Teen Party Mania

Teen Party Mania

Teen Party Mania

A FRIEND RECENTLY hosted a 16th birthday party at her home. Planning was military. There would be no alcohol and she and her husband hired three burly body guards to check guests at the front entrance.

Several adults were also on hand to peruse the periphery of the property checking for opportunistic gate crashers.

The costume party was by invitation only and sixty young guests were expected.

The hosts admit to being control freaks, so they covered every eventuality. The police were informed about the party beforehand, as were all the neighbours in the quiet, upmarket Brisbane street.

What could possibly go wrong? Nothing did, for a while. The teens enjoyed dancing and enjoying each other’s company, seemingly content to enjoy the hired disc jockey’s music and act like 16-year-olds. Things turned rather suddenly.

At around 10pm, the first fleet of taxis arrived and out spilled teenagers – many of them with bottles of alcohol and clearly under the influence.

By now there were around 60 imposters milling around the street. Next, they began scaling the fence of a neighbour’s yard to try and gain access. Another neighbour phoned to say he’d seen young men and women streaming along the road from the nearby train station. A few gatecrashers had been expected, but certainly not on this scale.

After a brief deliberation, the parents did the most sensible thing they could under the circumstances and much to the devastation of their teen, shut down the party. In the aftermath, they found ‘around $300 worth of alcohol’ – bottles were hidden in bushes and much of it confiscated from guests who were implicitly told ‘no alcohol’.

My friend even discovered two bottles of vanilla essence smuggled inside by invited guests. “How desperate is that?” she asked, dumb-founded.

So what went wrong? How did all these teens know about the party if it was closed and by invitation only?

It seems that no matter what extremes they went to in order to create a controlled environment, imposters came. The reason, my friend discovered, was simple – with the help of modern technology, guests could invite all their friends within minutes of arriving at the party. Those friends in turn messaged their friends who in turn sent messages to their friends – and so it snow-balled.

As a mother of three – two of whom are teens, the tale of this party put me off for life. I informed the family that sorry, parties (unless associated with tea and cake), were forever banned in our household.

I mentioned this fact to another friend – one who is a seasoned host of several teen parties.

She reminded me that all celebrations had progressed without incident. The most recent was her son’s 18th birthday party. There was alcohol; there were 60 invited guests and no bouncers – just a few parents and the hosts. Her son even invited his friends via Facebook.

“They had a great party and at 12pm, everyone was ready to go home,” said my friend.

So what was her secret?

“We were fortunate – we never had any problems and I can only put that down to my son’s friends – if you can’t trust the friends, don’t hold the party.”

Perhaps there is a faint glimmer of hope for my deprived teens – am quite sure we could rustle up a deployment of army reservists just in case …

Royal Mistresses of the House of Hanover-Windsor

Royal Mistresses of the House of Hanover-Windsor

Royal Mistresses of the House of Hanover-Windsor

This fascinating and colourful romp through the annals of royal history gives rare insight into the lives and loves of rather rampant royals from the house of Hanover-Windsor. The detailed description of pomp and privilege is also a rather refreshing escape from coronavirus overload.

Today’s royals, no matter how badly behaved, tone-deaf or spoiled, appear positively tame in comparison to their frisky and overindulged forbears. The apparent largely fictional The Crown Netflix series may beg to differ, but there is no doubt a wanton disregard for monogamy far exceeded current Royals norms. Marriage back then involved titles and bloodlines with the hope that love came later. In the 1800s, arranged marriages were made for ‘political, financial and dynastic reasons’ — mainly to produce the all-important heir.

“Most of them compensated for loveless arranged marriages to German cousins by taking mistresses. Royal brides had to have blue blood and be virginal to prevent any chance of a cuckoo in the royal nest, so a prince marrying his mistress was unthinkable,” says the author. Camilla Parker Bowles became the first royal mistress to be both bedded and wedded.

Royal Mistresses of the House of Hanover-Windsor – Secrets, Scandals and Betrayals by Susanna de Vries is published by Pirgos Press.

Camilla followed a grand tradition. Her great grandmother, Alice Keppel was King Edward VII’s beloved mistress, although on his death, neither Mrs Keppel nor the ‘hundreds of other extramarital affairs’ were of course mentioned. While cash-strapped former mistresses such as Daisy Brooke, Countess of Warwick occasionally attempted to bribe royals with love letters as collateral—evidence of a royal’s infidelity was mostly destroyed. Some of these scintillating details were, however, preserved.

The diary of Consuelo, older sister of Freda Dudley Ward, Edward VIII’s first mistress, gave intimate details of the prince’s indiscretions and sexual inadequacies (caused by childhood mumps).

