Thursday, January 29, 2009

Help Through the Dark Hours


The box of Ferrero Rocher's new offering, Rondnoir, says ...
Crisp dark chocolate-covered specialty, with a smooth filling and a dark chocolate centre.
If it's getting late and your favourite chocolatier is closed, this will help you through the dark hours. You'll almost forget it isn't handmade.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Worthless Oscar Tips Here. (I mean Priceless.)

by SHELL SHERREE

Due to popular demand by my readers {snort}, I have put together my tips for some of the major categories in the upcoming 80th Academy Awards. {What's that? The 81st Academy Awards? Oh, damn it all. Be right back ... }

Sorry for the wait. Back to those tips. As those who rode my Melbourne Cup tips all the way to the losing post know, my methods are fallible. Flawed at best. So consider yourself warned, as my method for choosing Oscar winners {there, I've said it - Winners, Winners, Winners - 'recipients' my ass} is heavily influenced by a pin, some Angel cards and a few jiggers of Stones Green Ginger Wine. {I'm on a cleanse.}

Some of these movies have only just been released in Australia. And more are still strapped to the back of a camel crossing the Sahara and facing an unpleasant tick bath on arrival, unlike American Idol episodes that glide here on virtual wings to appear on Foxtel within hours of the US. {Where's the justice.} So I'm including a form guide for the Best Picture noms to help you come up with your own Winners, Winners, Winners.

BEST PICTURE NOMINATIONS
  1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  2. Frost/Nixon
  3. Milk
  4. The Reader
  5. Slumdog Millionaire

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button The Pseudo D&M-Arty contender. Inspired by a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The story is about an old man born in a baby's body, growing younger as he ages while being remarkably unsurprised about the whole thing. Stars Brad Pitt. We see 'hunky Brad' for only fifteen minutes of a three hour movie and are teased with makeup artistry for the rest. Take a tinkle break at your peril. Cate Blanchett plays Daisy, doomed with Benjamin to an unconventional love {and one too many SK II face masks}. Quite a visually beautiful movie but as emotional as Keanu Reeves on Prozac.

Frost/Nixon The Political contender. Based on a play based on a series of actual interviews in the aftermath of the Watergate kerfuffle. British talk-show host David Frost looks at Nixon and sees an audience pull of Super Bowl proportions. Nixon looks at Frost and sees a neatly coiffed cream-puff with a poncy accent and plans to eat him for breakfast. However, pressure mounts on Frost to wangle an apology from Nixon and he shows that even fluffy pastries can break a tooth if it has a weak spot. Frank Langella {Nixon} and Michael Sheen {Frost} had plenty of practice in their roles, after treading the boards {or mostly sitting in chairs} with the play in London and Broadway. {I hear Frost/Nixon: The Musical is in talks at the moment.}

Milk The Activist contender. Another film based on actual events, therefore completely ruining the ending. Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be voted into major public office in America when he was elected to the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors in 1977. He became a hero and champion of human rights, only to have his life cut tragically short when he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in 1978 by an unravelling fellow supervisor, Dan White {Josh Brolin}. If Milk wins, they can play rock, paper, scissors to choose which of the three openly gay actors in Hollywood gets to present the Oscar.

The Reader The obligatory Bleak and Tortured contender. Kate Winslet plays Hanna Schmitz, former SS guard turned tram conductor. She has a brief affair with Verging on Inappropriately Young Michael {David Kross} during which she insists he read to her each time before they do the deed. Some time later while becoming a lawyer, he rediscovers her accidentally when he attends war crime hearings only to find her on trial. He realises he holds a key that could help her. Older Michael {Ralph Fiennes} helps with the revelations in between visits to his therapist. A two hour depression pill.

Slumdog Millionaire The Feelgood contender {just close your eyes and hum during the murder/squalor bits}. Kid from Mumbai slums competes in the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire but is hauled away on suspicion of cheating. {Show host should be hauled away for hair atrocities.} His story unfolds, revealing how a kid like him knows the answers to the unlikeliest of questions. It's not all fun and games but springs a Bollywood hope eternal. On Oscars night, I think this would be a nice touch: "And the Oscar goes to ... we'll find out right after this commercial break."

My TIp: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Because it's the most Beatrix Potter sounding movie while not being a Beatrix Potter movie.

