Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

21 July 2013


ONE of the effects of ageing doesn't become apparent until you get there: the realization that the world has become a place into which you increasingly don't fit. It doesn't matter how young you feel or how young you think, The Young will exclude you or send you to the margin. They do this by shouting or deliberately speaking so softly that you can't hear them or, more sinisterly, by publishing on social media hurtful comments such as 'why don't you get out of the way and leave room for us?'

You also become aware that your attitudes, which are the result of experience and many years of distillation, march to the beat of a different drum, and that although you might belong to a majority, your opinions will be shouted down. You notice that the smaller the minority the more noise it makes and because it makes such noise it gets noticed and influences the thinking of those who make legislation; they mistake noise for the opinions of a majority.

But that majority has one opportunity in each electoral cycle to make its feelings felt: polling day. On that one day upon which those who can be bothered to vote vote they become more important, individually, than The Most Important Person in the World. Bigger than the Prime Minister, the Queen, The President or The Pope. They choose to endorse the party and or candidate whose promises most closely chime with their needs, wants and beliefs. Their, plus all the others of their ilk's, ticks will make the government.

That's the day when the noisiest of minorities are silenced by what has appropriately become known as the silent majority. And rightly so.

It's in the nature of 'The Media' to emphasize attacks upon the governing party no matter how trivial. I think this is done because media think that they can bring down governments and they do so ignoring the truth that the governing party (in this case New Zealand's National Party) has far and away the largest share of the popular vote. Although it hovers about 50%, plus or minus - depending upon the polls and the events of the day - it greatly outranks the others: Labour, The Greens, New Zealand First and the tiddlers.

Anything that makes news pleases the media even if it's only the accusation that the Prime Minister went to school with the brother of a man he recommended for a civil service job! In a country with a population of only 4.4 million everybody knows everybody or somebody who knows somebody! In any case don't all of us recommend people we know if we know they'll do a job well - a good builder, electrician, doctor, lawyer, podiatrist..?

Sadly, we are a country characterized by envy. Meaningful journalese adjectives are attached to 'haves'. Adjectives such as 'up-market', 'mansion', 'rich-lister', 'millionaire', 'flash car owner', 'exclusive suburb dweller'.

Envy manifests itself every day in the complaints of undeserving people who seek hand-outs of benefits while comparing their circumstances with wealthy, self-made entrepreneurs or people who simply work hard for a living and pay their taxes. Successful people rarely complain even when they know they are being exploited by soft government agencies that pay out benefits to people whose qualifications they don't sufficiently scrutinize.

Right now, the National government (it was put there by a majority of electors) is clamping down on benefit fraud or manipulation and while the 'anything-that-makes-news' media delight in publishing news and cartoons that depict certain cabinet ministers as mean-minded slave drivers the Great Silent Majority is quietly satisfied that good things are happening. They recognize only too well that The Unemployed can metamorphose into The Unemployable if they lose the work ethic; the sick can become sicker of they are not motivated to get well and work; and the philosophy that the state owes the individual can be carried from one generation to the next.

Having said all that in a Colonel Blimp sort of way, I am very concerned about our government's desire to change legislation in order to allow state agencies to 'spy' upon our own people. I fear that our Prime Minister (of whom I am a supporter) will lose the goodwill of the people unless he assures us that such 'spying' will not be carried out without the approval of an external panel of adjudicators. We need to be promised that any surveillance (upon suspected terrorists, drug traffickers, IT thieves, money launderers - anybody, in fact, who would do us harm) is only undertaken after a warrant has been applied for and issued.

They say that if a citizen has done no wrong he has nothing to fear. Tell that to any Jew who willingly declared his race the day before Adolph Hitler came to power!

Don Donovan, Curmudgeon-In-Chief.  Albany. 21 July 2013.

www.don-donovan.blogspot.co.nz or www.donovan0001.blogspot.co.nz

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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.