Some of these scintillating details were, however, preserved. The diary of Consuelo, older sister of Freda Dudley Ward, Edward VIII’s first mistress, gave intimate details of the prince’s indiscretions and sexual inadequacies (caused by childhood mumps). Nicknamed the ‘Peter Pan Prince’, for his child-like behaviour, The Prince of Wales went on to inherit the Crown. He famously abdicated to marry his mistress, the twice-divorced American, Mrs Wallis Simpson and became Duke of Windsor.

Portrayed as a heartless gold digger, Wallis initially wooed the prince by pandering to his deep-seated psychological and sexual issues. These were lasting effects from his affection-deprived childhood and being raised by his abusive and rather depraved Nanny Greene.

While most royal indiscretions were quietly whitewashed, the advent of tell-all tabloids and mercenary paparazzi meant Princess Diana’s life played out before our eyes. By all accounts, it began as a fairytale. Who could forget the glowing princess-in-love gliding down the aisle of St Paul’s Cathedral in her beautiful crushed ivory silk taffeta and antique lace gown? But the author (rather more factually than the Crown), reveals the fairytale was a facade. “The Firm”, as Fergie liked to call it, had advised a much older Charles to marry the virginal Diana despite his great love for soulmate, Camilla. According to the author, Charles had spent the night before his wedding with Camilla while Diana was alone ‘eating bowls of ice cream and throwing up’.

Camilla, once deemed the scarlet woman, slowly gained entry into the royal courts and was even finally accepted as the heir to the throne’s loyal wife. The author says it was under her guidance that Kate Middleton learnt the Royal ropes. Camilla’s tiara is currently teetering a tad with millions of Crown viewers suddenly remembering her royal infidelity. Kate, on the other hand, is without blemish. Her marriage to Prince William in 2011, put an end to centuries of arranged royal marriages. Queen Elizabeth II had married for love and encouraged her grandsons to do the same.

One of the Royals missing from this historical caper is Prince Harry, who married way after the book’s publication. As everyone knows, he too defied royal tradition, dodging virginal royalty and choosing the glamorous and increasingly vocal social justice warrior, Meghan Markle instead. And how that unfolds, only time will tell.


Royal Mistresses of the House of Hanover-Windsor – Secrets, Scandals and Betrayals by Susanna de Vries is published by Pirgos Press.

Available on Amazon

Susanna’s latest book, Nell, is currently available through Boolarong Press.

Superwoman of Super Waste

Superwoman of Super Waste

Superwoman of Super Waste

IT’S THAT TIME of year again where my family insists I be locked up. Not that I’ve done anything wrong yet—it’s just that they know something embarrassing is imminent. It’s the annual or bi-annual council pick up, you see. That time of year when distracting piles of junk—no let me rephrase—someone else’s treasure lies on the curb for all to see. The very innards of their soul lie naked for public perusal.

The last pick up was dismal. Even for a seasoned fixer-upper like myself, there was little to fix. It was already broken. Nothing to paint—it was beyond redemption. The GFC had left a ruthless aftermath. There was nothing worth salvaging from the piles of flagrant rubbish that lay scattered forlornly on curbs.

This year appears slightly more encouraging. Early sightings have been positive. Furniture appears whole and wholly salvageable. A garden pot, seen, but not taken, is unbroken. I have already helped myself to a perfectly good book case. Yet the thought that I am on the prowl is inciting sheer terror in my family. The memory of the three-legged garden arch is far too fresh in their minds.

This was the year I had to abort the first attempt at squeezing a metal garden arch into my diminutive run- about, forced instead to hide the arch in nearby bush and return at dusk with a bigger car and three children. The fact that the arch had one leg missing didn’t deter my ardour. I had visions for my arbour.

As I write, a creeper grows majestically over my find. And yet, my triumph is tainted by the thought that the retrieval of the three-legged arch is a story I know my children have stored away in ‘the most embarrassing thing Mom ever did’ memory bank. I know they will recount the embellished tale to my grandchildren when I am old and fragile.

The truth of the matter is, they have little to fear. I glean, I do not indiscriminately grab. The treasures I find are required, not simply stored away for a rainy day. I am no hoarder. And nor am I a slimy reseller. I do not have the time or energy to troll the neighbourhoods from dawn to dusk with a trailer, (umm, anyone own one?).

Indeed, my act of retrieval is a selfless one. I prefer to be known as a drive-by recycler. I am a wanton superwoman of super-waste. I am a selfless one-woman crusader against our throwaway society, one that shamelessly discards old for new.

