A multi-talented man…

Link

It’s a little galling when someone is granted more than their fair share from the talent pool. I’m sure you know the types – the ones who can’t decide whether to play professional tennis OR football; the musician with a hit album who also scores a lead role in a movie or the academic with a host of degrees who leads a secret life as a professional snowboarder…

Yep, these particularly gifted people really are a tad annoying. I know they are because I live with one. My husband. And yet I can’t also help but be proud. Let me explain…

Hubby - aka Alan Fletcher

Hubby – aka Alan Fletcher

Many of you probably know him as Dr Karl Kennedy – aka extremely talented actor Alan Fletcher. Before his life in Neighbours, Fletch played roles in dozens of plays for the Melbourne Theatre Company, made several notable films and was nominated for an AFI award for his role in the TV series EMBASSY. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s about to embark on a new TV show which he will film alongside Neighbours and THIS program is designed to showcase his talents as a PHOTOGRAPHER.

 

 

See? Bet you didn’t know he was also a talented snapper now, did you? Although many actors DO know this because taking headshots of other performers used to be a sideline job for Fletch. Over the years he’s studied his craft and worked on his techniques to the point where he’ll now be travelling the world and sharing with audience his best tips and his most inspiring photographs.

Here’s one of another ‘snapper’ from our recent trip to the United States:

Time for a bite?

Giant Alligator – by Alan Fletcher

That was taken during a swamp tour outside New Orleans. Well worth doing if you happen to be in town. We booked with Honey Island Swamp Tours – known as the oldest and best in the business. Who would have thought they’d jump so high just for the taste of a marshmallow? Yep, that’s what they feed ’em…

Here’s another ‘gator snapped by Fletch which I thought was pretty impressive… and cute. Funny how we all love baby pictures, no matter what species.

Baby gator

Baby gator

Here are a couple of other favourite photos I chose that Fletch took on our recent trip to the Deep South in the U.S.

This is an arty snap from a wet day on the streets of New Orleans:

New Orleans

New Orleans

Then there’s one of a steamboat on the Mississippi:

Steamboat on the Mississippi

Steamboat on the Mississippi

… And a couple from a bikie gathering in Memphis:

Bikie gathering in Memphis

Bikie gathering in Memphis

 

Bikies on Beale Street

Bikies on Beale Street

Of course, the photos look even better when viewed in a professional format but I’m sure you get the idea – he’s pretty talented, right?

So if you’d like to see more of Fletch’s work, stay tuned for when PHOTO NUMBER 6 takes to our TV screens sometime next year. It’s a travel show with a difference that will take you on a wild and wonderful ride.

 

For more details, check out the show website at www.photonumber6.com

 

A Night To Remember – The Book Launch for MAKING HEADLINES

My eBook, Making Headlines

My eBook, Making Headlines

Today, it’s exactly three weeks since the Book Launch for my eBook MAKING HEADLINES and life has been so crazy since I let it loose on the world, that I’ve only just got around to Blogging about the actual night.

Prior to the launch, I wrote a post about my indecision as to whether I should hold a party or not. Post-party, I can say without a doubt – I am absolutely thrilled I went ahead with the night and will hold it dear as one of the most significant events in memory.

Yep – that’s a big statement, so let me explain. To me, it was a celebration of a project that I was passionate about. So much so, that despite having many major hurdles and doubts along the way, I saw it through to the end, allowing it to absorb a huge part of my life.  The ultimate goal was to have the book published, so I could share this story with the world and hopefully provide a tale that would engage, entertain and also offer a few insights into an unusual world. To have the book be given the tick of approval by a major well-respected publisher – Harper Collins – is, for me, a major achievement and something well worth celebrating. On the night, everyone who is an important part of my life and who was able to be there, turned up to celebrate with me and the room was filled with the most wonderful, supportive energy. So many people commented on what a happy evening it was – and that’s exactly how it felt for me too.

Hotel Brighton

Hotel Brighton

 

The venue, at HOTEL BRIGHTON, was perfect, with the upstairs function area providing a classy and intimate environment – as well as fabulous food and service. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to host a private function! There was also a screen so we could show my Book Trailer.

 

Big thanks to everyone for coming and helping to make it such a special occasion. Especially to my dear friends Brigitte Duclos and Mitch Catlin who took on the roles of MC and interviewer respectively, making it much a more entertaining night than if I’d been up there in front of everyone on my own!

Brigitte Duclos and Ann Peacock

Brigitte Duclos and Ann Peacock

Mitch Catlin and me in matching polka dots!

Mitch Catlin and me in matching polka dots!

As well, a huge debt of gratitude to our friends and Fletch’s NEIGHBOURS fellow cast members for coming along and helping garner media support  – and for hamming it up beautifully for the cameras. Here are some of the best shots from these wonderful people:

Jackie Woodburne, Stefan Dennis, Gail Easdale and Natalie Bassingthwaigthe

Jackie Woodburne, Stefan Dennis, Gail Easdale and Natalie Bassingthwaigthe

Stefan Dennis and Fletch

Stefan Dennis and Fletch

Fletch and Natalie Bassingthwaighte

Fletch and Natalie Bassingthwaighte

 

 

 

 

 

 

A shocking read! Gail Easdale, Jackie Woodburne and Natalie Bassingthwaighte

Gail Easdale, Jackie Woodburne and Natalie Bassingthwaighte

Stefan Dennis and Fletch

Stefan Dennis and Fletch

Here’s some of my speech from the night, along with some photos from the evening:

———————————————————————————————–

“I could never have come this far without the help of an incredible writing teacher and she’s here tonight. Thank you SO much to Olga Lorenzo from the RMIT Writing course. Olga taught the Creative Writing unit and I studied with her for three years. I could not have finished this book without her invaluable input and guidance.

