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.

© Jessamy Owen 2016

Earth Oven Food Feast at NAIDOC

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—What a bonus to sample the aromatic pleasures of an Aboriginal earth oven feast in Sydney’s Hyde Park last week.

The earth oven food was part of Naidoc in the City, where visitors could enjoy a taste of Indigenous food and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures while listening to live performances from artist such as Radical Son, Green Hand Band, Jessie Lloyd and Mi’Kaisha.

Apart from a host of activities such as storytelling, language workshops, bush tucker talks, weaving and demonstrations by Aboriginal chef, Mark Olive, the food sampling seemed to be of particular interest, judging by the long queues.

Lamb, beef and pork were slow cooked from pre-dawn using a traditionally styled ‘earth oven’. The oven is created by digging out a shallow pit and lining it with native Gymea Lily stems – the heating comes from the addition of burning hot rocks.

Wet hessian bags and sand seal in the heat and the result is a rich smoky cuisine – a method that ‘steams, roasts and barbeques’ the native herb-infused meat all at once.

NAIDOC SydneyAnd while the lunchtime patrons and spontaneous tourist passers-by may not have known the intricacies of this ancient cooking technique, the appreciation was palpable. Mounds of pork, beef, lamb and vegetables subtly infused with flavours such as pepper berry and lemon myrtle were memorable – and entirely delicious.

Hearty and flavoursome on a crisp winter afternoon, this earth oven food celebrated the rich diversity of Australia’s bush flavours while ensuring that this age-old tradition received the recognition it deserves.

Bedside Tale

I advertised my ‘entire bedroom’ for sale on Gumtree. It now resides 15 kilometres away in another suburb with a delighted new owner.

By ‘entire bedroom’ I mean queen sized bed frame, bedside tables and table lamps. My husband was slightly puzzled when I began moving everything out of our bedroom but agreed that the bed had to go. The jarring creaking from the dodgy frame was grating his nerves too. We never loved it enough to fix. After the delivery, he was uncomplaining that he had to sleep on the floor that night. Or that the entire contents of his bedside drawers were now unceremoniously dumped into a basket on his side of the mattress. He’d done it all before.

Our first bed was one of those parental hand me downs. That finally went to the tip after moving countries and living way past its sell by date. The second was a brand new ensemble that saw us through 14 years and three children until it started to bulge in all the wrong places and quite frankly, lose its bounce.That one was finally discarded during a council curbside collection which I thought was the perfect opportunity to get rid of our old ensemble base.

We slept on our lumpy old mattress on the floor for a while, and I searched in vain for an affordable alternative. In desperation and without much forethought, we eventually bought a family member’s ‘hardly-slept-in’ bed. They failed to mention that it squeaked rather profoundly every time the unsuspecting sleepers rolled over. After a lick of white paint, it looked part French country, part rustic beach shack but there was no denying it was a farce. Even with a makeover, there was no hiding its unspectacular bulk furniture warehouse roots. A new mattress made it slightly more comfortable but no less robust.

We tolerated the bed for years until the very moment when I woke up one morning and decided the bed and co. had to go.

I dressed it rather beautifully complete with decorative cushions and even included the accompanying side tables (second-hand, a testimony to my foray into French linen chalk paint). In generous act, I threw in the colonial style table lamps to compensate for the squeaky bed.

By the looks of things, I undercharged. A dead giveaway was the deluge of calls I received minutes after listing my bedroom for sale. The first caller was happy to buy unseen. She even insisted on paying me right then and there. For $140, who wouldn’t?

So the sale was done and the new bed and accompaniments ensconced in a delighted new owner’s home. My bedroom became hers.

The search began for a new and final bed. The timing, as it happened, was perfect. ‘Solid wooden queen-sized bed frame’ was all that the online ad offered. It was love at first sight. One hundred bucks later and we had sealed the deal.

We collected the frame that same day after a 40-minute drive. A bevy of energetic children of various ages greeted us and their laid back dad brought up the rear. He grinned as he explained he and his wife were upgrading to a king-sized ensemble solely to accommodate the nocturnal visits from their four young charges. Their old bed had been a gift from the children’s grandmother, so parting was bittersweet. I loved that it was loved.

