Christmas Cheer is Here




Welcome to the festive season in Terra Australis!

As I write, the mercury is leaping toward 40°C, a drop of sweat splashes on the keyboard, and there’s a distinct paucity of snow on the ground, Bing Crosby warbling ‘neath the icicles or sleigh bells jing-jangling (fire bridge bells, perhaps).

Nevertheless, it has been a jolly lead into Yuletide with wingdings and soirees aplenty in a prelude to the high season.

Office Christmas parties are in full swing, replete with terrible Chenin Blanc-induced faux pas, people from Accounts falling in the foyer pot plants and crude boo-boos from slippery middle managers that’ll live in office infamy – at least until this time next year.



Had you been at Cottesloe Beach on Tuesday afternoon, you’d have spotted your Starfish publishers hard at work, producing  ITV‘s annual Christmas television broadcast. Hundreds of Brits were on the sand to appear on top-rating British show This Morning, sending love from Western Australia. There was much emotion on display as families, some clutching small babies not yet held by the UK grandparents, waved and chatted to friends and rellies so far away. Their messages will be televised in the UK between now and Christmas Day. Of course, at the moment much of Old Blighty is jumping for joy at the commencement of Covid vaccinations – the perfect Chrissie prezzie!

We headed to Mozzie Park recently for the opening of the Camelot Outdoor Cinema season. It’s always a good show. They lay on a feast, and it’s a fab get together for arts and film fans. Rob Connolly’s new flick The Dry, starring Eric Bana, premiered. The fast-moving thriller is based on the Jane Harper best-seller about a persona non grata cop who, returning to his outback town for a weekend, ends up investigating a crime.


Service with a smile at Camelot


We’ve also been catching the early screeners for the Lotteries West Film Festival.  Some good fodder is heading to Somerville and other locales this summer.

One film that jumped out was The Father, starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman (fans will recognise her as Lizzie Rex in The Crown).



In the movie, a man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. While he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even reality. Hopkins is brilliant in this poignant story about dementia and certainly deserves a nod at the Oscars. The film is important at a time in history when, due to advances in medicine, people can live to a ripe old age, but often suffer the consequences of doing so. Read Margot Lang’s review in this edition.



Ros Seale has filed a review on The County, another of those bleak but absorbing flicks from the snowy desolation of Iceland. It is the story of a woman from a remote rural community who, following the suspicious loss of her husband, fights corporate corruption in her area.

We have a giveaway for Starfish readers: a new book, Real Food For Dogs And Cats, courtesy of our pals at Fremantle Press. By WA vet Dr Clare Middle, as the title suggests, it focuses on providing the right food for Fido and Felix. For decades many of us have been foisting cruddy canned or dried pellet nosh on our cats and dogs (Love the marrow bone jelly – not!) and it’s done them far more harm than good.



That tin of gelatinous gunk, 10% flecked with repulsive titbits of processed cardboard and offal, is an affront to any self-respecting furry friend. But when there’s nothing else on the menu they bolt it down, the poor little fur balls. Dr Middle tells us how to give them healthy tucker for a better life. We have three copies to give away to readers: details in the story.



On a more humanoid food front (no Pal tonight, kids) we couldn’t resist another recipe from the inimitable Ottolenghi. The renowned chef from Jerusalem has a new cookbook out, Flavour, and his Berry Platter with Sheep’s Labneh and Orange Oil caught our eye. This colourful and delicious dish would be ideal for serving in the festive weeks ahead. Recipe within.



And for those who prefer a triffid to a plastic orchid in the living room, we have an excerpt from the beautiful new book Plantopedia, which features everything you need to know about indoor plants. Expert indoor green thumbs Lauren Camilleri and Sophia Kalpan provide some super ideas and advice for vegetating your castle.

Enjoy this edition!