From Port Moresby To Perth, Australia Via Croydon Registry Office

On Returning To The U.K. I Thought That The Overseas Employment Phase Of My Life Was Over, But Nothing Could Have Been Further From The Truth.

During the four years i spent in P.N.G. I was entitled to 6 weeks leave a year with air fares back to Scotland thrown in. One year i did go back home, but normally I would take 2, 3 week trips to Bangkok instead. On my second trip there I met a girl who worked in the hotel I used to stay at, and, to cut a long story short, she spent the last 6 months of my contract living with me in Port Moresby.

With mixed feelings, we said goodbye to our Port Moresby friends between Christmas and New Year 1984, my future wife and I traveled “the scenic route” back to the U.K. via Fiji, New Zealand, Perth Australia, (where we had ex-Moresby friends), Bangkok, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Vancouver, (where we had more ex-Moresby friends) and finally, direct to Glasgow. A trip neither of us will ever forget.


We spent about a year in the U.K., both in Scotland and in Croydon, my old town just to the South of London. During this time Riu (know as “Tim”) and I got married in Croydon Registry Office, followed by a one day honeymoon driving to the South coast and back. I worked, either on a self-employed basis, or through temporary employment agencies.

I set up a computer system for the sole practitioner Chartered Accountant husband of a secretary who worked in my original London office, and also for a friend of his. I also trained them in the benefits that the use of spreadsheets could bring to their clients in their everyday work.

But things were boring, Tim was cold and not 100% happy. Then on two consecutive days we received two letters. The first one was from my ex-Port Moresby friend who now lived with his Myanmar wife, in Perth. It included a second letter from a partner of the Perth office of the company I had worked for in P.N.G. offering me the job of computer manager in the Perth office. Basically the same job as I had been doing in Port Moresby, without the travel. It didn’t take Tim and I more than ten minutes to decide to accept the job offer, and that afternoon two letters were winging their way to Australia, one to my soon-to-be boss and one to my pool and golf playing buddy, Andy.

The next morning, a second, more scruffy looking envelope arrived bearing a Thai stamp. Inside was a piece of paper which had been torn from a book of some sort, with words scrawled in child-like writing. ‘Mother Tim have death’, is all they said. Telling Tim that her mother, somebody she dotted on, had died was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

After her tears had dried up, Tim told me that she wanted to go back to Bangkok as soon as possible. “Okay we’ll go up to London now and see what we can do,” I replied. By mid-afternoon we had managed to book a single direct flight on Thai Airways for 3 days later for Tim. There was one re-fueling stop in the middle East somewhere, but apart from that, it was a direct flight. I wanted to make it as easy as possible as Tim had never flown on her own before.

We also applied for permanent visas at the Australian Embassy, When we handed in the application forms, I explained about Tim’s mother and travel plans. An interview was hurriedly arranged for the next morning and medicals for the following afternoon. After they had been completed, we returned to the Embassy who said it would take 2 months for the first preliminary approval to be granted, which would be followed by a second interview, which was basically just a rubber stamp formality. We were told that, as long as they were able to confirm my job offer, there should be no problems. I asked if, after the initial approval, all the paperwork could be sent to the Bangkok Embassy, and the rubber stamp exercise be conducted there. I was told that, this was unusual, but under the circumstances, something could probably be arranged.

The next day I said goodbye to Tim at the entrance to the departure lounge at Heathrow airport. The despair over her mother completely blocked out any fear she may have had about flying alone and she seemed quite confident as she disappeared to show her passport at emigration.

When I received the offer to go to Perth and Tim had to leave suddenly for Bangkok, I was working on a temporary basis in a small Chartered Accountants office about 20 miles further South of London than Croydon. They already had a computerized system set up, and I was working more like the head of a small business department, doing my own inputting and everything else that was involved. The computerized system could have been better, and I did have plans to improve it, but all of that got put on hold after the Australian offer came through. The two partners of the firm were disappointed when I told them I was leaving, and I was told that they had agreed to offer me a partnership and would I like to reconsider my plans. I thought about it overnight but turned down the offer, as nicely as I could the next day.

Tim had called me and said that she had got to Bangkok without any difficulty, and she had been to pay her respects where her mother’s ashes had been buried, and that she had felt a lot better for being able to do so. She was happy staying staying with her brother and sister-in-law but she said that she was looking forward to starting a new life in Australia.


About two months later a letter finally arrived from the Australian Embassy, saying that our application for a residency visa had been provisionally accepted, and our complete file would be sent to the Embassy in Bangkok, where the final interview would be carried out basically at my convenience, as long as I made an appointment at least a day in advance.

I had enjoyed working with the little firm South of Croydon, and it was quite sad when I said goodbye to the two partners and the three other staff members two weeks later. Another week later, after spending half of what Tim’s ticket had cost, I boarded an Aeroflot plane bound for Moscow, which would connect, after a five hour wait which was spent drinking a bottle of vodka, with a direct Flight to Bangkok. My second working trip abroad had finally begun.

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