Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

29 December 2013

Golf. The Musical. How It Was Written

He'd thought about it for many months, discussed it with wife and friends, solicited opinion, elicited comment. Mind churn had been unrelenting.

The idea had now almost crystalized - almost; certainly sufficiently for him to put pen to paper or, more accurately, keyboard to screen. This long process of idea development and realization was not unfamiliar to him, he being a successful, experienced dramatist. Its gestation was at last a nascence. Now the work could take shape. He hoped.

He flexed his fingers and typed the ice-breaking words on to the screen in Word.doc:

The Musical.

He set the font and size: Garamond 14pt. Appropriate. Dignified.

He sat back and smiled. There it was. Now for a cup of coffee.

He processed the beans in the grinder, plugged in the electric kettle, tipped the grounds into the cafetière and waited, contemplating the opening scene of the musical - it wasn't quite there yet. Having plunged the piston into the coffee solution and poured a mugful of the Kenyan brew, he was keen to return to the computer.

His immediate impression of what he had left on the screen was that it appeared too bland.

He wiped over 'Golf', changed its typeface to Ariel Black, increased its size to 18 pt. and studied the result:

The Musical.

All right, but it needed colour, and that full stop was unnecessary:

The Musical

Much better.

Then immediately, another thought. His name:

The Musical
Huntly Rodgers

The telephone rang. It was Jerome Lee to remind him that they had a lunch date in an hour. 'Bugger'. He put the iMac to sleep and went to change into something a little more formal.

Lee was florid, corpulent and gave off an odour of stale after-shave. He tended to grunt. His table manners were porcine. He was gluttonous and his manner waspish. But to his confreres - all literati to a greater or lesser degree - none of his shortcomings outweighed his capacity to entertain.

'You still fiddling with that sod's opera?' He asked.

'"Golf"? Yes. Getting somewhere, I think.'

'Bloody silly subject for a musical. Who's going to go to a performance?'

'You might have said the same thing about "Chess". It was a triumph.'

'Hmmm.' Lee poked at a tooth gap with his little finger. 'Sex in it?'

'Don't know yet. I've toyed with the idea of two screwing in a bunker but the thought of sand under a foreskin is a bit off-putting. It would certainly put you off your putting!'

'Make him a Jew.'

'There's a thought.'

The rest of lunch disposed of too much food and surely too much wine. They consumed two bottles of a chewy Pinot Noir, Lee gulping at least two thirds as a dying man at an oasis. Unaccustomed to heavy eating in the middle of the day Rodgers felt uncomfortably replete and slightly fuzzy and after having seen Lee into a taxi following his seemingly never-ending series of dismissive snorts and bright ideas all to do with golf, Rodgers was pleased to see the back of him as he walked slowly along the street towards his apartment building.

The first thing he noticed was the flashing red light on the telephone. He pressed the messages button. It was Nancy, his wife, who was staying with her mother by the sea. 'Hi it's me.' It said tinnily, 'Nothing of import. Just wanted to know how the work's going. No need to reply. I know you of old. Love you. Bye.' beep, beep beep.

Good old Nan. Always knew when to stay away. Once the musical started to write itself he'd get her home again. He fired up the iMac.

The screen came up as he'd left it:

The Musical
Huntly Rodgers

Lunch had made him sleepy. He went to the bedroom and laid down.

Waking at six thirty in the evening his mouth felt dry and metallic. He pressed the mouse on the way to fixing a gin and tonic. The title was still there. Something not quite right. He'd think about it. He sipped the refreshing drink and thought about it. The title page felt like a roadblock. Until he'd got it just so he didn't think he'd be able to proceed to scene one which, in any case, was inchoate to say the least. The trouble with Macintoshes and Word.com was that they turned you into a typographical obsessive. Perhaps he'd have made a better designer than playwright; he just loved all of those font options!

His tummy rumbled, so being naturally lazy he went to the MacDonalds about ten minutes walk away, had a quarter pounder with cheese and a paper cup-thingy of chips before walking back home swearing that he'd never go to a take-away again.

He was plagued all night with salt and saturated fat indigestion coupled with vivid scenes of golf played both on stage and on the links. He did nothing about either discomfort, being between sleeping and waking, until he finally dropped off completely. Too soon a pesky shaft of sunlight stabbed at his eyes through a crack in the curtain. It was nine-thirty in the morning.

Something had happened in his sub-conscious. He booted up the computer and stared at the isolated title on the screen. He ran down the list of available fonts and selected Braggadocio:

The Musical
Huntly Rodgers

Then he enlarged the sub-title and opened up some interlinear space:

The Musical


Huntly Rodgers

And finally put his name in capital letters in the sans serif Gill typeface that he'd always admired:

The Musical


Huntly Rodgers

Then, with an insightful flourish, he searched the Internet for a neat little illustration that would give it life:

The Musical


Huntly Rodgers

That was it! He sat back and studied the title page thoroughly. Then he went to the kitchen and made a pot of coffee which he brought back to the study. He poured a cup of the thick, hot, black brew, spooned in four sugars, sipped contentedly, pressed the command 'insert page break', and started to type:

Scene: A crowded club house. Twelve women in tweed skirts, twin sets and pearls and brogue shoes. Ten men in blue double-breasted blazers, white flannels and black loafers. They stand expectantly, silently, either side of a door up-stage. Through the door come two more men dressed as the other males in the chorus. Sitting on their shoulders is the hero, Dick Killinger, who raises both arms and cries out 'I did it! A hole-in-one on the fourth. Shout the clubhouse.' There is a cheer as the chorus crowd round him. The orchestra strikes up...'

