The man in the Dargaville pub turned out to be Keith Bracey, presenter of the local TV regional news magazine programme Town and Around, produced daily by the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation station Northern Television, formerly AKTV2, Auckland. I’m not sure why I had been invited to the Northern Wairoa hotel, and I was a bit embarrassed anyway because we didn’t have a TV then and I hardly knew who Keith Bracey was. I had also never quite got used to New Zealand beer or the “six o’clock swill”, i.e. drinking to excess with colleagues in public. To a deadline. Or at all, really.
Well Keith turned out to be an affable kind of guy, happy to spend NZBC expenses on the locals, presumably on the pretext of boosting viewing figures, even though at the time there was only one TV channel in the country. I remember little of the conversation, except talking about my fall from grace at Dargaville High and the probability of going back to the UK. Keith had a different idea; why not come and work in TV? Continue reading →
The connection between RAF Dambusters Squadron 617 and Woodhall Spa is well known around here, and is nowhere more evident than in the Petwood Hotel, where in 1942 Dambuster crew, including Canadian, New Zealand, Australian and British Air Force personnel, were stationed. The Squadron Bar, virtually untouched since it served as the officers’ mess, remains a magnet for historians and anyone who, like me, as a boy, was thrilled by the Dambusters film when it came out in 1955.
I am now struck by the tenacity and dedication of those who keep the Dambusters reality alive, as evidenced not just by frequent guests and visitors, but also by numerous posts on social media and, in particular by the Dambusters Blog, written by Charles Foster, nephew of Dambuster pilot David Maltby. As well as logging fascinating biographical notes and reproducing numerous old photographs, the blog features some intriguing current stories, such as an unusual take on Barnes Wallace, the inventor of the famous bouncing bomb: Continue reading →