Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Some seven years ago I became fascinated with Jack Reynolds because he had written only one book, the remarkable novel, A WOMAN OF BANGKOK. It was published in New York and London, was much reissued and translated and is still in print today, a tribute to it's enduring qualities.

I decided to photograph my collection of books by Jack and they include one of his own poetry, short stories of China and even a survey of industries in Thailand. I now realise it's not exactly true that he only wrote one book, though he was probably at his best with the bite sized piece.

And soon there will be another one, my own edited collection of his writings in China about the Friends Ambulance Unit, many bites making for a tasty menu of stories.

JACK JONES-A TRUE FRIEND TO CHINA should be out soon. I'm now pretty impatient after five years' research.

Friday, 16 January 2015

A True Friend to China - So Nearly There!

After five years of research on the Friends Ambulance Unit 'China Convoy' we're so nearly there. Earnshaw Books in Shanghai have finalised the cover, we have agonised through fifteen drafts of digital proofs, tweaking and editing incessantly, and now it's time for the printers to produce a mock-up of the book for final approval. In March I am flying to Yunnan, China and with other FAU friends will take a tour of the Burma Road and some of the places that Jack Jones and his men worked in the forties. Then on to Hong Kong and on March 27th I will be giving a talk to the Royal Asiatic Society about the 'China Convoy'. If all goes well a parcel of books will meet me there and I'll be able to show them off and sell them at the talk. It's going to be a large format book, lavishly illustrated and with a unit cost for printing of about £15 it had better be good. Wow! I can't wait.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Summer of Sixty Nine

Guess I like my cars and there was no better year than the open road in the summer of sixty nine with hazy Jane, rollin' down the highway and getting my kicks on the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway in a great grey Pontiac GTO. Foot hard down, steering one-handed, my extra-tanned left arm out the window,and enjoying the scream of somebody else's rubber on hot tarmac as we stormed up through the hairpins. Auto driveaway from New York to Fort Lauderdale. All we paid was the gas!
Then on the way home, brought a big Ford station wagon back to New York. Sleeping in the mountains in the car we couldn't get out in the night because of the bears sniffing about.
Had to go up to Toronto to see what mounties looked like as they must be everywhere. Can't remember what I'd done wrong.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Breasts of Dora - Shock Photos!

When Jack Reynolds gave a copy of A WOMAN OF BANGKOK to Bernard Llewellyn, his best buddy from the Friends Ambulance Unit 'China Convoy', he wrote the above on the title page and it puzzled me greatly. Meeting and pausing awhile in the back streets of Bangkok is one thing but...! So I put the question to Jack's old China friend, Howell Jones in Newfoundland and he quickly came up with the answer. Jack and Bernard were keen climbers when in China; near the FAU depot in Kweiyang there were some strange conical hills which they must have named in Dora's honour. And now at last I even think I have found the hills themselves, to the right of the picture seen across the roofs of the village by the depot.
But who was Dora? Well, I think I now know this too. In the FAU Register is listed Dora Chau, otherwise Tsou Ling-hwa and this week at the Imperial War Museum in London she took off her dark glasses in my presence and gave a most wonderful smile. At least, we were watching a faded colour film of the China Convoy in the early forties but it was enough to suggest she would have deserved a special association with those mountains. I believe that Dora was a refugee from the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, an educated woman, a student perhaps, who fled into the interior of China, to Kweiyang and into a job with the China Convoy. She may have returned to Hong Kong after the hostilities and I would really love to know. There's more about Jack and Dora in my forthcoming book, but I don't want this blog post to be a spoiler!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Magical China Photos

Part of my research into the adventures of Jack Reynolds in China with the Friends Ambulance Unit distributing medical supplies in the nineteen forties has been collecting photos. I had nothing to start with but by tracing families of former FAU members I have managed to build up a fine collection to illustrate my book. What follows is an arbitrary selection, chosen mainly because they are of low definition that should post easily.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Great Wheels for Sale

My drop dead gorgeous Toyota pickup is for sale. To be seen in Sangkha, Surin province, you won't find one cheaper with under 30,000 kilometres on the clock. This time it's not a joke and I can be contacted at This picture appears in MY THAI GIRL AND I so the truck's famous too!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Distracted by the 'China Convoy'

I have been silent on this blog for quite a time for two reasons, first I have been locked out and unable to post as they think I'm an intruder, but suddenly today I'm back in again. And secondly I have been distracted by researching and writing about the 'China Convoy'. [Paragraph] Further down this blog are some articles about 'Jack Reynolds', the mysterious author of the seminal novel, "A WOMAN OF BANGKOK", in which I ask for help to discover who he was. Well, now I know and have even written a book about him. He finally settled in Bangkok working for Unicef and had a family of seven children but the reason he came out east from England was because he was a pacifist and did alternative service in China in the nineteen forties. [Paragraph] The photo's of a bearded Jack in 1946 in Chungking where he was transport director for the Friends Ambulance Units 'China Convoy' This was a Quaker relief project which distributed medical supplies and services throughout China for almost ten years from the Japanese invasion to the communist 'liberation'. [Paragraph] Jack's story in China is an amazing one, full of adventures and accidents and is well worth telling. Called A TRUE FRIEND TO CHINA, 'The lost writings of a heroic nobody', my soon to be published book is an edited collection of the articles Jack wrote for the FAU newsletter that was put together and circulated to all its staff in China. [Paragraph] He was a great blogger long before blogging and I've thoroughly enjoyed doing the book, even if it has meant that my writings on Thailand have ground to a halt. Perhaps at least I'm back in my blog and it can come back to life.