Be back in a tick … there’s a garden pot that needs picking up…

A Selfie Made in Heaven

A Selfie Made in Heaven

A Selfie Made in Heaven

“Oh noooooo!’ groaned the sleekly bobbed woman in the shop aisle beside me.

I turned in shock to see what was causing her immense pain. She was staring at her phone with a mixture of horror and disbelief and gave another pitiful groan. It was heartbreaking. Had someone died? Fallen gravely ill? Was it her electricity bill? I glanced at her with a half panicked, half sympathetic smile, ready to offer dodgy CPR should she need revival.

She glanced up briefly, smiled wryly while gazing, transfixed at her iPhone screen. In a daze of post-unauthorised Facebook traumatic stress disorder, she uttered a distraught explanation: “It’s my birthday, and a friend has just published the most awful photograph of me drunk at 19 on Facebook. It’s been up for three hours, why didn’t I check my phone!” she wailed.

I wanted to tell her she looked lovely and her hair was fabulous and really, who cared about Facebook anyway. It was so last year. But at a glance, I realised it was far too late for any feel-good comments. Her birthday was already irrevocably ruined. I dared not ask how old.

She’s lucky it wasn’t worse. Careers have been ruined by one ill-timed selfie. Celebs are particularly vulnerable. One can only hope newly crowned royal, Meghan doesn’t have too many forgotten photographic gems waiting to be unearthed by unscrupulous ‘friends.’ And her estranged family could be the toxic gift that keeps giving … to the tabloids.

Sometimes it’s pure innocence that lands us in hot water. Posing for a picture can, as many have discovered, come back to bite us. I’ll bet the likes of Oprah and Meryl Streep aren’t too happy about their happy snaps with Weinstein. Trigger happy friends are also prone to posting with wanton abandon. What they don’t realise is that not everyone is a fan of the selfie or particularly proficient at it.

A friend and I recently attended a rather large women’s conference which was incredibly inspiring and left a lasting impression. However, one thing struck me: What’s with all the ‘selfies’?

When last was an occasion enjoyed without immediately sharing the experience with everyone who wasn’t there? Note the poster always posts the most flattering picture of themselves with not a thought given to the poor soul on her right caught mid-blink. The most intriguing aspect of the conference selfies was that the most prolific selfie-snappers were grown women like me who possibly should know better. Personally, I’d rather avoid such extreme close-ups but there again, there are filters to soften defects now too.


Way back the selfie equivalent was using up an entire roll of film to photograph ourselves pulling funny faces or striking slightly dodgy Abba poses. It was pure indulgence because we knew we were paying for each print, no matter how botched they were. We’d then have to wait until we’d saved enough money to actually develop the film at our local pharmacy or camera shop. In our country town, you were lucky if you could retrieve your prized photographs one week later. And even then, out of one roll of film, there were maybe two prints in focus or which didn’t include someone squinting into the camera or blocking the prettiest friend from view. And we could choose the photographs we wanted to end up in our photo albums. Yes, that was actually a physical thing.

My late uncle was renowned for cutting off his subjects’ legs, torso or heads – usually managing to snap either body, legs, and feet or lots of sky and just your head. How he would have loved a smartphone. With a smartphone, that endearing eccentricity would be a ghost of the past. These days, almost anyone blessed with sight can be a photographic genius.

The selfie? Now that requires a little more practice. My friend and I are clearly dismal at it. Noting the ease at which all the women around us at the said conference were pouting and posing, we decided we too could perform. The outcome was not made in selfie heaven. My friend blames her new phone when on later observation, we were, quite literally, a merged blur. A smudge of two faces which could have been anyone at all. We could have tried again but honestly? This was a gem.

And selfie fail aside, it’s perhaps my favourite photograph ever. It almost, but not quite, pips my dear uncle’s memorable shot featuring a vast swath of blue sky and the top of my head. I say almost as his photographic fail was at least in focus.

Leaning Towards Christmas

Leaning Towards Christmas

Leaning Towards Christmas

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA—The tree is up and our feral feline has already been seduced by its baubles and bling and attempted to climb its fake Canterbury pine branches and make off with the flashing star.

He made the same ascent last year with, pardon the pun, catastrophic results. He snapped the top clean off resulting in an eternal leaning due to two taped stakes connecting the tree top to its piny nether regions.

Admittedly, this leaning does give the tree a certain authentic ‘I was harvested on a particularly blustery winter morning’ appearance. Instead, it was made in China with the only real similarity being that, this one, like its genuine counterpart, has a definite shelf life.