BEST DIRECTOR NOMINATIONS

  1. Danny Boyle Slumdog Millionaire
  2. Stephen Daldry The Reader
  3. David Fincher The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  4. Ron Howard Frost/Nixon
  5. Gus Van Sant Milk

For a change, all five directors of the Best Picture nominees scored nods. The Academy is clearly fed up with all the wisecracks made on the night about movies directing themselves.

My tip: David Fincher. Because following the same logic, how can the Best Picture be directed by the Not Best Director. {And for having the guts to cast Brad Pitt then swaddle him in an old man disguise for most of the movie.}

BEST ACTOR NOMINATIONS

  1. Richard Jenkins The Visitor
  2. Frank Langella Frost/Nixon
  3. Sean Penn Milk
  4. Brad Pitt The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  5. Mickey Rourke The Wrestler

My tip: Mickey Rourke. Because I'd love to see him thank his dogs again!

BEST ACTRESS NOMINATIONS

  1. Anne Hathaway Rachel Getting Married
  2. Angelina Jolie Changeling
  3. Melissa Leo Frozen River
  4. Meryl Streep Doubt
  5. Kate Winslet The Reader

My tip: Kate Winslet. Because I've never seen anyone faint during an acceptance speech. I think it's about time.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR NOMINATIONS

  1. Josh Brolin Milk
  2. Robert Downey Jr. Tropic Thunder
  3. Philip Seymour Hoffman Doubt
  4. Heath Ledger The Dark Knight
  5. Michael Shannon Revolutionary Road

My tip: Heath Ledger. Because - well, because.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS NOMINATIONS

  1. Amy Adams Doubt
  2. Penélope Cruz Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  3. Viola Davis Doubt
  4. Taraji P Henson The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  5. Marisa Tomei The Wrestler

My tip: Penélope Cruz. Because according to Academy traditions, last year's Best Supporting Actor Javier Bardem, also her current amor, should present the award. I need my TV screen steam cleaned.

BEST HOST NOMINATIONS

  1. Billy Crystal.
  2. Billy Crystal.
  3. Billy Crystal.
  4. Billy Crystal.
  5. Billy Crystal.

My tip: Hugh Jackman. I love Billy Crystal but honestly, what did you expect!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Storm in a Milli Vanilli-flavoured Tea Cup

by SHELL SHERREE

Uh-oh. A storm has been brewing in a Milli Vanilli-flavoured teacup.

Rewind back to the inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama last week. The pomp. The circumstance. {Rightly so.} The rejoicing and celebrations. {Even more rightly so.} The fridgy-didge weather that would freeze the balls off a brass monkey and be rather uncharitable to those of a real one. {Not ideally so.}

Picture this. You're Yo-Yo Ma or Itzhak Perlman, world renowned cellist and violinist respectively. You're about to play at one of the most significant events in history. Millions standing before you. Countless millions more tuning in from lounge rooms, bars and possibly outer space.

In these arctic temperatures, you and your quartet companions, including pianist Gabriela Montero and Metropolitan Opera clarinet player Anthony McGill, are about to perform a piece arranged by Oscar-winning composer, John Williams. {No, not the theme from Superman or Indiana Jones, though both would have been fitting.}

The piece is 'Air and Simple Gifts', a shaker tune with John Williams' signature written all over it, including his trademark soaring solo strings which tug on those of the heart. An old patriotic dog given a new lead studded with hope.

There's just one slight problem.

Your instrument is made of wood, a natural material which changes with the thermometer. Your fingers are made of - err, fingers, another natural material which changes with the thermometer. Blood is supposed to flow through them but it's freezing one second after being pumped out of your heart and you could make a snow cone out of it. {A disturbing image ... one the Coen Brothers may like to borrow.}

What to do? In these temperatures, there's every chance a string could break, a reed could split or your nose could drop off. What a dampener on ceremonies that would be.

The sensible precaution was taken by the producers to accompany the quartet's live performance with a recording they made ahead of time. This recording was broadcast over the loudspeakers and televised to lounge rooms, bars and possibly outer space {a bonding opportunity sorely missed by snubbing E-T and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in favour of a folk tune}. Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak and - err, the other two valiantly played anyway but if the unthinkable had happened, the show would have gone on.

Now that the recording has been revealed, the allegations have been flying. And prize for Most Ridiculous Comparison surely goes to the Milli Vanilli one.

