It was the third of October, 1972. My dad's family waved us goodbye as we left Preston station on a coach bound for London. My Auntie Margaret hung a little silver St Christopher on a chain around my neck to protect me on the flight. The flight itself was enormously exciting - we stopped in the middle of the night on a real tropical island [Las Palmas] and drank incredibly expensive Coca-Colas from dinky heavy glass bottles. This trip was going to be fun.
But as the sun rose the next morning and our plane flew over the vast African plains, I got a bad feeling. The landscape, as far as the eye could see, was orange and brown and red. Where was the green? This certainly wasn't England - it didn't even look like earth. It was alien, Martian. The blast of heat that hit us when we stepped out of the plane, onto the melting tarmac, was furnace-fierce. This wasn't the heat of my English summers - this was another planet. I wasn't going to like it here.
And I didn't.