This Christmas, I fear, will be its last. The rest of the Christmas decorations have also taken on a rather forlorn air, mostly because the chief festivity officer, namely my daughter, has taken off to Europe. She’s enjoying a bracing start to a European winter while we begin the slow melt into summer.

While we may not have all the trappings of a picture book Christmas, an Aussie Christmas has one definite advantage: Sunshine—lots of it. We can take full advantage of nature’s own energy source and go mad with solar lights. That’s if they’re not all snapped up by greedy solar shoppers. There never seems to be enough to go around. I managed to salvage the last bucket of white icicle lights (irony there) at my local supermarket which I proceeded to excitedly drape over our entrance wall. They showed great promise until I realised they were six metres long and the wall was twelve. Half the wall looks dazzling but the fun stops there.Reindeer

To make up for the lack of lighting, I hung up last year’s wreaths made from my old passionfruit vine and sticks I found in the bush. Rustic festive charm is the general theme. I also had a couple of wooden reindeer lovingly crafted by my husband. However, these seem to have landed up in the fire pit when a certain teenager insisted it was too late to gather his own wood when friends were arriving ‘any minute’. All that remains of Rudolph is his log head and a rather faded red bow.

All that remains of Rudolph is his log head and a rather faded red bow.

Shopping at Christmas is universally manic. Each year I resolve to avoid the mayhem by adopting the clichéd yet sensible ‘shop through the year’ approach. It never works. I know without a doubt that with a week to go I will be the vague shopper pacing the lofty, festooned and fake marbled hallways of my local shopping mall.

I will be the wild-eyed woman manically humming ‘Jingle Bells’ with mounting hysteria. And unfortunately, I will have only myself to blame. If the truth be told, weeks ago, I specifically went to buy a particular someone a Christmas present only to be drawn like a magnet to the sale rack of a rather enticing clothes shop. It ended right there.

I do, however, have a rather canny and last ditch trick up my sleeve. It’s called online shopping. That’s if I haven’t already missed the deadline. Let me check … oops, one week to go. So online it will bein the cool comfort of my own home, a glass of festive cheer on hand.

I will cleverly avoid the onslaught of shoppers, sweaty Santa’s or sneaky sale racks. Sounds blissful. All that remains is the food shop which will include a tray of luscious, sun-kissed Bowen mangoes. Instant sensory, festive euphoria has to be the sight of these golden nuggets nestling in air-conditioned comfort on the kitchen counter.

Then and only then will I be perfectly set for an Aussie Christmas.

Let the joyful countdown begin …

Wishing you all a blessed and bountiful Christmas!

© Lois Nicholls

Time to Cull Celebrity Campaigners

Time to Cull Celebrity Campaigners

Time to Cull Celebrity Campaigners

I can't be your Facebook friend. i just can't

One of life’s most basic lessons is never to assume. Check your facts. And never, ever assume you can win your audience with arrogant self-importance.

Hillary’s leftwing press failed dismally in this regard. And so did she. What both parties assumed was that everyone believed their spin. That eloquent words shape a nation’s attitudes. That Hillary’s fraternizing with Hollywood was lauded. And Hollywood was even more misguided. The ordinary people clearly didn’t care when singer Katy Perry stood up and in a spectacularly condescending manner, dictated who people should vote for.

What must have come as a crushing shock is that she just wasn’t that important. What Katy did … or said, just didn’t cut it. Similarly, people did not care when Beyonce and Jay-Z ran a free concert (which, incidentally, they only half-managed to fill) and Hillary embraced them with gushing rhetoric. The sexist, racist trash that emanated from Jay-Z’s mouth should have been enough to turn off the most avid Hillary supporter but that aside, again, why do these celebrities in their opulent bunkers not get it that the world does not generally give a toss. When did they start believing their own press? Just because Vogue endorses a Kardashian doesn’t mean the world takes note.

And just like badly raised children unaccustomed to not getting their own way, post-Trump victory, many of these same celebs had a toddler tantrum.

Emotional intelligence was severely lacking. Many expressed a desire to flee to Canada. Not Mexico, mind you. Too risky. Canada obviously sounded more comfortable. As far as I know not a single celebrity has left yet. They’re throwing tweeting tantrums because this is the first time they’ve had to deal with the fact that beyond their privileged lives, no-one really cares. Tweeting – and encouraging riots is their mature response. Saluting democracy? I think not.

