Should we follow John Singleton’s lead and cut out the drink?


IT ALL usually starts harmlessly enough. A few drinks after work — tonight maybe. Or at lunch, or over the weekend or at home before collapsing with exhaustion onto your lounge as the washing machine whirrs and a semblance of dinner is concocted. That’s just normal, everyday life kind of stuff.

For many of us, we know when to stop drinking. (That said, I bet many of us know lots of high-functioning alcoholics.)

Usually, we know when it is time to either go home, or get to bed and gear your brain into the next day of working, making the school run or taking care of one of hundreds of other life commitments we have.

But when you read that advertising guru, media mogul and self-confessed imbiberJohn Singleton has been warned by doctors he will die if he keeps binge-drinking alcohol, this should trigger a light bulb moment for everyone.

Drinking is part of our world. I like a drink just as much as the vast majority of the Aussie population does. But the key? Moderation.

Without getting all nanny-state, holier-than-thou, there is a stark difference between peeps who drink to live and those who live to drink.

The stark medical caution to the always amiable John Singleton, a man I like, came when his heart rate was monitored at an alarming 220 beats per minute — more than double a healthy rate for his age — forcing him to undergo a cardiac ablation procedure.

His son Jack said surgeons told his father if he continued to booze excessively he faced an early grave: “His doctors told him ‘Your days of having 20-schooner sessions are over. If you do that, you will die’,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

Yes, booze seems to be a constant in our culture and a big part of our national identity. But why does it have to be?

Why do so many of us continue doing something to such an extent that:

1. We ultimately can’t string a sentence together

2. We usually throw up

3. We feel shockingly hung-over, which affects having a normal life that day

4. We’ve just given our one and only liver a work over harder than a Wendell Sailor arm wrestle.

And even worse, we usually say and do things that, well, are often best left unsaid or not done?

Then, a day or two later some of us go back for more and more? I mean, what is it all about?

When I wrote about the brouhaha that surrounded the post cricket World Cup interviews conducted by Shane Warne it struck a chord with so many. Good and bad.

The impact drinking can have on family life — on our relationships, on our health, on our children is astonishing. Alcohol kills 15 Australians a day.

With underage and binge drinking having become a rite of passage for teenagers, the Federal Government should look at introducing measures to discourage mega-drinking like they did by raising taxes and selling plain packaged ciggies.

After this week’s manslaughter verdict after the one-punch that killed Daniel Christie— a punch thrown when McNeil admitted in a police statement that he was affected by alcohol — it’s not bloody good enough.

Perpetrators of major alcohol consumption are ugly. Embarrassing. They’re not empowering. It’s not something to boast or big-note about.

It kills. It can kill innocent bystanders and ultimately it can and will kill, in a very slow and uncomfortable way, heavy drinkers.

So why the hell does anyone want to kill — ahead of scheduled departure time — the one and only life and body we have?

But with all this drinking doom and gloom, there is some heartening news. Not all the stats are bad, with the most recent study released by National Health and Medical Research Council saying younger people are actually minimising their intake of alcohol.

It seems that fewer people aged 12 to 17 are drinking alcohol and the proportion abstaining from alcohol increased significantly between 2010 and 2013 (from 64 to 72 per cent). As well, younger people are continuing to delay when they start drinking.

In 2013, the age at which 14- to 24-year-olds first tried alcohol had increased since 1998 from 14.4 to 15.7 years.

Sure, it is and will be a slow burn but how good is it to see that the message is slowly seeping in, particularly to young peeps who have long lives ahead of them.

While drinking can be absolutely enjoyable (and many of us are in that camp) it can also be totally devastating. It is still a culture that can make for serious health and social problems.

If there is ever a take-home message from any danger-of-too-much booze stories it is simple.

So Australia, yes, we do have a problem and we need not just to talk about it, but need to deal with it.

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Ian Thorpe part of the country’s Fab 400, gathered to raise a mega $1.4m for sick kids

GOLD is a colour Ian Thorpie is used to in his life.

