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!
The Diamond Wing lounge was almost empty as
Perry Durham sank into one of its soft, enveloping armchairs. He looked about
him. He could be anywhere in the world, these waiting rooms all had an
international look. There were the magazine racks with the latest issues of
Time, National Geographic, the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and various
glossy inconsequentialities that always seemed to carry the same advertisements
for Swiss watches and high end cars - BMW, Audi, Lexus, Range Rover. There were
the same potted palms, the computer stations, the tea, coffee and snacks
buffets and a small bar, seductively lighted, that would politely offer complimentary
drinks to the premium traveller.
Perry guessed that, as with some worldwide hotel
chains, the familiarity of the lounge's appointments gave comfort to the
frequent traveler - never far from home however far that might be.
He went to the coffee maker, poured a
slightly stewed brew and returned, nodding to an elderly banker? lawyer? arms
dealer? who acknowledged him fleetingly over half-moon spectacles.
Perry checked his watch. Two and a half hours
until his connecting flight. He started to read Time magazine. The world was as
it always was and always would be. God - at thirty he was becoming the world's
She arrived with energy and almost fell into
the armchair alongside his, her shoulder bag going to one side, a topcoat to
the other. 'What a mad rush' she laughed, 'and now an hour to wait.'
Perry smiled at her. 'Going far?'
'Paris. Almost a regular trip. UNESCO. You?
'London but I have a longer wait than you'.
They lapsed into silence almost as abruptly
as she had arrived. He returned to Time while she fished a paperback from her
bag, pulled out its bookmark and settled to read.
Paul looked at her covertly,
having read the same paragraph several times without absorption. She was an
attractive woman indeed. He judged her to be somewhat older than he; perhaps in
her early forties, with a clear, almost unblemished, face adorned with small
laughter lines radiating from the outside corners of her eyes. She had a full,
generous mouth and bouncy blonde hair. Dressed in a tailored suit of navy blue,
her only adornments appeared to be a tiny, Longines gold watch and a single
rope of small pearls about a neck that was not greatly lined.
She caught his eye and smiled. She reminded
him of somebody from his distant past and the atmosphere around her, as an invisible
aura, reinforced the impression. He could just capture a hint of what he had
come to know as sandalwood, it was a perfume that had long struck with him and
the memory she had evoked took him back to when he had first been aware of it.
Then, he had been a boy of eight years and could not have put a name to it but
once or twice over the years the scent had been on the air and he had been able
to identify it through a friend in the perfume business.
Now, here it was again with this intriguing
'I've caught you in a reverie'. She smiled,
one eyebrow lifting as a question.
'Was it that obvious?' He
replied, 'You've sent me back a year or two.'
Then, with that intimacy of
strangers who do not expect to meet again, he opened his mind to her.
'Something in you has taken
me back to my school years. I was eight, away from home, lonely but madly in
'In love? At eight.' She
chuckled, 'The little girl in the next row, I suppose.'
'No. With Miss Kingcombe. She
was my teacher. I adored her. I would do anything for her.'
'How long ago? What was she
like? Can you remember her?'
'I am thirty now. Twenty-two
years ago. I can't remember much from then but some little things stay in the
mind for ever and I think she had quite an effect on me. I've no idea how old
she was. To a small boy all adults are grown-ups, but I have a feeling that she
might have been perhaps eighteen or twenty because I do recall that I had heard
her referred to as a student teacher. She was tall - well seemed so - and
willowy; I have an impression of her hair drawn back into a practical bun, I
can't see her clothes but, oddly, I remember that she wore sandals and that her
legs were suntanned with fine, blonde hairs and she had long, straight toes, the
big ones turned up as if they were being jolly.'
He grinned almost sheepishly at her, 'That
must sound awfully silly!'
They were interrupted by
the barman standing over them. 'Hello again, madam' he addressed the woman,
'Can I get you something?'
'Yes, thank you, I'll
'...don't tell me; your
usual chablis? And you sir?'
'Well I'll have the chablis
too, thank you.'
As the barman walked away
Parry remarked, 'You are a regular, aren't you. How long have you been doing
'It seems many years, but
not really. I just think he fancies me a bit.' She laughed, 'I don't discourage
him. Get well looked after that way. But,' and at that she leaned across to
Perry and tapped his arm, 'I'm enjoying hearing about you. Tell me more about
Miss - what was her name?'
'Kingcombe. Oh how I loved
that woman, I wonder where she is today? I remember that she used to tell us
all sorts of things that weren't about writing or sums. And she used to do
wonderful colourful crayon drawings of the things she told us. For instance,
have you head of a shadoof?'
