Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

25 November 2013

Unprotected Sex in a Tuscan garden.

There’s no experience quite like that of leaning out of the unshuttered upper storey window of a country villa on a sensuously warm Tuscan summer night and looking out over a valley upon whose hillsides specks of light mark ancient villages. On the honeyed air comes the seductive perfume of nocturnal flora, the barking of distant dogs and the rustle of the leaves of chestnut trees

Below the window, upon terraces where moon-silvered olives share grassy slopes with vines and raspberry canes fireflies weave like drunkards with torches trying to find their way home. You can’t help comparing this to paradise; it’s all too unbelievably perfect. Those fireflies, they’re so beautiful that we would like always to think well of them, but to their magical world there’s a grisly, dark and sinister side.

Take two species: photuris and photinus. Be careful, those names are deceptively similar.

The female of the species photuris is a siren who eats male fireflies. She has the decency not to tuck into her own menfolk, but with diabolical cunning she copies and then imitates the light signals of that other species, photinus.

Having done so, like a Cornish wrecker she lures into her air space any hot and lusty young photinus bent on a bit of nocturnal nooky, but it’s neither sex nor a good meal she’s after, she wants a chemical called lucibufagins which photinus has but photuris hasn’t. Indeed, she needs it badly because once she has ingested it from the doomed dupe it will guard her from attacks by predators - spiders, bats and the like. They don’t like the taste of lucibufagins so they avoid any firefly that’s got it.

So when, in the northern hemisphere summer, you savour the night air of the Tuscan terraces and are wooed by the enchanting illuminations of those meandering insects remember to reflect upon the casual, routine murder that's taking place before your misty eyes; and weigh the astonishing notion that when the crunch comes, photuris actually benefits from unprotected sex.

Now there’s a twist!


© DON DONOVAN. donovan@ihug.co.nz 
www. don-donovan.blogspot.co.nz or 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.