Two Englishmen in their thirties were driving through the night in inhospitable Ethiopian terrain. They were lost and had just survived a bandit attack.
As they had been driving along the dirt road – more of a track, really – they found the way forward barricaded by rocks and boulders. As they’d slowed the car, a mass of men had surrounded the car wielding spears, poles and in some cases, rifles.
The Englishmen had escaped thanks to expert driving and the fact that they too had guns but now, just as they thought they were safe, they realised that bullets fired by the bandits had punctured the water container and the gas can that were on the roofrack of the car.
Apart from their attackers, they had not seen another person or a vehicle for days. Now they realised that they were stranded miles from anywhere with no water and an ever-dwindling gas tank.
They had a food supply that would feed them for a few days, cans of spam, dry biscuits, but as regards liquids they had two cans of coke and the syrup from a can of peaches.
They drove on but had no idea how much longer they’d be able to do so. When the soda and the juice from the peaches had gone, they avoided speaking because their voices were becoming hoarse. The dirt track was getting worse and the car was badly damaged. The two men watched as the gas gauge went down and down as they drove on, hoping to see some sort of civilization.
They arrived at a dried up river. There was no bridge and they had to choose whether to turn onto the right hand track or the left. The gas gauge was now at the very bottom.
Yorkshire, England 2014
Eric Jackson had just celebrated his ninetieth birthday. He’d achieved a great deal in his life and his most recent achievement was the completion of his autobiography. He’d written it, in longhand, when he was a mere youngster in his eighties.
He described how he had been born in a gipsy caravan to a married woman and her travelling lover. He wrote about his upbringing in impoverished Yorkshire in the twenties and thirties. He went on to write about his experiences in the army in Berlin.
As the years, five in total, went on he laboriously wrote about his action packed trip to America, starting his business, the beginnings of his motorsport career and – probably about halfway through the book – his experiences with his co-driver Ken Chambers in Ethiopia in 1963.
Yes, they had survived.
Not only had they survived but they broke the record for driving from London to Cape Town. But remember, the Ethiopia incident happened only half-way through the book. There were many more adventures to come. They had barely unpacked when they Jackson Chambers duo decided to set off driving round the world – in a mere 43 days.