Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

21 February 2012

Our 1960 Journey to A New Life in New Zealand. 10.

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).

[Ian, Don and Ken, Aden]

28th January

We are now sailing down the Gulf of Aden and so on into the Indian Ocean. To the south of us is Somaliland, and during the afternoon we steamed past the last piece of land we shall see for another fortnight. This was the cape which is the southern edge of the Gulf of Aden.[Cape Guardafui] It had a lighthouse on top of it very high up the cliffs. We had been some 80 miles in passing the shore and the whole of it was composed of sandy cliffs and a beautiful beach.

I retired early this evening with an inflamed duodenum, haven’t had it for ages and this one caught me unawares.

[I can’t recall how I knew that it was my duodenum or who previously might have diagnosed it so. Over forty years later I think it might have been a stress manifestation - who knows?]

29th January

According to the ship’s doctor whom I visited this morning my inflamed duodenum is a chronic appendicitis and I am now confined to my cabin for three days with penicillin injections and fruit juice twice a day.

30th January

A visit from the doctor during which he said that I am the most important patient on the ship. This is due to the fact that he is not a surgeon but a physician and that we are in the middle of the Indian Ocean and therefore if my appendix gets really bad there will be a somewhat delicate situation arising...

However, I have had this trouble before on five occasions and each time it has righted itself, let’s hope that this will not be an exception!

[I never did find out what was wrong and it never occurred again. I’m amazed that I was not more concerned; I should have been terrified but I was only 27 and insouciant. Considering the number of passengers on board, and the large proportion of them being children, it was outrageous that the ‘ship’s surgeon’ was not, in fact, a surgeon. He suggested that in an emergency the ship might take me to the Maldive Islands (3.15 N, 73 E) where there was a Royal Air Force base with hospital! Perhaps, being ex-RAF, I might have qualified for free treatment?

Later, one of the young Australian  passengers, returning home from qualifying as a dentist in Britain, offered, with extraordinary confidence, to take my appendix out with a sharpened spoon if it flared up again. With equally extraordinary confidence I think I might have let him! I think my love of Australia and Australians started on the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, their approach to life in those days was like a breath of spring air and only confirmed that shaking off the oppressive shackles of conservative, hide-bound England was the best thing we could have done.]



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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.