I had the pleasure of spending the weekend at Hardwicke, the horse stud near Yass owned by my friend Philippa Torlonia, who divides her time between the bucolic pastures of Australia and the cobble-stoned frenzy of Rome. I snapped a few shots of the this beautiful landscape, and several magnificent thoroughbreds. The farm also produces excellent olive oil in a business operated by Philippa’s son Charles de Nanteuil, or Charley as we call him. As well as the award-winning La Barre extra-virgin olive oil, his company produces and distributes a range of infused oils, vinegars and condiments. My personal La Barre favourites: lemon-infused olive oil, blood plum finishing vinegar and their classic Worcestershire sauce.
John McRae takes the photos
A MARDI GRAS EXCLUSIVE
In the wake of the gaffes at the 2017 Oscars, JONATHAN TURNER provides the commentary and presents the awards, maintaining his unofficial prerogative to announce the wrong winners.
Once again, Mardi Gras has come and gone. And once again, an international crew attended our annual Garry Scale Memorial Fruit Stand on Flinders Street. With impeccable tardiness, Garry Scale arrived late. This year, the viewing stand was further protected from the elements and riff-raff thanks to Lachlan’s excellent Do-It-Yourself capabilities, and a shocking pink marquee. Lachlan said he liked the scene at pre-Parade Bunnings on Saturday morning, with squadrons of poofs assembling floats on utes, working in the parking lane normal reserved for legit carpenters and plumbers.
Live from the Parade
2017 was a parade in celebration of gay Tradies, furbies, nurses with over-sized pills, pin-ups, twinks, Ricky Martin, Wonder Woman, mirror balls, gaybies, transgender school-kids, Andy Warhol, otters, unicorns, corporate bankers, balloons, Xena the Warrior Princess, that cute Tarzan guy carrying the ACON flag on his dick, firemen and other strippers.
Different floats were flamboyantly dedicated to different countries – Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Israel, Slovenia, a floating island of Polynesians, the Tiwi Island Sistagirls in ceremonial garb, Ireland, Finland, Scotland, Thailand and The Netherlands as our orange-clad ambassadors to the free world.
We screamed at our glamorous Mardi Gras Ambassadors Cindy Pastel, Trevor Ashley and cheesy Bob Downe riding in their rainbow-painted drop-top Holdens. Proud American country-singer Steve Grand also drove past. He has recently been complaining that people don’t take him seriously as a singer, and we only want to see his six-pack abs. Well Steve darling, if you don’t want to be objectified, then maybe you shouldn’t take your shirt off in front of 300,000 screaming people, rub oil on your torso, and then post all the photos on social media.
Mardi Gras Ambassador – Courtney Act
Officially and unofficially, at Mardi Gras there were lots of cops, thankfully not all of them with sniffer dogs. There were several marching police groups, and the George Michael Freedom float featured a large contingent impersonating George as the L.A. cop in his brilliantly controversial Outside music video. But definitely the gayest vehicle in the entire 2017 Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade was the hunky silver NSW Police Audi coupe’, complete with fluorescent checkerboard signage, driven by two grinning uniformed officers who had recently had their teeth whitened.
There were lots of sporty bits.
Heaps of Olivia Newton-John inspired “Let’s Get Physical” aerobics outfits.
Two Olympic gold-medal divers Greg Louganis AND Matthew Mitcham attended the Garry Scale Memorial Fruit Stand.
Various water polo and footie teams marched past. And Ian Roberts ruled the NRL float, a man who deserves our eternal respect as being the first man to unabashedly come out in any of the international football leagues while still at the top of his game. More than two decades ago, like a Titan, he smashed down the closet door. Roberts remains humble, honest and, for a former Manly front row player, erudite. He ain’t no saint, but he might as well be. After all, our only official Aussie saint is dull old Mary McKillop, who was just a jumped-up school teacher who liked kangaroos.
Here’s a brave and dignified interview with Ian Roberts by Sterlo from 2016. Sterlo calls Roberts “impressive and inspirational”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRrFuyfxHWg
All the red-and-yellow lifesavers dancing around their “Kiss of Life” float were performing the same hand-signals as the cabin crew on the Qantas float with Troye Sivan. Sivan is our home-grown singer, song-writer, teenaged Wolverine and YouTube wunderkind. Were the Qantas hostesses and Bondi lifesavers all signalling to indicate the nearest 747 exit, or telling us to bring in the buoys?
Icons – Ricky Martin (wax), Wonder Woman, George Michael & Andy Warhol
Disney Icons – Genie, Robin Hood, Maleficent & Aladdin and/or Ali Baba
So here are the unofficial awards for the 2017 Mardi Gras Parade.
Best dress – Verushka Darling on the back of the Air bnb cottage, floating like an angel in a white cascade of domestic light-bulbs.
Best Costume – the metallic blue and silver entrant with ice-coloured contact lenses, built-in neon lighting and his trio of black canine bodyguards
Best Group T-shirts – the Aussie Lamb float, with a motif of a couple of prime rainbow cutlets printed on a mint-green background.
Best Dyke on a Bike – the dyke on the yellow Ducati.
Most Necessary Politics – Keep Sydney Open, a float lambasting the ridiculous lock-out laws, with signs in favour of the Oxford Street clubs, and quashing the notion that “Dancing is Dangerous”.
A Twisted Sister, plus Not the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, but perennial favorite Kabi / Kevin / Ethel Yarwood in a mask.
Best Policeman – He knows who he is, the cheeky bugger.
Best Bagpipes Player (I never thought I would write that phrase) – One of the Scotzboys, and he also knows who he is.
Best Choreography – the SBS “Equality is our Chemistry” float, when the dancers joined together to turn their glittery half-hearts into full hearts. How sweet. Plus the red and white Medicare float with the Kiss-Cam. Smooch.
Even Better Choreography – the ANZ guy who couldn’t clap and scream in time with all his colleagues, who could be seen counting the steps on his lips, and who blithely span and marched in the opposite direction. Brilliant!
Best Float – Poof Doof. Harking back to the glory days of the Albury floats, this entry understood the impact of a powerful sound system, happy couples in black leather speedos shooting smoke cannons and a strict black-and-white chessboard theme with unicorns, bishop hats, dog-masks and witches. Slave to the rhythm.
Remember, beauty fades but dumb is forever.
Mardi Gras – It’s just like Christmas, only happy.