'Well, it's something
'Yes, ancient Egypt; and
the word has stuck in my mind all these years because Miss Kingcombe told us
about how the Egyptian farmers used to irrigate their land by using a bucket -
a shadoof - on a pivoted pole to raise water from wells and pour it into drain
channels. She drew the farmer using a shadoof and I can almost recall every
detail of that drawing that hung on the classroom wall.
'I wanted so much to please
her that I got two simple books from the school library, one about ants, the
other bees, and I read them - devoured them - so that I could tell her what I
had learned. You see, she used to have a session when she would ask the
children what they had been reading and I, of course couldn't wait to put my hand
up. "Ants, miss; and bees". Well now Perry, Miss
Kingcombe had said, why don't you come to the front and tell us all about your
'Were you nervous?'
'No', said Parry, 'I was
ecstatic. I stood up there on two occasions at least and told my classmates all
that I had learned; the first time about bees, the drones, workers, queens; the
hives; the nectar collection and the honeycombed nests. And then, on another
day, of how ants, like the bees, were colony creatures, helping each other and
so on and so on.'
'What do you think Miss
Kingcombe thought of you, then?
'I don't really know from
this distance. Perhaps she thought I was a precocious little prig. I don't
know. But she filled what could have been a lonely life, she was with me at the
time, and in anticipation, and in recollection.'
The chablis was cold, dry
and flinty and he watched as she ran her carefully manicured finger down the
frosting on the glass to send rivulets to its base.
She look at Perry. 'And I
remind you of her. How so?'
'I haven't worked that out
yet. But there's a trigger there somewhere.'
'What happened to her?'
'I've no idea. At some
stage I was taken from the school and restored to my parents. In fact I've no
idea why I had been separated from them. Never asked. Never questioned
happenings. I guess she grew older - well that's rather obvious - probably
qualified and found another sea of faces to confront'
He sank into reverie again.
When he emerged he took a
sip of the chablis, and said, 'Here's something interesting: I even drew a map
of the world for Miss Kingcombe. I didn't copy it, I drew it from memory
knowing that South America and Africa were sort of the same shape and separated
by the Atlantic ocean and that Australia and the little islands of New Zealand
were tucked away in the bottom right hand corner and that great lump of Europe
and Asia dominated everything. I coloured it in. I gave it to her and I
remember she smiled at me and thanked my very much for it and put it very
carefully into the music case that she used to carry'.
The woman sat back in her
armchair and crossed her legs. She looked at the watch. 'Not long now.' she
said. 'Thank you for telling me your story. It's made the time go so quickly. I
might just have a smoked salmon sandwich before I go, can I get you something?'
'On one condition.' he
replied. 'That I get to hear your life story, too.'
'Wait.' She walked across
to the buffet table and as she passed he caught that evanescent perfume again. Odd
how evocative a scent could be.
As they settled to eat she
started to tell him about herself but had gone no more that a few words when
the PA announced 'Singapore Airlines wishes to announce that the Paris bound
'That's me.' She cried and
gathering her shoulder bag and topcoat, stowing her book and retrieving her
passport and boarding tickets made to leave. She pushed her hand into his,
'Sorry, you'll have to hear about me another time.' she said. 'Must go'.
Perry stood as she moved
quickly to the door of the lounge. 'Go safely.' He waved and then frowned as
that fleeting scent was carried on the air.
She stopped at the door and
looked back. 'By the way, Perry Durham' she called, 'you left the whole of India
off that map'.
And she was gone.
Perry frowned again and
then, as the significance of her throwaway line dawned upon him he breathed,
'Of course. Miss Kingcombe. Sandalwood.'
Pinkus shuffled head down along the shabby street, his
unmatched shoes - one of whose uppers had parted with its sole exposing a row
of rusty shark’s teeth - kicking aside discarded cigarette packets and butts
and candy-striped cardboard tubs once loaded with greasy chicken legs. Autumn
leaves swirled around the cracked flags of the uneven pavement and littered,
like flotsam in a harbourside eddy, the precincts of over-shop apartments whose
doors rarely stood open in daytime.
He paid no attention to the shoppers and business people
who, opposing his progress until confronted by him, parted like impatient
waters around a slow moving sludge dredger butting upstream on an unswerving
course. To Pinkus it made no difference whether the world around his was
populated with scarecrows or fashion plates, men or women; he had no eye for a
pretty shape, his libido had died years ago washed away by cheap sherry and
methylated spirits hidden in their bottles in brown paper bags visited
furtively in public parks erected by idealistic councillors for the public good
only to be inhabited by the likes of Pinkus and other tatterdemalions.
