Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

15 September 2009

Il pranzo, passero and spongeing bimbos


From La Rampa: the Jewish Temple
Below the Piazza Michelangelo, Ristorante La Rampe is a haven. Uncrowded. We are given a table on a shaded loggia with a million-dollar view across the Arno, the whole city open to us. A cool breeze carries a mixture of the better smells of Florence: aromatic greenery and flowers below the terrace, pasta sauces, oregano, coffee, maybe something from the river. Sounds waft in, too, those of a big town; underlying murmur of traffic punctuated by a distant car alarm in counterpoint with a police siren and a the measured melancholy monotone of a church bell.
***
Sparrows, the world’s best mendicants, know the loggia and beg for crumbs. (Italian for sparrow is passero. In English, the order to which sparrows belong is passeriformes - perching birds - which also includes jays, blackbirds, finches; half of all the members of the bird kingdom. Passero comes from Latin: sparrow from old English. You never know when you might need this sort of information for Trivial Pursuit.)
***
Two girls at the next table, a fat blonde American, and a slim Iraqi with raven hair and olive-skin, offer to photograph the four of us with my Olympus mju. The Iraqi says she’s ‘in movies on the production side’ but despite that and having told us that she also has a mju just like mine, she has no idea how to set the fill-in flash. I wonder what her movies are like? The blonde, the Iraqi tells us with that broad confidence all boy-racers have, runs an advertising agency in the USA. She looks about nineteen - the Madonna of Madison Avenue. I wonder what her ads are like? They each bum a cigarette from Valerie and we quietly drop them from the conversation. Give me older women anytime - have I said that before?

From ‘Antipasto’ random samplings from various writings made over a few years of visits to a ‘New Zealander’s Italy’

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz
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Blurb

RANDOM SAMPLINGS F...
By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Auckland’
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Aoraki-Mt.Cook’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Otago’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.

[ENDS]