Archive | Weekend Magazine Columns


Envy is our best friends. It can tell us what we really want under all that resentment, so we can go get it

SEVERAL years ago, I noticed I was feeling very unfavourable towards a certain friend.

Every time I talked to her, I felt out of sorts. I began noticing things I didn’t like and avoided talking to her.

Because I like to self-reflect, I gave the matter some thought. Why was I suddenly pulling away from someone I dearly loved? And it came to me. Jealousy.

Rather than let the friendship go, I decided to list all the things that were making me feel jealous of her. And only one came up.

Although she is gorgeous and very talented, my red light was that she travelled a lot for work. Just back from London, just off to Paris, just back from Vietnam, just off to America. I wanted to slap dat bi-atch down.

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Global Irrelevance Crisis

A NEW phenomenon has struck the world. We’re going through what I’ve decided to call a GIC — a Global Irrelevance Crisis — and therapists I’ve interviewed agree.

The GIC is the new 1970s identity crisis; or the midlife crisis of the 80s. Most people I talk to are experiencing a sense that they are irrelevant — that they are invisible, unseen and forgotten. In the old identity crisis, people lay about in encounter groups sobbing because they didn’t know who they were. In the 2010s we know who and what we are. We just suspect it isn’t relevant. Or if it is, it won’t be for long in this ever-changing world where standing still is going backwards.

Having been a social observer for decades, I can say that while people have always felt unsung it’s never been this bad. Technological advances are making many feel things are whizzing by too fast for them to make a mark. We’re all replaceable. A brilliant web designer I know who works at $150 an hour is now competing for work with 18-year-olds in India who charge $20 an hour. “Cheaper, net savvier, younger!” is the catchcry and people fear for their jobs, or products. Even retailers and book publishers have become irrelevant in the cyber world, where convenience is king. Continue Reading →


Nothing to Fear

Buddhists say there are only real two emotional states, Love and Fear. And that all other emotions stems from them. Which one governs you?

A WONDERFUL tale. A dear friend of mine was very worried because life was about to change in ways that were beyond his control.

The house he was renting was unexpectedly put on the market. Given his lease had expired and he was on a month-by-month arrangement, there was no stopping the wheels of change. The agent informed him that he had a couple of months to move out.

Not so easy. The house was a very basic home in an outer suburb, dark and hard to heat. But it had one major plus. The owners allowed dogs and the garden was large enough for two rather feisty ones. So he stayed and stayed. The news couldn’t have come at a worse time. With an ailing sister, and the necessity to spend several months interstate imminent, he was shaken. “No one will take me with two dogs; I will never find anywhere in a couple of weeks.” Continue Reading →


Is common courtesy dead?

Have manners died in the era of social media when it’s so easy to ignore emails or texts? And what about common courtesy in general? I was in the movies last night and some dude was munching lollies and crackling paper all night during a sad (great) movie The Tree of Life while the woman in front was texting – the light going in my eyes. Road rudeness is everywhere. But “email and text neglect” is the worst.

It’s so rare to get a return email from some people that you figure there is something wrong with your inbox. Maybe you’ve turned on spam by mistake? Nope! It’s just bad behaviour that’s all! And lack of respect. There is always the plea:

“I never got your text” or “My email was down for the past few days,”

Which is the “cheque’s in the mail” of our decade. After all, who could argue with the precarious nature of electronic media? The worst display of rudeness comes from those who take calls and texts while you’re with them at dinner or coffee. Read the full story in the Weekend Australian.

And share your views here on rudeness and what cheeses you off.

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Equal Rights for Men?

According to research men would rather say they were unemployed than the primary child carer.

NOTHING has really changed for men. In the ’90s I did a stint promoting male issues and the fact that men wanted to be more involved in child-rearing and home making, thus enabling women to be more available for their careers.

As the daughter of an absent father, I lobbied that it was nourishing for both children and fathers if dads took the domestic reigns for a while. Women agreed, but at the same time still expected their men to be the major breadwinners. Men were deeply confused.

And it hasn’t changed. According to University of Western Sydney researcher Deborah Wilmore, men passionately want to be involved in childrearing but are often embarrassed to admit their role because they still get stigmatised by women and other men.


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Kids in Cyberspace

Within 3 years kids will study in 3D surround-screen Hologram classes. Watching TV likewise. Our TV rooms will  soon be like something out of Star Trek. Welcome to the ‘not too distant’ future of Science Faction.

