This is an inspiring memoir of a colonial life, set against the background of the ending of the British Empire. Evacuated as a schoolboy from England to Malaya in 1940 and then to Australia, Barnes returned to England in 1943 while the U-boat war was still at its height. After university, he left England again to join the Colonial Administrative Service in Nigeria in 1954 as that country was rushed from Protectorate to independence. While still on his first tour he caught polio, which left him severely paralysed, but was able to continue working. In 1960, he was transferred to Malawi, where the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was about to be dismantled even more speedily, and remained there until 1971, by which time the budget was balanced and he was able to hand over as Permanent Secretary of the Malawian Treasury to a Malawian. On his return from Africa soon after this, Barnes was appointed to the staff of the European Commission in Brussels, specialising in development aid to former European colonies.
Tragically his wife died of leukaemia shortly after their arrival there and when the expansion of the Community provided the opportunity to take early retirement in 1987, he did so, returning to an England in which he had never before lived on any long-term basis. Full of vivid stories and colourful anecdotes about the management of Empire, this moving personal history charts the author's journey from his childhood in Malaya before the Second World War to his present retirement in Hungerford.
Kenneth Barnes was born in1930 and spent his early life in Malaya and Australia. After Cambridge University he was appointed to the Colonial Administrative Service and began his career in Nigeria in1954 where he caught polio almost immediately. Although very seriously paralysed he continued in the Service, in Nigeria until 1960 before going on to Malawi where he became Permanent Secretary to the Malawi Treasury. After retirement from the service he moved to the European Commission in Brussels where he worked on the problems of development aid to the newly independent former European colonies in Africa.