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THE DARLING MARIJUANA BUDS OF MAY

WHEN I FIRST HUNG OUT with Colin Casbolt on Ibiza forty or more years ago, I was struck by the contrast between his flamboyant hippie style and the knowledgeable way he spoke about Criminology, a subject he studied at university and later lectured on while living in Denmark. Here is a man who has looked at life from both sides now thought I.

            Our Stories is a boisterous account of the years spent with his Danish wife Anny in Morocco, Goa, and Ibiza, during which they succeeded in raising four daughters. It revels in a vanished time when it was possible to travel overland from England to Kabul and on to Tehran in a trusty van reeking of red Leb or Nepalese temple balls and rent a house in Kathmandu or San Carlos for a pittance.

            As I followed their adventures, I kept being reminded of another family with the same irrepressible spirit, resilience, and cavalier approach to authority: the Larkins, heroes of H.E. Bates’ novel, The Darling Buds of May, which became a hugely popular T.V. series and is shortly to appear again on British screens in a fresh incarnation            Just as with Pop Larkin, nothing dampens Colin spirit, be it clambering up a ladder dangling from a tanker in stormy seas in the Canary Islands, detention at the King of Denmark’s pleasure, or facing up to the physical afflictions that have unfortunately dogged him in later life.

            ‘Perfick’ is Pop Larkins’ mantra, Colin’s is ‘fabulous’ or ‘wonderful’ even when relating experiences the rest of us might be hard-pressed to describe as such. He makes the best of everything, whether it’s being lost in the desert, busted or going broke; even the struggles the family underwent while battling their daughter Dani’s brain tumour, which he writes movingly about.

            As an intrepid criminologist Colin knows if you live outside the law you have to be honest. Every cop’s a criminal and all the sinners saints. Thank God he’s still a hippie (who as everybody knows were right).