Rewind further back to the late 1980s. Milli Vanilli became an accidental sensation and won the Best New Artist Grammy in 1990. MV was fronted by Fab and Rob, supposedly a pair of dudes with smooth voices, girl hair and impeccable six-packs. Imagine the embarrassment when it turned out they were actually just a pair of dudes with girl hair and impeccable six-packs. {I hope they hadn't got around to engraving the Grammy before they had to give it back.} To be fair, though, the boys could hold a tune; their producer just happened to think others could carry it better.

Clearly the line drawn between Milli Vanilli and living legends Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman {not to forget what's-their-names} is wobbly and childish at best. {Kind of like a right hander trying to write left handed with a pencil in zero degrees celsius temperatures.}

You only have to look at their hair.

In the Luscious Pink


Of the recent bloom of new fragrance releases, Mariah Carey's Luscious Pink has one of the prettiest bottles. Even though we're supposed to store perfumes in cool, dark places to protect their contents (what the ?), I can see it on a dressing table with a gathered and ruffled skirt of aqua fabric patterned with pink peonies (homage to one of its fragrance notes, the others being sparkling Bellini and warm sun-kissed woods). How about you - do you have a favourite perfume bottle? Do you hesitate to toss it when the perfume has long gone?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Save Your Wedgwood



Jasper Conran's 'Chinoiserie' design for Wedgwood isn't all white but I'd be tempted to break my 'all white dinner ware' inclination for a few feature pieces of it. Or bend it slightly, at least.

My rendition shows the green Chinoiserie but it's also available in a white body with coloured pattern. If I were to succumb, I'd likely go for a few key pieces in the patterned white and work them in with my white self-patterned Strawberry & Vine dinner service. (It's upwards of 14 years old now and it has witnessed more nights of food, friends and fun than I can begin to count. It is worth everything I paid for it and more.)

If you like it, buy some now. Sadly, it looks like some of Waterford Wedgwood's UK and Irish subsidiaries (at least) succumbed to the downturn and went into administration on 5th January 2009 . But hopefully buyers can be found to save this iconic company that was founded in 1759! Its quality and beauty will be sadly missed at dinner parties and High Teas if not.

If It Acts Like a Log ...

by SHELL SHERREE

Tom Cruise met with reporters in South Korea on Sunday to promote his latest movie 'Valkyrie' in which he plays Claus von Stauffenberg, would-be Hitler assassin. Cruise {reportedly} told reporters "I've always wanted to kill Hitler. As a child, I used to wonder why someone didn't stand up and kill him."

Sorry, Tom. Take a number.

I wouldn't have pegged Tom Cruise as the capital punishment kind, though.

Ok, I freely admit you can put what I know about Scientology in one small time capsule, waiting for the mother ship to teleport it home. {See what I mean?}

I would have expected something different from Scientologists {'Sci' being derived from the Latin 'Scius-Fius' meaning rooted in fantasy that no-one is meant to understand without paying for}. Faith that they could have taken Hitler and really shown him what indoctrination was all about. {From here on in, I shall abbreviate to 'log' lest They use the false god Google to seek new prospects against whom to seek legal retribution. My piggy bank simply isn't that big. And the choice of 'log' is no reflection on Tom's acting, I promise.}

Knowing that Tom Cruise is a devoted log and poster boy, not just a flibbertigibbet passing through the ranks in hopes of John Travolta's autograph, I have to take it on face value that his feelings are representative of the beliefs of all logs. In a strangely comforting way, it goes to show that no matter how much earthly wealth or media coverage someone has accrued, logs do draw the saviour-line somewhere.

Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against log, in spite of the fact that I'm too scared to use its real name enough to risk optimising it for search engines. {And please, now is not the time to Digg or Stumble me.} I do admire John Travolta - he seems genuinely kind, gracious and cool. Surely anything he's hopelessly devoted to must have some goodness? {No wait - that's Olivia Newton-John. Never mind - the point still applies.}

Of course, the whole "I've always wanted to kill Hitler" thing could be nothing more than Tom Cruise showing his sense of humour. After all, let's not forget the Oprah Couch Incident or his Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 'Tropic Thunder'. {No wait - that's the Hollywood Foreign Press showing its sense of humour. Never mind - the point still applies.}

Or perhaps he simply forgot that 'Valkyrie' was already finished and 'in the can', and he was still stepping in Claus von Stauffenberg's highly polished boots. Does he get so involved with his characters so that he finds it hard to leave them behind? I guess we'd have to see whether he dances in his underdacks and socks in his lounge room at home to know. Anyone have Katie's phone number?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Behold the Baggy Greens

by SHELL SHERREE

Another cricket match went down-to-the-wire at tea time, with Australia barely winning today's one day thriller over the tenacious South African side. Rewind several years and I'd never have imagined I'd be describing using the words 'thriller' and 'cricket match' in the same sentence.