But this time Thorpie chose to go for gold in a philanthropic sense, lending his support, profile and star power to the country’s most prestigious fundraising event for sick kids.

The $1500 per head event had more than 400 invited guests gather to celebrate the 18th Annual Gold Dinner in support of the sick kids at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick.

In grand ‘Gold Dinner’ style, the landmark building was transformed for the evening, spectacularly ‘wallpapered’ in 10 metre high heritage panoramic wallpaper depicting the voyages of Captain Cook.

The images, Les Sauvages de la mer Pacifique, were a gift from the National Gallery of Australia to the hospital to facilitate an extraordinary art installation that was directed by Tony Assness.

With a guest list featuring a who’s who, the Gold Dinner has raised more than $18 million during the past 17 years and now has just about hit the $20 million mark.

Funds raised from this year’s event will provide new Fellowships in four specialised areas of paediatric medicine during the next two years: Pain and Palliative Care, General Surgery, Oncology and Emergency.

A Fellowship is awarded competitively to a doctor already extensively trained in pediatrics, who elects to enter further specialised training in a particular field of paediatric medicine.

This year’s event attracted a stellar crowd including John Symond and Amber Keating, Skye Leckie, Sarah and Robby Ingham, Kelly Landry and Anthony Bell, Scott and Alina Barlow, Justin Miller, Tom and Hoda Waterhouse, Neil and Sam Perry and Clare Paspaley.

There was also Kirsten Carriol and Jean Marc Carriol, Kirsten and Brad Dale, Philip Corne, Nicky and Troy Tindill, Deborah Symond and her brother Stephen Symond.

Meanwhile, the night was hosted by Channel 9’s Allison Langdon and Cameron Williams.

Guests sipped on an antipodean-inspired menu specially designed and donated by Matt Moran and his team at Aria Catering, complemented with drinks by Bollinger and Lion and bid on money-can’t-buy prizes from supporters like Louis Vuitton, Paspaley, One & Only Resorts and Etihad, auctioned by the inimitable Justin Miller.

Gold Dinner committee co-chairs Nikki McCullagh and Chrissy Comino, alongside Gold Dinner Ambassadors Skye Leckie and Lucy Turnbull led the committee to put together the annual event.

The Gold Dinner committee included Alina Barlow, Roslyn Hakim, Rachelle Hofbauer, Sara Lane, Wallis Graham, Vogue’s Edwina McCann and Adriana Weiss while corporate ambassadors, Laing & Simmons Double Bay and Bondi Beach, One & Only and Servcorp were pleased with the funds raised on the night.

The Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation CEO Leanne Warner: “Our Fellowship Program identifies and nurtures excellence, education, vision and innovation and acts as a springboard for Australia’s brightest and best doctors to specialise in their chosen field,’’ she said.

“Fellows deliver immediate clinical impact to their Departments, drive research projects and help to keep our Hospital performing at the highest levels. An investment in our Fellowship Program creates a lasting legacy for the future of children’s healthcare.”

Great, gold stuff all around!

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Qantas and Jessica Hart: Aussie model becomes airline trend consultant

QANTAS continues to ‘style up’ its image. Already, the flying kangaroo has Martin Grant-designed uniforms, passengers purring in Peter Morrissey pyjamas and flyers using Kate Spade amenities kits and Aurora spa products.

Qantas hopes to make sure flyers, who frequent their lounges around Australia, look as respectable, presentable and appropriately dressed as possible.

And now? Qantas has added a ‘trend consultant’ onto their board of ambassadors.

A trend consultant? Yes, the down-to-earth Aussie model Jessica Hart, a former Victoria’s Secret model, Dolly cover girl winner and Vogue cover girl will “connect what’s trending in fashion to what Qantas customers can experience in-flight and on the ground,” according to Qantas.

“Having travelled as much as I have to so many cities, I can honestly say it has inspired my sense of style,” Ms Hart said.

