Returning to Australia and to the stark truth that I was in literal terms a bastard, came as a sledgehammer blow to the balls! But what seemed at that moment of realization a debilitating below-the-belt delivery, began to wane in significance, given the detachment of time. There were other things to worry about, which revolved around trying to claw back an earlier existence that I had known, before leaving those sunny antipodean shores for a lengthy stay north of the equator.


In 1984 I returned to Britain. It was more than ten years after receiving the extract of my birth certificate telling me that I was the son of the person whom I thought was my eldest sister, and that my father was unknown. At the time, the news hit me like a thunderbolt; the family I thought I knew was suddenly re-formed into a new shape and I was thrown to the fringe. But slowly the feeling of rejection (and deceit) subsided, and I became more rational, even seeing some aspects in a positive light.


I lay in bed on that first night, wondering how on Earth I was going to resume acquaintance with the backpacking lifestyle left behind a decade or two before. Now, I had a young family faraway in Australia, and here was I closeted alone, cheek-by-jowl with people half my age … or less! After my first encounter with one Singaporean hostel that seemed to pack five or ten people into each dimly lit, incredibly stifling room, I quickly moved on to find a place that offered single rooms; no window admittedly, but at least I had my own space: manna from heaven!