Pinkus was dying, slowly, of gross abuse of his bodily
organs and of malnutrition. A percipient doctor, were Pinkus by chance to find
himself in one's presence, would soon have found, among other incipient outward
signs of inner decay,evidence of
scurvy. It was hardly surprising for Pinkus dined on a menu of leavings; food
scraps which, on a bad day, comprised crusts too heavy for sparrows to carry
away or, better, discarded half-eaten sandwiches and doughnuts lying like
hidden treasures among the dross of community trash cans. On a better day,
Pinkus might find fruit, an apple core, a plum with flesh generously adhering
to its stone, a banana with a small cone of sugar-browned pulp nestled at the
hub of its splayed panels.
On a good day he would have money to spend; some coins or
a low value banknote. They came rarely and from unpredictable sources:
opportunistic theft, perhaps from the pocket of a park worker’s jacket left, in
the heat of the day, by his wheelbarrow; or from the guilt-loaded charity of a
contemplative citizen. On this day, the wealth that Pinkus clutched in the deep
pocket of the sagging, oversized army greatcoat that served to cover his
emaciated body both from the night airs and public gaze, was a handful of
gold-coloured coins that he had found, piled randomly, in the payout cup of a
gaming machine in the high street amusement arcade.
They had shooed him away but not before he had scooped
out the coins, assuming correctly that his good fortune came from a miraculous
moment when a punter, having pulled the bandit machine’s one-arm for the last
time, had impatiently turned away disgusted with his inordinate run of bad luck
before the final permutation of numbers triggered an internal command to
release a minor dividend.
Flush, Pinkus turned in to the mosaic-tiled doorway of a crowded
hamburger restaurant and joined a queue of hungry customers. The reactions of
those before and after him were worthy of study. Those in front first became
aware of the odour; some ofthose behind
left space, having observed Pinkus's dilapidation rapidly followed by a
perceptible change in air quality. Others behind simply did not stay, opting,
who knows? for Burger King, Wendy's or Kentucky Fried Chicken a few steps along
Hygienic in her fresh, bright, crisp uniform the
girl-child, earning part-time money to help with university costs, blinked disconcertedly
as Pinkus came to the head of the queue. But the staff-manual smile quickly re-arranged
her pretty face as she asked 'What would you like, sir?' Pinkus, just audible,
ordered the cheapest hamburger with cheese, some French fries and a milk shake
and dipped deeply into the greatcoat pocket. Out came a few coins, some old
crumbs, generous pellets of pocket fluff and a rusty paper clip all of which he
deposited into a plastic bowl on the counter. The cashier, already wearing
plastic gloves that looked like five-fingered condoms, extracted the coins,
jettisoned the rubbish, and holding the paper clip ostentatiously between
finger and thumb placed it on the tray with his food.
Pinkus looked around. The restaurant was almost full but
he espied a table in a corner against a mirrored wall that was cramped beneath
a staircase leading to an upper storey. He made his way there largely
unconscious of other patrons, as he passed them, who shrank away with stares of
repugnance and disbelief at his filthy appearance. Settling in, he opened the
striped box and withdrew its contents. On the table was a red plastic container
of tomato sauce, another, yellow, with mustard sauce, salt and pepper shakers
and a glass cone with a metal funnel, containing white sugar.
Having separated the top of his hamburger from its cheese
and meat patty, Pinkus, determined to get his money's worth, picked up the
tomato sauce and shook it vigorously. Aiming the spout at the meat patty,
Pinkus sqeezed gently. Nothing happened. He shook the container once more, turned
it upwards and squeezed again, this time with both hands, hard, until the dried
plug of sauce that had blocked the spout suddenly shot out, followed by a
stream of tomato ketchup which arced across two tables and struck Liam Murphy,
who was dining with his wife and two boys, in the right ear.
Murphy and his family hailed from Ireland and were sworn
enemies of the Ulster immigrant family of Donnellys of which Michael, the
father, was passing behind Murphy with his tray of food and drink at precisely
the moment the sauce stream struck. Red liquid dripping down his tee-shirt,
Murphy turned to see Donnelly behind him. 'You focking bathtard, Donnelly.' He
rasped, 'You did that on porpose!' and half standing he brought his fist up
under the tray and sent it and its contents flying across the restaurant.
Michael staggered backwards, knocking a nearby pensioner off his chair and
falling to the floor.
