While we wait, um, patiently, for Sailing to Purgatory to arrive, let me tell you of another friend who would really like to have been here to see it - hopefully even to read it. Let me show you, too, the text he sent just before his sudden unexpected death.
Gordon Pringle was closely associated with publishing, representing Europe's publishing houses from his base in Cape Town.
|Happier times ... Gorgon Pringle with his late wife Jenny, and family friend, Hilary Strickland, a keen supporter of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race|
I met him when my circumnavigation story, Loner, was published. I was present in Cape Town for a singlehanded race round St Helena Island and back.
Gordon was a great fellow, who became a good friend. I couldn't encourage him to come out sailing - wise man - but we did enjoy the treats of that magical city a few times.
Snatched my yacht
When the extraordinary end to my freedom happened, freedom that we take for granted, Gordon shared my upset and tried to help. But what can one man achieve against the might of bureaucracy?
The police snatched my yacht and it was confiscated. The press was encouraged to defame me, and it certainly put the knife in with not a thought for the truth, and all equipment and clothing, navigation books, and the like on board began quickly to vanish. I won't add more about that appalling time - it is still too distressing.
Gordon learned about the free-for-all and managed to grab a few items, including a Henri-Lloyd jacket that I rather treasured. Thanks to Gordon I wear it almost every day cycling.
I was visiting the Cape at the time Gordon died, almost totally unexpectedly. About a fortnight after we met, I heard that he had been taken to hospital. I called him but he said he wasn't up to a visit.
He sent a text a little later that day, only a day before he checked out of our planet. I often look at the message, trying to understand was he was trying to say. The text - or 'SMS' as they say down there - reads, 'Rttottdn worscan update whatever pen te then ever.' And a phone number followed.
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