… growing up in the 1970s, my favourite TV programme was the Incredible Hulk.
It was the ending. When Bruce Banner, played by Bill Bixby, threw that tiny bag over his shoulder, and walked down the road to the next adventure. Credits rolled to The Lonely Man, written by Joe Harnell. The combination of Harnell’s music and the image of Banner walking off alone made me want to travel.
When I was 20 I set off to hitchhike ‘the world’ with a sleeping sack and tiny bag. I took the train to London and got my passport stamped with Iranian and Indian visas at the respective embassies. From there, I slung my gear over my shoulder and started walking. I picked up my first lift south of the River Thames, beside the Blackwall Tunnel. The driver took me all the way to Dover, for the Dunkirk ferry. Twelve months later I arrived In Delhi. From there I caught a train to Bombay, and then a boat to Goa.
I rented an old shack – set a little back from the beach – in a grove of palm trees, at Colva. There was only one hotel in the village back then; maybe three or four guests. At night, I’d lay in my hut listening to coconuts thudding to the ground. One of the locals told me that people were sometimes killed by falling nuts. The rest is history. I came home five years later with more tales of doom, triumph and adventure than a stack of Marvel comics.
I’ve settled in Essex now. I still tramp the local roads. What’s interesting, is there’s just as much to see, hear and discover in the ol’ back yards and lanes of home, wherever you live. Watching the Hulk as a kid, I didn’t think that was likely.
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