And Lindsay Lohan? A recount? This is your carefully considered opinion? Miley Cyrus, who claimed to care passionately for women’s rights was another star campaigner.  Hard to take someone too seriously when they’re pictured cavorting on stage with a giant blow-up penis. Or riding nude on a wrecking ball. Somehow I don’t see young girls aspiring to be just like her. Not once have I heard my own daughter express any vague adulation. Miley can sing, yes, but it ends there. And Hillary was happy to be endorsed by her? And assumed the masses would listen? Big mistake.

While celebrities have perhaps behaved with scant regard to maturity, mere mortals have acted no better. The most wanton and immature threat of which is; “I can’t be your Facebook friend anymore. I just can’t.” Sounds unbelievable until you realise that it’s really happening. A friend’s American relative did just that, daring any of her Facebook friends to show their hand. If they didn’t, it hinted at their Trump allegiance and for this, she would defriend them. Shocking but true. I can only be your friend if your opinions mirror my own. Free speech at its best.

Eating humble pie when things don’t go your way is tough. But it’s the mature thing to do. It reveals true character and resilience. I applaud you for doing just that. One of a handful of pro-Hillary supporters, Australian journalist Joe Hilderbrand, admitted the ‘Lefties blew it‘.

Politicians would do well to follow suit. Take Australia’s Labor leader, Bill Shorten. Perhaps he’s regretting calling America’s new president ‘barking mad’.  In fact, at the precise moment (delightfully caught on camera) when he heard the ‘barking mad’ Trump had the top job, his expression mirrored my son’s when he realizes his younger brother has beaten him to last night’s leftovers. Crestfallen. A sense of total betrayal and disbelief. How could he? Or in Bill’s case, “What do I say when I eventually meet this guy face to face?” Here’s the thing, Bill, every single human being is flawed. You should know. Perhaps you should acknowledge this publicly.

Not that Trump will be without his regrets. A serial motor mouth, he needed to put a lid on it plenty of times. This campaign turned darned ugly. And I’m sure encouraging wife, Melania to grace his customized Boeing 727 in a GQ magazine spread 15 years ago is among his regrets. Not to mention hers. Melania may reportedly speak five languages, but the nude shoot featuring her languishing on fur with little but diamonds to hide her well-honed form, has definitely come back to haunt her.  And the nightmare will return every time she tries to get too serious. I don’t suppose it was even a vague consideration that she would one day be America’s First Lady when she suggestively bared all. What to do? Perhaps give a deep and meaningful Vogue interview on ‘things I regret’. A message to young girls perhaps? I’m sure her press will put a positive spin on it.

Just don’t expect this ever so slightly cynical old hack to believe a word.

Sunday’s farmer solidarity march for human rights, not race

Sunday’s farmer solidarity march for human rights, not race

Sunday’s farmer solidarity march for human rights, not race

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – In the one week it took to organise Sunday’s mass march through Brisbane in solidarity with South Africa’s embattled farmers, four more were brutally murdered.

For many in the crowd of over 1,000 people marching from Roma Street to Queensland’s State Parliament House on Sunday, the march was personal. In our group of five, one had recently attended the funeral of an Eastern Cape relative brutally tortured. The elderly woman, a stalwart in her rural community, died of injuries too graphic to relay. Her housemate succumbed to equally severe injuries, and her husband was left for dead – beaten, bound, burnt and gagged. He miraculously survived.

My farm connection has more romantic roots. I spent the first few years of my life living on an agricultural college in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands. I later attended the local school, and my boarder friends all came from surrounding farming communities. My German-descent friend, Ute taught me to ride horses on her parent’s farm. My grandfather had been a Karoo farmer, and my dear late dad worked in agriculture all his life. As a child, I learned that drought meant tough times for farmers. I learned that when shop potato prices were low, the ‘poor farmers’ were getting nothing for theirs. I gained an appreciation for the growers of the produce that landed on our plates and the hard slog it took to get it there.

Today, there is nothing romantic about being a white farmer in South Africa. Drought and low potato prices pale into insignificance when lives are at stake. Of course, no one can ignore the fact that farmers are not the only victims of crime. In fact, for my friend directly affected, attending the march was more about standing up for human rights. “I see this as a human rights march, not a political or racially motivated march. I stand in solidarity with all those who have suffered through violent crime,” he said.

And yet, it is hard to overlook the stark reality that white South African farmers appear to be systematically targeted. There is no politically correct sugar-coating of the increasingly depraved, torturous details of farm murders.

Figures of exactly how many have lost their lives are often refuted, but there are a reported 74 murders from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. Figures escalate weekly.

