As stated in the Foreword, "This book is about a man of distinction and his times, both at home and abroad, times that should not be forgotten". The book describes
the author's life over eight decades from the 1920's until the beginning of this century.
The first chapter, which is not required reading, is a catalogue of the many ills and
afflictions which the author endured between 1928 and 2002. Despite these set-backs,
Trevor Clark has lived a life full of action and diversity, which is described in a most
interesting and, at times, humorous way. There are recollections of his schooldays in
Glasgow and Edinburgh, followed by a description of his year in war-time Oxford prior
to joining the Army. Four years later, after service in Burma and India - in the course of
which he rose to the rank of Major - he returned to Magdalen College.
Trevor then had to decide what he should read. With some regret, it would seem, he
decided against doing medicine and opted for Philosophy, Politics & Economics. As
optional subjects he took Colonial Government and Colonial Economics. This led him to apply for the Colonial Administrative Service, which became his career for the next 28
years. It was spent in three very different colonies: Northern Nigeria, Hong Kong and the
During those years this two metre tall Scot, a man of considerable intellectual stature
also, made his mark wherever he went and whatever he did. He was perhaps happiest in
his first territory. Northern Nigeria. The great variety of the duties to be carried out are
described, palavers lasting three hours or more, reconnoitring an area to judge its
suitability for cotton growing, advising officials of the Native Administration and
engaging 'fin a whirligig of tours explaining the incomprehensible new constitutional
election system to puzzled villagers". It was while working in the Bauchi Division that
Trevor formed a close friendship with Malam Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who was later
to become Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister of Nigeria. On leaving Nigeria,
one of Trevor's fondest memories was "of being part of a great family and community
and of having friends of all kinds".
He arrived in Hong Kong on his 37th birthday. His early reaction to his new posting
was that he had "left an administration that was a family" and "had come to a service
that thought it was a corporate business", and he felt that he was regarded by senior
government officers as an "interloper". Nevertheless, after nine months he took over the
important job of Clerk of Councils, ie Secretary to the Executive Council and Supervisor
of the Deputy Clerk to the Legislative Council. He spent his second tour in the Social
Welfare Department, during which he was in contact with the "Social Justice Group"
established by the Anglican Bishop of Hong Kong, Ronald Hall. On his third tour he was
back in the Colonial Secretariat as Principal Assistant Colonial Secretary. It was his final
tour working in the Urban Services Department which he enjoyed the most. Had he
returned for another tour he would have been in all probability the Director of Social
Welfare. However he accepted instead the opportunity to go on secondment to the
British Solomon Islands because in his words "the atmosphere (in Hong Kong) had not
yet assured me that I was wanted for what with self-satisfaction I thought I was best
fitted by experience and attitude".
The happy atmosphere of his new territory was a welcome change after Hong Kong.
"One could not but be charmed by the way so many, rough old scrubbers as well as post
teenage males, tucked a hibiscus flower behind an ear for show". Together with his wife,
Hilary, Trevor toured outlying districts, including a visit in the company of the
Archbishop of the Solomons to Tikopia, a tiny island nearly 500 nautical miles east of
Honiara, the capital. During the absence on leave of the Governor, he became the Officer
Administering the Government - the high point of his time in the Solomons. On the
Governor's decision to resume service in Hong Kong, Trevor took over during the
interregnum until the arrival of the new Governor. This person having announced "I've
only been sent here to clear up the mess", it was inevitable that relations became strained
and Trevor decided he must leave. Keen regret was expressed by many leading islanders,
amongst them Sir Frederick Osifelo (the Speaker) who could not understand why he was
leaving and said "You are so respected. You stand up for things. Without you we should
never have begun our administrative training".
A new life in Edinburgh followed. Trevor served for 8 years on the City Council and
on the Lothian Health Board, and for many years he was involved with the Edinburgh
International Festival Council. In 1983 he was appointed to a Museums' Advisory Board, which led to a twenty year connection with museums, during which time he
qualified as an Associate of the Museums' Association. In addition to these and other
commitments Trevor found the time to write his acclaimed biography of his old friend,
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
Like all good autobiographies, by the time he reached the end of this book the reader
feels he has come to know the author well, warts and all. It is a gripping account of a life
lived to the full.
As regards the style of the writing, the prose flows well but there are, here and there,
sentences whose meaning is somewhat opaque and it tends to be rather too liberally
interspersed with words in brackets. Although on its first appearance an acronym, of
which there are many throughout the book, is explained, it would perhaps have been
helpful to some readers had a glossary been included for ready reference purposes.
The title of this book is Good Second Class. However it is an account of a first class
life spent in the service of the Crown and of a variety of communities in different parts
of the world.