After some years of stealthy indoctrination by my hubby (aka brainwashing), my attention span for this sport has become quite self-impressive, influenced in no small part by the gentlemanly manner of the whole thing. In the drinks breaks, I half expect them to wheel out a trolley laden with pots of tea and tiers of cucumber sandwiches. Or segments of oranges, at the very least.

In the beginning, I could only watch the one day-ers. On the other hand, my hubby (ever the traditionalist) had a tendency to pooh-pooh the "pyjama cricket", so nicknamed because the players wear a rainbow of colours instead of their cricket whites. I'm quite convinced that the one day format came about at the urging of the team housekeepers, anxious to give the whites a decent chance at a hyperextended Napisan soak. Never understimate the sway of a perfectionist launderer.

While my hubby is a staunch believer that test cricket is the only 'real' cricket, I was grateful for the derring-do and thrill of the one day matches instead. I thought test cricket was something only a narcileptic (and my husband) could enjoy. And why nod off through five days of a Test cricket match when you can watch the Readers Digest condensed version instead?

Now that I've built up my cricket-viewing muscles, however, I have a greater appreciation for the finer subtleties that Test cricket offers, not to mention their brighter-than-bright whites. And if anyone doubts Aussies can get the job done without taking ourselves too seriously, just look at the endearing name given to the cap proudly worn by Aussie test cricketers since around the early 1900s: 'Baggy Green'. Not 'Cap of Champions' or 'Hat of Honour', but 'Baggy Green'. (And great for hiding grass stains. A coincidence? I think not.)

Ironically, just as I'm starting to enjoy the War and Peace of cricket, more and more people are skimming the text message of cricket: 20/20. Get your fix in three hours or less. It's a buzz, for sure. But I haven't built up my buns-of-cricket-viewing-steel for nothing, damn it! Every test that comes around, my hubby and I will be watching. And watching. And watching. Which reminds me, I have a load of whites to start soaking.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Louis Vuitton Tambour


Ooh, pretty! Louis Vuitton watch, Tambour Forever Silver with pink alligator strap (also available in red; my colouring came up fuschia-like ~ am I hedging my bets?). I've never seen a pink alligator before.

Aircraft Safety 101

by SHELL SHERREE

Johnny Knoxville, star of 'Jackass', was detained last Thursday morning at LA International Airport for allegedly having a grenade in his luggage. Oops. There was no real threat, though, aside from the fellow passengers on his Miami flight succumbing to salted-peanut-induced sodium overload while waiting. During this delay, authorities ascertained that it was not a working grenade at all. No firing pin. No explosives.

If you are as concerned as I was that Quality Assurance is a thing of the past, don't worry. It was never intended to be a real live serious blow-your-Jackass off grenade! It was just a prop, which Johnny alleged was put there by a wardrobe girl after a shoot. (A turkey shoot?) He graciously apologised for the ruckAss and said he should have checked his bag himself, thereby deftly planting the blame in the wardrobe girl's carry-on luggage.

It led me to thinking, though: (Credit where it's due, I'd never have thought Johnny Knoxville would be brain food.)

Which souvenir movie props would be best left at home when travelling?

Here's my list so far.

  1. Gwyneth Paltrow's prosthetic head in a box ('Se7en') Kiss your connecting flight goodbye;
  2. Humphrey Bogart's bottle of gin ('Casablanca') Far exceeds the 100mL carry-on fluids limit;
  3. Michael J Fox's DeLorean DMC12 car ('Back to the Future') Tough on excess baggage, not to mention the 1.21 gigawatt Flux Capacitor playing havoc with the navigational instruments;
  4. The birds (Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds') Though one could argue they'd be less hazardous inside the plane than out in front of the engines;
  5. Carmen Miranda's fruit salad headdress ('The Gang's All Here') Head straight to Quarantine, do not pass Go.
Of course, there are many movie props that would be invaluable to have on the plane with you, like Audrey Hepburn's iconic black sunnies from 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' when you've mistakenly tried to hydrate yourself for the last three hours with white wine instead of water.

