The Satchel Review - Saturday 30 June, 2012

The Australian Parliament is not especially known for its decorum, as ideological posturing and pithy potshots so often take precedence over gainful agreement on matters of national importance, but this week we witnessed a change in atmosphere brought forth by the issue of asylum seekers.

Emotions reached boiling point as politicians' humanity was challenged by the proposition of coming to a bipartisan resolution on the Migration Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 tabled by independent MP Rob Oakeshott. It was not to be.

The Bill was supported by the Australian Government, passing in the House of Representatives by a narrow margin of 74 votes for and 72 against, but hit a stalemate in the Senate. It received 29 votes in favour and 39 against after a dynamic seven-hour debate.

The Bill would have granted a refugee-swap deal with Malaysia (which was quashed through the High Court) together with the reopening of a detention centre on Nauru. The Prime Minister had urged the upper house to "examine their conscience" before voting on the Bill.

Arts, Culture & Entertainment - Dobson and Ephron

Rosemary Dobson, A Celebration, Friends of the National Library of Australia, 2000
This week, a look at two women of arts and letters who have left us behind, not without significant contributions, whose lives represent a study in contrasts: Australian poet Rosemary Dobson and American filmmaker Nora Ephron.

Described as "the last of a great generation of Australian poets", Rosemary Dobson had 16 volumes of poetry to her credit and several awards and honours, including an Order of Australia (AO), The Sydney Morning Herald literary prize for poetry and the Patrick White Award.  

"She was very modest, very gracious and graceful lady, self-deprecating, had beautiful manners, always put other people before herself, and was really somebody who concentrated on words, and the still places between words rather than on the public life," said Marie-Louise Ayres from the National Library of Australia.

Book Shelf: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Looking at the cover of Sydney based author Markus Zusak's latest novel The Book Thief  (Picador), it is accurate to predict it won't be a light-hearted affair. The saying 'never judge a book by its cover' is all fair and true, however, admittedly, it is what caught my eye in the first place. After picking it up and turning it over in my hands to read the publisher's blurb, I was immediately gripped and could do nothing else but purchase the mysterious novel.

Released to our bookstores in 2005, it is possible you have already read this auspicious novel. Perhaps you are wondering why I am reviewing a book that has been available to us for quite some time. The answer simply being that in my experience it is one of those rare books (for me, anyhow) that has the ability, like the old cliché says, 'to change your life'.

'Death', with its own persona, tells us the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl who is sent with her younger brother to live with foster parents in Nazi Germany, in a town called Molching (deceptively pronounced as Molking). However, tragedy strikes as her brother dies on the way to their new home and Liesel is forced to start this unfamiliar life on her own.

By her brother's graveside she eyes a book that has been dropped in the snow by one of the grave diggers. Without too much thought she picks up the book and hides it amongst the layers of clothes that adorn her body; this book becoming the only remaining link to her deceased brother.  Thus follows a love affair with words and books - a dangerous fixation during the reign of Hitler.

Profile: Jazz Meyer, filmmaker

Profile: Jazz Meyer, filmmaker
By Sophie Baker
Jazz Meyer, filmmaker
It's three weeks out from the Cannes Film Festival, and 22-year-old filmmaker Jazz Meyer receives word that her film, Instructions Inside, has been selected for screening in the Festival's Short Film Corner. Jazz, the producer of the film, and her director, Martin Ingle, created the film in their last year at Brisbane's Griffith Film School. The film, a documentary-meets-fiction dissection of the world of the toy store, was a last-minute entry encouraged by the university.

"My friend and director Martin Ingle is probably one of my greatest sources of inspiration," says Jazz. "He's so great to work with, and he'll hate me for saying this, but he's a genius. He has such unique ideas and he's not afraid to think outside the box."   

The pair originally had some reservations as to whether they should enter the film, knowing that if they were to be selected they would have to pay their way to the south of France. So you can imagine the excitement, stress and flurry that proceeded their receiving of such news. 

"It was pretty crazy," she says, describing an an intricate set of events inclusive of a travel agent booking flights to Cairns, "as in Cairns, Australia!?" A week out from the festival Jazz was still unsure whether she was even going to make it. 

The Media Satchel – print to the point

The Media Satchel - print to the point
"I'm just sad for the newspapers' current state" - Vintage et Moderne
With the announcement that three Fairfax editors have left the ship, and two new editors since appointed, following last week's revelations, staff are understandably in a bit of a spin. This transition to digital, and the fracas surrounding the board and company directors, has very human implications.  

Amanda Wilson, the first editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, has handed in her notice together with Peter Fray, the paper's editor-in-chief, and so too Paul Ramadge, editor-in-chief of The Age. This dramatic turn of events comes as a new editorial structure is to be implemented. "These are extremely challenging times for the media," said Ramadge. "As I leave The Age I am convinced that our nation needs The Age more than ever. It is an essential guardian of truth and fairness."

