There is a joke in our house about Janthima and her big feet. She’s a young Thai girl we sponsor through World Vision. And she’s constantly running out of footwear. Every time we get another of those pleading letters for an extra donation, we pay-up because we figure Janthima needs new shoes. We put it down to fast growing feet in the tropics.
Every time I use the “f” word in public I get walloped. Feminism is a funny thing. Just when you think you’ve got the old dear worked out, she throws off the knee rug, leaps up from the rocker and pulls your hair. Nasty. It’s usually the result of some profound disagreement. And if we’ve learnt nothing else during feminism’s third wave, we’ve certainly learnt that hell hath no fury like a feminist scorned. So I tread with trepidation.
Picture this. And it’s worth it, because it says something about what’s happening to Australian politics.
She’s pint sized, but she goes like a rocket and talks like a threshing machine. And for the past month Malalai Joya – dubbed by western media as “the bravest woman in Afghanistan’ – has been raising her voice across North America to send a strong and unambiguous message to Barack Obama, ahead of his decision next week on Afghanistan.
So the mad dog of the Middle East is after Berlusconi’s beauties. And not just one or two high paid hookers. Colonel Gaddafi wants them in their hundreds and he’s happy to pay around 50 Euro’s a piece. Which sounds cheap, if it’s sex he’s after; but he’s not. He’s after the soul of their sex.
Last night I was wishing I was Britney Spears. If only I could lip-synch. Sometimes when I read the evening news on television, the words tumble out incorrectly. Take Wednesday night. Actually, I’d rather you didn’t. It’s best forgotten. But on some rare occasions, despite all the best intentions in the world, and the sturdy efforts of a sharp team of news journalists, producers and directors, things still go wrong. That night was a case in point.
It is impossible to look at close up footage of Dennis Ferguson without feeling a toxic mixture of emotions. All of them painful: anger, shock, hate. And yet, at the same time, it’s hard to take our eyes off him. The face of evil — in its human manifestation — is both grotesque and fascinating.
Supermodel Linda Evangelista once told Ray Martin that I was a “witch”. I’d apparently upset her during a television interview for A Current Affair, in which I asked about her “use-by-date”. Evangelista was 28 then – ancient in supermodel years. This was back in the unimaginable dark ages, before digital “enhancement” of models existed. Back when what you saw in print was pretty much what you got for real. But in the cold light of day, without airbrushing and soft filters, the feline Evangelista was even more magnificent than I had expected.
Despite it being a long- distance call and a bad line, I can detect the frustration in her voice. “Women? No one listens to women.” Hamida Hussan* is a young Afghan woman from Kabul who has just spent four whirlwind days in Washington, DC speaking to congressmen and women, addressing conferences and lobbying whoever she can corner. She’s exhausted and sounds like she’s about to cry.
It’s a great shame that the Department of Defence has a media team that ducks for cover and hides in the bunker when it’s most needed. It’s as if the media strategy is “slam down the hatches men”, or even “quick, go hide in an all-day meeting, chaps”.
There is just one thing I want to know about John Della Bosca and his young lover. Did the 26-year-old call the ageing MP “Daddy”? Given the 30-year age difference and the fact that she’s young enough to be his daughter, it’s not out of the question. And given Della Bosca allegedly told the girl to say she was his “niece” if anyone in Parliament asked, it’s fair to say there is a hint of a “daddy” complex going on.
Funny isn’t it, how we can fixate on silly, minor things, in the face of a crisis. For me it was the salad sitting on Grace Coddington’s desk. I just knew she wasn’t going to eat it. Coddington, the creative director of Vogue magazine, had been working ridiculously long hours, under enormous pressure, and she needed food. But that salad was staying untouched. I wanted to urge, “Go on Gracie – eat it!” But I know how she feels. I can’t eat when I’m shattered either.
There is little that separates the joy and the pain. Within one short moment, that energetic life force that makes the people of Afghanistan so passionate and so engaging can suddenly give way to a flood of tears. It’s impossible not to cry with them.
You may have heard of tree huggers. But what about art huggers? I think the head of Australian Art at the National Gallery, Dr Anne Grey, might just be one. And she’s not alone. Grey is curator of Last Impressions, a retrospective of the work of Australian artist Frederick McCubbin, drawn from the last decade of his life, 1907-1917. It opened at the gallery yesterday. And in a word, this exhibition is simply – sublime.