Make the most of that loophole, though. It's only a matter of time before they ban sunglasses in the aircraft cabin lest you snap off their arms and desperately try to cut your sweet and sour aircraft dinner chicken with them instead of the airline-supplied spork. Can't have that, can we.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Misplaced: One Golden Globes Ceremony

by SHELL SHERREE

Does anyone know someone who knows someone whose hairdresser's uncle's accountant might know someone who works at the commercial TV stations and can come up with a logical reason why none of them showed this year's Golden Globes ceremony? I thought not.

Thank Heavens for pay TV.

Our special Economy Footy package usually only gives us permission to watch sports channels, black and white movies from the pre-Talkies era and lifestyle programmes that show you how to make a guest house from five years' worth of Paddle Pop sticks, twenty-one pairs of old pantyhouse and a hot glue stick.

This time, however, it came through for us. After cable surfing for long enough to see a frantically silent heroine rescued from the train tracks and a handbag fashioned from recycled fruit juice tetra packs, I located the elusive Golden Globes broadcast.

Imagine my chagrin to find that I'd already missed the first hour. Simon Baker presented an award in the first hour. I'm not sure which award he announced but it could have been Best Sandwiches by a Catering Van and he would have my undivided attention.

My hubby was grateful we didn't miss one of his personal favourites: Renée Zellweger. He said how lovely her gown was. (I said she could spend a bit more time eating the Best Sandwiches by a Catering Van.) He thought all his Christmases had come at once. (I thought her stylist was one branch short of a Christmas tree.) Then he put on his glasses and realised she was not naked under her diaphanous black gown but was wearing a flesh-toned corset. I rested my case. He decided life was better without glasses.

Lack of correct underwear aside, Globes for movie categories dominated proceedings. This was probably for the best, as the winning TV shows seem annoyingly absent from our commercial channels, thus rubbing our noses in what we are missing out on. Maybe the Mad Men at the TV stations hid them under the same 30 Rock that they used to hide one Golden Globes ceremony and a fetching black corset. I (and my hubby) live in hope.

Warm and Fuzzy Tea Cosies

This possibly is better reserved for an autumnal post but comes under the heading of "Why didn't I do it when I first thought of it," so I'm not delaying any further!

If you have visited any fine bookstore in Australia and not seen Loani Prior's 'Wild Tea Cosies' book there, be surprised then ask them to stock it. I can only knit very basically (and sporadically) but it makes me wish for more. Even if you don't knit, you'll love poring through it if you have an eye for beauty and creativity.

Here's where I clarify my aforementioned procrastination. Some time after I saw Loani's book and blog, I thought, "Hmm, I'd love to draw some of her tea cosies." And didn't. Then lo and behold, as seems to happen when we put a thought out into the universe and drag our heels, talented Liz at The Adventures of Borromini went and did it first (and very beautifully, too - or perhaps Borromini gets the credit?). Better late than never, though. Here are a couple of my own humble 2D representations of Loani's masterpieces.






Monday, January 12, 2009

Rearranging the Blog Furniture

As means of explanation for what appears to be a shocking gap in posts, here goes.

I've been rearranging my blog furniture during the holidays. Though I started this blog with all good intentions, like so many things started that way, it went off the rails. Posts with some relationship to things gorgeous and things for the home gradually morphed into places that were sometimes pedestrian and nowhere near home. So I've started a new blog to go where the winds of my brain take me and hereby frivolously declare that I'll do my best to stay closer to gorgeous and home from here on in.

I haven't carted those off-topic posts to the local RSPCA Thrift Shop but have relocated them to a lovely new home where they'll be very happy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

When Hubby's Best Mate Has to Go

by SHELL SHERREE

My hubby has finally had a parting of the ways with his best mate. They'd been together for thirty years. And they were a tad too close for my comfort. After all, I've only known my hubby for twelve years. Even a rug rat (ok, a large one) could do the maths and figure it out; his best mate has been part of his life more than twice as long as I have.

Before the psychoanalysts amongst you tut-tut off emails of concern that I'm way too clingy and perhaps a touch paranoid, allow me to elaborate. If they'd just knocked around together in a typical semi-detached bloke way for a thirdish of a lifetime, I'd be cool about it. Peachy keen. Happy for my hubby to have someone with whom to share the highly overdeveloped sports stats sector of his brain (which has been the subject of much debate in government secret agencies because it shows up like Christmas tree lights on satellite pics of our region).

But no, it doesn't stop there.

