Been a tough eighteen months, as you know. Cancer, surgery, radiotherapy… Away from my friends, in a strange city where I don’t belong. Intractable vertigo. Gack. The (unfounded, ‘no case to answer’) sexual harassment charge didn’t help either. I was feeling a bit gloomy, even if we forget my 50 year history of depression.

But circumstances put me into a place where I had to think about the good bits, especially including the good bits in foreign countries. I’ve been very lucky to have had so many good things in foreign countries, and I’ve been to 38 (I think) so have been around a bit. Had a few things happen. And I was then married to Alison, who is without doubt the person I’d want, and did, share this stuff with. She was a brilliant travelling companion, up for anything.

Dunno where to start, really. How about a sacred cow, complete with flower garland, eating your beachbag in India? Ever had that happen to you? I have.

Getting shouldered out of the way by an orang utan anxious to get to the fruit station? Yep, been there.

On that sort of topic, a dugong once barged me. They’re very gentle, despite the size, it was a bit clumsy is all. I swear it looked at me apologetically.

Off we go again. The twin dwarf hookers. That was a revelation, to both me and Alison, who got to be part of the deal. No, we didn’t.

I’ve been on the Great Wall. I have been to New York. I’ve been on a safari, where you can get so blasé you go, ‘Oh look, more fucking zebras.’ I’ve swum round a castle in Cyprus. The Alps? Been there, driven over them. Check your brakes before you try that little stunt, or it’s a one-stage learning process. I’ve been inside a Pyramid at Giza. You don’t forget that in a hurry, I’ll tell you.

Sticking with the Egypt connection, I’ve been in a coffee shop in Cairo that has never closed, 24 hours a day, for over 200 years. Napoleon dropped in, as did Rommel and Montgomery at later dates.

Thirty eight countries is quite a lot, isn’t it? I’ve had some really interesting times abroad. And in the UK. Reasons to be cheerful. I stopped being so gloomy. I actually started smiling.

Brits tend to be a bit sneery about the woeful number of Americans with passports*. I can see the point though. If you’re a Yank, in your own country you can go from the Arctic Circle, via the hottest, driest desert on Earth, to the Caribbean, and on to Florida where you have to contend with alligators, and manatees barging you. Why go elsewhere?

Hint. Because everywhere in America is American. Just a thought for you.

*I have to say this, those with passports make their presence felt.