Back home our grand new bed was ceremoniously assembled. It was a bed with substance. Sturdy and solid as the ad inferred. It had a few minor marks and knocks etched into the solid legs and bed head. It told the story of busy young children, family and life. A bed built to last – a bed that would sit quite comfortably in an old farmhouse.

The first night’s sleep was sound as the bed. Not even a gentle creak. Even the morning view outside was more profound from its lofty height. I rather think it’s going to be a keeper … definitely a bed tale with a happy ending.

Jessamy Owen is a freelance writer for JournoNews.

Middle-Aged Dread

IN MY MOTHER’S ERA, middle-aged mothers were content to be middle-aged mothers.

They wore comfortable clothing and would not have dreamed of trying to fit into their teenage daughter’s jeans or befriending her friends on Facebook.

There were a couple of ‘glamour pusses’ in the small town in which I grew up – perhaps the local boutique or beauty parlour owner – but on the whole, they were all of similar elk. I don’t remember anyone being particularly reed slim unless born that way, and I don’t recall anyone power walking with weights or hiring a personal trainer to work on their ‘abs’.

There were no gym junkies because there were no gyms and a weekly game of tennis was the sociable ‘exercise’ of choice. The more adventurous souls took up yoga when the fad hit town and I recall my nicely rounded mum proudly showing us how she could stand on her head. They settled into middle age with an accepting sigh and laughed off a couple of gained kilos or a midriff that bore testimony to three children and a tad too many cream scones.

They occasionally went on diet ‘on Monday’ after a particularly ‘naughty’ weekend of too much Chicken a-la king and trifle at Daphne’s (such a good cook!) but generally, everyone embraced their age without much fanfare. Well, that’s what it seemed anyway.

Now that I’m the same sort of age – middle aged and beyond, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. I blame it partially on middle-aged women such as Elle and Cindy – the supermodels who are now super-middle-aged.  Cindy graciously admitted recently that even she doesn’t look like Cindy Crawford with the amount of air brushing prior to a magazine spread. Even so, she’s undoubtedly a hard act to follow.

And Elle? Well, let’s just say that Elle has great genes and leave it at that. She is not your average 52-year-old woman and no-one should even aspire to measure up. She also confessed recently that her flawless school run paparazzi shots are the result of two hours of hair and make-up prior to going to work. She gave us that, at least.

The problem, it seems, is that certain middle aged women are buying into the idea that middle age is the new 30-something. Here’s a thing: It’s not. I don’t remember maintenance being part of my general beauty routine. I don’t recall sprouting hairs in wholly unreasonable places in my Thirties, finally putting to rest the theory that God has no sense of humour. He does. Why else would he suddenly allow eyebrows to sprout unusually long hairs? And why, after all these years, would he consent to benign and once fondly-regarded moles to start propagating? We did not see that one coming.

He is compassionate too, allowing the eyes to grow dim just at a time when every minute detail needs to be taken care of before leaving the house. Soft focus is what I get when I peer in the mirror sans Jerry Hall, says she never wears her glasses when checking her appearance for this reason – her vision may be blurred but her self-image remains totally in focus. Go Jerry!

Those who have bought into the idea that they should, at 45-plus, still appear 30-plus should stick to themselves. By all means, hone your bodies to unnatural perfection, severely limit your intake of carbs (pass the potatoes, please!) and partake in every  age-defying potion out there, just don’t let us all know about it. You clearly have far too much time on your hands and should not be allowed to inflict your skewed take on middle age on those of us who are graciously trying to acquiesce.

I speak, particularly, of a rather acerbic remark directed at a fellow middle aged friend recently. She had returned to her country of birth to visit family with her two teens and husband. Her ticket home was booked a few days earlier than her family’s, who were invited out in her absence, by long-time friends. Back home, her daughter relayed a question from her family’s glamorous host who asked, supposedly without a hint of rancour, whether her mum ‘had lost any weight yet’. The shocked daughter said, no actually, she hadn’t but she was quite content with the way she was.

An observation: There was no mention of ‘how is your mother?’ or ‘how is her business going?’ or even, ‘is she well?’ The friend in question is a perfectly adequate size 12 to 14 – she has character, a brain and far more to offer than a weight loss report.

