Thursday, March 6, 2008
Mum's story part 4
For Mum's Story Part 1 click here
All the time these preparations had been going on, apart from a few friends, relatives and ourselves, no one knew about Sim’s plans as he had said that he did not want any publicity and had asked everyone not to get in touch with the press. Imagine my surprise then, when two days before they were due to leave, the telephone in the flat rang and I was asked “Could I speak to Mr Simpkins please, the man who intends sailing to Australia”. I asked who was speaking and he said that he was a reporter for the local newspaper. I also asked who had given him this information, but he would not say. Now this put me in a quandary as I had given my promise not to tell the press, but on the other hand I felt that this was a tremendous undertaking and that both Sim and Penny deserved some recognition, so I compromised. I decided that I had not promised I would not say anything about his plans if I was asked, and I told the reporter where he could find Sim and the Stella Mira, and hoped for the best.
Just after the phone call Sim came up to the flat to take me back to the Stella Mira to carry on with the packing, and diffidently I told him what had happened. At first he was a little put out and wanted to know who had told the press, but after a little while promised he would see the reporter when he came along. Incidentally, we never found out who the informer was.
At this time, we thought that it would just be an interview for the local paper and that would be that, but the news absolutely snowballed and before we knew what was happening, we had B.B.C. radio and television people there and for an hour or so the little Stella Mira was a hive of activity.
The television programme was shown on the evening before Sim and Penny were due to leave and from seven until ten o’clock we had dozens of well wishers coming down to the Stella to wish Sim and Penny the best of luck.
Sim had been to see the port authorities and they told him that he could leave at 2.30am when the bridges and locks would be opened for a steamer going out.
During the final week before their departure, I had been so busy helping with all the preparations that I had, I could almost say forgotten but that would not be correct, perhaps not realised that the time for goodbyes was imminent. However, after we had watched the television interview (in Tony’s flat) the fact struck home that this was my last few hours with Sim for I did not know how long and that our life, as I had known it for the last twenty eight years, would be entirely different.
That’s the last of mum’s story which is a great pity as we will never know any of her other thoughts about our journey. She went on to board a P & O liner three weeks later to travel to Perth, Australia. There to join her sister and husband-in-law to wait for us, thinking that the journey would take us about eight months, and was not to see us for another nineteen months, with letters few and far between.