“I love expressing myself through fashion and I believe style evolves as a result of different experiences and travel is a gateway to those experiences.

“I am really excited about partnering with Qantas. Contributing to travel style is something I have always dreamt of so I am excited it’s becoming a reality.

“I already have a number of ideas I can’t wait to share with the Qantas team.”

The model’s arrangement plans to draw on her knowledge of global fashion and lifestyle trends to work on projects benefiting Qantas Frequent Flyers.

The first of these projects will see Qantas and Hart work with leading Australian scarf designers, Bird and Knoll, to nominate a destination that “Feels Like Home” off the back of the recent Qantas advertising campaign.

The destination will be photographed and produced into a limited edition exclusive Bird and Knoll scarf.

Qantas’s Olivia Wirth said the airline is excited to be working with Bird and Knoll and Jessica Hart to ensure Qantas continues to innovate when it comes to travel and style.

“Qantas has a long history of being fashion forward, from our early uniform designs to our current Martin Grant designed outfits, our Kate Spade amenity kits and our award-winning Marc Newson designed Lounges and aircraft interiors,” she said.

“Jessica will bring a fresh eye to some terrific initiatives we are looking at and bring extra style to the Qantas travel experience, starting with the exclusive Bird and Knoll scarfs.”

“While the scarf is the ideal fashion travel accessory, it will also promote the unique beauty of Australia, and as the country’s national carrier, we take great pride in flying the flag for homegrown fashion designers, destinations and talent.”

Jessica, known for her gap-tooth smile and quintessential, beach-girl looks has worked with names like Guess, Triumph, Banana Republic, Portmans, Luma and Esprit and also appeared in MTV’s The City during its first season.

Back then, Jess was dating the then Tamarama band member Nicolas Potts, her long-term boyfriend until 2010.

Since 2011, Jessica has dated Stavros Niarchos III, a Greek billionaire and the pair were spotted at the Tijuana Picnic party in New York just two days ago.

Mr Niarchos, no doubt, has no problems hitching a ride on the odd private jet now and then.

As a runway model Jessica has walked for Sass & Bide, Julien MacDonald, Matthew Williamson, Antonio Berardi, Christopher Kane and Giles Deacon but this trend ambassador gig? Another notch in her top model resume.

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Struggle Street suburbs have been around for ever but tarring all ‘housos’ with the same brush is just boring


What came through when I watched Struggle Street? Love. Sure it may have been slightly unconventional, but it’s love nonetheless.

To see the unpredictable Corey — who even scares his mum — continue to come in and out of his parents’ lives high on ice and be accepted back into the family says something of the love they have for each other. We should all be so lucky.

So why am I sticking my beak into the controversial debate surrounding the SBS doco?

Because I, like many, many others, grew up in government housing.

My hardworking mum and dad were never in the position to buy a house. Circumstances just didn’t go their way. Simple as that.

But we never grew up wanting for anything.

My mother has such strength, backbone, love, integrity and class and it shows in every part of how she kept her family and our home.

We may have been ‘housos’ but we didn’t become drug addicts. Or unemployed or preggers or criminals. We were kept busy living a normal life.

Sure, Mum has seen drug deals take place in her area. But hey, so have I in my current inner-city area where I have lived since I left home at 20.

My mother and late dad took total pride in our family home, making it as lovely, homey and perfect as they could. We lived in that same home for years, the same home that only recently was taken away from my mum, not long after dad died as it was deemed ‘too big’ for her to live in on her own. (Too big? You should have seen the size of it!)

According to reports, the family featured in the first episode are preparing to sue over their portrayal in the SBS three-part doco, because it has “ripped them apart”.

But many who watched it just saw Struggle Street as an accurate portrayal of a resilient family doing it very tough in western Sydney, much like many I knew back when I lived in housing commission.

I know what I got out of it wasn’t a ‘poor them’ mentality. Far from it. I thought, ‘this IS reality’. The reality of real life.

