ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
IT WAS THE TRIP of a lifetime for the former prime minister, who arrived safely this afternoon in Sydney.
After dedicating much of his life to the Australian public, John Howard thought it was about time to let down whatever hair he had left.
“I was looking into doing those riverboat cruises you see on television all the time, but that wasn’t really me. I wanted to experience the real Europe, not watch it go by from a private balcony,” said the 76-year-old.
“That’s when Janelle suggested that I go on a Contiki, seeing as though they’re quite popular in Australia. So I thought ‘why the hell not?’ and booked the ticket.”
Just a few weeks after Howard made the plunge, he was on a cheap but cramped China Southern flight to London, complete with an awkward nine-hour layover in Guangzhou and another disgusting eight-hour stopover in Frankfurt.
Spending a few days on Tony Blair’s couch to recover from the hellish flight, Howard joined his fellow Contiki travellers at London’s St Pancras Station, ready to board a train to the European continent.
“We made a pact not to tell anybody what went on, you had to be there to understand,” said Howard.
His office refused to comment on a series of pictures that surfaced last month that allegedly depicted Australia’s second-longest serving prime minister doing body shots out of the belly button of a known Danish arms dealer in a Copenhagen nightclub.
Another rumour suggests Howard being dared to drink out of a filthy Venitian canal after a night of heavy drinking at Harry’s Bar, which was famously frequented by Ernest Hemingway – a hero of his.
“There is no substance to these rumours. They’re not true. Mr Howard spent his European holiday visiting museums and libraries.”