The telephone rang. Rodgers ignored it. The text signal played 'Greensleeves' on his iPhone. He ignored it. The apartment doorbell buzzed. 'Bugger!' he yelled, then louder and louder 'Bugger, bugger, bugger!'

He reached over and unplugged the iMac.


28 December 2013

Mahinapua Hotel, Westland, New Zealand

This hotel has been a popular stop off for backpackers from all over the world. Reports in the newspapers in December 2013 suggest that they might not be coming in future because the tourist buses that bring them won't be stopping here. Shame.

The illustration above appeared in my book 'The Good Old Kiwi Pub'. I can offer prints of it for $NZ95.00 including p and p in New Zealand. They're the same size (and almost indistingishable from) the original at 29cm x 50cm (12" x 20"). That mad sky is not unusual on the West Coast!

Please contact me at donovan@ihug.co.nz or +64 09 4159 701.

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

23 December 2013

2025: Ironic Thoughts of a Visionary

The year is 2025. New Zealand has had a president for five years, the Green-Labour Government having declared a republic without referendum in 2020. There had been little opposition, the coalition having continuously held power with increasing confidence to the point where it governed with a significant majority. The murmured accusations of election tinkering and gerrymandering that had characterized what the long-serving prime minister had sneeringly labeled ‘the disaffected whingers of the wet right’ (i.e. National, Conservative and Maori) had largely died out by 2017. The opposition only had itself to blame having had no distinctive beneficial policies to offer a public who turned out in fewer and fewer numbers on election days, those who did opting for the devil they knew.

Some semblance of parliamentary democracy had staggered on until early 2019 when, on an otherwise pleasant autumn morning, New Zealanders awoke to hear, on state-controlled radio and television, that the country would henceforth be run by presidential decree (the president having been installed unelected after some years as Secretary-General of the United Nations). Green-Labour members of parliament were now transformed into ‘electorate satraps’ in order to administer and minutely control small districts known as ‘gaus’ - a word borrowed from the German. Many prescient opposition notables had earlier left the country for a long divergent Australia preferring its condition as an American client state to that of isolation and totalitarianism. Those remaining had been given the option of either following the presidential line or of expulsion from the Parliament on the grounds of membership of illegal political parties.

The public of New Zealand reacted with customary apathy to the slow but remorseless impact of the state upon its liberties. Since the assassination of John Key and, from the resulting vacuum, a panicked change of political weightings, state agencies increasingly took over responsibility for the nurturing and schooling of children from mothers (particularly) and fathers (who were, in any case, considered of little account in the stewardship of their whanau). Now, male teachers are no longer permitted to work in girls’ or mixed sex schools (and most certainly not in kindergartens or crèches) and within the foreseeable future they will, as single gender schools are phased out, become completely redundant. (This policy was forced upon the republic ever since it was decreed that any male suspected or even accused by any citizen of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ towards minors, whether or not charged and found guilty in a court of law, would be named and shamed in a monthly ‘no-smoke-without-fire’ gazette emanating from The Presidential Palace, formerly Government House).

Not surprisingly, with advances in human genetic engineering technology, there has been much talk of reducing the male population by selected abortion of male foetuses its biological function being replaced by sperm banks topped up by authorized donors drawn from state run sports academies.

The latest manifestation of presidential power has been the shut down of all media that are not licensed by the republic. This follows an analysis of biased and ‘anti-society’ news items from the last ten years which have openly investigated or criticized such things as:-

1. The extent to which the activities of the security intelligence services should be made ‘transparent’.

2. The issuing of ration cards bearing coupons exchangeable for limited amounts of butter, full cream milk, high fat cheeses, sugar, sugar-based soft drinks, sweet biscuits, confectionery and other items considered inimical to the health of people whom their doctors consider to be obese or genetically at risk of diabetes. (The medical profession, compensated by special payments, has accepted this mandatory obligation in the same way as it complies with notifiable diseases regimes).

3. The removal of all religious symbols from public buildings: crosses and holy statues from churches, Stars of David from synagogues, crescents from mosques etc.

4. The wisdom of replacing the ageing RNZAF Lockheed fleet with Korean transports financed by a twenty year loan at 15%.

5. The extent to which genetically engineered analgaesic cannabis is being permitted to grow in Northland under the aegis of a consortium of South East Asian drug companies.

6. Speculation as to the degree to which the public will, over time, accept a general loss of freedom for the sake of good order.

