Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

21 February 2012

Our 1960 Journey to A New Life in New Zealand. 10.

This is a diary from 1960. The actual entries are in typewriter font. Added comments are in red. 
The photographs are from that date, some in colour (expensive in those days).

[Ian, Don and Ken, Aden]

28th January

We are now sailing down the Gulf of Aden and so on into the Indian Ocean. To the south of us is Somaliland, and during the afternoon we steamed past the last piece of land we shall see for another fortnight. This was the cape which is the southern edge of the Gulf of Aden.[Cape Guardafui] It had a lighthouse on top of it very high up the cliffs. We had been some 80 miles in passing the shore and the whole of it was composed of sandy cliffs and a beautiful beach.

I retired early this evening with an inflamed duodenum, haven’t had it for ages and this one caught me unawares.

[I can’t recall how I knew that it was my duodenum or who previously might have diagnosed it so. Over forty years later I think it might have been a stress manifestation - who knows?]

29th January

According to the ship’s doctor whom I visited this morning my inflamed duodenum is a chronic appendicitis and I am now confined to my cabin for three days with penicillin injections and fruit juice twice a day.

30th January

A visit from the doctor during which he said that I am the most important patient on the ship. This is due to the fact that he is not a surgeon but a physician and that we are in the middle of the Indian Ocean and therefore if my appendix gets really bad there will be a somewhat delicate situation arising...

However, I have had this trouble before on five occasions and each time it has righted itself, let’s hope that this will not be an exception!

[I never did find out what was wrong and it never occurred again. I’m amazed that I was not more concerned; I should have been terrified but I was only 27 and insouciant. Considering the number of passengers on board, and the large proportion of them being children, it was outrageous that the ‘ship’s surgeon’ was not, in fact, a surgeon. He suggested that in an emergency the ship might take me to the Maldive Islands (3.15 N, 73 E) where there was a Royal Air Force base with hospital! Perhaps, being ex-RAF, I might have qualified for free treatment?

Later, one of the young Australian  passengers, returning home from qualifying as a dentist in Britain, offered, with extraordinary confidence, to take my appendix out with a sharpened spoon if it flared up again. With equally extraordinary confidence I think I might have let him! I think my love of Australia and Australians started on the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, their approach to life in those days was like a breath of spring air and only confirmed that shaking off the oppressive shackles of conservative, hide-bound England was the best thing we could have done.]


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By Don Donovan