At 74, stage and small screen actor John Wood has turned his hand to an engagingly crisp memoir. This son of a Melbourne abattoir worker charts his “rather unexpected, and totally accidental” performing career with a keen eye for the misfit characters of his youth and fellow pioneers of his early days in the vanguard of an Australian vernacular in theatre.

John Wood

Best known for his role as Senior Sergeant Tom Croydon throughout the 500 episode-plus run of the television drama Blue Heelers, Wood’s clear, workmanlike writing finds the flow of the grain, unlike his inept efforts at woodwork in his limited technical school secondary education.

Wood regales his readers with funny tales of his involvement in a teenage drama group, and the idiosyncrasies of workmates in the railways and at his dad’s abattoir, where the acting hopeful worked for 18 months, trying to save for the money to get to the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney: NIDA accepted Wood to study on $6 fortnightly scholarship, without his having attained a Leaving certificate first.

Wood jokes about being a...