A Successful Book Launch

After three years of researching, writing, networking and self promotion my book, Down at the Baths, has been launched and is now out in the public arena, thus contributing to the local history of not only my city, but of all New Zealanders.

Organising one’s own book launch is an exhausting and time consuming process, but oh so rewarding. You see, being in charge of everything myself I knew the event would run smoothly.

When writing for a niche market as I did, local history and swimming communities, it’s possible to network well ahead and create an interest long before the event happens. Because of this the launch was supported by the local Mayor and Councillors, by families of the baths custodians, local historians and one time swimmers, as well as family and friends.

You see, public swimming pools have always been an important part of the New Zealand lifestyle. And in the years 1917 to 1966 that this book covers, there wasn’t a lot else for young people to do, so we were always down at the baths.

Sales on the night were good and now I move into my next role, of selling the books that remain.

If ever you are faced with having to launch and promote your own book, don’t be afraid. There are plenty of people out there willing to help you. You just need to seek them out. And I’m always willing to answer your questions.

launch audience

New Book, New Writing

Two years can disappear as fast as water rushing down a plug hole when you’re immersed in a writing project. That is an excuse, not an explanation, for my absence here. Now that my writing project is finished and my transition to full-time writer is complete I’m excited about renewing my presence here.

The social history project mentioned in my previous post back in 2015 has come to an end and the book, Down at the Baths is about to be launched next week. I’ll post a sneak preview of the cover here and more details about it will follow shortly.


New projects are lined up and my writing life is looking exciting – to me anyway. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you

Remembering Brylcreem Vending Machines

The local swimming baths, or Munies as the Municipal Baths were known, was the gathering place for all the local teenagers on a hot summer Sunday afternoon where I lived. Everyone flocked to the pool, either to swim and cool off, or to flirt with the opposite sex. At times the crowded water looked more like a wall to wall carpet of wet bodies. To find somewhere to sit on the wooden seating above the dressing sheds on both sides of the pool meant stepping over swimsuit clad bodies stretched out on towels.

The Brylcreem vending machine sat on one wall of the pool surround, attracting quite a following during the early 1960s, especially with the lads hoping to attract the girls’ attention. After their swim the lads would dry off, flick their hair into place and head for the Brylcreem machine. For one brown penny, or maybe it was twopence, the machine  spewed out a dollop of Brylcreem into the waiting hand, enough to smooth through the boys hair and tame their wet locks.

Girls hung around the machine as well, also hoping to be noticed as the boys sleeked their hair into place with the greasy white cream. Imagine healthy young, tanned teenage bodies clad only in swimsuits on a hot sunny day, the girls eyeing the lads as they put on impressive grooming shows. Teenage hormones ran rampant.

I remember one sad summer when we arrived back at the pool after the winter closure to find the Brylcreem machine had been removed. The longer and more unruly hairstyles heralded by The Beatles and other pop groups caught on with the boys and greasy swished back hairstyles with every strand in place lost their popularity.

A little bit of recent research reveals Brylcreem was the first male hair styling cream invented, having been introduced in Birmingham UK in 1928. Its popularity lasted until its demise in the 1960s, but much to my surprise Brylcreem is still available in small red containers today.

Do any of you have early memories of Brylcreem to share? How did effect your social life? Can you remember Brylcreem vending machines?