Irene Donnelly took that opportunity to swing her black
shoulder bag at Murphy's wife, Kathleen. It caught her in the back of her head forcibly
ejecting from her mouth an illegal cigarette which lodged itself in the bag as Irene
A small group of punk rockers, all mohawks and safety
pins, suddenly fired up by the burgeoning fight between Catholics and
Protestants across the room, took the opportunity to hurl a couple of
chrome-legged plastic chairs over the now extremely disturbed patrons. One of
the chairs hit and shattered the peach-tinted mirror on the wall beside Pinkus
just as he noticed that an unopened striped hamburger packet had somehow
appeared on his table.
Unnoticed by anybody, Mrs Donnelly's shoulder bag emitted
a small puff of white smoke.
Behind the serving counter young boys and girls of the
staff watched, amazed, as the manager ran to the telephone to call the police.
As he did so he noticed two boys trying to steal the Coca-Cola clock off the
wall opposite the broken mirror. Both boys had long coveted the clock and
wanted it for a souvenir. Unfortunately it was not battery driven, it was
powered by a mains connexion whose flex ran discreetly down the side of a
pilaster to a plug socket, the flex being held in place by a series of plastic
coated staples set at regular intervals. As the boys removed the clock the
staples flew out of the wall and one of them landed on a meat-and-egg-burger as
its owner took a bite. Horrified and in pain he started to choke, his
neighbours unaware of his predicament as they either watched, dodged or took
part in a melee that now engulfed the whole restaurant. His face scarlet he
eventually ejected the staple and, staring appalled, at it lying on the table
croaked, 'The bastards, the bastards, I'll sue them, I'll sue the bastards!'
The noise was unspeakable as punches were thrown,
territory invaded, hair pulled and eyes poked. Schoolboys attacked rivals,
schoolgirls screamed at their boyfriends, pensioners wielded sticks and walking
frames and two Japanese tourists, not long off their cruise ship moored in the
downtown harbour snapped and videotaped digitally as if the show had been
especially staged for their enjoyment. From halfway up the stairs a hopeful man
had called the local television station on his mobile phone and while engaged
in trying to extract money from them in return for letting them know where the
riot was taking place, was rendered unconscious when a metal container of paper
napkins hit him on the temple.
Pinkus, safe in his corner beneath the staircase, finished
his milkshake and wiped his mouth on a paper serviette that had fluttered from
the staircase above his lice-infested head. The table next to his had been
vacated by the Donnelly boys who were now fighting and biting the Murphy boys
on the floor. Suddenly the table upended spilling a mustard sauce container, a
plastic wallet and a few gold coins at Pinkus's feet. He leaned down and retrieved
the money and wallet which he dropped into his right pocket while slipping the
boxed hamburger and condiment into the other. Then, choosing his moment
carefully, he slid out from his table, picked his way across the floor, avoiding
writhing bodies and squashed French fries and exited the hamburger bar as the
distant sound of police sirens reached his tufted, waxed-up ears.
A small crowd had gathered in the street but gave way to
Pinkus as the Red Sea had parted for Moses. He had gone no more than five metres
from the door when the restaurant's large front window exploded as Liam
Murphy's coiled bulk flew through it followed by his deadly enemy's wife's
shoulder bag, now smoking like a bishop's censer. As the police car drew to a
halt another chair sailed through the gaping window, bounced off the roof of a
parked saloon and hit the blue revolving light on the top of the police car.
The light and the chair landed in the high street and were promptly flattened
by a No. 88 bus whose driver and passengers were paying more attention to the
fracas than the road.
Pinkus shuffled a further fifty metres to where a small,
pigeon-infested rest area, remnant of an ancient cemetery, provided a haven
from the bustle of the main road. Here he settled on to a green wooden bench as
another wailing police car followed by an ambulance arrived at the scene.
Pinkus felt in the left pocket of his mouldy greatcoat
and his hand closed over the still intact packet containing a
double-meat-with-cheese-and-dill-pickle hamburger. Below it he could feel a few
French fries and the plastic container of mustard sauce. Then he plumbed his
right pocket wherein lay somewhat more coins than he had had when he had first
entered the restaurant and also the wallet which he now withdrew. Inside he
found some bank notes, credit cards, rewards cards, membership cards, a blood donor's
card and a driving licence. He re-pocketed the bank notes and threw the
wallet and its remaining contents under a fuschia bush behind the bench.