Olga is also herself an acclaimed and brilliant writer and has her second novel THE LIGHT ON THE WATER coming out in a few weeks, (TODAY!) so congratulations Olga – I can’t wait to read it.

Olga Lorenzo and me

Olga Lorenzo and me

A big thank you as well to all my fellow students at RMIT who gave me valuable feedback during work-shopping sessions in class. In particular, to my friends that grew from that course to develop our own writers’ group – to Ann Bolch, Lisa Bigelow, Kaye Holder and Clare Strahan.

An extra special thank you to Ann Bolch who also worked as the first editor of the completed manuscript and did a superb job. If you ever need a good editor, Ann is exceptionally talented and very, very wise.

A congratulatory hug from Ann Bolch

A congratulatory hug from Ann Bolch

Lisa Bigelow and me

Lisa Bigelow and me

As well as the Writer’s Group, two of my friends and my sister took the time and effort to read early drafts. Thank you to Jill and Rick Molinsky for your encouragement and support.

Also a huge thank you to my dear, wicked, gorgeous, talented, close friend, Rochelle Nolan, who is sadly no longer with us. Rochy was always my biggest supporter, read an early draft of the book and pepped me up whenever I was feeling negative about my writing. I wish she could have been here to see the book in its final published form. I miss her every day.

To my dear friend and stepsister, Sian Prior, another superbly talented writer, who inspired me to take up the RMIT PWE course in the first place.

To my wonderful friend and author Ellie Nielsen, who also not only encouraged me to take up the RMIT course, but inspired me with her own book ‘Buying A Piece of Paris’ and then invited me to that very apartment where we shared what was ostensibly a writing sabbatical but also involved plenty of champagne in the work-shopping of ideas, lively conversation and literary debate.

Ellie Nielsen, Michelle Van Raay and me

Ellie Nielsen, Michelle Van Raay and me

To special friends who were always there with love and support – to Julie, Brigitte, Andy and Mitch – as well as all my friends who came on the night.

Anne Peacock, Libby Ross, Andy Webster and Julie Milnes

Anne Peacock, Libby Ross, Andy Webster and Julie Milnes

Steve and Ineke Carey with me in the middle!

Steve and Ineke Carey with me in the middle!

Fletch, Tania Gogos-Wilson, Jen and Ross Wilson

Fletch, Tania Gogos-Wilson, Jen and Ross Wilson

Margaret Zita and Maryanne Gianarelli

Margaret Zita and Maryanne Gianarelli

Nick Holland and Aki Kotzamichalis

Nick Holland and Aki Kotzamichalis

To my work colleagues at Smoothfm; to Jane Elliot for her help on the publicity front and to Mike Perso, for his amazing and enthusiastic on-air support.

Mike Perso and me

Mike Perso and me

Tanya Simpson, me and Jane Elliot

Tanya Simpson, me and Jane Elliot

Nova's Matt Smithson, Sophia Lazarides and Matt Thomson

Nova’s Matt Smithson, Sophia Lazarides and Matt Thomson

THE SMOOTH TEAM - Program Director Pete Clay, Lauren Saylor, Mike Perso, me and Ty Frost

THE SMOOTH TEAM – Program Director Pete Clay, Lauren Saylor, Mike Perso, me and Ty Frost

Ty Frost and me

Ty Frost and me

To my former news-reading partner, Mal Walden, for understanding that NO character in this book is based on him!

Mal Walden and me

Mal Walden and me

Present and past co-hosts!

Present and past on-air colleagues

To Harper Collins; for agreeing to publish this work; in particular, Mary Rennie for going above and beyond in managing to take this book to the next level from its original draft.

To my parents and step-parents; Mum and Ken, Dad and Margot, for their never-ending encouragement and support.

Me and Dad (John Hansen)

Me and Dad (John Hansen)

And lastly, to my immediate family – my husband, Alan, and two children, Veronica and Tom. I am very much indebted to you all for putting up with my absences while I was holed up in my office, writing. For understanding that when I disappeared into ‘Book World’ I should not be interrupted.

To Alan, for his patience and love throughout; to Tom for actually reading the first few chapters and proving to that me he will one day be the best writer in the family; and to Veronica for finding great words to replace the rude ones.

My beautiful children Veronica and Tom, with Tom's gorgeous girlfriend Carrington Hannah

My beautiful children Veronica and Tom, with Tom’s gorgeous girlfriend Carrington Hannah

————————————————————————————————-

So that was my night of nights! Again, thank you to all who came and to all who have since bought the book online. Thanks also for the continuing social media support. If you forgot to post something on social media on the night, please retweet this Blog to help get word out about the book. The more it sells, the more chance I have of it being printed as a hard-copy book!

My eBook, Making Headlines

My eBook, Making Headlines

 

For those wanting to buy a copy, MAKING HEADLINES is available on iBooks and Amazon AND Google books.

