Ric Richardson is a retired printing industry
executive from Australia, who has used his time here to indulge
himself in his passion for history and writing. The end result
is some historical novels that are receiving some acclaim, and a
man who now describes himself as being “very satisfied with my
He was born in Sydney, more years ago than he
really wants to think about. His father was in the paper
industry, and this did later have some bearing on his career;
however, his father died when Ric was ten years old, so he and
his elder sister were raised by his mother.
At school Ric knew what he wanted to do. “I
wanted to be the world’s greatest architect,” and so he went
to Technical High School in Sydney to follow his star. He was a
good student, finishing school with honours in Maths and
English, and should have been set to enter university to study
Unfortunately this was right after WWII, and
in Australia returning soldiers received first preference in
university places. He was told he would have to wait 12 months
before there would be a place available. In the interim, his
mother contacted business friends of his late father who gave
the young man a job in the printing industry for the 12 month
He applied for architecture again and was
once more told there were no more places available, after the
returned soldiers had had their pick, and he would have to wait
for another 12 months. This was too much for the hoped-to-be
architect, and he accepted a position as the assistant to the
sales manager of a large Sydney printing firm.
He did well. He worked hard, holding down
that job and lecturing at night on sales and marketing at
college. He was a young man with ambition, and on the move. He
had to be - he had a wife and children to support.
However, he was to find that drive and
ambition was not the only necessity to move upwards in that
printing business. After 13 years and not getting the top job,
he asked why. “Because this is a family business, and you’re
not family,” was the reply. So for the second time in his
life, factors out of his control looked as if they were to
control his destiny.
He moved away from Sydney and spent a year
building a house in suburban Brisbane, only to have one of the
“family” members look him up and offer him the job as sales
manager, despite not being of the blood-line. He took it and
returned to Sydney.
But there was one blood line that he found he
did have. Straight back to the convicts who were the first
forced settlers in that great sun-burned land! While it might
have been a scourge on one’s name in those days, today it is
different. Blokes like Ric are ‘real’ Australian developers.
Ric proudly told me that he is a past president of the First
Fleet Fellowship and a past secretary of the Descendents of
Convicts Association. I envied him in a way - my family had gone
to Australia as government assisted migrants. How dull by
The “family” business was not to last,
being bought out by a multinational group, but Ric did. He was
sent around the world to get a feel for this huge conglomerate.
However, huge conglomerates have their ups and downs too, and
Ric was given the job of ‘rationalizing’ the Australian arm.
Nice boardroom speak for being a hatchet man!
Again he was a survivor, living through
cutbacks and was even able to find a corporate buyer for the
group he was running in Australia. But this life of boardroom
deals was starting to tell. Ric gave himself a five year plan. A
simple plan to drop out of the mainstream, become a beach bum
and to write. The plan was hatched when he was 55, so when he
turned 60 he would be off and running into this new career.
The plan progressed, but right at the crunch
time, his (second) wife said she did not want to sacrifice her
career, just because Ric wanted out of his. Were more factors
not under his control to shape his destiny again? Not this time.
They worked out the compromise, which meant they lived apart to
follow their own needs, but this led to an amicable separation
and eventually (predictably) divorce.
Ric was now washed up on the surfing beaches
of Queensland’s Gold Coast and met the local newspaper
proprietor. This serendipitous meeting sent him to study
journalism and then to become a travel writer. “I travelled
for three months, wrote for three months and then wrote my own
stuff (his books) for six months. I had freedom for the first
time in my life.”
But even this freedom began to pall. “I was
living in a clique of retirees.” Ric wanted out. He decided to
move to Europe, “I even bought the tapes to learn the
language.” This time it was international money market forces
that made him reconsider - Europe was too expensive, and having
been advised that Thailand had a cheaper cost of living, decided
to try life here. “I thought I would try Chiang Mai for two
years. It had no beaches, and I was sick of those, but I had no
one to answer to. I was totally free.”
The two years stretched to seven and he is
still here, and still protecting his freedom. “I join
nothing,” he said emphatically. He is happy writing his books
and is now on his fifth. “I stopped writing for 12 months, but
I found I missed it, and I was becoming involved in the social
scene again.” For Ric, this was tantamount to losing his
His forebears had their freedom removed and were sent to a
penal colony. Ric Richardson is making damn sure he never loses