THE DIARIES OF PAUL K LYONS - 1985
Although I went to Brazil during my year of travelling in South America in 1975-1976, I never felt I experienced it enough, and always hoped and dreamed I’d one day be able to go back there to live, preferably in Rio, and with a job. One of the reasons, I think, that I eventually opted for journalism as a career was the possibilities it might offer to be a freelance and work abroad. While working at McGraw-Hill, reporting on oil and petrochemical markets, I expanded our coverage to include Brazil, by then an increasingly important producer of petrochemicals. Then in 1984, I attended a major petrochemical conference in Rio. While there, and in my spare time, I also made contact with McGraw-Hill’s World News bureau chief, Jeff, and, in particular, a freelancer called Charlie who freely passed on his know how not only about being a stringer, but about being a foreigner in Rio. On returning to London, I told my boss that, soon, I wanted to go abroad, to be a stringer (just like Charlie). He put me in touch with the US-based head office of the World News division, and before long I was offered a position in Mexico City. I was tempted, but, in the end, declined - the city’s size and its air pollution more than putting me off. Then, in late December, the Brazil World News bureau chief, Jeff, rang me out of the blue to say that Charlie was leaving Rio and returning to the US. I was made no promises, was offered no job as such, nor even any retainer, but I hesitated not. Within three months, I’d left my staff job, rented out my Kilburn house, packed a suitcase or two, been to New York to buy - what was then called - a luggable computer, and arrived in Rio.
It was all very hard work at first - finding an apartment, making contacts, learning how to file by telex, studying Portuguese - and I allowed myself little respite. But the hard work paid off, and I was soon living the life as sold to me by Charlie - though, of course, my own internal demons were never far away.
In September, I returned to London for a couple of weeks, for my sister’s wedding.
I’d flown to Rio in the first place via New York, where I completed diary 26; and then I wrote the first entry of diary 27 soon after arriving in Rio. I had much to write about in the coming days and months, and filled three more diaries that year (28, 29 and 30).