And for those interested in enquiring about a function at HOTEL BRIGHTON, phone the wonderful Grace Eddy, Functions Co-ordinator, on 9596 3244.

 

Look who’s been chosen to represent us in LA and why they need our support

Christmas single 'If you want a Happy Christmas'

Christmas single ‘If you want a Happy Christmas’

I’ve got good news and bad news – but mostly good news.

So let’s start with the good news… The talented musical trio, THE PACIFIC BELLES, have been chosen to represent Australia in the upcoming World Championships of Performing Arts in LA. They’re a brilliant act who some of you may remember, also starred alongside Fletch in the making of a Christmas song last year, which proved a hit in the UK.

 

Now the bad news is there’s a chance The Pacific Belles might NOT be able to take up this opportunity of a lifetime – and it all comes down to sponsorship. Like athletes who need support to compete on the world stage, so too, do our most talented performers in the arts arena.

The official World Championships of Performing Arts celebrates its 18th year, in July this year and is universally cited as the one-and-only official global event for performers and entertainers both amateur and professional. It’s pretty much the Olympics of the Performing Arts.

A talented trio

A talented trio

Each year, more than 75 scouts and national directors scour the globe for outstanding talent to take part. More than 75,000 applicants from 50 countries auditioned to participate in this year’s event, which will be staged in West Hollywood.

But taking part is an expensive venture. I spoke with singer and PACIFIC BELLES manager Laura Monaghan about how they’re going about trying to raise money through a POZIBLE crowd-funding project. Jump on board and help if you can by going to this link:

Q: How did the Pacific Belles come to be chosen to represent Australia in the World Championships of Performing Arts?

LAURA: Last year we were very lucky enough to be asked to be the support act for Tyla Bertolli from The X Factor. We got to perform at her single launch for her song ‘Burn’ and she suggested that we apply to be contestants in The World Championships of Performing Arts. Tyla is also a scout for WCOPA, she took part last year and did really well from it. We thought it was a huge opportunity so we auditioned, 75,000 applicants from 50 countries later we got picked!

Q: How did the Belles form as a group and why the fascination for music from yesteryear?

LAURA: The Belles have been performing together for nearly a year now, we formed after I (Laura Monaghan, Manager and soprano singer) set it up and auditioned for other girls to sing with. I grew up with a love and fascination for the 1940‘s and old Hollywood. The Andrew Sisters and Doris Day are my all time favorite. The two other Belles are also obsessed with the fashion and the music of yesteryear and we love the glamour. We joke that we were all born in the wrong era!

Q: Why doesn’t the organisation that picked the performers fund the trip to LA? 

LAURA: Obviously we wish that whole trip was funded but I think that WCOPA rely on sponsors to keep the event going each year. We are currently looking for Aussie brands that would benefit with some international exposure to sponsor us. We would love to be sponsored by a make up or vintage clothing brand.

Q: How important is it to you and the Pacific Belles to go to LA?

LAURA: It would mean the world for The Pacific Belles to get to go to LA and perform in front of industry professionals. The whole experience to be apart of such a huge competition “The Performing Arts Olympics” as they call it will be amazing. I am extremely proud with how far The Pacific Belles have come in a year and to be asked to represent Australia doing something we love would be an honour.

Help the PACIFIC BELLES  savour the sweet taste of success

Help the PACIFIC BELLES savour the sweet taste of success

Q: What do you hope to achieve by competing?

LAURA: We obviously hope that we will do well from the competition and that we’ll bring back at least one gold medal for Australia. I think that would be an achievement enough. Although saying that we have our fingers crossed that our trip to the states could open a few career doors for us too.

Q: Why did you decide to go ahead with a ‘Pozible’ crowd-funding campaign?

LAURA: As well as a few main sponsors we need to raise some money for the expenses of the trip and crowd funding seemed like the way forward as we have a lot of support from our friends and family and also fans. Pozible is a really easy to use fund raising site and offers rewards for pledges. We have rewards from just $10 and every little bit helps but we can’t believe it – someone has already pledged $1000 to have us perform at their event!

Q: Is the fund-raising campaign a lot of work?

LAURA: Yes, it is a lot of work. We can only hope we reach our target of $10,000 on Pozible. We have decided that in return for your pledges we are going to give back to the community. When we reached $2000 we performed at an Age Care home. Next milestone $4000, we will go and perform for children at a children’s hospital. These are our most rewarding performances. The other day we met a lady who was 102 years old! We’re also planning a fund-raising event next month.

Q: What are your long-term goals for the Belles?

LAURA: Our long term goals for The Pacific Belles are to keep spreading our sound around Melbourne and to tour Australia. We also hope to record an album with a jazz band, perform our show on a larger scale and visit other countries – LA being one of them!

We wish the PACIFIC BELLES all the best with their fund-raising. Don’t forget, go to this link if you can help – every bit counts!

http://www.pozible.com/project/180216

 

My first week at smoothfm

This past week has been a whirlwind, to say the least. So many new experiences, my head is spinning. A new job, new sleeping hours, a new gym and new work buddies. It’s all great and I’m loving it, but at times it can feel a little over-whelming.

My new role is news presenter on Mike Perso’s More Music Breakfast Show at smoothfm. I also enjoy a chat with Mike when we take a look at the traffic and talk about what’s happening in and around Melbourne.

