Tired of the stress of running the company I started that had developed into a largish commercial concern over twenty years, I was searching for an alternative life, when one was played into my hands.
During the recent war, my wife Ivana was running relief convoys down to the refugee camps in Croatia, and we were both on one of the convoys when we first saw Vis. We fell in love with it instantly, but as the war was still on, Ivana continued with the convoys and I with the business, and waited till the war had ended. Once it was over, we sold the business and our London home, and moved to the island.
Being the first outsiders to set up home on the island for half a century I thought we would be warmly welcomed, but we were looked on with great suspicion. Having spent my last thirty years striding around the world on business, making contact and get things done , this came as a shock, but we threw ourselves into island life, and soon found ourselves caught up in a whirl of family dramas, love affairs, bitter rivalries and dodgy business deals.
I then discovered that Vis had not only been our base during World War II, but during the Napoleonic War when we not only built some impressive forts, but a cricket pitch! So when one of the islanders had the idea of starting cricket on the island again, equipment was sent over, and cricket lessons began on the tennis courts. The first match, against a touring team of Englishmen was something of a (hilarious) disaster, but the news that cricket was being played again on the island after a gap of 200 years whizzed around the globe on the cricketing websites, and much to everyone’s astonishment, clubs from all over the world wanted to come and play. A grant was then obtained, a proper pitch made, a proper coach hired, and after a lot more practice, the team began to win some of their games – even becoming part of the European League .
At the end of a year, I realised there was an extraordinary tale to tell; about the cricket, about the struggle to be accepted by the islanders, about a-communist society adapting to the West, and about the dents to our pride and preconceptions gained along the way – and for the first time since leaving school, I took up a pen and began to write
Notes From a Very Small Island
A follow-up to ‘Under a Croatian Sun’, ‘Notes From a Very Small Island’ tells the story of the couple continuing their attempts to fit in with the village community. It’s still not easy, and more often than not their endeavours involve them in in hilarious disaster.
They now try to start some projects up, and find themselves battling against maddening ex-communist authorities as well as some highly suspicious locals. However, through all this, they learn a lot about their new community, and see the legacies that communism and the recent war have left in the lives of their new neighbours.
Although largely a light hearted tale, the book is also a heartfelt insight into a community trying to become members of the EU and to adjust to the Western World.
About The Author
He worked in Feature films and political documentaries for a while, and this led to setting up a private mercy airlift operation to Biafra. But after being shot down, and needing a job, he worked for BBC television and then for ITV where for several years he produced programmes on social issues and the arts.
In his mid-thirties he left to set up a company that promoted and sold British contemporary art to galleries throughout the world, and created a worldwide distribution network.
After twenty years, however,discovering the island of Vis, and realising that running a commercial venture was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life, he sold the company and went to live on the island.
Ivana, his wife, is the winner of the Woman of the Year Award for Literature in 2000, and is the granddaughter of the Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic.
With two children who now live in London, they divide their time between Croatia and Fulham.