TROTTINGS = Trip Jottings


The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox’s Friends.



February 10 2012



Trottings: First time in China. Brighton Pier.



AM not trying to say Brighton has moved to China. Read on.





[] My first visit to China was 40 years ago this month. I flew in from Addis Ababa as part of the official Ethiopian government delegation (don’t ask).


Bad weather kept us from landing in Shanghai, so we landed in Guangzhou, to a hurried reception for what was an important delegation. After a few hours, we flew on to Shanghai, where I stayed at about the only hotel available for foreigners, the Peace, on the Bund. The river was full of vessels of all types, and the other side was empty farmland. A walk along the Bund with a colleague attracted curious onlookers (actually about 50). We managed to get a sampan to sail on the river (the boatman thought we were sailors going back to our ship, so we got a free tour). On our return, plainclothes police greeted us.


And then on to Beijing via CAAC, the only Chinese airline. We cycled around Tiananmen Square on imported bicycles (don’t ask), but at that time the Forbidden City was indeed that. The following day to the Great Wall at Badaling. The only tourists were domestic ones, and many were in army uniforms.


The following day was the official reception, in the Great Hall of the People where Zhou Enlai met me – but I accept that he may not have remembered me for very long.


More in my extremely-successful book (although not yet written), A Short Trip To China, 1972.






[] I was on Brighton Pier the other day!


The last time I was there, I slept under it – I was a weekend hippy from London. ‘Under’ because of protection from the rain which, as most in the UK know, is a frequent occurrence.


It was there I learned that a pebble beach is more comfortable for sleeping on than a sand beach. That knowledge did not help me much in my life, however – but never mind.


There was not always space under the pier for all those who desired it. That last time for me, our gang got to the pier before Rod Stewart and his gang. Stewart – before fame – was also a weekend hippy from London. In those days he played the banjo, but he already had a group of admirers of his talents. However, the important thing was to get a space under the pier, not play the banjo. So that night, I did better than him, but I admit that since then, he has done somewhat better.


More in my extremely-successful book (although not yet written), Brighton Rocks.





The Fox’s Friends