The shallow comment brings me to another point. Surely, at this age, women should work far harder on honing something rather longer-lasting and important – such as character, for example. Surely goodness, kindness, compassion, grace, love and laughter should be our goal. Perhaps we should pursue reaching out to others less fortunate and dare I say it, taking an interest in others, instead of a narcissistic pursuit of unattainable perfection.

And while this grumpy middle aged woman is at it, please don’t do ‘selfies’ on Facebook. Leave that to the teens. And don’t airbrush your profile pic. Posing in a bikini is also not acceptable – I don’t care how gorgeous your bod has become after those daily two-hour gym sessions, I really don’t want to see you posing in cyberspace. Cover up already.

One more thing: I’m not advocating letting it all hang out and not taking care of yourself. There’s no harm exercising and eating properly to remain healthy and strong.  All I’m saying is please give us middle aged women a break. Let us eat, drink and be merry. Let us grow old gracefully, guilt-free and graciously.

We’ve certainly earned it.

PS. Perhaps my headline should have been Middle-Age Dread and Revenge of the ‘MERDS’  – that’s Middle-aged, Enlightened, Robust, Delectable Sisters. Feel free to join us!

The Menace in Tennis

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA―The Australian Tennis Open is finally over and after weeks of serious television overload, this tennis tragic will not be going near the box for a while―well, at least not until the French Open.

Together with the rest of Australia and the world, I’ve enjoyed every minute of this Grand Slam competition. However, one aspect of play has left a niggling bad taste―the sanctioned on court antics of certain players. Call me old fashioned, but smashing a racket on court and hurling expletives isn’t behaviour that should be applauded.

Firstly, my practical mother side is thinking: That’s one expensive racket―perhaps it could have been donated to some poor up and coming player or even better, auctioned off for charity. And then, there’s the confused realization that not everyone seems to find this behaviour shocking. The tantrum player in question is one of Australia’s up-and-coming tennis stars, Nick Kyrgios. He’s a really likeable guy off-court but someone needs to tell him it’s not right to smash rackets and use vile swear words when things go wrong. Kids are watching.

Are we so politically correct that not even umpires have the balls to admonish bad on court behaviour?

The normally outspoken commentator, Jim Courier did allude to the fact that the racket smashing incident should have been reprimanded but no-one mentioned it wasn’t quite cricket to swear―all the time. What really confused me was that Nick’s own mother later excused his behaviour with a smilingly indulgent explanation that: ‘How else was he meant to get rid of his frustration on court?’ or something along those lines. How indeed? Wash his mouth out with soap for starters. And are we so politically correct that not even umpires have the balls to admonish bad on court behaviour?

I’m wondering whether it’s open season for swearing simply at the Australian Open. Perhaps Australians are known to be a nation that doesn’t mind the odd swear word so players let rip. And it’s not an age thing. Kyrgios may be young and have a lot to learn from greats such as the always-poised Federer and Nadel, but Murray? Well, he should know better. Sunday’s Men’s Final against the composed No 1. Seed, Novak Djokovic had him in top form. Murray swore all the way through―he was having a f***ing field day.

His talented artist fiancé Kim Sears doesn’t mind the odd expletive either, it seems. She was caught on camera mouthing what appeared to be: “F***ing have that you Czech flash f***” during Andy’s tense match against No. 7 seed, Tomas Berdych. Looking at the slow motion footage, it didn’t look as though she was saying: “Well done, darling, you get him!” The press immediately loved her and some bright spark newspaper sub-editor came into his own with the headline: ‘Kim Swears’.

Kim’s father was equally forgiving. Dear Nigel Sears, proudly joked afterwards that his daughter: “always had a potty mouth—gets it from her mother of course”. And just in case we thought Kim herself may have been mildly repentant, she defiantly donned a sweatshirt with the words: ‘Parental Advisory. Explicit Language’ boldly emblazoned for cameras to see at last night’s final. Her point? “F**k off, I’ll swear as much as I like.” And the Tweeters adored her for it.

Again, perhaps it’s an age thing but I remember my mum saying that even the most beautiful girl or handsome boy can suddenly become rather unappealing when ugly expletives emanate from their mouths. Kim is certainly a beautiful girl. I commented on exactly that many times until she swore at Tomas.

I once asked a respected tennis coach what he thought of the grunting, screeching, swearing and racket throwing that seemed to be part and parcel of today’s professional tennis. He believed the fundamental problem lay at grassroots level.