His best mate has clung to him like doggie doo to a shoe. (And think of a Great Dane named Dumpster, not a Chihuahua named Princess.) His best mate has been there for all of my hubby's youthful Aussie Rules footy club post-match celebrations. These were back in the days when they bore a startling resemblance to 'The Club' plonked into the middle of 'Don's Party' - or so I hear. Fortunately, I wasn't there. Unfortunately, my hubby's best mate was, and serves as a constant reminder of my hubby's former beer capacity at the height of its glory. His best mate is also a walking Wikipedia on my hubby's previous girlfriends and has them and their bra sizes filed away in his memory banks to be drawn on at the most inappropriate times.

Of course, his best mate was at our wedding. But he didn't stay at the reception after we left. Oh, no, no, no. I concede that he refrained from shave-creaming our car with graffiti and raiding the loos to weave clumsy toilet paper macrame decorations, but it was probably just to save himself the embarrassment of motoring up the coast in a cream bun on wheels. That's right - his best mate came along on our honeymoon with us.

In spite of all this discomfort, I had learned to accept his best mate and it wasn't through any urging on my part that my hubby made his decision to cut the ties. After all, they'd been through a lot together and his best mate was unreserved in his affection towards me. No, my hubby had been tossing it around for some time. He thought he may have outgrown his best mate. He felt like a new lease on life. He figured if he really couldn't cope without him after a brief adjustment period, he could get him back.

His best mate has been witness to three decades of my hubby's life. And even though I was happy to have a fresh start, too, I could totally understand how bereft my hubby felt when he shaved off his moustache and washed his thirty year old best mate down the bathroom sink. At first, he felt like he'd rinsed away more than just whiskers. But as the days wear on, he's starting to realise those memories are still with him. They're dancing with his sports stats under the disco-ball in his brain.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Up the Cotton Pickings

by SHELL SHERREE

Sorry for my absence during the festive season. I wish I could say I've been hunkered down in a garret in Paris, writing a smokey novel by day and pickling myself with some French pear cider by night. But there's a difference between poetic license and poetic larceny. The closest I came to that experience was writing inadequate grocery lists on the back of gravy-stained envelopes (don't ask) and sipping a shot glass of Mountain Maid Apple Cider Vinegar as part of my New Year's resolution to restore my digestive system back to its former cast-iron glory.

Before my days descended into a slothful blur of grazing on rumballs and watching test cricket (I blame the latter on my sports nut hubby who has stealthily indoctrinated me over the last ten summers), I undertook my annual pilgrimage with my mum and sister to the Boxing Day sales.

Contrary to the urban myth, Boxing Day is not an homage to Mike Tyson. The fact that it comes just one day after the most verbose family members take up opposing corners of the lounge room and chew each others' ears off is merely a coincidence. As is the occasional display of fisty-cuffs over the last size eight leopard print stiletto.

Actually, Boxing Day traditionally was the day that gifts were boxed up and presented to service people as a sign of gratitude for twelve months of hard work and care. Sadly, if you turned up nowadays at the post office with a large carton and presented it with a smile, wink and, "Here's a little something for you,", you'd probably be tackled to the ground and sat on while sniffer dogs and bomb disposal officers were called in. Ah, good times, good times.

We now have our Boxing Day sale routine down pat, securing early smug car parks and tuning our shopping spark plugs with caffeine before heading into the fray.

Following our Arabica-heightened female intuition, we happened upon a tray of half price cotton knickers.

If you live in the tropics or subtropics and haven't embraced cotton undies, you're on the fast track to embarrassing itches in the Brazilian rainforests. However, it's a challenge finding cotton undies that don't look like something displayed in men's prisons to circumvent the need for cold showers or a hose-down in the yard. There is a mass assumption amongst knicker manufacturers that only chaste girls with no sense of style and no hopes of romance bother wearing cotton. And they design these undergarments accordingly, therefore causing the 'lackanooky-belief' to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Not in this case, though. Here in the midst of a major department store were piles of adorable little breathable treats decorated with all sorts of frills and frippery. I was in comfortably woven Nirvana! So was my sister!

Our mother sighed at how pretty they were and said loudly, "Sometimes I wish I wore underwear."

Lo and behold, this sent the other cotton pickers scattering, proving there is far more than just a quarter metre of fabric's difference between adding a few ruffles and subtracting the undies altogether. We found ourselves alone with the entire tray to browse at leisure. Is there no end to a mother's wisdom ...