My new newsroom at smoothfm

My new newsroom at smoothfm

This first week has brought back memories of when I first started reading the news at Channel Ten – the butterflies in the tummy, the adrenalin rush and the fear of making a mistake. You see, just as it is for anyone starting a new job, there’s a steep learning curve. Except that most of you don’t have to risk mucking up in front of thousands of people…

The week hasn’t been without its hiccups, but ninety-nine per cent of the time it’s been fantastic. I’ve loved working in news again and the immediacy of radio is brilliant. Best of all, it feels completely natural and comfortable to be reading news live to air again. That bit hasn’t phased me at all.

Mike Perso

Mike Perso

 

The biggest plus is that everyone I’m working with is absolutely lovely and supportive. It’s like they’ve all absorbed the vibe of the whole station – chilled and positive. Mike himself has been delightful and welcoming and I’m in awe of his seamless and relaxed delivery on air; juggling interviews, competitions, music and the challenge of working with a radio newbie like me!

 

As for the newsroom staff, they couldn’t have been more helpful if I’d paid them a million bucks each. There’s been a lot of new technology to absorb and me and technology don’t usually get along well at first so anyone teaching me, requires a LOT of patience. Which is why I have to thank these amazing people from the bottom of my heart:

Nova news presenter Matt Smithson

Nova news presenter Matt Smithson

smooth fm journalist Bronte Coy

smooth fm journalist Bronte Coy

Journalist John Michael Bric

Journalist John Michael Bric

Putting a bulletin together really is a team effort and I’m very lucky to be working with a group of such talented writers and operators. I’m also very much looking forward to the time in a couple of weeks when apparently – they keep telling me – the button-pushing bit will have become second-nature.

My new office

My new office

When I started at smoothfm last week, the person I was assigned to ‘follow’, who was going to teach me the ropes, was the super-talented Pip Mooney, the on-air newsreader I’ve replaced. Pip has chosen to take on a new role in the corporate world for family reasons so was more than happy to share her knowledge with me before she left.

Pip Mooney

Pip Mooney

Watching Pip at work was mind-boggling. The speed at which she completed her work, the high level of her capabilities and her professionalism on air made me wonder how I could ever fill her shoes. Again, like the rest of the team, her patience in explaining all the processes was infinite and much appreciated.

Also a great personality, I was sorry we weren’t going to be working together for longer when she left last Friday.

There’s a couple of other ‘thank yous’ required here. My new starting hours mean waking up at 4.30am, so I’ve pretty much dropped the ball on the domestic front this past week while I focus on my new job. (Because I also very much welcome an afternoon nap to get me through!)

As a result, Fletch has taken over the running of the household – even to the point where he did most of the home prep work for a family gathering on the weekend to celebrate his OWN birthday! (And our daughter Veronica’s as well.) AND he hasn’t complained about the alarm going off at 4.30am. Or making school lunches.

A birthday double

A birthday double. (And no, I didn’t bake the cake…)

So thanks a million, Fletch. Your support means everything. I promise to start looking inside the laundry again soon. Really, I promise!

 

 

 

 

Why Feb Fast is super annoying…

Send Grog on a holiday

Send Grog on a holiday

Leading up to the beginning of the month, I was REALLY looking forward to starting Feb Fast. Along with Fletch, we both decided we’d had a pretty indulgent festive season and it was time for a healthy kick-start to the year. Time to give up the grog for a month. I was enthusiastic and ready for the challenge.

Now I KNOW Feb Fast is a great concept – especially because the money raised goes to helping young people and families who are tackling serious alcohol and drug issues – BUT I’ve discovered…

… IT IS REALLY, REALLY ANNOYING!!!!!

For many reasons. Which I’ll tell you about in a minute.

It started out really well. I felt energetic at the gym, was writing more, meeting my deadlines and waking up fresh as a daisy. If you’d like to get a clearer picture of all the benefits, just check out this graphic put out by the Feb Fast group. Of course, some of the statistics also relate to the other things you can give up in February if you’d rather keep drinking grog – like coffee, sugar and social media.

Benefits of Feb Fast

Benefits of Feb Fast

But that self-satisfied smug feeling about saying ‘NO’ to alcohol and being strong wears thin by about Day Four. After a crap day when it’s getting close to dinner time, all you can think about is wanting to crack open that lovely chilled bottle of chardonnay tempting you from the fridge.

So you say ‘NO’ to yourself and go back to sorting through emails or getting on with domestic chores. Then you sit down to watch some TV and again you can hear the chardy singing your name.

Saying 'No' to alcohol

Saying ‘No’ to alcohol

Still you say ‘NO’ but remark to your husband that you might be missing your wine. Just a little. Is he missing his beer? ‘No, I don’t think about it, really,’ he says, smiling. Shrugs nonchalantly. Of course, it’s easy for him. I’m just being silly.

GOD, THAT’S ANNOYING.

 

And I think ‘not drinking’ makes me a little irritable. Just a teeny, weeny bit. After 6pm anyway. It makes me cranky to think about that famous quote from Frank Sinatra – ‘I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.’

He’s right. It’s even worse at social events. Especially because just when you think you’re doing fine and enjoying yourself, someone notices you are NOT drinking alcohol, and wants to talk about it. Really annoying.

Problem drinking

Problem drinking

Then you get some people who look at you strangely when you tell them you’ve given up the grog. They listen for a bit and then nod sympathetically, and throw in a little comment or too that suggests the real reason they think you are doing Feb Fast is because you have a drinking problem.

