Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

15 February 2012

Our 1960 Journey to A New Life in New Zealand. 5.

This is a diary from 1960. The actual entries are in typewriter font. Added comments are in red. The photographs are from that date, some in colour (expensive in those days)

 [Washing Day, Genoa]
18th January

Docked in Genoa at 0600. Went ashore at 0930. Very attractive city but whiffs a bit! Composed of a few fast traffic roads and very narrow and intriguing alleys. The whole city is pink in colour (due to local stone?) and built on hills the highest of which are snow-capped and overlook the harbour which faces south.

We had a spaghetti and red vino (cost 2/3d) in a small café in an alley.

[Ken and Ian joined us in what we realized later was a local workman’s trattoria. The hand-written menu was such a work of art that we decided to steal it as a memento; but we noticed, after Pat had slipped it into her basket, that the waiter, a tall, thin, black-curly-haired man with a sad expression was doing a sort of Greek dance, slow, balletic, graceful strophe and antistrophe, searching for it, looking under and around the gingham-clothed tables. As he turned his back we dropped the menu on the floor. He spotted it, gave us an odd look, but said nothing...]
 [Pat, Genoa]

Back aboard at 1500. Now sailing down west coast of Italy, can see lights of shore towns.

19th January

Steaming down the west coast. It is occasionally in sight. Passed a mysterious looking pair of islands, probably uninhabited, but there was a lighthouse on one of them. [I. Pianosa? I. di Montecristo?] Sea very calm and weather gentle.

Went for a swim in the indoor pool, water warm.

[We were always nervous of swimming in the ship’s pools because there were about 200 small children on board! It’s possible that they were prohibited from this particular pool so it might have been relatively piddle-free].

Today is Princess Maigrette of the Netherlands' birthday and ship’s officers wear full dress and there is a special dinner.
We passed through the Messina Straits [Between Sicily and Italy] tonight at 2300, it was a very pretty sight with the lights of shore on both sides twinkling in the night as the ship slipped past.



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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:
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘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.