William Boyd

On The Move

Waugh Abroad: Collected Travel Writing

By

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IT IS 1959, you are a retired brigadler living in Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika. A fiiend of yours, a colonial officer, has offered to drive you up-country to Morogoro. But when your friend arrives he is already accompanied – by a stranger: a stout, elderly man named Evelyn Waugh. You have a long day’s journey ahead of you. In his book A Tourist in Africa, published a year later, Waugh describes you as a man of ‘imperturbable geniality’ and adds of his two travelling companions, ‘I don’t know if they enjoyed my company. I certainly enjoyed theirs.’ I wonder … How one would love to know what the retired brigadier really thought.

I mention this tiny incident because one of the experiences of reading Waugh’s travel writing is that I constantly speculate as to what it must have been like actually to meet him while he was on the road, as it were. It strikes me that a day in a hot car driving through the African bush with Evelyn Waugh could well qualify as a minor circle of hell. He was not a tolerant

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