Harry Leslie Smith isn’t blinking!

Welcome Harry, it’s lovely to have you here!

You have led a colourful and fascinating life.  I think it is fair to say that you have probably attained many goals and challenges. You’ve already written an impressive number of books, amongst them  1923: A Memoir, The Barley Hole Chronicles, Hamburg 1947 –  have you any other plans for writing, or indeed, any other plans in the near future?

I am just finishing up my third memoir The Empress of Australia which looks at how my wife and I survived post-war Britain. When the book comes out for publication it will be the final book in my trilogy A Place for the Heart to Kip which is both a personal history as well as a social history of Britain from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. Next year, I will begin work on two books one about ex pats in Portugal and the other one about life in Canada during the 1960’s. After that I don’t know what my writing plans are and we will see how much strength I have left after completing those two new books.

Did you ever consider writing a ‘bucket list’?

No, except maybe in the reverse; the things I never want to do or never want to experience again.

I think one of the greatest challenges for me and probably many others who were born in 1923 was to not only survive to old age, but to do it well. I feel very fortunate that I was lucky to make a rather successful life despite the obstacles I faced in my youth.  I think I was able without much experience from my boyhood to create a stable and happy home for my children with the help of my wife. It certainly wasn’t always perfect but I did my best to make sure my children were not only fed and clothed but that were able to feel loved and that their existence was unique.

I have also been very pleased that I have been able to travel extensively throughout my life and I have seen many parts of the world as both a tourist and businessman. I was also very fortunate to have experienced the Caribbean and South America before mass tourism made it more accessible and in many ways less interesting to visit.

I was also quite satisfied with my profession within the oriental carpet field because I was able to interact with so many interesting and colourful characters who taught me much about the world.

Naturally, I am also chuffed that I was able to write books about my past that others have found interesting, moving and relevant to the modern world.  It was perhaps the greatest therapy for me to step back into those uncertain waters and fight the rapids and cascades of my early years, knowing that I would make it out alive and loved.

What have you enjoyed most?

It would be my family.  When you have spent most of you formative years living rough in doss houses in the 1930’s, it is a miracle to me that I was able to raise a relatively normal family. It humbles me. I am not saying that my children had a perfect time but they grew up into decent and caring men. I am also not saying that my marriage was perfect because my wife and I came from such diverse backgrounds and dysfunctional families; we really had to work on our marriage. The only thing that saved us and gave us over 50 years together was a mutual respect and love for one and other- even if sometimes, we couldn’t fathom the pain the other had endured before we met.

If money were no object what else would you most want to do before it is too late?

I would set about on world cruise but I would want to do it on a tramp steamer. It would stop at every port along the coast of Africa, South America and Asia. The journey would take over a year and if were my time to go on that voyage; I would not be disappointed to pass from this world on the ocean. It is a comforting thought to think when all passion is spent that one could die peacefully on the deck of a ship riding on calm waters at night whilst everybody else on  board the vessel is like me- between heaven and earth, steaming towards the unknown.

If you are interested in adding a Tramp Steamer Cruise to your list of things to do before you blink and miss it, you can join fellow adventurers on the Wanderbird details at: http://www.wanderbirdcruises.com/voyages-tramp-steamer-cruises.html

Has there been anything outrageous that you would have liked to have had a go at?

I am too old for it and it really isn’t outrageous but I would like to take a rambling adventure through Britain. I’d like to lodge in as many country pubs as I could over one summer. The only problem is I know that the countryside has changed greatly since I did something similar in the 1950’s. I am afraid that the pubs are not what they use to be as well which for me is a pity.

The term ‘Bucket List’ can sound quite negative so what would you call your list?

Carpe Diem

Find out more about Harry and the books about his amazing life:-

Author page
FaceBook 1923 A Memoir: http://on.fb.me/lboRcM
Twitter Account @1923Memoir: http://twitter.com/#!/1923Memoir
Author Website: http://www.1923thebook.ca/

Amazon.com (buy) US: http://amzn.to/kxlKsv
Amazon.co.uk (buy) UK: http://amzn.to/m3sbtN

 

 

Find out more about Carol and her novels:-

Author page
Author website: http://www.carolewyer.co.uk
Facebook Page:  Carol E Wyer
Twitter: @carolewyer

 

 

 

 

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Please leave a comment

  1. Kit Domino Says:

    Great post. And what a man! He’s amazing. Hope he gets to his ramble across Britain.

  2. Emma Calin Says:

    Lovely feature – and what a life to have led and still have so much energy and enthusiasm.

  3. Harriet Grace Says:

    What an amazing life. What’s your secret, Harry? A great post. Thank you, Harry and Emma.

  4. Janice Says:

    What an amazing interview and what an amazing man Harry is – I could listen to him tell of his adventures all day so I just know I’d love his books too!

    Janice xx

  5. Melanie Robertson-King Says:

    Great interview, Carol and Harry! Hope you get your cross-Britain pub ramble Harry. It sounds like a fun trip.

  6. Carol Wyer Says:

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I felt so privileged to have interviewed Harry and I am now one of his biggest fans. My dad would have adored listening to him and read all his books.

  7. Ali B Says:

    A really fascinating and heartwarming post – a pleasure to meet Harry.
    Ali B

  8. Nicky Wells Says:

    Ha, I love the idea of a reverse bucket list! Great feature, Carol, and fabulous answers, Harry, thanks so much. It’s nice to get to meet you here!

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