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Pole to Pole

Day 141: To the South Pole

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleAFTERWORD

The first newspaper headline I saw on my return home last December ran 'USSR Will End On New Year's Eve'. Months earlier such a thought would have been laughable. Now, so much has happened that some of our experiences on Pole to Pole seem, within less than a year, to belong to another era. Not only has the Soviet Union disappeared, other countries have sprouted in its place. The same journey done today would go through twenty countries instead of seventeen - Estonia, Belorussia and Ukraine adding to our tally and the atlas compiler's nightmare. Leningrad is now St Petersburg and the Hammer and Sickle nothing more than a good name for a pub. On a more serious note: Greenland has laid claim to Santa Claus - 'Greenland's PM Accuses Finland of Stealing Santa' was another recent headline; and the Novgorod plate, amazingly, reached London in one piece, only to be broken on the ten-mile journey from there to Watford.

The crew has proved there is life after Pole to Pole. Fraser was back at the Ngorongoro Crater within a few months of our return; Patti's malaria has, at the time of writing, made no reappearance; my rib healed in the predicted six weeks, and I have suffered no other side-effects apart from a recurrent fear of waking to find my body tattooed with a Tanzanian Railways serial number.

The saddest news was of the deaths of Lorna and John Harvey of Shiwa six months after we stayed with them. They, and many others, provided us with the patient, considerate, generous hospitality without which our journey from Pole to Pole would never have been possible.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 141
  • Country/sea: England
  • Place: London
  • Book page no: 320

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