YOU only have to be the parent of a child over the age of seven to know what I’m talking about: the vacant eyes so preoccupied by what’s on screen that they can’t focus on your face for more than a few seconds before being drawn back into the cyberworld.

As you talk, your little darling types or toggles. “Are you listening to me?” you ask, only to be told in a precocious tone: “Yeahhhh. I’m multitasking, Mum.”

It gets worse. By 16, girls no longer seem to have use of their tongues. “Text it to me, Mum,” quips my daughter, barely able to contain her contempt that she has to speak and breathe at the same time. I know one mother who got her daughter to the dinner table by posting the request on Facebook. It was so like social death for the girl that, like, she never failed to come to the table again. Technologies such as Twitter are alarmingly succinct. If you can’t say it in two lines, don’t bother. Luckily, I come from the dinosaur era of the telegram: “Come home (stop) Finish homework (stop) Or no mobile (stop).”

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Renovation Horrors

Home renos, what a pain in the butt. It’s Day Two and my nerves are already jangled. Can people answer these two questions: Why does anyone do home renovations? And how do you cope? Tell me the secret – what drugs are you on to calm you down when people don’t turn up or do something you don’t want?


AFTER a recent storm it came; dribbling down the wall, delicate as a tear drop. A trickle from my ceiling which became a stream, then a small torrent.

After a series of panicky calls, the roof expert arrived. Tiles had been damaged during the high winds, he said. Hours later he came down carrying his tools and a soggy bill. “All fixed,” he declared. But that evening, when the rain returned, I heard the dreaded drum of water splashing on the floorboards.

To my shock, the roof man refused to come back. “I checked everything. There’s nothing more I can do.” Through the night my partner and I nursed buckets, waiting for the SES emergency workers. A team arrived and workers went searching for the problem. Confused, they ended up tarping the whole roof to be safe. It was like a movie: sandbags being passed in a line and up the ladder; lots of screaming; ropes; neighbours in the street watching on. My house now looked like a ship on the high seas.

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Friendships have a use-by date

Cuba seriesHow it is that some relationships stand the test of time and others just don’t?

I RAN into an old friend the other day. It was a chance meeting. I consider this woman one of my true soul mates; someone I’ve shared so much with during the early days of my career. We have a similar sense of irony and humour, and see life through the same eyes.

We lost touch. The last time I had dinner with her was maybe two years ago. And yet the moment we sat down there was the same familiarity and comfort as if no years had gone by at all. We did the “OMG, what have you been doing?” thing for a while, and then reverted straight to the observations, laughter and social commentary that marked our friendship. I knew we would be friends to our death. Continue Reading →


You can’t censor the Net

As I blogged last week Telstra and Optus are debating whether to enact their censorship filters this month and try to stop what they consider “undesirable content”.

While the big boys prevaricate, here’s what we humble internet users know: you can’t stop anything by trying to censor the web. My daughter found a site last week where tweenage girls post photos of themselves in pornographic poses. The blog has gone viral among teenage boys and found its way into our home via Facebook.

There seemed to be no commercial reason for the site. No pimping. Just another look-at- me, narcissistic blog-site, indicative of a generation of self-photographing girls. An amped-up version of Facebook which is full of pouting jailbait at the best of times. As a mother and feminist, I was pretty shattered. But its existence proves my point. It’s impossible to censor the Net, especially these days. Anyone can set up a site for free.

But far more importantly, once you censor one site, where do you draw the line? Racism, sexism… and then what? Anti Government sentiment, Erotica, art? And who’s to judge — certainly not the corporate world.

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And read my full opinion in Saturday’s The Australian



Better than Sex



I WASN’T surprised by a recent hotel industry survey that showed couples who go away are more likely to watch television than have sex.

Around 80 per cent of Australian hotel guests responded that they preferred to turn on the TV or an in-house movie instead of their partner, the online survey revealed.

It seems to me that most people in long-term relationships are more driven by a need to escape the mundane, and become part of a murder mystery or medical crisis, than have a shag.

And most people I interviewed  had 1 to 3 things they’d rather be doing than having sex with their partners. I casually asked a few people who’ve been together five years or longer. Here are some of the answers:

“Eat chocolate mousse; watch House; sleep; anything; eat a home-cooked lasagne; play with the dog; watch internet porn; watch a great film; read Vanity Fair; be skiing; watch soccer; go to a great dance party; be online; have sex but with someone else.”

What are the things you find better than sex?  Or how do you keep it hot & spicy?

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Read full story in today’s   The Australian