Blast from the past: Author Lesley Field gives advice to travelling Kiwi women in the 1970s

The clip not only mirrors how travel has changed, but also how society has, too.
The clip not only mirrors how travel has changed, but also how society has, too. Photo credit: NZOnScreen.com

Most things in the travel industry have changed hugely since the 1970s, from travel times to how we get there. 

There's no better example than a 1979 clip posted on NZOnScreen called 'Travel: Looking your Best', featuring author and socialite Lesley Field. 

The clip not only mirrors how travel has changed, but also how society has, too.

The video begins with the audience seemingly interrupting a conversation amongst friends, in the less-than-casual setting of a blacked-out studio.

Field introduces herself and explains she's travelled from London to New Zealand for a two-day stint - unlikely, as in the '70s it took longer than that to get here.

But at least she's honest with her intentions.

"I've written a book and they've invited me to talk about it," she explains. "I'm the editor of the Tatler Magazine and I'm wanting to get all of you to buy it."

Field, joined by co-presenters Helen Vause and Bunty Finney, had just released her first book Look Like a Million. 

"I decided three months ago when I found out that I was going to be making this trip that I wasn't going to be one of those dreadful women who travel for a month and have 14 suitcases that need 72 flunkies to carry all through the airport," Field says.

We're then shown her two small cases and any questions about special effects are put to rest as she assures us, the bags are "really this size".

Field says she's "frightfully pleased" with herself for managing to stick to bringing just two cases.

At this point, it would be fair to question just how light she is travelling, when she reveals she also has a tote bag that carries "books, diaries and papers".

Does she have plans to open a library while she is here?

Inside her case are a series of carry-bags she's made herself.

"This one's got my scarfs," she says, winking at the camera.

Field says she also brought with her a travelling iron which her boyfriend gave to her for Christmas, so "he would know where I was going to be every night".

"I thought that was very 'dog in the manger' of him," she says.

As well as being asked about taking walking boots with her when she travels (she doesn't), she's also asked where she carries her cosmetics.

"Well, that takes them all," Field says as she points to a small bag.

"All?!" her co-presenter responds in disbelief.

Times have changed a lot since Lesley Field was in the country.
Times have changed a lot since Lesley Field was in the country. Photo credit: NZOnScreen.com

But this clip delivers its best moment last, as Field wraps things up and shares her mantra with Helen and Finney.

"The days of being dependent on other people are over," Field says as she spreads a hypnotic gaze across her two fellow guests who sit in silence as the credits appear.

Since this feature was filmed, Lesley Field went on to become intertwined with England's upper-class. In 1987, she told the LA Times she was "a representative of England and the royal household".

In the same interview, Field perhaps gave some insight into the strange chat she had had on camera in New Zealand in the 1970s.

"I love making speeches. I've spent years on my subject, and I give a different speech every time," she said. 

"Afterwards, I won't remember a word I've said."

Upon the release of her third book, Field said it would be her last and her plans were to "read the estimated 10,000 volumes she owns and think back fondly on her palace workplaces".

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