Repeated stories of women raped in front of their young children don’t make for pleasant dinner conversation. Nor does the story of a 12-year-old boy scalded in a hot bath and his throat slit after both parents were brutally slaughtered. Or of a two-year-old toddler being shot dead. It’s more comfortable to avoid reading news feeds or to skip the unimaginably bloodied, gory pictures posted on social media. Far easier to bury our head in the sand. The march, whatever the practical outworking, at least showed sorely lacking support for the silently suffering minority. It also was an opportunity to say thank you to politicians such as immigration minister, Peter Dutton for hearing their plight.

Political persecution if proven by Australia needs to be investigated. We’re not talking race but about doing the right thing about existing laws of political persecution – Andrew Laming, LNP representative for Bowman

As one of the organisers, Arno Nel said: “Violent crime is rampant in all communities in South Africa. Attacks on farmers are racially oriented, whites in particular in these rural areas face persecution perpetuated by the ‘Kill the Boer, kill the farmer’ slogan (by EFF’s Julius Malema and government commitment to take farmland without compensation). This has left white minorities fearing for their lives … We are deeply aware of the privilege of living in this country and hope to extend the same to our farmers.”

Andrew Laming, the LNP representative for Bowman, was equally impassioned. He spoke about being alerted to SA farmers’ plight after seeing an 87-year-old farmer beaten beyond recognition on his social media feed. ”Today, one month ago, I was just another politician vaguely aware what was happening, and then a thread popped up, and the story behind the photo had to be shared. Since then it has been shared ten times every minute 24 hours a day—once a second in every country that has Facebook.

“Political persecution if proven by Australia needs to be investigated. We’re not talking race but about doing the right thing about existing laws of political persecution,” he said.

Independent crossbench senator Fraser Anning, was equally supportive. He said he was behind solutions to give white South African farmers preference for refugee visas, calling violence towards white farmers in the country a “genocide”.

“The ‘Kill the boer, kill the farmer’ slogan promoted by parliamentarians has left white minority groups fearing for their lives.”

London police hell-bent on arresting elderly preacher

London police hell-bent on arresting elderly preacher

London police hell-bent on arresting elderly preacher

Nigerian preacher arrested in London

So an elderly man of African descent is preaching the gospel, much-loved bible in hand, outside London’s Southgate station on Saturday afternoon, 23rd Febrauary 2019.

Someone apparently reports him and because London is so crime free, two officers, with so much time on their hands and no other urgent calls to attend to, (you know, murders, rapes, stabbings, youth mugging numerous teenagers in the Southgate area, etc.), promptly arrive to check out this very dangerous old man hell-bent on harassing passersby.

They’re a tad aggressive in their approach and not in the mood for being told they too will face damnation (unless they repent). They proceed to question the elderly gentleman who bravely refuses to leave his post because his message is not complete and in his eyes, saving souls is far more important than bowing to two officers who clearly need salvation. Perhaps it’s the mention of hell or themselves being answerable to God one day that tips them over the edge. The officers decide this clearly benign gentleman needs to be handcuffed for ‘disturbing the peace.’ And in case he should cause grievous bodily harm with his soft-covered bible – you know, perhaps whack someone over the head, the one very brave officer grabs the bible amidst quite heartfelt pleas of “don’t take my bible away …” The policeman’s answer: “Well you should have thought of that before you were racist!” What? Now he’s racist? Not great publicity for London’s Metropolitan Police is it? Harassing a defenseless old man? Oh wait, he had a bible in his hand.


An eyewitness told Barnabas Fund that, before the police arrived, the preacher was being confronted aggressively by a young man, apparently Muslim and in his 20s, wearing a hooded top. The man was loudly abusive about the Bible and God with his face close to the preacher’s. The young man also threatened the preacher, brandishing a closed fist holding prayer beads.

When the police arrived to question the street preacher they were witnessed saying that there had been a complaint of “Islamophobia” made against him. It is not known at the time of writing who made the complaint to the police. The young man ran away from the scene as soon as the police appeared.

For a department that is so quick to Tweet every second of police activity in London, it is strange then, that their publicity machine failed to realise that Twitter is a rather voracious animal. Before long, the footage of the preacher went viral. Within a day there were over a million views. People were outraged. But not so the London Metropolitan Police. Asleep at the wheel, they were.

Blogger and author, Obianuju Ekeocha, questioned why they were so quick to post every single detail of their busy day on Twitter but failed to mention the arrest of a helpless old man preaching the gospel. In a supposedly Christian country with supposed freedom of speech. Strange, isn’t it? She thought so too so asked them for a response. They asked her instead to direct message them.