Coaches should be teaching up and coming players that it’s not OK to smash your racket, screech or swear on court.

“Coaches should be teaching up and coming players that it’s not OK to smash your racket, screech or swear on court. They should refuse to coach them until they behave. Only then will they learn that on-court bad behaviour is unacceptable.”

A last word of caution: Wimbledon and its imminent royal entourage is coming up too. Please clean up your act before then players, because Her Majesty, the queen will certainly not be amused.

© Jessamy Owen 2015

Ten Resolution Revolutions


FEELING DAUNTED about making New Year resolutions?

Well, here are some suggestions …

  • DO NOT … compare yourself to others. A big no-no. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and as much as we’d all like more talents, not everyone can be a neurosurgeon. Embrace what you have and quit worrying about what you don’t have
  • DO NOT … tell everyone about your resolutions. This sets you up for failure and there’s a danger that bossy britches may decide to make some more on your behalf
  • DO NOT … give up chocolate. Again, setting yourself up for failure. Life’s surely too short
  • DO NOT … clean out your wardrobe. Something in there is bound to have a fashion rebound
  • DO NOT… assume your spouse is a mind reader. Christmas should have taught you that you need to verbalise your wish list throughout the year. Even better, write it down and stick it on the bathroom mirror
  • DO NOT … repeat last year’s resolutions. How depressing
  • DO NOT … wear old, faded undies/knickers that are well past their use-by date. Again, life’s too short
  • DO NOT … look back. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife? In case you’ve forgotten, she turned into a pillar of salt. What’s done is done – let it go
  • DO NOT … hold off complimenting someone because you’re too embarrassed. Compliment away! Everyone needs encouragement
  • DO NOT … give the finger to an idiotic driver. The best revenge and by far the most annoying for the said driver, is a hearty wave and a dazzling smile. Works every time …

What resolutions will you drop in 2014? Tell us in the comments below.

Happy New Year from Down Under!

Across Australia, tens of thousands witnessed an array of spectacular firework displays in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane. Thanks to those Twitter and Instagram users who were there in person, we collated a few images of the action!

Happy 2014!


Paradise found at Amber Valley

Where else in the world, I think as I observe seven warthog, blesbuck, impala and zebra grazing contentedly on the banks of someone’s lawn.

I am in Amber Valley, one of a series of retirement complexes situated in lush former farmland overlooking the Umgeni Valley, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. At least 700 homes make up the estate which features a heated swimming pool, an adjacent 25m pool, tennis courts, a bowling green, club house and frail care centre.

The centre bears no resemblance to the standard grey laminate/hospital fare associated with retirement. Instead, it is graciously decorated with colonial comfort – florals, comfortable wide wicker chairs – the walls adorned with botanical prints and tasteful African scenes.

As retirement estates goes, it is paradise found. The club house overlooks a dam fed by a freshwater stream – otters often cavort as if to give a show to the oldies looking on. Egyptian geese are raising goslings – a troublesome task when legavaan keep stealing their young. The old boys have been watching and there is now only one lone little gosling remaining out of a clutch of six. “Bloody bad parents, we need to raise them ourselves,” they complain.

Three rogue zebra used to brazenly scratch their rumps on the rough brick of front porches … or have a bit of a lark chasing dogs led by terrified retirees. They were moved before someone came to grief.

But on the game walk, yes, a retirement village with its own extensive game walk … in authentic African bush setting – you can spot zebra, buck and warthog – all breeding prolifically without a natural predator. Behind the high electric fencing and barbed wire, deep in the valley beyond, lurk leopard that must look on with great frustration at the feast so near, yet so far. Here is an entire smorgasbord of untouchable game just on the other side of the fence.

I grew up in the little country town of Howick. And it seems everyone is coming home to roost. My friend Filly has bought a home there and has already booked her spot. Another friend has bought one as an investment nearby. ‘The place sells itself,’ I’m told.

And as the day comes to a close, the familiar ‘tik-tik-tik-tik’ of guinea fowl announces their retirement for the day … scurrying along the verge in a cacophony of noise that so reminds me of Africa.

And the hadedas settle in noisily for the night with their ‘kraai-kraai-kraai’ … this is indeed a perfect place to roost.