In my ‘city’ home life, I sometimes see more unhappy and sad people, even if they are surrounded by million-dollar houses, designer labels, fast cars, smarty pants parties and exotic trips away.

No matter how ‘messed up’ some of these Mt Druitt houses were and how basic the surrounds looked to some viewers. I couldn’t help but detect a genuine, unconventional type of love throughout the whole doco.

You’d never see the Real Housewives of wherever take one of their pals to school in the hope of getting them an education. Or rub the back of their husband who has so many health ailments he can barely get out of bed. Or welcome their ice-addicted son back into the family home.

It’s all too easy for some people to say ‘get off your arse’, ‘move into the city’ and ‘get a job’.

And that seems to have been the reaction of many viewers. But for many, it’s not that easy.

When I saved enough bucks, I made that move from the ‘burbs into the city.

I moved into the ‘city’ with two other girlfriends where we shared an apartment which cost $140 a week to rent.

I took a day at a time, lost some old school friends along the way, but moving from the ‘burbs did nothing but make me work harder for everything I have achieved and that makes me feel pretty OK about myself.

There were times when I was slightly embarrassed to say where I hailed from. But those days are gone.

What breaks my heart is that now my mum feels like all ‘housos’ have now been tarred with the SBS ‘Struggle Street’ brush.

‘Housos’ shouldn’t been condemned or demonised. And we shouldn’t tar every ‘houso’ with the same brush.

My mum and late dad were one of the classiest acts I have ever known. And while we may have grown up with some government housing support, it’s made me the person I am today which I’m forever grateful for.

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It may not be Budget 2015 but private jets, limos & Dom Perignon won’t stop tonight’s VIP set

JUST as our Budget 2015 prepares to give us more to smile about* … a group of self-anointed VIP-lovers have unveiled a biz for those with no such budgetary concerns.

The VIP is an elite level lifestyle services provider planning on delivering a range of six-star lifestyle services and tailored package experiences, for individuals, groups and companies.

“We have aligned ourselves with the very best professionals in their industry, including Australia’s leading cosmetic surgeon, celebrity personal stylists and Hollywood’s preferred cosmetic dental surgeon, Dr. David Carr,” says VIP founder Karim Gharbi.

“Other services include personal trainers, VIP hosts, masseurs, personal security, supercar hire and chauffeur-driven luxury vehicles.”

Karim has been involved in providing luxury services for his clients for the past 15 years and has managed many restaurants, bars and nightclubs as well as hosting and organising film premieres, product launches, fashion shows and after parties.

During this time, he has worked closely for numerous national and international celebrities, including Giorgio Armani, Baz Luhrmann and Hugh Jackman.

Gharbi says The VIP will specialise in gaining clients exclusive entry into Sydney’s hottest fashion, sports and theatre events, as well as securing VIP bookings in Sydney’s finest restaurants, bars and clubs.

“The VIP Sydney shares its services with no strings attached,” adds Mr Gharbi, with no ongoing membership fee, or long-term commitment to access lifestyle luxuries.”

Mr Gharbi adds that all client requests are confidential and discretion is assured.

To mark the start of a luxe life known to a very small few, The VIP is hosting an event for guests in the penthouse apartment of ’The Top of the Town’ in Darlinghurst — on Budget night of all nights — where cocktails will be prepared by world-renowned ‘mixologist’, Grant Collins.

Guests planning to test out the trappings of The VIP world include Dr Chris Brown, Will Stewart & Steve Flood (the winners of My Kitchen Rules) John Ibrahim, Jason Dundas, Brent Wilson, designer Charlie Brown, Patrick Keating and Sharilea Hitchcock.

Guests are being ferried to the event in Rolls Royce’s, Bentley’s, Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s.

Services include bars and dining, special event chauffeurs and supercars, private yachts, jets and helicopters, beauty and medical hosts and health and fitness packaged experiences.

Mmmm. Perhaps Mr Hockey’s budget will leave us with enough spare change so we can all indulge.

*OK, I’m dreamin’ …

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