And in the ensuing interchange, they admitted that the elderly man had been reported for ‘apparent Islamaphobia’. They subsequently added that they found no proof of this and he was “de-arrested”. Firstly, that’s an awful word to use and their publicity people need to find another one, and secondly, that response is outrageous. To be handcuffed in public, on a vague hearsay report, has an ugly whiff about it.

It’s particularly outrageous given the fact that there are many other people of religions happily preaching their faith on the streets of London with no handcuffs involved. Preaching rather aggressively, I may add.

Again, Twitter is a wonderful thing and some bright spark managed to find exact footage of a Muslim preacher and spliced the screen so we could have a look at exactly how biased the London Metropolitan police are. The outcry has been swift. And not just from Christians—from atheists, Muslims and other religions too who are incensed by their double standards.

The mind boggles.

Turning 50 – ‘Elle’ of a lot of pressure

Turning 50 – ‘Elle’ of a lot of pressure

Turning 50 – ‘Elle’ of a lot of pressure

THERE’S BEEN a lot written lately about Elle turning 50 next year.

I take an interest because I am almost the same vintage and so, share a certain affinity with the magnificently proportioned and ageless model known as The Body. In case you’re wondering, the aforementioned tag justifiably stuck after her five cover appearances on the iconic Sports Illustrated magazine.

I was born in July ‘63 – my friend Elle in March ’64 – which makes us a mere 8 months apart. We both finished school in ‘81 so could, theoretically, have been classmates. We could have enjoyed the same movies – For Your Eyes OnlyThe Postman Always Rings TwiceRaiders of the Lost Ark … remember those? We probably listened to the same music, boogied on the disco floor to Blondie’s Call Me, went through a phase of schoolgirl anarchy with Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall – and slow-danced to Captain and Tennille’s Do That to Me One More Time … aah, the memories. The similarity, I am sad to say, ends there.

I recently mentioned to my teens that: “Did you know Elle is turning 50 next year? We’re almost the same vintage,” after showing them a particularly fetching newspaper shot of her sporting surfboard and trademark bikini at Bondi. “No ways! I can’t believe it!” My daughter gushed with a tad more enthusiasm than entirely necessary, followed by a telling look at the apparition next to her – me, basking unashamedly in a state of early morning glory – a bra-less wonder in sleep shorts and faded T-shirt.

Yes, I concede, Elle is drop-dead gorgeous. She also looks a decade or two younger than her age but I fear that through her sheer air of perfection, she has made herself untouchable.  Perhaps it is time to let go a bit. For example, just yesterday I read yet another article about her impending 50th birthday and yet another boring interviewer asking how she managed to retain such eternal youthfulness.

I didn’t have to read what she said – I knew exactly what the publicity machine would pontificate. “Organic food, exercise and three litres of water a day.” And of course, seven hours of sleep a night. Personally, the bit that fascinated me most was the three litres of water. I would be up all night.

I happened to mention this tiresome interview to a friend who is also on the slippery cusp of turning 50. She too was skeptical.  “Pullllease … organic? This is organic,“ she said, outlining her comfortably rounded figure. I’m with her. Just once, I wish Elle would own up. Her popularity would not wane if she casually suggested that: “Actually, sometimes I polish off a whole slab of chocolate and I’m more than a little partial to the odd drop.”  Just once I wish she would let loose and say something vaguely outrageous like: “Pass me the chips, I’m almost 50 for goodness sake, not 20. And by the way, all that stuff about organic food is cods-wallop – I have had a teeny weeny bit of work done. And, yes, my knees occasionally ache when I jog.”

In fact, I would dare suggest she practices embracing her 50’s with a new sense of honesty. There is still an entire year to become the people’s person. There’s plenty of opportunity for a career change and how less stressful that would be – for the rest of her contemporaries too.

One totally plausible possibility is the role of talk show host – a replacement for Oprah, perhaps. I would call it ‘Elle Talks … at last’. I predict soaring popularity when she spills the beans on how hard it was to keep up the pretence and pressure of being The Body. Oh the relief of revealing she is human after all. I predict a swarm of ageing actresses lining up to tell their story – of publicly   renouncing Botox, body sculpting and buckwheat.

But I fear this revelation won’t happen any time soon. Elle is the face of Brand Elle – of sun, surf and eternally fresh-faced, lithe-bodied beauty.  But Oh Elle, what pressure!  Maintaining that whippet body, perfect skin, hair and make-up must be immense. I would suggest fifty will be a timely age to finally hang up the string bikini and tell the world to find themselves another Body – that this one is tired. And at times, rather sore.

