Colonial District Officers were gazetted, warranted as Magistrates and Justices of the Peace, then posted to administer remote districts, sometimes the size of Wales, of which hardly anyone had heard. John Pitchford, possibly the last district officer, has written a historical and philosophical autobiography of rare variety.
His gung-ho stories of lobotomised hippos, of cockroaches which ‘crisscross you every night’, of ants which are so beautifully trained that they attack on orders from above, to falling off remote cliffs while starting an Outbound School, keep the reader enthralled.
With an easy reading economy of words Pitchford takes us from war-torn Tumbridge Wells, to a Swiss Lysee, per mare per terram with the Royal Marines and to his home in the Cumbrian mountains. Central Africa formed a large part of his life before he was posted to the Central Pacific and the innumerable atolls and their communities with whom he became familiar.
Retirement to southern France and finally to Wales has provided the opportunity to share the exploits in this highly unusual colonial administrator.