July 8th 1975.

Dear Folks,

  Don’t quite know where to start. Sorry I haven’t written for so long, I was kept very busy in Somalia up until the last couple of weeks, and now I’m going to have to start all over again in Pakistan. Meanwhile, it’s great to be in a civilised country again.

  Anyway. So Yvonne has done her first solo flight. If she goes on to get her commercial licence she could make some money. She should come out to Africa and be a bush pilot. It’s the toughest kind of flying: no ATC, no radio beacons, usually not even a windsock. Clapped out old Cessnas, crosswinds gusting to 50 mph, twisters, dust-storms, and no navigational aids except a map and dead reckoning. Only the very best pilots can cope with that. Good money, though, around £100 a week.

  As for Rosie, she’s in the best position to judge what to do. She’s been on ships before, so she knows what to expect. It sounds like a good chance for free travel, and to make some money. The money they require as bond they aren’t legally entitled to keep if you break your contract, and you can normally get it back under any circumstances if you kick up a fuss. Also I think but I’m not certain, that they’re obliged to fly you home free if you quit anyplace. You’d need to check at any Norwegian Embassy or Consulate. So why not give it a whizz and see how it goes? You can always pack it in and come back home if you get fed up. Glad you had a nice holiday, Mum and Dad. As you say, it’s been a while since you last had a real holiday.

  I’ve had a fairly complicated time of things in the last few weeks. I had a few problems with the ComMand, which were no sweat, but both crews took a hell of a lot of work to get started, and keep going. Consequently I spent most of my time out in the bush—which is much nicer than Mog anyway—just keeping things running. At present I’ve got at least four weeks’ leave due, but I’m supposed to be in Karachi on the 15th, to expand the ComMand. But I’m not going till about the 20th, I think.

  On Thursday I got the ok from London to go on leave. It took me all Thursday morning—from 8 till 12—to get my tax clearance, money, ticket and so on. The next plane was Saturday morning, but Friday is the Islamic Sunday. Anyway, I finally got everything done, though there was one point where I couldn’t get any foreign currency until I had a ticket out of Somalia, and I couldn’t get my ticket until I had the money to buy it. I couldn’t get hold of the funds at such short notice, and eventually I got the office to guarantee the ticket, took the ticket round to the bank, got my money, went back to the airline office and paid for my ticket, went back to the bank and got my passport and so on. I could only get confirmed as far as Cairo, so I spent from 2 till 6 p.m. in the Cairo transit lounge trying to find someone from Olympic Airways to get on a plane to Greece. I eventually did—I was very lucky, because it was the last flight—at 8 p.m.—and the first Cairo to Athens flight that wasn’t fully booked.

  Then in the bar in Cairo I met a girl called Debbie, who is English but lives in Athens. She’s a painter and has spent the last six months travelling through Africa, from Senegal through Mali, Chad and Sudan to Egypt. We got on extremely well, and it’s great to arrive in a foreign city with someone who’s already a friend. I’ve spent the last couple of days exploring Athens with Debbie, finding little bars and restaurants, drinking ouzo and eating olives and mouzaka. The Acropolis is fantastic. I think we’ll go out to the islands next week. Anyway, life’s being very good to me at present.

  As I say, I’m supposed to be in Karachi in about a week’s time, but it’ll be later. There are plenty of flights and I haven’t booked a ticket yet. Once in Karachi I have to start all over again. Expand the ComMand, start up a new crew, the whole thing, just like Somalia. It’ll all take a couple of months, then I’ll probably stay in Pakistan a short time as resident Technical Supervisor, before they send me someplace else. They’re using me basically at present as a flying troubleshooter. Incidentally, I’ve flown well over 100,000 miles on a dozen different airlines since February last year. Equivalent to several times around the world. Anyway, in Karachi I get a free ticket to Bangkok or Tehran. If I have time, I’ll take both, check out Iran (Persia) and the Far East. Then from February 4th next year I get six weeks’ paid leave plus accumulated leave. So I’ll have about 3 months’ holiday. I’ll spend some time in London, then come down to Paignton for a couple of weeks. Then I’m going to tour Scandinavia for a couple of weeks, and spend a few days in Paris on the way back. Then I’ll probably spend a month in Paignton before I start work again. At last it seems the gods are smiling on me. I’ve got about £1000 in my current account and I got a £202 bonus when I left Somalia, which more than paid my air fares.

  After my long leave next Spring I’ll sign a new contract. I work on a two-year basis, though I can quit any time. Anyway, when I sign my new contract I’ll hold out for at least £500 a month basic. I worked out that taking into account free air tickets, free food and accommodation, expenses, bonuses and so on, I’d have to earn a salary of £17,000 a year in England to maintain my standard of living. Can’t be bad.

  But of course I could never get that kind of money in the U.K. so I’ll spend at least the next couple of years flying around the world. After that I think I’ll stop. But it’s a long way away, a lot can happen in that time. Eventually I think I’ll probably emigrate to the States and work in Houston or California. England has nothing for me now. The only other thing I might do is spend a year in England living on my savings and writing. I could write a couple of novels already, I reckon. Incidentally, if you want to read a really good book, get ‘Jaws’ by Peter Benchley; you won’t be able to put it down.

  I see that at last there’s a compulsory wage limit to be imposed. There was no other course really. But it’ll take 18 months for the economy to stabilize. Anyway, yer darlin’ ’Arold [Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Soubriquet popular at the time due to a TV comedy satire] will pull us through. It’ll work because it’s based on the concept of money supply. If there’s only so much money about, either there are small pay rises and fairly full employment, or big rises and unemployment. It’s an imaginative idea, and pretty soon everyone will get the message: there’s so much money available. Either everyone gets a little or a few people get a lot. People don’t want to lose their jobs, so they’ll settle for a little. Even the miners will.

  I heard about the cricket World Cup, England did quite well, got about as far as I expected. But also a couple of good young players have been selected now for the series against Australia.

  Next summer it’s the Olympics again, with little Olga wowing the crowds again. I heard about Wimbledon too, Jimmy Connors getting hammered by Arthur Ashe, and Chrissie Evert getting beaten by Billie-Jean. It got a lot of publicity in foreign newspapers.

  Anyway, I guess that’s about it for now. I’ll write from Karachi and let you know my address there. Meantime, all the best, take care,

  Love David.