ABBA picnic in Camperdown Park

Held an ABBA picnic to play a new ABBA trivia board game I’d put together and have a sing-a-along.picnic

I staked a perfect spot under a tree and sent out an SOS as there were picnickers everywhere in Camperdown Park, and I urgently needed more blankets to claim our turf.

A word re: Aussie ABBA fans: we’re hugely tolerant and will put up with retro discos where only hip hop is played, endure ABBA tribute bands that don’t know the words, and pay ridiculous amounts for smoked salmon on Ryvita at Scandi restaurants. But nobody messes with an ABBA picnic, and fans scurried back to their cars to bring extra blankets.

First on the scene was G, who’d just walked the length of uber-hipster King Street while wearing his Voulez-Vous badge – woe betide anyone who would dare make fun of it, and a few paid tribute by singing “A-ha!”. “It’s not just a badge, it’s a way of life,” G said, with his proudest expression.

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My favourite AA Gill quotes and columns

“It’s not my job to come round and tell you what’s wrong with your restaurant. It’s my job to sell newspapers and to entertain and perhaps inform my readers: The last person who should be reading a restaurant review is the person that it’s about — they should already know.”

“Hands up who knows what the two most important bits of kitchen equipment are? Most guess knives and ovens, pans and fridges. The answer is a chair and a radio. You’re going to spend a lot of time in this room.”

The thing that everybody says is, ‘Are the questions real?’ And they are real. The fact they’re written by me doesn’t make them unreal. I always say, ‘Yes, they are. Trust me: I’m Uncle Dysfunctional.'”

“History is always personal—never more so than for those who find theirs is written by the enemy. It strips the defeated and the displaced of their dignity. It is a posthumous insult.”

Continue reading My favourite AA Gill quotes and columns

Eurovision Australia!

What an exciting Eurovision!, with Dami winning the jury vote! And second overall. Loved the Swedish hosts’ comedy segments. L made lovely vanilla cupcakes with Swedish flags stuck in them, and Scandinavian Dreamcake (coconut topping, delish!) Everyone had made special trips to IKEA for all the Swedish food and drinks, so we had EVERYTHING!

Watching all the past Swedish hits made us wonder if anyone in Sweden has a normal 9-5.30 job? They all seem so busy making smash hits.

Played my customised Eurovision Bingo — we were a bit disappointed by the lack of backing dancers this years (replaced by special fx) as that eliminated some of the bingo spotting challenges (eg. “singer lifted by a backing dancer”). L won the bingo tiara, as she spotted most things first.

G brought Greek bikkies, but we couldn’t eat them when Greece came on, as they’d already been knocked out in the semis! TC filled in any gaps in our Eurovision knowledge.

We are still waiting for superfan S, who was in Stockholm watching the semis, to send us photos of her Eurovision pilgrimage!

Since we’ve been watching Eurovision since the 1990s, when it was first shown on SBS with Terry Wogan’s excellent commentary, we raised a glass and toasted Wogan’s demise at song no.9, which is significant, as UK host Graham Norton said this was when Wogan advised Norton that it was OK to have the first alcoholic drink. (“no drinking before song 9!”, otherwise the commentator gets sozzled too quickly.)

The night The Life of Brian was dropped from the TV schedule

(One of my favourite articles I’ve written, which I initiated when I’d sat down to watch one of my favourite movies, The Life of Brian, on a Monday night, but it wasn’t on! Living in conservative Queensland, I suspected something might have been afoot, so I rang the TV station the next day and uncovered the following story. This story was published in a regional daily newspaper, The Maryborough Chronicle.)

TV movie gets the axe after protest by religious groups


TWO scheduled programs have been dropped by commercial television station SEQ8 due to lobbying by religious groups for their removal.

A cartoon series, Dungeons and Dragons, has been removed until it has been examined by a panel of experts.

Also, the Monty Python move, The Life of Brian, was scheduled for 9.30pm on Monday but was replaced with a “cops and robbers” drama, Stigma, after a petition was received from Christians in Monto.

“The petition, of 22 signatures, came from Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Seventh Day Adventists,” said SEQ’s program manager, Mrs Jan Daniel.

SEQ’s programming decisions are made by the program manager, the general manager and the station manager.

She said the petition said the movie was offensive to Christians and “felt it wasn’t good for young people to watch”.

“We had a phone call from Hervey Bay, a pastor in Gin Gin also rang to protest, and there were a few phone calls from Bundaberg, plus the petition,” Mrs Daniel said.

She said this was the first time SEQ had dropped programs due to protests from the public.

“We’ve had about a dozen calls from people complaining about The Life of Brian not going to air; a couple from Nambour, one from Gympie, and about 11 from Maryborough,” Mrs Daniel said.

The axing is significant at this time, as the country ratings survey ends in the first week of June, and The Life of Brian has been a proven ratings winner in other capital cities.

“In Brisbane, it rated higher than Gone With the Wind,” Mrs Daniel said.

The children’s cartoon, Dungeons and Dragons, was removed on May 11, after religious groups claimed it encouraged children to worship the occult.

A segment on State Affair highlighted that by continuously playing the D and D board game, children could feel inclined to perform acts of violence or commit suicide.

Mrs Daniel said that a panel of six people, including a pastor, a parent, one of the children who wrote in to complain about the show being taken off air (12 letters from the show’s fans were received at SEQ), a librarian, a psychologist, and a person from SEQ, would meet during the next fortnight to compare Dungeons and Dragons with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (another favourite with children, which hasn’t received any complaints).

“We also got a complaint about an episode of The Woody Woodpecker Show screened on May 17, which a viewer considered overly violent,” Mrs Daniel said.

