A LITTLE FLIGHT READING
AWAY WITH WORDS Helen Hutcheon
(Impact Press, $24.95)
There’s a firm clue to the evolving career of veteran Australian journalist and editor Helen Hutcheon on her memoir’s cover. There she is, in the 1960s, looking very fetching in a smart suit with nautical hat aboard the liner Iberia. It was taken when she worked in the public relations department of P&O for seven years after she had become a graded journalist and it was this period that inspired her later passion for cruising. After retiring from editing magazines and writing for tourism industry journals, Hutcheon is a regional correspondent for British-based Seatrade Cruise News. It seems like a very agreeable circumnavigation, back to a form of travel she loves.
In this lively account, she shares vignettes of her early days representing P&O (including an on-air news gaffe in which she told viewers all about a children’s “piddling” pool aboard one ship) plus tales of working on publications such as Woman’s Day, Vogue Living, which she edited (and recalls advising readers how to make a tennis dress and racquet cover from pillow cases), and with Ita Buttrose on Australian Women’s Weekly. Hutcheon writes of a world of privileged access to royals (Princess Grace of Monaco, for one), carbon paper and copytakers, all unknown to the new breed of bloggers and digital specialists. I shared a motel room with her one night in Katherine, NT, many moons ago and she woke me before dawn as she bashed away at a portable typewriter, looking rather like Auntie Mame in immaculate peignoir and turban. “Don’t you have a deadline, too?” she asked, looking pointedly at her watch. More: booktopia.com.au; bookdepository.com.