Last month I posted the last chapter of THE FAR HORIZONS. To keep the blog going I intend to start next month with SIAFU – THE TIM BAILY STORY.
I did the Africa overland trip with one of Tim’s Siafu expeditions in 1971. There were fourteen of us in two Land Rovers and the trip took six fantastic months.
I had heard of Siafu a couple of years before. I had contacted Tim then in the hope of crossing Africa but at that time all of his Land Rovers were full. I was disappointed but then I found another overland trip to India. The Indiaman was following a slightly different route to the old Overlanders and was taking in most of the places the first trip had missed. So I went overland to India again, this time extending my travels all around southern India and South East Asia.
Six months after I had returned to England I heard from Tim again. He was organizing another Siafu safari and was I still interested. I was but I no longer had the money to pay for the trip. I had spent it on the Indiaman and Asia. My travels were always funded by the foreign rights sales on my books and I was waiting for some more sales before I could go again.
At this stage Tim suggested a deal. I could have the Africa trip for half price and in return I would write his biography with any proceeds being a fifty-fifty split. I managed to borrow half the ticket price from my father and off I went. My trip gave me the taste and smell of Africa and all the colour I needed to fill in the background. In Durban I looked up Peter Cooper, Tim’s traveling companion on his first trans-Africa trip. When I returned Tim and I spent many hours together talking over a tape recorder as he told me his story.
Originally it was going to be called, “AFRICA, I PRESUME,” playing on Stanley’s greeting to Livingstone and using for a cover a beautiful photo Tim supplied of himself asking directions from a tiny pygmy woman in the Congo. Sadly that picture and all the others Tim supplied were lost with the top copy of the manuscript. Perhaps they still exist somewhere, buried in a corner of my ex-agent’s office or in some publisher’s ancient slush pile.
It’s a great story and it should have sold, but it didn’t. Perhaps it just didn’t land on the right editor’s desk at the right time. I have recently discovered one carbon copy of the text with all my notes and I still have 500 photographs of my own trip across Africa, so it’s a story I can still tell.
Tim, I have tried to find you through Google with no success. If you are still out there somewhere it would be great to hear from you again and have your approval for this. If you should see this please get in touch. You knew me then as Bob Smith, writing as Robert Charles. Now I write as Robert Leader.
My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org