It Takes Me Years to Write a Book

May 12, 2022

Do you want to know how I write?

Here I tell you all about it on the Dymocks Book Blog.


Life and Death

April 22, 2022

Yesterday, I was crossing a street, a side street that forks off a busy road. I was with my friend so I probably wasn’t paying attention. We were crossing on a green light but not with the walking man. I was leading the way like a fool and I was in the wrong.

My friend Colin was perhaps 30cm behind me. He suddenly shouted and grabbed my sleeve. I stopped just in time to miss being hit by a woman driving a utility vehicle very, very fast. She must have been gunning it to catch an orange light and turn into the side street. The vehicle missed me by a whisker. A whisker, I tell you.

She should not have been driving so fast and certainly, she should have been vigilant as she turned into the street and over the pedestrian crossing but I am guilty of not paying attention and of crossing without the little man. If my friend had not been with me, I would have been smashed to smithereens by a big, heavy and extremely fast metal machine. Just like that. One minute fine and dandy and the next, kaboom.

The odd thing about such incidents is that they occur without fanfare. It all happens very fast but in a vague and dull way. The car missed me by a centimetre or two. There was no big bang but there was this very disorienting understanding of what had almost happened. A hand tugging my sleeve and a shout prevented something extraordinary, something dramatically life-changing or life-taking from occurring.


February 21, 2022

‘The Improbable Life of Ricky Bird’ has just been sent to the printers. I called my mother and read out the dedication.

‘You didn’t have to do that, you silly bugger,’ she replied. ‘I’m sure there are lots of nice people you could have dedicated it to. I won’t be around for much longer.’

Marion turns 89 next month. I keep telling her that she has to hang around for another 10 years. By then I should have another book out and another dedication to do.

My New Book

February 16, 2022

My new book ‘The Improbable Life of Ricky Bird’ will be published here by Simon & Schuster on May 4. That’s only two months away. I’m currently giving it a final once over ahead of printing on Monday. I feel very anxious about it. It’s definitely my best book yet and it took me a hell of a long time to write BUT I am still very anxious. I think this is why I am having dreams about trying to look after a peacock, three exotic chickens with feathery feet and two unruly capybaras. The peacock was very affectionate though.

The Wrong Door

February 10, 2022

Just now I was standing at the front window when a young man of about 18 or so walked up my steps in a swift, familiar way. He was holding a loaf of bread in a plastic bag. He raised his hand to either knock or put a key in the door and stopped. ‘Oh!’ he said, before hastily backtracking and walking over to next door.

I turned from the window laughing and noticed my cat Freckles. She was looking at me as if I’d gone to the wrong door with a loaf of bread.

Chicken and Cat

February 3, 2022

When I moved to Europe (France and Britain), I was surprised to learn that many of the people I met had been set up financially by their parents, with big lumps sums or houses. This was virtually unknown when I was growing up. In the New Zealand of my youth, you were expected to paddle your own canoe. I started paddling at 15 when I got a weekend job cleaning at a retirement home. I absolutely loved the independence of earning money, and by the following year I had two jobs and had bought a car. I had wanted to buy a motorcycle but two of my father’s brothers had been killed on motorbikes and one of my brothers had fractured his spine in a motorcycle accident (he recovered but had to spend two months on a rotating bed like a rotisserie chicken).

My father wanted me to buy a car, which turned out to be an old van, and gave me a loan, which I had to repay. This was completely normal within my group of friends. Most of us had part-time jobs.

Now, please understand that I’m not criticising people who received money from their parents. If you are one of them, good for you. I may not have been given a house but my mother always gave us great birthday presents.

When I was about six, I was given a brand new blue bicycle with trainer wheels and handgrips that had colourful plastic streamers. It was magic. When I was ten, I got an oil-painting set and painted Henrietta, our family Rhode Island Red chicken. Henrietta used to eat with us. While we were dining at table level, she was busy below picking up crumbs. She would also occasionally sit on my father’s shoulder while he ate. So did our cat. The cat had a habit of drooling when my father fed it tidbits from his fork. Dinner time was a lively affair: Dad at one end and Marion at the other. Five of us in between. Another brilliant gift I got from my parents was a junior microscope. I must have been about 12. It was a very exciting thing. Who knew that insect legs were so hairy?

The Belly Button

January 25, 2022

When I was 9 years old, a girl in my class told me a terrifying scientific fact. If you touched your belly button after having a wee, you would get sick and die. This news affected me deeply. It didn’t stop me weeing but it did put the belly button out of bounds for at least a year.

As an adult, I moved to Japan where I lived for 12 years. All good until the subject of the belly button came up. Once again I was told it was off limits. Don’t touch it and don’t leave it uncovered, I was warned. Why? I asked. Because an oni (demon) will come and steal it. So there you go.