And so, Elle, I beseech you, drop your guard. We will love you even more, I promise. And all the millions of women facing a scarily imminent fifty will breathe a sigh of relief and reach, guilt-free for the double chocolate cheesecake and full cream latte.

We, your presumptuous peers wait with bated breath. And we’re here for you, glass of cheeky Riesling in hand (or perhaps you would prefer a full-bodied Cab Sav?) if you need us.

© Lois Nicholls 2013

An edited version of this article appeared in The Sunday Mail, 3rd March 2013 – Click to view.

Hell hath no fury as an Aldi shopper scorned

Hell hath no fury as an Aldi shopper scorned
Hell hath no fury as an Aldi shopper scorned
Hell hath no fury as an Aldi shopper scorned

Nothing creates quite the same feeding frenzy as an Aldi Special Buy.

A decorator friend was after an exclusive stool. The product had been advertised for weeks, tantalisingly photographed in an array of stylish settings. It was not your average stool, but a curvaceous, natural wood, slightly African looking stool with a design nod to a bongo drum.

My friend arrived at her local store early as all seasoned Aldi shoppers do. They know the drill. There are only so many said items in stock. There are none in reserve. No “rainchecks” or returning for another shipment. She wasn’t alone. Several other intrepid shoppers had braved the icy winter’s morning to claim their booty. Polite conversation masked the desire to cut to the chase and elbow everyone else out of the way to be first in line. One burly gentleman admitted his wife had raced off to work and left him with strict instructions to return with treasure. Or else.

The doors opened. My friend entered the fray and was immediately trapped in trolley traffic with several others jostling for pole position. She noticed her adversary had a strategy and annoyingly, had scooted down the fresh produce aisle, turning a sharp right to arrive triumphantly and unencumbered at the middle aisle where all the loot lay.

Here, my friend relayed, she was required to maintain a little Western civility. To resist her base instinct which was to use her trolley as a battering ram rather than offering socially acceptable niceties such as: “Excuse me, sorry, may I?” (push past you!!!!). “Thank you…” Etc, etc.

Meanwhile, Mr. Speedy had a complete head start. Turns out his strategy was yet to bear fruit. My friend noted his empty trolley. She finally caught up with him; deciding collusion may be a more tactical approach. Mid-sprint, she breathlessly asked if he had found “it” (recklessly removing both hands from her trolley to wildly emulate the curvaceous lines of the stool). By now there were several stricken pacers feverishly darting in and out of aisles trying to find the elusive treasure they had “just the spot for “ back home. Had someone stealthily walked off with the entire shipment?

Finally, slowly defeated, dreading the truth, my friend asked an actual person in power. Where, pray, were the bongo drum stools?

And here, she received the mortifying words no loyal Aldi customer should ever have to hear: Something along the lines of “product recall,” a standard phrase that covers a multitude of sins.

Her burly adversary looked positively depressed. He’d won the race and now was being stripped of his prize. Deprived of a victory lap, he headed home, shoulders slumped.

My friend? Well, she did the conciliatory and ill-advised loser’s lap—where the shopper that missed out randomly picks items off the shelf they never knew they needed. Like Orange blossom water or truffle mustard or comfort food such as sticky date pudding. Or in my friend’s case, two linen sheet sets – one in snow white and another in cobalt blue, just for good measure.

It later transpired that a store somewhere in NSW hadn’t got the memo. They had the elusive stools in stock. One hapless woman got all the way to the till with her triumphant booty only to be told the product would not scan and was not permitted for sale.

Hell hath no fury as an Aldi shopper scorned. She took to social media to spew her wrath. Press picked up on the story, and now, it has all played neatly into the German retailer’s hands.

A whole new hoard of people who never even knew they needed a “SOHL natural wood side table” now desperately want one. Especially since they’ve also now learned it’s an apparent copy of a “Mark Tuckey Egg Cup Stool” that can be found online for a small fortune. At a mere $69, the Aldi alternative is a steal.

And come August 29 which is the new delivery date, they too will no doubt join the bunfight. I confess I will be among them, runners at hand and with a secret strategy (veggie aisle was a decoy) firmly in place.

It seems that I have just the spot for a curvaceous, wooden bongo drum stool.

Who would have thought?


Got to give it to Aldi, right on time, they delivered on their natural wood side table, a shapely, rustic timber stool which had half the country’s decor devotees in an uproar when they withdrew the product from sale a month ago. Well, they seem to have ironed out their ‘production issues’ because they promised it would be in store on August 29th and there it was. Today. I went in for milk and bread and came out with milk, bread … and a stool. Of course, I did.