Seriously? Some people can be VERY annoying. Like it isn’t possible to just want one month of healthy living?

 

But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Well, halfway through the tunnel in fact. Fletch has decided to buy himself a ‘leave pass’ this Friday night when we go out and celebrate Valentine’s Day. YES!!!! Well, I can’t let him drink on his own, can I? That will still make it TWO WEEKS without drinking which is more than I think I’ve done in about ten years. And we’ll go back to Feb Fasting on the Saturday right through till the end of the month.

Right now I’m feeling quite smug again as it’s the middle of the day and I can feel proud of myself that I’ve lasted ELEVEN DAYS without cracking. But I’m still dreading that witching hour at about 6pm when my mind drifts toward the fridge. Or back to when we were on holidays by the pool and I had this AMAZING passionfruit mojito…. Ah, memories.

Passionfruit Mojito

Passionfruit Mojito

 

 

 

 

A new month and a new diet… using Willpower.

Hello February!

Hello February!

Don’t you just love the first of the month? A fresh start, a new beginning, new resolutions and in my case, a new diet. It’s also the month that has thousands of Australians taking up the FEB FAST Challenge. Which usually means giving up alcohol. (although you can choose to give up coffee, sugar, caffeine or even digital screens as alternatives.)

Fletch and a few of his Neighbours mates are taking up the alcohol option. He’s already had some generous donations pledged from some lovely friends. If you’d also like to show your support, here’s the link.

http://my.febfast.org/PersonalPage.aspx?registrationID=695522#.Uur251wksok.twitter

Feb Fast

Feb Fast

I’m not quite so brave. I am doing a pathetic half-arsed version of the challenge by ‘saying’ I’m doing Feb Fast without signing up… There’s a good reason for this but I don’t want to go into details. Suffice to say I might have to head overseas soon and if that happens, well, yes OF COURSE I’d be drinking! And I want a practice run before fully committing next year.

I’m curious to see how I’ll go. And Fletch. I’ve heard lots of good things, so I’m actually looking forward to it.

Apparently you lose weight (YES!) and generally achieve a bucket load more in life, so I’ll keep you posted and let you know.

God knows I need to kick start the diet thing again after falling off the wagon MASSIVELY over the Christmas break. Getting on the scales right now is downright scary.

My juice selection for Day One

My juice selection for Day One

Some of you might remember me banging on last year about a diet I put together myself because I wanted something that was realistic to manage, simple to implement and easy to stick to. I called it the FIT FIX Diet, and yep, it really worked. If you’d like an overview, you can refer back to this blog to see the food plan for the first three weeks.

http://jenniferhansen.com.au/wp-admin/post.php?post=6372&action=edit

This time I’m still going to stick to the FIT FIX Diet Plan rules with the extra kicker – NO ALCOHOL. Plus some strategies from a book I mentioned in the last Blog, called Willpower.

Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney

Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney

It’s worth a read. Although I do think there are some contradictions in the chapter about dieting. Basically, the authors say there’s no point attempting to take up special diets because they never work. But at the same time, they say certain ‘rules’ can be effective. Like no sugar. If sugar isn’t an option at all, then you don’t waste time and energy deciding whether to eat the stuff, you just say ‘no’ and be done with it.

But if you implement a new ‘rule’, then you are in effect, creating a new diet anyway, aren’t you? Hmmm…

 

 

The best tip though, is the ‘not now, but later’ theory. The idea is that you never say to yourself, ‘I can’t eat that yummy chocolate ice-cream tempting me from the freezer.’  What you are meant to say to yourself is, ‘I won’t eat that yummy chocolate ice-cream now, but I will have it in two hours.’ Or tomorrow.

And you probably never will eat it, but psychologically, you feel less deprived. Those who do this lose more weight and keep it off.

There are lots of fascinating stories about case studies and psychological tests on groups of people to support this theory, so I’m going to give it a go.

Tapiz Chadonnay

Tapiz Chadonnay

So there you have it. The new diet means no alcohol, sticking to the FIT FIX Diet Plan and using tips from the Willpower book. All sounds good, doesn’t it? But damn, I’m going to miss my chardonnay…

Are you giving up anything for February? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments section too.

 

 

 

Fletch’s new Christmas Song – an interview with hubby

Awash with the Christmas spirit

Awash with the Christmas spirit

While I do take my journalistic profession quite seriously, I have to admit it to having a bout of the giggles while interviewing my own husband. I mean, it does feel a bit ridiculous, after all, when you’ve been married for more than twenty years – to put a taping device between the two of you to start a process of ‘formal’ questioning…

Fletch wasn’t enamoured with the idea either. He even tried fobbing me off with a press release instead! Are you kidding? His own wife? There isn’t a self-respecting journalist on the planet that would do a story on the back of a mere media release. Well, except for the super-lazy and disinterested. I’ve got plenty of faults, but I’m not those.

This was an interview that HAD to be done properly. It’s all about Fletch’s new Christmas song – If You Want A Happy Christmas – out today on ITunes for a teensy-weensy $1.69.  https://itun.es/i6Fb88M  #iTunes

Christmas single

Christmas single – now available on I-Tunes

It’s an upbeat, catchy tune that will put you in the festive spirit, plus all the profits from the song will go to a wonderful charity, Blue September, to aid cancer research.

