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All the cocks a’crowing, each on their own dunghill


Kung Hei Fat Choi! Welcome to the Year of the Rooster and Your Girl Reporter’s first post for 2017. In honour of the Lunar New Year I thought we’d kick off with a look at the prospects of some of the leading lights in our political firmament with a little help from the ancient Chinese zodiac. It makes as much sense as anything else that’s going on in this crazy old world. Continue reading

The things you find on bookshelves


More than a year after doing the grown up thing and buying a house Your Girl Reporter is finally sorting through the books that just got thrown on to shelves when we moved. How did I live with such disorder for so long?  A well-ordered bookshelf gives me a sense of peace and well-being that is hard to match and goes all the way back to my childhood in Hong Kong.

In the bedroom I shared with my sister in our flat in Macdonnell Road, there was a low bookcase between us, so that first and last thing were my books. That’s where it began, the endless idle-minded task of moving them around, by author… by typeface… by subject… by colour – the possibilities went on and on.

One day it was perfectly logical for Kafka’s Letters to Felice to snuggle up next to Ronnie Barker’s Christmas joke book, the next a vile travesty and the rearrangement would begin again. Continue reading

It’s getting darker – a year in review


Time to kick the shit of 2016 off our shoes and contemplate the mire of 2017 which lies before us. Anyone else feel exhausted at the prospect? None more so, I expect, than the journalists who have worked tirelessly to cover the rising tide of what looks more and more like fascism in the United States and Europe, a tide that laps even the fair and far shores of Australia.

And for what? To have their good work – and there has been some truly great work from journalists in 2016 – overwhelmed and largely overlooked in favour of what we are calling Fake News. Continue reading

Leonard Cohen bows out before the Age of Indecency 


trumpocalypse-baxterWeep not for Leonard Cohen, for he does not have to witness the ascension of Donald Trump to the most powerful position in the world. And yet, in July this year, it was Cohen’s 2014 album Popular Problems that kickstarted development of my #Trumpocalypse #mixtape.

I said it then, and I say it again now: “If we’re going down in the #Trumpocalypse, I’m going down with Leonard Cohen.”

The ‘popular problems’ he addressed in his penultimate work included past and present horrors of human suffering, entwining the geopolitical with the deeply personal as his best work always does. From the comfort of my bathtub it sounded almost like the blues and a perfect soundtrack for our times. Continue reading

Longbow – a very one-sided love affair


I fell in love with the longbow on the battlefield near Hastings where the Norman invaders settled the course of English history 950 years ago in 1066. I had turned up in 1989, a little after the event, to cover a medieval festival for the local newspaper.

Your Girl Reporter was earnestly taking notes while a big fellow in chainmail explained in some detail the intricacies of recreating the armour and weaponry of Ye Olden Tymes. “And it’s heavy too,” he said as he stuck his broadsword into the ancient turf with a manly smirk. “Go on, see if you can lift that.”

I obliged by failing to budge the thing an inch and that would have been the end of it except for the arrival on the scene of a man in Lincoln green. “Hey Robin, show the Girl Reporter your longbow,” he said and then, in case I was expecting an effete experience, “you have to be really strong to use one of these.”

Well, Gentle Reader, I surprised us all that day.

Continue reading

Power to the shiny happy people – Marriage Equality Now


The Lady takes the lead at Brisbane Pride. Picture by Jazz Woodward.

The Lady takes the lead at Brisbane Pride. Picture by Jazz Woodward.

Around 2000 people turned out for Brisbane’s Gay Pride march on Saturday, 17 September 2016. Among them was my daughter Lady Severine Sinful, who took to the stage as MC in the main tent at the end of the day’s proceedings in New Farm Park and, no doubt, told a few stories about me.

I believe she does that, which is one of the reasons I tend not to attend. That, and her filthy songs. I like a bit of salt with my entertainment, don’t get me wrong, but it can get uncomfortable when the dish is your daughter. It’s a mum thing.

So I was watching from afar as the Lady and friends beamed pictures and commentary back to me throughout the day of the march and the fair which followed. All the shiny happy people celebrating their love and their support for each other.

Now, there’s a story she likes to tell her audiences, about the time she came out to her mum. I thought I’d share it from my perspective, as a small contribution to the many words which have already been written about marriage equality and why our LGBTQI citizens should just have it already.

Continue reading

Lord Jones is Dead – a loving kick in the guts for newspapers everywhere


There’s a touch of the eulogy about Lord Jones is Dead, a new film based on the play by Australian journalist Matthew Clayfield.

The film is a loving tribute to the ailing newspaper trade and it’s packed with clever references that will be instantly recognised by any Boy and Girl Reporter who takes a passing interest in the history and traditions of their business.

And it’s also a biting, sniping satire of everything that’s trivial and wrong with mainstream media – a glorious kick in the guts for an industry that’s never been more down on its luck. That’s journalism for you.  Continue reading

There’s a lesson from Brexit and how Britain regrets it


Regular viewers will know that Your Girl Reporter takes a winter break from the blog each year and here in Ipswich – west but not too far west of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia – the cold weather is finally here. Chill winds are blowing. A darkness is spreading across the Earth and the lamps are going out all over Europe. But while it’s nippy in the Ippy, the sun’s out and we are far away from events and their implications for the future.

And that’s a good thing. In these uncertain times there’s a lot of fear and ugliness and division about but, thankfully, not in my back yard which is going to get my focus for the next few weeks, bar a little trip to a local school for a vote and a sausage.

That’s how we do democracy here in Australia where voting is compulsory and polling stations are located conveniently close to where people live. As Your Girl Reporter observed at the last Queensland elections, the accompanying sausage sizzle – an important fundraiser for schools – is not an optional add-on. Continue reading

Collard greens and Vegemite, it’s a cultural thing


I don’t know much about golf, but when Australian Adam Scott won the US Masters in 2013, I did know that he would bear the heavy cultural burden of choosing the menu for the following year’s Masters Champions Dinner.

Way back in 1997, Fuzzy Zoeller earned his own special place in the annals of golfing history by suggesting that then first-time Masters champion Tiger Woods would be putting fried chicken and collard greens on the menu.

I had to get my dad Jack Spackman to explain that one. I was familiar with fried chicken but I’d never heard of collard greens. Jack was living in California by then, so was more up to speed on matters of American culture. As in most things for that nation, it turned on the issue of race. Continue reading

Australian election campaign no longer a one-horse race


And they’re off! After shooting himself in the foot with almost every step towards the starting gates it appears Malcolm Turnbull has managed to save a bullet for the starter’s pistol. The turnaround in the fortunes of our two political leaders since I checked out their Chinese New Year horoscopes in February, at the start of the turbulent Year of the Monkey, suggests this race is far from decided.

The first opinion poll of the campaign has the two major parties neck and neck with pundits predicting a tight race, but ultimately Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative Coalition is expected to prevail against the Australian Labor Party’s Bill Shorten.

But what do their Chinese horoscopes say? Your intrepid Girl Reporter investigates.

Continue reading

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From the vault