Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

20 February 2012

Our 1960 Journey to A New Life in New Zealand. 9.

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).

26th January

Another uneventful day. Australia Day; the menu at dinner was composed of dishes with Australian sounding names.

[They were probably the same dishes as every day with only the name being changed. We certainly didn’t have the kangaroo, crocodile or emu steaks that later became fashionable in haut cuisine. After the initial novelty of shipboard food menus became rather samey - although at our ages we were always hungry enough to eat what was offered.]

 [‘The Barren Rocks of Aden’]
27th January

Arrived at Aden at 0610. I was on deck to see the tugs come along and moor us. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Aden isn’t as barren as I have been led to believe. [Ken and Ian had constantly described ‘The Barren Rocks of Aden’].

We went ashore [With Ken and Ian - they knew their way around.] by launch at about 0900 and immediately went straight to the native quarter. The whole place seems to be full of smelly goats. The natives are not so insistent upon selling their goods - although there were a few bum-boats around the ship - as the ones in Port Said.
[The entrance to Crater City]

We got a taxi at the bus station to take us into Crater City. This is the main town of Aden, where one can buy goods - especially optical goods - very cheaply. We bought this £35 typewriter for £18.
 [The Aden Constabulary]

[£18 = NZ36.00. This refers to the typewriter upon which the daily notes were typed (the earlier handwritten ones up to this date being later transcribed). It was an Olympic portable typewriter in a pigskin case and we used it for many years after. I tried to get it for £16 until the shop owner, waving his hands around in frustration, went to his office, came back with his receipt files and showed me that he had paid £16 for it! At that, I had to borrow £2 from Ken because, to avoid temptation, we’d deliberately left the rest of our fortune on the ship.]

Our taxi driver was a dirty, unshaved looking character with a bright orange turban on. He wanted to take us everywhere but where we wanted to go. However we finally got to the crater. It is an extinct volcanic crater and most of the natives live there. It is incredibly hot and dusty. It is mid-winter there at the moment and yet the temperature was nearly 90F. The entrance to the crater is a cleft in its side where the main road goes through. Aden has very little flora growing. The civil engineering achievements are quite something and are a tribute to British enterprise.
[Local freight carrier.]
When we returned to the quay we hired a little boy who could not have been more than 7 to carry our parcels for us. His name was Mohammed [Of course!] and he was very loyal to us while he was in our pay. There were many British servicemen in Aden. We met two service wives. They seemed cheerful enough but it must be a lousy posting for them. We finally sailed at about 1600 after the ship had taken on fuel and water to take us the next 5 or 6000 miles to Fremantle in Australia.



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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.