Fletch recorded the song with harmony singing sensations, The Pacific Belles, who also feature prominently in the video which can be seen on You Tube. The clip has already had more than 9,000 views. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMeRu-0q8E8

He even called on help from his ‘neighbours’ to take part in the video – with actors and great friends Stefan Dennis, Chris Milligan and James Mason joining in the shenanigans, playing the roles of a rather funky Santa and a couple of cheeky elves.

Christmas Video shoot

Christmas Video shoot

But enough from me. Let’s get straight into that interview. And just for the record, I call him ‘ALAN’, not Fletch in this interview, because I am, after all, a complete professional.

————————————————————————————————-

JEN: So tell how you came up with the lyrics for your new song?
ALAN: I’m happy to, but I’m only going to give you one shot at this because I know you’re very, very unreliable with recording interviews. So have you got a back up plan here?

(Okay, so maybe there have been technical glitches with a couple – just a couple – of interviews I’ve recorded on my IPhone that have had to be re-recorded…)

JEN: (laughter) Ah, only my fantastic memory.
ALAN: Okay then, we’ll see how you go.

JEN: So, the lyrics?
ALAN: The lyrics? Oh yes, right. Well, I personally am not a huge fan of the commercialisation of Christmas and so when I came to write a Christmas song, I wanted to do something that was fun but I wanted it to have a little bit of a message as well, and to shift the focus away from present-giving and back on to connecting with the ones you love.

JEN: Is this just a really elaborate way of you saying you’re NOT going to be buying me a present this year?
ALAN: Yes. Yes, you’re getting nothin’ but a big, big smooch right under the mistletoe.

JEN: But what about the diamond hoop ear-rings I really want? (much laughter as of course, I would never expect something so expensive from my very un-materialistic husband)
ALAN: Well, there’s plenty of rich bastards out there who will buy their wives diamond hoop ear-rings but that won’t get them anything. And you’re not going to get any.

JEN: Well, that’s just mean.
ALAN: Move on.

JEN: Why were you reluctant to be interviewed by me?
ALAN: Because you’re too invasive as an interviewer and you have a reputation for running with sleaze.

JEN: Rubbish! Give me an example.
ALAN: Your cosmetic blogs. They’re full of sleaze.
(I have no idea what he is talking about…)

JEN: Well, what about your song with the line in it about kissing under the mistletoe with a MERRY HO? What does that mean? You want to pash a drunken whore under a green leaf?
ALAN: Would you stop wasting my time?

JEN: No, this is my interview and I’m running it so just answer the question. Do you really think it’s appropriate we should be singing about drunken whores to our children at Christmas time?
ALAN: Well, it’s better to sleep with a drunken whore than a sober one.
JEN: Why?
ALAN: Because they won’t remember you the next day.

JEN: Time to move on. So what measure of success do you need from this song to make all the hard work worthwhile?
ALAN: I’d like it to have widespread distribution and recognition over the years – not just this year – and that I don’t make a loss.

JEN: So you want it to be played in shopping centres, at carols nights etc..?
FLETCH: I would like it to be played wherever people feel festive. I think it’s a festive song with a really good hook and I think people will enjoy it.

The Daily Mirror

The Daily Mirror

JEN: It’s already being touted by the Daily Mirror as a potential Number One hit. That’s a good start, isn’t it?
ALAN: That was very kind of them and if reaches Number One on the charts, I will be sending them a massive crate of French champagne.

JEN: Will I get any French Champagne?
ALAN: You never said it was going to a Number One Hit. You told me it sounded like a Wiggles song.

JEN: The Wiggles are very successful. Do you think it would sell better if you’d made a whole album of Christmas songs?
ALAN: And where the hell would I have found the time and money to do that?

JEN: Good point. It’s a very catchy song. Do you find it stays in your head?
ALAN: I can’t stop singing it. I wake up singing it, I go to sleep singing it…

Alan and The Pacific Belles

Alan and The Pacific Belles

JEN: Does it haunt you?
ALAN: It haunts me.

JEN: Do you hate it now?
ALAN: I don’t hate it, but it haunts me. And everybody I have played it to has had the same reaction.

JEN: That’s called an earworm. Do you know that term?
ALAN: I think you mean brain worm.

JEN: No, it’s an ear worm.
ALAN: Okay, it’s an ear worm. Nice. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

JEN: I suppose you have to put the challenge out to everyone.Can you listen to this song twice without it being stuck in your head?
ALAN: So that’s going to be the focus of you blog?

JEN: No, it’s going to be ‘Is he Mr Scrooge or Mr Christmas?’
ALAN: (laughter, rolls on the couch and falls off)

That’s the end of our interview. I quite enjoyed it. I should also mention that If You Want A Happy Christmas was performed by Steve Purcell’s Pearly Shells, written by Alan Fletcher/Tim Smith, produced & mixed by Robin Gray, and recorded at Allan Eaton Studios in Melbourne, Victoria.

So why not buy it today, help Fletch reach Number One on the charts and help a great cause at the same time? Oh, and let me know if you DO think this song really is an ear worm!

 

Getting Neighbourly with ocean guardians, Sea Shepherd

Feel like saving the planet this weekend? Okay, that sounds like I’m asking you to be a super hero, but I’m not. You really can contribute just by visiting the Sea Shepherd ships which are dockside in Melbourne at Williamstown and open to the public for tours this weekend.

