PRE-WAR SINGAPORE

Singapore flight.

N.p., n.p., n.d.]

Small 4to, pp. [ii, blank], [ii, contents], 59, [1, blank], with photographic illustrations; a clean copy in yellow stiff paper wrappers, lettered on upper cover.

£150

Approximately:
US $204€168

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Apparently the first and only edition of a fascinating personal diary of an 18,000-mile flight from Southampton to Singapore made in 1938 (pp. 1–36). It includes accounts of stop-overs in Athens, Basra, various parts of the Indian subcontinent, Malaya, Java, Batavia (Jakarta), Bandoeng (Bandung), Alexandria and Rome. The final destination strikes Dickson as ‘a lovely heavily wooded island with everything extremely clean’ (p. 24). On sightseeing in the Sultanate of Johor, he comments: ‘the visit was admirable and the monkeys around the place were as tame as I, but a hundred times smaller and slimmer and, I guess cooler’ (p. 26). There is also a description of the 1938 Empire Exhibition in Glasgow, which attracted twelve million visitors (pp. 37–44), and of a 1939 trip to New York, with photographs of the Rockefeller Centre (pp. 55–59). Dickson incorporates a poem entitled ‘The Night Ashore’ (pp. 45–54). In poignant contrast to the glamour of air travel, the journal gives an insight into a world which, on the brink of war, was still feeling the effects of the 1929 crash: while in New York, Dickson ‘went walking in some of the poorer streets, where 15 cents. is a lot of money. Unemployed men and women walked around sadly, hopelessly, it seemed, in droves . . . America has her own troubles. If there is a war, when will she enter it? . . . Chamberlain must declare war this time’ (p. 58). There volume has no title page, seemingly as issued; and author and title are taken from the cover, which is illustrated with an evocative sketch of a sea plane.

No other copies have been traced.

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