Billy Hopkins opts to take his growing family away from the austerity of post Second World War north west of England to a place in the sun in his fourth semi autobiographical book Going Places.
Billy’s earlier books, Our Kid, High Hopes and Kate’s Story, about his Manchester upbringing, have all been massive sellers around the world.
Here, the action switches to colonial East Africa.
Tired of the financial, housing and food shortages the now married Billy takes his wife Laura and their children to pre independent Kenya.
The crunch comes when Billy inspires the deadleg pupils at his inner city school to real achievement and is offered the prospect of a headship.
No thanks, says Billy, much preferring an education inspectors’ post abroad.
But life in Kenya proves not to be a bed of roses either. Caterpillar itch and safari ants invading the family’s bungalow are unpleasant but nothing compared with the threat posed by the increasingly militant Mau Mau terrorists.
And in seeking to boost the family finances Billy works also as a steward in an establishment club but begins to take too much advantage of the patrons’ hospitality when it comes to “having one himself.”
As ever with Billy there’s a comedy of errors at every turn particularly when it comes to trains and communication cords and water supplies for car radiators.
There’s a classic moment when the non athletic Billy is called upon to teach the sons of African warriors how to throw the javelin. In another, Billy and his mum qualify for a place in the Guinness Book of Records by carrying the total components of a Daimler engine from Britain to Kenya in their aircraft hand luggage
One problem after another is described with a humour that’s so contagious the reader is soon infected – and will happily suffer the symptoms.
Ultimately, the family decide to return home – and hopefully there will be more adventures for us to follow.