Three ships dockside at Wlliamstown will be open to the public

Three ships dockside at Wlliamstown will be open to the public

A stall for souvenirs

A stall for souvenirs

 

Donating helps too. Not just money – long-life food stocks that Sea Shepherd can take on its missions are greatly appreciated because it’s an organisation that relies completely on the generosity of supporters. There’s also a stall where you can buy Sea Shepherd t-shirts and souvenirs.

 

Fletch and I finding our sea legs...

Fletch and I finding our sea legs…

We went along for a tour of the ships last weekend and it was a real eye opener. Fletch’s fellow Neighbours actor Saskia Hempele and her partner, TV presenter Kayne Tremills also joined us.

Just in case you haven’t heard about Sea Shepherd, these guys put their lives on the line trying to prevent the illegal poaching of protected whales and dolphins. We were also shown a couple of videos of clashes with Japanese whaling ships and I can only imagine how terrifying it would be to be caught on one of their smaller boats, being deliberately rammed by these massive vessels.

The Bob Barker being rammed by Japanese ships in February

The Bob Barker being rammed by Japanese ships in February this year.

We were given a tour of the Bob Barker by Quarter Master Ben Harris who explained Sea Shepherd’s background. ‘It was founded in 1977 by Paul Watson,’ he said. ‘Watson was one of the original founders of Greenpeace but left Greenpeace to found Sea Shepherd because he wanted a much more direct action organisation. We’re a marine conservation organisation but we use direct action tactics to directly intervene in the poaching of whales.’

This ‘direct action’ is heavy stuff. The Australian arm of Sea Shepherd makes an annual pilgrimage to the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary every year. ‘That’s been a whale sanctuary since 1994 and whaling has been banned since 1986,’ explained Ben. ‘But the Japanese whaling fleet continues to whale illegally – under a legal loophole which allows them to whale under the guise of scientific research. They go after either Humpbacks, Fin whales and Minkes which are endangered or close to being endangered.

TV presenter Kayne Tremills with Neighbours actors Saskia Hempele and Alan Fletcher hear about the serious business of saving whales

TV presenter Kayne Tremills with Neighbours actors Saskia Hempele and Alan Fletcher hear about the serious business of saving whales

The Bob Barker played a huge role in the last campaign. ‘We used this ships as a wedge,’ said Ben, ‘because they were refuelling inside the whale sanctuary which is breaking another whole load of rules. But we put this ship between the Japanese factory ship and the refuelling ship. The factory ship is 5000 tonnes and our boat is 500 tonnes. We were nearly squashed but we stopped them from refuelling.’

It was this bravery that made February’s intervention the most successful Sea Shepherd campaign yet. ‘We saved 932 whales,’ said Ben. ‘They had a quota of 1135 whales but because they couldn’t refuel, they cut their season short.’

Was anyone hurt in this campaign? ‘No, we’re aggressive but not physically violent. We’re not out to harm anyone. They’ve never lost anyone and we’ve never lost anyone. The only injuries that have been caused happened when some of our crew was pelted with large nuts and bolts from the whalers. They also swung a grappling hook at us,’ he said.

Next stop was a tour of the dining quarters. If you want to volunteer to be part of a Sea Shepherd campaign, make sure you’re happy to go vegan. After hearing about the horrific slaughter of whales and dolphins all day, it’s something I’m going to have to seriously consider.

Checking out the dining quarters

Checking out the dining quarters

Ben says that less and less of the Japanese population eat whale meat now, as awareness about the plight of the whales grows. ‘People have gone off the idea. They’re also aware there’s a lot of mercury in the meat, so they’re getting better educated, but the industry keeps pushing it, trying to get the next generation to eat it but putting it in school dinners. But now less than 4% of their population actually eat it.’

Worldwide support for Sea Shepherd is growing rapidly. It was fascinating to hear how so much has been donated by the US celebrity set. The Bob Barker ship, for instance, is named after the US games show host from The Price is Right, who donated a whopping FIVE MILLION DOLLARS to not only buy the ship, but a helicopter as well. Actor Pierce Brosnan is on the board of directors.

And I loved the story about how Sea Shepherd purchased its latest boat, the Sam Continue reading “Getting Neighbourly with ocean guardians, Sea Shepherd” »

When is a good age to have babies?

Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster

Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster

So Zoe Foster and Hamish Blake are having a baby! I offer my sincerest congratulations to them both – this gorgeous and much loved-up ‘IT’ couple of our local celebrity culture.

I’m sure Hamish will make an excellent dad. I can say this with some authority, as son Tom (who has just turned 16)  is a HUGE ‘Hamish and Andy’ fan. This means he has spent thousands of hours over the past five years walking around our house listening to pod-casts of these guys with ear-phones glued to his head and ignoring me. Hamish, in particular, is his favourite. Which means I’ve battled to get a word in.

But I’m fine with that. I get it. Hamish is funnier, wittier, younger and a bloke. No wonder Tom would prefer to hear his banter than my nagging him to pick up the clothes from his bedroom floor. But as a result, I believe Tom has absorbed much of Hamish’s take on life and he’s turned out pretty well. (In fact, he’s close to damn perfect… ) So Hamish, if you do read this, you should recognise and take a pat on the back for the great influence you’ve had on the thousands of young men (and women) who’ve grown up listening to you and feel confident, as you await the arrival of your first born, that you WILL be a great dad.

