rain. Home was where I lived among people who were not like me.
My father was of the opinion another overseas tour was highly unlikely. It was 1964, the crisis in Aden had yet to explode and the ignominious retreat, the last nail in the coffin of British rule was just over three years away. If my father had been gifted with second sight, he couldn’t have been more accurate in his predictions. As this was our last opportunity to see the world, my parents decided we would return by sea. A voyage from Aden, up through the Suez canal, with a diversion through Egypt, then we would pass through the Mediterranean Sea to Gibraltar, where the ship would berth a while, and finally traverse the Bay of Biscay to Liverpool.
In preparation for our departure, my mother started knitting sweaters. As I swam and jumped and dived in the pool at Khormaksar, she sat in the shade knitting, day after day.
We must have also spent some time packing up all our belongings, but I cannot remember doing this. I had my own small wooden crate which contained my toys and books, but not my teddy bear. We left the flat, and spent our last night in Aden in some hotel. It seemed empty and uninviting. It was also the first time I had seen a bidet!
For some strange reason, both my mother’s passage and mine (a total cost of £142 10s 00d) were paid for by the government but my father’s (cost £95 exactly) wasn’t. I don’t know why this was. My father’s fare cost the equivalent of £1,500.00 today. This probably did not include the expense of the trips we made in Egypt and Gibraltar.
The tickets for our return to the U.K.
© 2012 Gwailo54