PUBLISHED: 11:47 11 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:47 11 March 2014
Currently in rural New Zealand enjoying a semi-solitude break from travelling around the world, CBE and hostage survivor Terry Waite takes the time to talk to Holly Eells about his insider account, Terry Waite: Travels With A Primate
It is not that often that it is possible to get the real truth of what it is like to travel the world in the company of the Archbishop of Canterbury. For many years Terry Waite CBE accompanied the late archbishop, Robert Runcie, on his official tours around the world and reveals some highly amusing stories for the widest of audiences to enjoy.
‘Many people think that an Archbishop of Canterbury must always be terribly serious. Robert was certainly not that. Although he maintained the dignity of the office, he had a sparkling sense of humour and it was something of that I wanted to capture in this book. If anyone is looking for a ‘religious’ read then I am afraid they will be disappointed. But anyone who has an interest in people and foreign locations and enjoys a laugh will appreciate this book,’ explains Terry.
The book was published in November 2000, but still seeks new interest. Terry adds: ‘A lot who have read the book already tell me that they have really enjoyed it, as it is refreshingly different and not what they expected to read about an archbishop.’ Apart from having many responsibilities in the United Kingdom, an Archbishop of Canterbury also had many duties to discharge overseas. He travelled a great deal in the company of his chaplain and Terry. The journey’s they took together were hard work and involved meeting popes, presidents, tribal chiefs and many corners of the globe.
However, the book records some of the humorous happenings on those travels across the world, including tales of paper tigers in China, hogs in the USA and a minor miracle in Nigeria. Also, in Lagos, Terry had to stop an official motorcade in order to lean out of the archbishop’s car to be sick.
Terry says: ‘A favourite story of mine was when Robert was Bishop of St Albans and he used to keep a pig as a pet. He said that pigs were soothing animals and very intelligent. On an official visit to the United States of America this information came to the notice of our hosts in Iowa, and apart from visiting The White House and the National Cathedral, a visit to a hog farm was included in the programme. The story of what happened after this visit when we returned to the UK is told in one of the chapters. We worked together well as a team and despite several mishaps that took place, which are recorded in this book, we were able to keep smiling.’
Not only does Terry have a gift for humorous writing, he also is a highly accomplished speaker and is in great demand throughout the world. He has a busy schedule for 2014, but explains that this is not unusual for him.
‘I’m currently in rural New Zealand,’ says Terry, ‘where I am surrounded by nothing but sheep and cattle. In this lovely place I am busy writing another book. I have visited New Zealand many times, but for the past three years I have been here during the worst of the English winter. I spend every morning tapping away on the keyboard and at other times of the day lending a hand with cooking, as I am sharing a house with friends. As for the rest of the year, I am constantly travelling and meeting people. It is a joy to be in semi-solitude for a while.’
Terry continues to work with the homeless and with prisons in the UK, and plans to visit some overseas development projects, which he takes responsibility for.
Apart from the Essex Book Festival, there are several lecture tours planned, including a couple of lecture cruises at sea. He openly admitted he is really looking forward to the Essex Book Festival, where he will be talking at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford.
‘I enjoy meeting new people and talking about some of my experiences in life, both serious and amusing. Surviving was the biggest achievement in my life and there were many times I thought that the prospect of me dying in captivity was a real possibility. Some of the people who were captured alongside me died and I nearly lost my life on two or three occasions. Throughout it all I never gave up hope and this helped me to stay alive.’
Terry adds: ‘I almost certainly will attend other talks at the Essex Book Festival, as it is good to give support where possible to other writers. For many people, writing is a very solitary occupation and when writers make a public appearance it is a pleasure to make sure they are well supported too.’