Pinkus laced his mittened fngers across the string knot that
held his greatcoat fastened and drew his head down below its collar. A half
smile crossed his wind-roughened cheeks and their marbling of small, broken
blood vessels. He belched gently and as he quietly fell asleep reflected that
today, among all the dull days, had been a rather good one - with supper
already on hand.
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
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.
The checkout girl didn't look at him; probably didn't yet know whether
she was serving a he or she. She said it to everyone as they passed her.
He deliberately didn't answer. She ran a tin of rich red tomatoes (chopped)
over the scanner window, a bleep to match all of the other bleeps bleeping from
similar checkouts, twelve of them, lined up in a row like exit doors of a
shearing shed. He'd often wondered whether if Beethoven had heard those sounds
he might have found inspiration for a tenth symphony. Probably not.
'So how's your day been?'
Should he tell her? If he told her she would miss morning tea. That's
what was really on her mind. 'So how's your day been?' was just a rote
incantation. She'd get a brick load if he told her.
What if he told her about last night, for example? Only three hours ago
he'd rolled out of bed, his body aching in every joint. Should he tell her how,
at his age, you never got out of bed refreshed, you just ached. The peripheral
neuropathy that had been worsening for some years was so nasty this morning
that the moment his feet touched the floor it felt as if he were walking on
small, sharp chips of marble. Damage from the disintegration of the protective
sheath covering each nerve rather like rotted plastic insulation over copper
Should he tell her about a night of demons and dragons? Unconsciously
re-enacting the quadruple by-pass of four years ago; frightful images of a
pulsating heart in an open chest, the diseased arteries cut away while a
machine, relying on a tenuous electricity supply, took over its function, hi-jacking
blood before it got to the heart, processing it remotely, then restoring it to
the circulatory supply while a surgeon whose skill came with all the baggage of
human frailty as well as ability, stripped veins from his right leg in four
places and used them as grafts in place of the old tubes.
Might he apprise her of the scene change to a wife whose courage in the
face of a double mastectomy made him feel cowardly? Or how he ached for the
health of his children and grandchildren; no child should die before its parent.
His unachievable desire to take any of their sufferings to himself?
'So how's your day?' Would this child care that he woke several times in
the night his mouth dry as if full of blotting paper wondering whether that was
a symptom of the type two diabetes he'd been diagnosed with two years ago? (As
was the peripheral neuropathy, but he'd had that for far longer believing it to
have been induced by chemical particulates from surrounding farms and the
diesel traffic that passed his front gate).
What about dying? Who would go first? He or his wife? If she went first
where did she keep the bed linen? Where was the handbook for the washing
machine? What should he do with her clothes? Who did you call when you found a
lifeless body in the next bed? What would he say at the funeral? Would he break
down? Would he survive alone?
And if he died first? He hoped in his nocturnal phantasms that she
wouldn't be fleeced by lawyers; that she would know where the money was. That
she could keep the place going. That she wouldn't fall (she sometimes fell) and
break her hip with nobody there to help. The dog lying loyal beside her, the
cat, disinterested, leaving in search of food and warmth.
His sleeping, waking, half-sleeping, half-waking fuddled mind had tracked
down the years last night. People he'd worked with; forty-two years of working;
duty; sacrifice. People who'd ill-used him. Thankless people. People he'd loved
and lost: so many old friends dead. He couldn't talk to them; share memories,
laugh. Old age is bloody lonely.
What if he told her of the awful shock of waking when you thought it
time to get up but then saw the green figures of the bedside clock showing 3.15
a.m. and then you went back to sleep only to awake again and find that the
figures had changed to 3.25 and you groaned and turned restlessly never
expecting to sleep again until you woke once more to find your whole torso bathed
in sweat, your rib cage cold and slick, the sheets wet, clammy, revolting?
Would she understand the relief of morning despite the aching body, the
painful feet? Could she appreciate how, only now, three hours after rising, were
the comforting realities of the day washing away the fearful fantasies of
'D'you have Fly Buys?'
He clicked into the present. Yes, the little blue card in his leather
wallet. She took it, did something with it, then immediately handed it back.
'Credit card?' Yes, the maroon coloured Mastercard. He slipped it into
'Pin or sign?'
He tapped in the four numbers. She gave him the white web-fed paper receipt.
He thanked her.
'Not a problem. Have a happy day.'
He walked a step or two away as the customer following him loaded her
purchases on the rubber conveyor and confronted the check out girl.
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: ‘Auckland’ ‘Colourful New Zealand’ ‘New Zealand in Colour’ ‘Top of the South’ ‘Aoraki-Mt.Cook’ ‘Above Auckland’ ‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’ ‘Otago’ ‘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.