Every phone call or letter received from viewed (with name and address) must be fully documented by SEQ to comply with the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal’s regulations.

She said that The Life of Brian had been scheduled for 9.30pm, later than the usual 8.30pm start for movies, due to the nature of the film.

“We put it on later, so if people didn’t want to watch it, they could turn their television sets off.”

She said that no complaints had been received from Maryborough or the Sunshine Coast.

There are 275,000 people, according to the latest census figures, in SEQ’s viewing area.

“Surprisingly, we didn’t get any complaints about Porky’s,” Mrs Daniel said.

Porky’s was screened last Saturday at 10.15pm, following The Empire Strikes Back. A renowned sex comedy, it was described in the television guide as portraying “The exploits of six over-heated young men bound together by their obsession for girls”. It was heavily modified.

The Baptist pastor at Monto, Mr Noel Nicholls, said he had hired a videotape of The Life of Brian before he organised the petition.

“I was warned by an assistant at the store that the video was ‘blasphemous’,” Mr Nicholls said. He said that the crucifixion scene was particularly offensive, and “made a huge joke of Christianity”.

“I would think the Christian public would be most offended by this. Some of it is obviously just comedy, but often there are tones of underlying blasphemy by subtle association with the life of Christ,” Mr Nicholls said.

He said the opening scene mocked the nativity of Christ. There were many takeoffs of Christ’s teachings, and the language was “foul”. When questioned about the replacement program, Stigma, which is a story about a policeman who received a medal for bravery in a shootout, and the sex comedy Porky’s, Mr Nicholls said it was up to the individual to choose their own viewing.

“There are a lot of  unwholesome films, but I don’t have the time to monitor these. It’s the individual’s responsibility to choose what they are going to watch.

“I only object when a program ridicules the name of Jesus Christ. That is when we have to stand up and be counted,” Mr Nicholls said.

He said he appreciated that SEQ had listened to the public by refusing to screen the program.

The presbyterian minister at Monto, Mr John Witteveen, said that the film contained “gutter language”and made a mockery of Christianity and Judaism.

“Some parts of it were very funny and clever but there was no indication that it would be modified for television.

“I think that young people would be influenced by its attitude to Christianity. It’s hard enough already getting them interested,” Mr Witteveen said.

He said that the long term effects of the attitude shown in the film also had to be considered.

The Anglican priest at Monto, Mr Noel Gill, said that most people he had asked had already seen the film.

“It could be misleading to those people who aren’t strong in the faith,” he said.



Worldwide anti-obesity strategies focus on the bottom line

The financial burden of obesity is the focus of new research.About 2.1 billion people are affected by the obesity epidemic and rates are soaring, says a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI).

This is 30 per cent of the global population, and nearly two-and-a-half times the 840 million people who don’t have enough to eat.

The institute’s study focuses on the worldwide economic costs of obesity, which have risen to US$2 trillion annually. This is the same monetary impact as armed conflict, and slightly less than the costs incurred by smoking.

It is about 2.8 per cent of economic activity worldwide, which adds up to 2 to 7 per cent of the health care budget in developed countries.

But only 0.25 per cent of the total cost of obesity is used for prevention strategies, while the rest is used for dealing with the consequences.

The report’s estimate of the economic toll from obesity includes lost productivity (nearly 70 per cent of the total costs), health care usage, and the investment needed to combat obesity.

Obesity in North Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East are at the same level as Europe, and the problem is becoming steadily more prevalent in South Asia and East Asia.

Australia’s getting bigger

Australia’s obesity rates are increasing faster than the rest of the world with a quarter of our children being overweight. The Australian Heart Foundation says more than a third of Australian adults are overweight.

Compared to non-indigenous people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 1.7 times more likely to be obese and men 1.4 times more likely.

The Federal Government’s Australian National Preventive Health Agency says the economic cost of overweight adults is about $21 billion, plus $35.6 billion in government subsidies.

The agency says the direct and indirect costs of obesity was $37.7 billion and the direct financial cost was $7.7 billion.

National research showed the biggest risk factors for gaining weight are stress (especially financial worries), lack of access to green spaces and healthy food, and poor sleep.


The McKinsey Global Institute warns we cannot wait for conclusive data on the effectiveness of preventative strategies, such as taxing sugar-filled drinks, as there needs to be an “aggressive all-hands-on-deck approach” because the cost of failing is too high.

It suggests successful small-scale experiments should be quickly scaled up to improve public health.

The institute advised that a major shift needs to occur in the way the food business sector advertises its products. It says it’s important that new research is conducted, as losing weight is not easy, particularly for people living in obesogenic environments that encourage unhealthy eating choices and minimise the opportunities for exercise.

It predicts that if we do not find solutions, almost half the adult world will be overweight or obese by 2030.


World Health Organisation, Obesity and overweight,

An, M., Wolf, A., ‘McKinsey global institute releases economic analysis on overcoming obesity’, DiaTribe

McKinsey Global Institute, Overcoming obesity: an initial economic analysis,

Dobbs, R., Sawers, C., ‘Obesity: A global economic issue’, VOX CEPR’s Policy Portal,

Modi, Obesity in Australia, Monash University,

Heart Foundation, Factsheet: Overweight and obesity statistics

The Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders and the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney, Obesity: Prevalence and trends in Australia

Magazine Monitor, ‘What is an obesogenic environment?’, BBC News

Dobbs, R., Sawers C., Thompson, F., Manyika, J., Woetzel, J., Child, P., McKenna S., Spatharou, A., ‘How the world could better fight obesity’, McKinsey & Company