Reflections on Oz

Now that the dust has settled on my three week trip to the Antipodes to promote my latest book, “Coffin Road”, I find myself looking back on my time in Oz with a certain wistful fondness. 

 I suppose most Brits have a fairly stereotypical view of Australia, fostered by the tabloid press, and television soaps like “Neighbours” and “Prisoner Cell Block H”.  I had no real idea what to expect.  All I knew for certain was that it was a helluva long way to go.

But despite the jet lag, my wife and I were blown away.  Here was a country whose economy, tied to the phenomenal success of the Chinese, had prospered over the last eight years, while Europe and America had suffered stifling austerity, lack of investment, rising unemployment, crumbling infrastructure.  What a contrast.  Australia was bright and bold, modern (while still preserving the best of its colonial architecture), and with an energy and optimism that differed starkly from the depression and pessimism infecting the West. 

 I had events at the arts festivals in Perth and Adelaide, travelled to Sydney and Brisbane – with an excursion to New Zealand – and was delighted to find that interest in the arts could hardly be higher.  All my Perth events were played to full houses.  Two thousand people turned up for my events in Adelaide – right across the road from a venue where the Scottish National Theatre was performing the James Plays to full, enthusiastic houses.  Nearly 200 crammed into a library in Brisbane.  People everywhere were incredibly friendly, all infused with what seemed to me like a natural sense of confidence and spirit. 

 Here was a country riding the crest of its own wave of success.  Were I twenty-five years younger, I might have been tempted to move there myself.  I simply loved the energy and enthusiasm that I encountered everywhere we went.  It helped, too, that the sun shone almost incessantly.  We made trips down the Swan River to the old port town of Freemantle; toured the Barossa Valley, tasting the wonderful South Australia wines produced there; wandered the harbour areas of Sydney and ate in restaurants with amazing night views.  

 The one thing that might have cast a small shadow on the trip, was the wheel that came off my suitcase.  When you are dragging 20 kilos around for weeks on end, a functioning suitcase that wheels easily in and out of airports and hotels is a must.  So I was seriously dismayed when, landing at Auckland in New Zealand, to discover that one of the wheels on my case had been totally destroyed in transit.  Not least because I had paid a considerable amount of money for a suitcase which could survive the serious amount of travelling I undertake each year.  It was, however, still under warranty – although the warranty card was at home, back in France. 

 I looked up the makers, Delsey, online, and emailed their Australian office with photographs of the case and the shattered wheel, asking if they might be able to replace the broken part.  They wrote back with the bad news that the wheel in question was no longer being manufactured and so couldn’t be replaced.  But, then, to my amazement, they offered to replace the entire case.  And by the time we booked into our Brisbane hotel, there it was waiting for us.  So kudos to Delsey for pulling out all the stops and rescuing my tour from potential disaster.

Because of the length of travel involved in getting to Australia, I had pretty much decided before going that it would be a one-of trip.  But now I would be happy to brave the flight and go back any time.  Oz, it seems to me, provides the perfect template for a happy, prosperous, optimistic and energetic modern society.  So it’s a big Thumbs Up for that place Down Under.

Peter May, California, March 2016

PS: It was particularly heartening that “Coffin Road” sold out Down Under and had to go to an emergency reprint in time for my arrival, with several thousand copies being shipped out from the UK to fill the immediate gap.

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About Author Peter May

International best-selling author of several series of books: the Lewis Trilogy - "The Blackhouse", "The Lewis Man" and "The Chessmen" - The Enzo Files and the China Thrillers, as well as standalone novels including "Entry Island", "Runaway" and "Coffin Road".
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10 Responses to Reflections on Oz

  1. Nick Barnes says:

    Well done on your energy and enthusiasm. I read that one thing you miss about Scotland is the curries. My wife makes a mean curry in the Nord du Lot, so if you ever fancy joining us you are more than welcome, perhaps when you are at home sometime. Best regards Nick

  2. Good to hear from my favourite author. I am just starting out and want to publish my “Risen from the Ashes”. I also have a house in South west France, but main home is in Great Dunmow, Essex.

    I shall shortly start your latest, but although I want to I am at 68 doing a languages degree at the OU and have to study.

    All the best,

    Jeffrey Kershaw

  3. Joan says:

    Enjoyed this article and loved Coffin Road. May be going up there to walk in June, as, to my shame, I have yet to visit the Outer Hebrides. This article is also encouraging itchy feet to head to the Antipodes! Looking forward to your next novel

  4. Terry Rae says:

    Hi Peter,
    My wife,Heather,& I (plenty of Scottish heritage on both sides) are delighted that you enjoyed your sojourn “downunder” – Aust.isnt known as the “lucky country’ without reason.
    Prosperous economy,great climate , very little civil or political unrest & distant from most global trouble spots.
    Having a son residing in the Orkneys (the price for love !) we a regular visitors to the UK & while we enjoy our visits it does re-inforce how fortunate we are in live in Oz.
    The English did us a great favour when they shipped a number of “unwanted” to Sydney Cove in 1788.
    We both recently finished “Coffin Road” – a terrific read & I always enjoy the little “history lesson” woven into your writings.
    We are spreading the”word” to friends.
    Having been introduced to your work only last Sept. – remarkable co-incidence & a story for another day – we are about to start on the “Enzo Files”,so plenty of great reading ahead.
    Keep up the good work.
    Regards Terry Rae

  5. Louise Little says:

    Hi Peter
    I came across you at the Perth writers festival and have since read your Lewis Trilogy, Coffin Road, Entry Island. I just love your books and can’t get enough of them. I love how you write and all the history you put in them,makes them so different from other crime writers. The only one I ca’t get into is your China series. I bought the first one but somehow it doesn’t pull me
    Cheers
    Louise

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