It’s none of my business WHEN people decide to have a baby, but I do admit to feeling a tad concerned when I read more than a year ago that Zoe was in no hurry to have kids. There was a quote where she said ‘I’m only 31 and I don’t want a huge family, but we do want kids, but we’re in no rush. I want to be a fun, married couple for a while.’ Which is cool – I just hoped she wasn’t going to wait till she was forty.

Now, OF COURSE, that was probably a line for the media because why should she tell us what they are planning anyway? But it reminded me of myself when Fletch and I had been married for a few years and I’d said exactly the same thing to friends. In fact, I was having so much fun with just the two of us, that every time Fletch suggested starting a family, I’d laugh it off and say, ‘Next year, honey. Just another year.’

Then the crunch came when he sent me a card with a picture of an adorable chubby baby on the front, and he drew a word bubble out of it’s mouth where he wrote, ‘When, oh when, will you let me be born?’ Yeah, not much pressure, huh?? So I relented, thinking it would probably take a while, but in a matter of seconds I was pregnant.

Veronica at 3 months

Veronica at 3 months

Veronica arrived not long after my 30th birthday and I was one of the first of my friendship group to have a baby. That made it hard for the first few years when I felt like I was missing out socially, but in hindsight, I’m so glad Fletch put the squeeze on for us to start a family when we did.

I still don’t think there’s enough in the media, encouraging younger women to have babies at an earlier age, because there still seems to be a common misconception that it’s all good and dandy to get pregnant in your forties. While many women do, and it works out brilliantly, there’s many more who spend years struggling to conceive and the long-awaited miracle never happens. For many, there isn’t a choice – some are still waiting to find a life-partner – but for those who do, but are like me and are hesitant – this is why I’m writing this piece.

Our second child, Tom, arrived two and a half years after Veronica when I was thirty-two. Even at that age, it was an exhausting time. Especially as I returned to reading the news when Tom was a mere five-weeks old.

Tom as a newborn. Photo by Fletch

Tom as a newborn. Photo by Alan Fletcher

The younger you start, the more energy you will have to cope with the incessant demands of parenting. Your body will bounce back more quickly and you are less likely to suffer from post-natal depression. I wish I’d started even younger!

As well, the earlier you start a family, the greater your chances are of becoming pregnant. After the age of 36, a women’s fertility rate declines at an alarming rate. Only two in five women over the age of 40 are able to conceive.

I know this is a sensitive and complex issue. I have another friend in her forties who is only now, considering having a baby. She says she hasn’t felt ready until now. Everyone is different and that’s all good. I’m just saying – if you’re like I was in my late 20s and think you have all the time in the world – think again. Look up the statistics and decide whether it’s really worth waiting. And to Hamish and Zoe, I’m thrilled for you both.

 

My Kinky Mother’s Day Present

When I first saw the mother’s day present Fletch had chosen for the kids to give me this year, I can’t really tell you what I thought… I took off the wrapping paper to reveal a weird looking S-Shaped purple plastic device – what the hell???

Fletch holding the Backnobber

Fletch holding the Backnobber

Fletch held it out proudly, declaring he’d discovered the solution to my back pain woes. He’d bought me a BACKNOBBER. And not just any Backnobber. It was the Backnobber MARK TWO. I smiled nicely, trying to appear enthusiastic and failing. How on earth could something so simple actually help with the complex physical condition I was enduring that related to disc issues and nerve endings? What a STUPID present… It didn’t even come with batteries.

Sure, I'll give it a go…???

Sure, I’ll give it a go…???

But it was a mother’s day present. I had to try. It took a while to get the positioning right, but after several attempts, it started to make sense. If you hold one end of the S-shaped device in one hand and get it on the right spot where you feel the discomfort, then pull down on the curve in front of your body, the pressure applied actually DOES have a massaging effect.

Applying the Backnobber pressure...

Applying the Backnobber pressure…

You can also move the Backnobber around very easily to treat various spots on the back and feel the instantaneous relief. I was amazed. It actually worked! Sometimes the key to a successful gadget really does lie in its simplicity.

So THAT'S how it works...

So THAT’S how it works…

So why, might you ask, have I decided to blog about something that was a gift WAY back in May? Well, it just so happens that I’m on holiday right now with the kids and didn’t pack my Backnobber and my back is missing that simple purple device. Which must be proof that it actually does work. Given that 80% percent of the world’s population suffers from back pain at some point in their lives (according to Dr. Jeffrey Katz, M.D., M.Sc., a leading back specialist at Harvard Medical School) then I reckon there’s plenty of readers who might like to know about this. Fletch first learnt about the amazing Backnobber from his on-screen wife, Jackie Woodburne (aka Susan Kennedy), and let’s face it if TWO wives of a well-regarded doctor think something works, then we MUST be on to something.

Backknobber II

Backknobber II

If you’d like to find out more about the Backnobber, Fletch bought it from The Massage Warehouse in at 361 North Road, South Caulfield, Victoria. (PH: +61 (03) 9502 7693) Or you can visit the company website on http://massagewarehouse.com.au and order a Backnobber on-line. Right now, they’re on sale – reduced from $65 to $56. And no, I don’t get a commission. I’m just sharing because I hope it helps. Good luck.