A mobile pirate radio station has operated from the day that total presidential rule was announced. So far it has eluded prosecution but one of its satellites is believed to have been operating somewhere in the Fiordland region. State radio has acknowledged its existence and has reported the frustration of the police at not having pinned it down. (It is known that a cordon was recently thrown around Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s public lavatory at Kawakawa but nothing was flushed out).

Law and order have been much affected by new ‘cause and effect’ statutes. These hold that in order for an offence to be committed, the offender will have been put in the position of perpetration by the ‘victim’. Thus it is that many burglars are not only being set free but also compensated by culpable householders who have left doors and windows unsecured and who own possessions that invite their theft. These laws do not, however, extend to government agencies such as the Childrens, Young Persons, Families, Friends and Neighbours Service (CYPFFNS) who continue, as they have for years, to place children removed from dysfunctional families in the care of known paedophiles, rapists and de-frocked bishops.

The old and much abused 111 emergency call system was replaced some time ago by an 0900 111 code designed to produce revenue for the NZ Police Regiment. Calls are duplicated to local taxi service centres as the NZPR no longer despatches cars to incidents.

Other happenings in 2025 have been:-

The America’s Cup challenge was sailed in Yupanyang Bay south of Shanghai. While New Zealand did not put up a contender all of the competing boats, including those of the four Chinese syndicates were designed and skippered by expatriate New Zealanders. The ‘Auld Mug’ now resides in the Shanghai Yacht Club and our president has sent a signed picture of herself to the commodore.

The All Blacks, still resisting a change of name to something less politically insensitive, were eliminated from the first round of the Rugby World Cup having been beaten by Patagonia, Easter Island and Zimbabwe. Excuses for their defeat range from the uselessness of the coach who, it is said, spent far too much time giving world media conferences and in any case should get her hair cut, to the fact that the Watchdog Institute for the Management of Public Safety (WIMPS) which, with greatly increased powers, replaced OSH in 2021, ruled that rugby players may not tackle others to the ground, and must wear body armour and orange steel helmets while on the field.

The old Embassy Theatre in Wellington has received a presidential grant of twelve million dollars for re-refurbishment in order to premier ‘Lord of the Rings Come Home’, this block-buster production following the money spinners ‘Lord of the Rings Trilogy’, ‘Heigh Ho the Hobbits’ and ‘The Life and Times of Peter Jackson’.

The new national flag has been unveiled which depicts a kiwi couchant on a field of silver ferns bordered by the spiral device of the Disunited Tribes of Aotearoa. Meanwhile the president has assured Maoridom that pending foreshore and seabed retrospective disallowance legislation will satisfy everybody that matters and that the ten-year protest occupations of the ancient beach at Oriental Bay, and Fergusson Wharf are no longer necessary.

On the international front, the New Zealand dollar is now worth two US dollars and three Euros and the country is in the unique position of having bought everything and sold nothing. The US President, Ms. Chelsea Clinton, has assured our president that while we’re still not allies we’re ‘very, very, very good friends...’ to which our president has replied, ‘nya, nya ni nya nya.’


© DON DONOVAN. donovan@ihug.co.nz 
www. don-donovan.blogspot.co.nz or donovan0001.blogspot.co.nz

21 December 2013

Photoprint for Sale: Waimate North Mission House 1831-2, Northland, New Zealand

This is an original photoprint from my personal collection

Size of image is 30cm x 46cm (12" x 18").

Price is $NZ 50.00 inc. urban p. and p. in NZ.

Please contact me at donovan@ihug.co.nz or 09 4159 701.

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

09 December 2013

Christmas 2013. Southern Hemisphere

© DON DONOVAN. donovan@ihug.co.nz 
www. don-donovan.blogspot.co.nz or donovan0001.blogspot.co.nz

07 December 2013

Francis Bacon does Lucian Freud

The Spectator invited readers to write a poem supposedly from any famous painter to accompany any of his works. I wrote this one. It didn't get anywhere with the Speccie but I still think it says what I feel.

I can't stand the paintings of Francis Bacon and cannot imagine anybody hanging one on a wall. He did a triptych of Lucian Freud (whose paintings are masterly) which sold at auction a week or two ago for $US142 million!

Freud Bacon

I did of old Lucian a triptych

All streaky, distorted and cryptic.

The usual stuff,

Calling Everyone's bluff.

(Must be good if it's so futuristic).

One hundred and forty-two million!

Bought by Rusky? a Yank? or Brazilian?

It's grotesque and distorted,

The buyer's been rorted

By something that's Mephistophelian.

The Emperor's Clothes doesn't rank

With my prank that's been bought by a crank.

My only regret

Is that I didn't get

To take all that bread to my bank!

© DON DONOVAN. donovan@ihug.co.nz 
www. don-donovan.blogspot.co.nz or donovan0001.blogspot.co.nz


04 December 2013

Photoprint for Sale: Yellow Volkswagen Beetle At Beach With Palm Tree, Port Douglas, Australia

This is an original photoprint from my personal collection

Size of image is 30cm x 46cm (12" x 18").

Price is $NZ 50.00 inc. urban p. and p. in NZ.

Please contact me at donovan@ihug.co.nz or 09 4159 701.

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