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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Castaway by Lucy Irvine

The movie "Castaway", filmed in 1986, is the fictionalised version of the book "Castaway" by Lucy Irvine, which was published in 1983, and which in turn is a fictionalised version of Lucy Irvine and Gerald Kingsland's one year spent on the unhabited island of Tuin in 1980, which is something of a fiction in itself as, according to the locals, they spent more time hanging around the store on Badu Island, a mere 10 minutes away, than on tiny Tuin Island


Lucy turned 61 in February and now lives a reclusive life in an old caravan in Bulgaria where she cares for abandoned dogs - see here - , an unsurprisingly unconventional sequel to an unconventional lady's unconventional life.

I had first heard of Lucy through my involvement with Pigeon Island in the Solomons - see here - and rushed out to buy her book "Faraway" without even realising that our paths had almost crossed as she, too, lived for a year in the Torres Strait, albeit a few years later.

Photos from her book 'Castaway'

She and her 'husband-for-a-year', Gerald Kingsland, lived on the tiny island of Tuin (aka Barney Island) - the usual 'your own deserted island, palm trees swaying in the breeze, all the fish you can catch' bit gone sour - about which she wrote a book, "Castaway", which was made into a film in 1986.

What happened after her "Castaway" year? As she writes, "After my farewell to the island I loved – and which came close to killing me – I arrived a few days later in ‘civilisation’ (Brisbane, Australia) wearing nothing but a sarong. My feet were bare and I had a tobacco tin on a string round my neck containing only a few coins."

More photos from her book 'Castaway'

Gerald Kingsland remarried twice after a painless divorce from her, bringing his total of wives to five. His first post-Tuin marriage was a shotgun affair with a Catholic lass of 19 in Chile. Later he married a Western Samoan girl, when in his sixties. He left behind nine children when he passed away from a liver condition, aged 70. No ordinary life.

To now live in an old caravan in some god-forsaken village in Bulgaria seems an unlikely sequel to Lucy's time on Tuin and Pigeon Island but she's never done the conventional thing. I did by sending her a birthday card.

P.S. You can donate via Paypal lucyirvine282@hotmail.com to keep Lucy's dog refuge going.