Arnold was well-connected – he was one of the last Mayoral chauffeurs – he worked for 23 years, driving for Frank Kitts, Michael Fowler, Ian Lawrence, Jim Belich and Fran Wilde – in a range of classics including Daimler, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Ford LTD.
“There were two chauffeurs – one did the day shift, one on nights. Probably the best Mayor was Sir Michael – he was great, really switched on. One time the FIFA President, Sir Stanley Rous, paid a visit to Wellington. We’re talking about the most powerful man in global sport. Sir Michael had no hesitation about calling us in – we got to meet Sir Stanley in the old Town Hall. We were chuffed.
“We’ve still got some of Sir Michael’s old sketches at home – of places like the Freyberg Pool – that he gave to dad.”
Not long after Jacko started the Hataitai Depot was closed down and he was offered a job at the Basin Reserve – his first foray into sportsfields. In those days there were about 30 sportsfields staff – doing everything from ground prep to building maintenance and cleaning toilets.
He spent three or four years at the Basin and enjoyed learning the ropes – except for the time he found a man deceased in the toilets early one morning.
“Poor old guy – it was natural causes but I still needed a cigarette break after that. It was a hell of a shock.”
The Basin gave him a good grounding in wicket prep for cricket tests and one-dayers. Among the famous players he met, a favourite was Aussie’s Merv Hughes: “A character - we had a few beers with him after a one-dayer.” Perhaps controversially, he says all the Aussie players were “quite good – quite entertaining.”