Taffy was Transported
T. H. Jones would express few doubts about what he ironically styled his ‘exile’ in New South Wales, and it was in a mood of powerful optimism and creativity mat he boarded the MV Oceania in April 1959. On 4 April Madeleine sent a postcard to her inlaws: ‘We are in summer dresses and hoping to visit Naples after lunch. Very smoothly organised trip from London to Genoa, where Harri’s friend, Roberto [Sanesi], met us and spent a couple of hours … on board.’1 Sanesi noticed ‘an instinctive change in Harri, a new hope’.2 This is confirmed in his letter the next day to Pam and Ted Richards:
Down the blooming Meddy again – just off Messina, in fact.
Ship a bit different from what I am used to – very good, in fact,
especially the food. We are all basking in unaccustomed luxury!
And I am actually working quite hard on lectures on Milton
which I have to give to the Honours students. If only I knew
whether Wales won yesterday!3
The voyage stimulated an upsurge of childhood and wartime memories. Several new poems were drafted, among them ‘Lucky Jonah’.4
The New South Wales that awaited the Jones family was not the almost virgin garden whose vision had fired the imagination of Australia’s first settlers:
A land of evergreen trees, waxed leaves on edge to the sun and
topsoil so loose it could be raked through the fingers … A land
no wheel had marked, no leather heeled and no cloven hoof
trodden. A land of kangaroo and wombat, a perpetual flower
garden attended by native Aborigines in a near perfect symbiotic
relationship with the earth itself.5