Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

22 February 2012

Our 1960 Journey to A New Life in New Zealand. 11.

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).

31st January

Being confined to my cabin has been very tiresome, the [air] temperature is very high. Pat went to the doctor and asked him if I could get up because of the heat and he agreed as long as I stayed inert and did not over-eat! So I am up and the weather is superb and this evening we cross the equator.

We saw a large turtle this morning, it was lazily wallowing in the deep, blue, inviting sea. It was all of 24 inches across [60cm] and a sandy colour. It didn’t give a damn about us.

1st February

Another uneventful day spent lazing about on deck. Saw a shark lolloping about in the water close by the side of the ship, not very large or impressive! Numerous flying fish which take off at the approach of the ship and fly away at right angles to our course. They are bluish in colour and very small.

2nd February

During the morning the ship slowed right down for about an hour. There was a certain amount of speculation about the reason why. The funniest idea I heard was that the doctor was performing an appendectomy! My appendix!!! The actual reason, we later heard, was that there was a fault in one of the engines and that the ship was put into slow ahead while the faulty engine was being serviced. This sounds much more reasonable.

[Over the following years the  appendix story became changed to another in which a woman, the ship’s gossip, had sat down beside us in a deck lounger and told us that ‘that poor boy who’d been ill had died and was being buried at sea’. I think I fancied that like Mark Twain upon reading his own obituary in the newspapers, I could claim that ‘reports of my death have been grossly exaggerated’.

While the ship was almost at a standstill all of the background noise, creaking and vibration that we had become used to ceased, and we rolled on a light swell in an eerie silence. Only then did the complete isolation of a ship at sea - especially where we were - dawn upon me.]



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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.