The Snake and the Tiger: Memoirs of an Adventurous and Travel Filled Life

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AuthorHouse, Oct 15, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 372 pages

Ana Lydia was born in the late 1920’s in the Fortress Colony of Gibraltar. The eldest daughter of a well-to-do middle-class merchant family, she enjoyed a carefree childhood taking dancing and music classes in a very traditional and conservative home. At sixteen she met Jack, a young Englishman, despite his coming from a different background, she married him in 1949. They flew to Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) taking an eventful eight days.  Life in her new home was very different, having to adapt not only to married life with restricted finances but also to a language, English, as Spanish was the principal language used in most Gibraltar homes.

 

Ana relates her adventures and experiences, sometimes sad but always interesting and mainly funny,  encountered in the many countries where she accompanied her husband, first in Nairobi, during the MauMau uprising and where, after recuperating from polio, she found herself entertaining the troops under the command of General Sir George Erskine. In Rio de Janeiro where life was dangerously exciting and Macumba abounded, she discovered her potential as a woman and dancer appearing on TV-Tupi.  She was presented to visiting President Sukarno of Indonesia but refused to dance for him!.  In San Juan, Puerto Rico she introduced President. Kennedy’s Physical Education Programme. In mysterious and enticing Lima, Peru, she taught society girls at a convent school in a country under military dictatorship. After two years in London, Ana arrived in Manila just before President Marcos declared martial law. Then finally she went to Hong Kong where she hosted ‘Keep Fit with Ana Lydia’ on RTV-HK. In fact Ana tells how different cultures and traditions influence her personal life and marriage.

 

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About the author (2009)

That Ana Lydia Armstrong of mixed Mediterranean parentage, born in the colony fortress of Gibraltar in the early twentieth century married Englishman Jack, an employee of a British Company established in Gibraltar, was an act that was seriously discouraged by the British colonial masters.

 

This was only the beginning of the complications which was to beset their lives on the one hand but on the other make it an exciting experience which they shared in postings around the world.

 

Ana had been brought up in a middle class merchant family. In the Gibraltar of the day this meant having three or four Spanish maids around the house. Spanish was the normally used language, English being reserved for the relatively little contact with the colonisers, essentially civil servants, military and  dockyard bosses.

 

By leaving the motherland with the Company Jack carried an officer class status which made him part of that British elite. Liaisons with the natives were discouraged, it being considered they created complications. A quick posting away from the Rock did not break Jack’s emotional ties with Ana and so the couple were soon married and being shuffled around the world into lands with very contrasting cultures.

 

Ana  was able to break from the pretentious restrictions of the Company club culture to mix with the locals. This frowned  upon activity gave her  increasing scope for teaching her professional  Spanish dancing and development of exercise routines.

The social life which developed with these activities took the couple into all strata of the many different cultures. It is here where the essence of the story matures into what is a fascinating insight into the world of the accepted and the unaccepted, the haves and the have-nots of the mid-twentieth century. The story has seldom been told as honestly with intellectual  naivity.

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