Creating an Impression

Sep 23, 2016

Creating an Impression


Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world

Question #42
Rite of Passage Fifteen –All At Sea –
1959 I am twenty-five years old

Q. It’s like the hand pressed into a memory foam mattress; it leaves a clear impression…for a moment…then it’s gone. I gave the impression I had been there and done that; was that a lie?

The need to be accepted…is not that a perfectly natural human need?

I certainly felt that as an immigrant to New Zealand; add in the new job as the overall ‘senior officer’ of the food services branch of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the ‘normal need’ became a major concern!

When I was asked to contribute to the Woman’s Hour Program or radio I was flattered and frightened but finally I agreed because of my need for acceptance…perhaps being on the public airwaves would help?

It took me nine months of regular monthly rejections to finally wind up with an acceptable script for A Cooks Tour –that was back in 1959.

After a truly awful initial recording experience I was ‘accepted’ and began a series of programs based on my past experiences with food and wine in England and Europe.

It didn’t take many episodes for my pool of actual memories of past meals…dried up!

Somehow I came across an old secondhand cookbook titled The Esquire International Cookbook –in which several authors provided elaborate details of well-known eateries around the world, complete with recipes.

It was just what I needed but how could I use it and escape telling a lie?

So…what about now?

I was told by the producer to use the material but drop my reference to having been there. This I did…and it seemed to make no difference since I had started out on A Cooks Tour with known places. My listeners assumed this was more of the same!

Image of a sound board and headphones with a sign that reads "On Air"

“When the red light goes on…you start…’For God’s sake,’ she yelled, ‘put some bloody oomph into it!'” -Flash of Silver…the leap that changed my world. p.95 (p.111-112 eBook)

Eventually, much later on, as you will learn, this led me to the almost impossible (and expensive) burden of insisting on visiting each actual location on film for the Galloping Gourmet series and other series’ that would follow.

This need for early acceptance had been met, in my present day opinion, by a falsehood –albeit not expressed directly; it had been understood that I was a well-travelled ‘gourmet’ whose travels had justified his claim to know his stuff.

To have access to others through the public media is to be a person ‘set apart’. It’s not something that everyone can do and yet, if it is based on a falsehood it may fail to achieve the level of acceptance that is the ‘human need’ of the performer.

It was my first foot on the ladder of media success –and because of my ‘source’ of information –I was robbed of that satisfaction.

Better by far is the phrase: HUMILITY is being known for who you are! Therefore PRIDE could be being known, back then, for who I was not!

I’m so grateful I learned that important lesson so early on.

This week I read Treena’s poem Jerusalem.


  1. Kerryn Says: 8:55 am

    I cringe when I think of “creating an impression” on radio!! I was about 16 when my grandparents said that they wanted to take me for a tour of a radio station while their favourite show was on. That sounded exciting & to be able to do it with my grandparents was a treat, as their eldest grandchild. What they didn’t tell me was that I was going to be going on air!!! As a 16 year old I barely ever answered a question in class, as I didn’t want people to notice me! So, to suddenly find myself in a radio studio speaking to a huge public following….. with a highly intelligent guy of the same age was terrifying! I was dying inside as challenging questions were thrown my way about things I’d never heard of or even thought about! EEEK! The young man answered eloquently & with great wisdom. Then it was my turn! I always had a quiet voice, but it was barely audible with the humiliation, stress & strain of the situation. Fumbling over words as I tried to sound like I knew what I was talking about still makes me cringe!! I felt really stupid & inadequate! It was a quiet trip home in the car with my grandparents that night! Then to go back to school the next day & face the humiliation of people who had heard me (barely) on radio was unbearable!! So….. no….. I wasn’t good at hiding who I was or what I knew at that stage! Would I have done better had I known I’d go on air….. I doubt it. Actually, I’d never have gone if I’d known I had to speak on radio!! Guessing my grandparents knew that, but I felt sad that they tricked me into it.

  2. Lynn Severance Says: 9:07 pm

    I’d hope each of us learns from hindsight as we reflect on our years and our needs in times past and how we look at them now. The way you share your story of reading of places you had yet to travel is one with a fine edged sense of “did I?” or “did I not?” lie. Was giving a good impression the driving force or not?

    The wonder of human communication comes through the one sharing and the one receiving the words shared. Your listeners then may have thought you had been to the places you read about. Then again, some may have sensed you reading about them. The fact that it has left its impression – though soft as that left in a foam mattress – is the nudge that had you wanting the assurance you were communicating authentically later as your career grew. By that time and with more experience, you knew you’d not want any hint of compromise. That book became a catalyst that sent you far and far and farther, assuring authenticity, first to yourself, and then with truer enthusiasm to your viewers/listeners/readers.

  3. Jean Says: 9:52 pm

    P.S. On making an impression – Always be honest – anything else will come back to bite you and trip you up. Be who you really are with confidence that you did your best and will give your best – with joy. If there is no joy in the journey, no joy in the task, then it becomes total misery.

  4. Jean Says: 9:45 pm

    Yes – if such an impression was premeditated I would consider it a scam and a lie. Redemption comes when your conscience stirs enough to say no. As a Christian now, I love being transparent – I love never having to “mince” words as they say. I am free to always say what is true because that’s all there is.

  5. Keith Blackwell Says: 7:59 pm

    I stumbled upon your website, not by accident, I’m sure. I just traded some texts with my daughter who is off at college. Of course, we talked about food and the chicken salad she had made. She told me that I taught her everything she knows. It made my heart sing. Well as a boy, I watched your show and learned everything I know about cooking from you. Okay, while I have picked up a few things in the last 45 years or so, it was the technique that stuck with me. Thanks for sharing your love of food that has been passed down a generation.

  6. Graham Says: 6:20 am

    Well Gary, on the issue of ‘tone’ let me say that, as the Galloping Gourmet, I was like a surfer on a wave doing my best to stay up…that does provide a measure of tonal determination? These days I’m pretty happy sitting on the beach and hanging…out, rather than…hanging ten! On the other issue, it seems that in our day we have come to value the word and action of ‘transparency’, what I am trying to do is relive my life as it was and see, in hindsight, how those days have fashioned my present character and its continued need for growth. For the most part I feel that I am being blessed on my way upstream?

  7. Gary Gillman Says: 3:12 pm

    It’s obviously something that has bothered you for a long time. However, your career proved you had ample talent, and then some, for the success which followed.
    It is good that you’ve mentioned it, it adds fullness to your story, but I wouldn’t let it bother you, it happened, and you moved on and learned from it.
    If you don’t mind me saying, it’s interesting to see you in normal conversational mode versus the broadcasting image (I am familiar mostly with The Galloping Gourmet). On the shows, you spoke louder and with a different tone completely, at least to my ear.

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