Page 376. " David Gascoyne once told me "

English poet David Gascoyne (1916-2001) was keenly interested in the Surrealist Movement, and his work on the subject, along with his translations of French surrealists, essentially made his name. The material was collectively published in 1936, entitled Man’s Life is This Meat.

His 1938 work, Hölderlin's Madness, cemented Gascoyne’s position at the top.

Surrealism originated at the beginning of the 1920s. It was considered revolutionary and philosophical – it brought the unexpected to the artistic table, as well as the thoughts of those involved in the Movement.  

It permeated a variety of mediums over the years, including literature, film and music and influenced political thought.

Gascoyne eventually left Surrealism behind as he got older, looking instead at religious poetry. He was fated to suffer a mental breakdown on the Isle of Wight, where he retreated in his later years.



Page 378. " to write about Biafra and the war "


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The Biafran War was also referred to as the Nigerian Civil War and took place between July 6, 1967 and January 15, 1970.

As with any civil unrest, political problems were at its heart, but these were suitably flanked by religious arguments, economic upset and general cultural problems.

The key aim of the conflict was to establish a Republic of Biafra in south eastern Nigeria.

The war ended in 1970 when, after a million civilians were killed in the conflict or died from hunger, Biafra rejoined Nigeria and a ceasefire was agreed.



Page 382. " to see Shirley Maclaine in Sweey Charity "

‘Sweet Charity’ (The Adventures of a Girl Who Wanted to Be Loved in the US) was a musical released in 1969.

Shirley MacLaine pictured in 1987
Creative Commons AttributionShirley MacLaine pictured in 1987 - Credit: Roland Godefroy

The story told was that of young taxi dancer (so-called because they were paid for the amount of time they spent dancing for a man) Charity Hope Valentine, played by Shirley MacLaine. She was always on the look-out for love…despite her recurring bad luck with men.

When she eventually found it however, it seemed love didn’t want her because of what she did for a living.

A poignant ending finished the film, which for once, did not have the typical Hollywood ending. Valentine did not win her true love, but instead, looked forward to the future, when she just might have better luck…

‘The Rhythm of Life’ and ‘(Hey,) Big Spender’ are two well known musical numbers from 'Sweet Charity'.

Meanwhile, lead actress, Shirley MacLaine, went on to do great things in her career. Her debut was in the Alfred Hitchcock film, ‘The Trouble with Harry’, for which she won the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year - Actress.

She also later won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her part in ‘Terms of Endearment’.

Page 383. " squadrons of Russian MiG 15s "

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 was a Russian jet fighter plane.

Single-seat MiG 15
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeSingle-seat MiG 15 - Credit: Radomil, 6 June 2005, Poznań

It was created by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich and used widely in the Korean War – indeed, it was during this time that it rose to fame as it were.

The plane later became one of the most mass produced jet aircrafts ever made.

Page 384. " when I arrived in 1965 - an Austin 1100 "

The Austin 1100 was a modest family car which was originally launched under the name ‘Morris 1100’ in 1962, with the Austin name established a year later.

A variety of versions of the vehicle were made over the years.

Page 388. " Harold Wilson was the Prime Minister of Great Britain "

Labour leader James Harold Wilson (1916-1995) was Prime Minister on two occasions – from 1964 to 1970 and from 1974 to 1976.

Harold Wilson, UK Labour leader, at a meeting with US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara
Public DomainHarold Wilson, UK Labour leader, at a meeting with US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara - Credit: PHC HAROLD WISE

During both terms, economic instability plagued the public and provided suitable challenges for Wilson and his plans for government.

The first time around, Wilson made notable changes to divorce laws as well as those regarding homosexuality, immigration and abortion. He also abolished capital punishment.

He wanted to do so much more but, on the whole, his dreams remained largely unfulfilled owing to the economic climate in which he had to work.

Page 393. " the casurinas, the guava, the cotton tree, the avocado, the frangipani "

Casuarinas are evergreen shrubs and trees with woody, oval-shaped fruits, which grow in warm climates. They can reach 35 metres in height.

Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCasuarina - Credit: Atamari

Guavas,or pomegranates, take

Apple Guava
Public DomainApple Guava - Credit: PD-USGOV-INTERIOR-USGS.
myriad different forms, with around 100 species of the plant inexistence…the most common however, is the Apple Guava. They are tropical shrubs and tiny trees.

The pear-shaped avocado is popularly grown and eaten throughout the world…


The avocado
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe avocado - Credit: B.navez

Meanwhile, Plumeria (common name Frangipani) refers to deciduous shrubs and small trees, commonly found in hot climates.

Plumeria (Frangipani) flowers at Constantia, South Africa
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePlumeria (Frangipani) flowers at Constantia, South Africa - Credit: Maciej Soltynski

The plants have spine-tingling associations however in the Philippines and Indonesia, where the populace associate them with ghosts and graveyards...

As a result, Frangipani are very often planted on cemetery grounds in both countries.

The flowers release a potent night-time fragrance to attract the sphinx moths, which pollinate the plant.