Ann Stone book launch

(Speech given by Hugh Jones at the launch of “Not Another One!” by Ann Stone, October 26, 2015)

I’m humbled and grateful for the invitation to launch Ann’s book. I’ve known Ann and the Stone family pretty much all my life – in fact, I bob up on Page 3 of the book (before both Don Bradman and Ronnie Biggs) – and Ann and Ron have been among my parents’ greatest friends.

Like everyone who hears the stories from their frequent travels, I’ve harboured a degree of envy. Most of us will never get to half the places Ron and Ann have visited.

It’s been great fun reading about their 40 years of travelling the world and I congratulate Ann and the publishing team at Makor and the Lamm Jewish Library that has edited her diaries into such an attractive read.

IMG_0266The envious reader will soon appreciate that Ann has been fortunate in her life:

Fortunate to meet and marry Ron;
Fortunate that Ron worked for Royal Insurance (lots of international conferences and meetings to attend);
Fortunate that Ron was South African (have to regularly visit family and friends there);
Fortunate that sons Christopher and Jeremy moved overseas to live and work (have to visit them and the grandchildren).
And fortunate, too, to have the personality to make friends wherever she goes – and friends need visiting: more than once!

(At the back of the book Ann lists the friends she writes about, which is both a great help to the reader and a sneaky way to boost book sales.)

Thank goodness Ann has kept detailed diaries, something that all travellers should do.

It’s easier to list the countries they haven’t visited than the ones they have: if I read the map at the back of the book right, the only places left are most of West Africa, Madagascar and Kazakhstan!

Ann plays tour guide to the reader with a breezy, genuine writing style although at times I did find myself wanting a little extra detail. Consider this tale from their 1979 trip to Mexico:

“We booked a three-day trip to Taxco, the Silver City, and Acapulco. Our bus driver only seemed to know the fast and stop pedals and the road was very winding and often steep. We were green by the time we arrived in Taxco. This was a quaint little village high in the hills that felt like somewhere out of a movie, with a pretty square in the centre, a village church and a local band playing. The people looked poor but seemed happy … In the evening we had dinner in our little hotel overlooking the village while the locals set of firecrackers. In all the excitement Ron’s hair caught alight, as did my shawl, but we managed to put out the flames by ourselves.”

Ron comes in for a bit of teasing throughout the book – I thought there might be a quiz page at the end: in which airport did Ron leave his walking stick in 1999? In which hotel did Ron leave his shirts in 1992? Where did Ron leave his “Fun in the Sun” hat from Fiji in 1994? Where did Ron leave his pyjamas in 1989?

Ann explains the story behind the book title in the text, and as you read the book you come to appreciate how appropriate it is. I can just hear her grandchildren saying “not another one, Gran” as she plans next year’s trip … but I think the book could just as easily be called “Not Another Back Massage in Abu Dhabi”, “Not Another Shopping Trip in London” (they returned home in 1997 with 75kg of luggage), “Not Another West End show”, “Not Another Gin and Tonic” …

Their most recent trips have been built around cruises, notably with the Silversea line, and they are a significant step up from their first trips abroad. Take this example from their 2010 cruise from London to Iceland:

“The next morning we boarded the newly refurbished Silver Cloud. We were taken to cabin 439 and met our butler, who had stocked our suite with crackers and prawns to go with the gin, whisky and French wine. The recession means there was no longer free caviar but we were given champagne.”

People who write books ought to be congratulated and celebrated. If I had a brandy crusta (Ann’s favourite tipple) in my hand, I’d raise it to the author now, and say well done: a great job!

Not Another One! is a fabulous record of travelling the world, and it is with great pleasure that I launch it and commend it to you.

— ends —

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