These are sentiments surely shared by former Sydney Morning Herald writer and columnist Chris McGillon, who wrote for Eureka Street last week: "I never quite lost the excitement born of the responsibility I felt toward the public, the thrill of seeing my words in print, and the satisfaction of knowing that, in however small a way, I was helping to shape the thoughts of people across the city every day. The corner shop is gone now, unable to compete with the shopping complex that was built down the road. The Sydney Morning Herald is heading the same way – and for much the same reason." 

The GWAS office looks like an igloo made of newspapers. At least we will be very warm for the winter's hibernation, and we are helping to keep them in print. In fact, the newspapers have become even more valued in their printed form because of this: when assessing all the content read in 2011, it was only features in print that could be recalled with any clarity... and that goes for content generated here, too. Isn't that interesting? 

A memorable piece about community c/o The Weekend Australian Magazine
Absorption of ideas and concepts and stories happens more easily through print, without the distraction of emails popping into the inbox and Facebook chat requests and Twitter postings driving your mind beserk. And this is supported in a 2011 study called Medium Matters: Newsreaders' Recall and Engagement with Online and Print Newspapers which found "readers of printed newspapers recalled significantly more news stories than online news readers". They also recalled more news topics and article main points than online readers, though they tended to read less of a story in print.  

"The results reflect prior research that shows print subjects remembered more news stories than online subjects and suggest that the development of dynamic (multimedia) online story forms in the past decade have had little effect toward making them more impressionable than print stories."

We are only human with finite mental capacities (for some of us, more finite than others') and attention spans, after all.  

Australian journalists can rest assured (as much as they possibly can) that they are not alone. "Even as we begin to see signs of recovery in our nation’s economy, we continue to see dark days for our industry, and this is among the darkest,” Eric Haines, New Orleans Association of Black Journalists vice president tells The Huffington Post. “So many talented and dedicated journalists who have done their part to help sustain these companies are now faced with what to do next now that they have lost their jobs through no fault of their own." The Times-Picayune, New Orleans' metro paper will now be printing three times a week and has laid off 200 employees. 

The publishers of European Daily are optimistic that our love of print will stick, at least for the older folks it will be catering to in European countries. 'You would have to be mad, mad!, surely to start a newspaper amidst the euro and media crisis, would you not?' asks Mediashift, which gets the downlow on the print upstart.

"Some people have praised us on our perfect timing ... At the same time, others tell us it is bold to launch a European paper these days, asking: 'What if Europe falls apart?'" says, Johan Malmsten, one of the three young and ambitious editors who birthed the idea of a pan-European daily back in 2007.  

"We are a publication that partly targets a more senior audience who, to a great extent, still prefers print, as well as a traveling audience who wants to read their news on a flight or at their hotel." 

The editors tell Mediashift that they intend to appoint a raft of senior editors with international or daily newspaper experience to their fledgling paper. The title will focus on the unique nature of a Europe in which more people are crossing borders for study, work and leisure. 

"For a Dane living in Paris, an important news story in Poland might well be more important than the municipal elections in France," says Malmsten, who hopes to give  avoice to a European public sphere. "So part of the European perspective will consist in selecting the most important news from across Europe. The other part is covering these news items in a way so that people can relate to them, by applying a European perspective to the story itself. This means asking, how does this story matter to our reader as a citizen of Europe?"

On the digital side of life, blogger/writer/columnist and former newspaper journalist Sarah Wilson reflects on the discomfort of feeling "social media obliged" and how to be wise: "The most successful people I know have created firm boundaries for themselves. They check their email twice a day only (Tim Ferris). They’ve shut down the comments on their blogs (Gala Darling and many others). They delineate between “open door” forums, where they give for free and openly, and forums where only those who pay get access (Seth Godin)." Interestingly Wilson says she reads the newspapers each day via her Twitter feed. 

Girl With a Satchel

Media Study: A tale of two newspaper companies

Media Study: A tale of two newspaper companies
The constancy of newsprint routine amongst the rush of daily life (c/o Lisa des Rochers)
At a cafe on a Saturday, Debbie and Gary Williams sit with their coffee opposite each other holding a magazine and iPad in hand respectively. There is a smattering of newspapers – national, state, local – at a nearby communal table for thumbing by patrons. 

Gary, director of Christian Management Australia, and Debbie, an interior designer, who have two teenaged children, are representative of a growing cohort of middle-aged media consumers whose daily media consumption habits navigate all mediums – online, radio, newspaper, magazine, TV – delivered via tablet, computer, phone and in print. 

For them, it is not so much how they get the news, but who is delivering it and when

"Most of it, probably 50 per cent, I access on the iPad – SMH, the Melbourne Age, Christian Today and the ABC are probably the main ones, plus a myriad opt-in emails that send me to sites via links," says Gary. "My starting point is the iPad first thing in the morning for newspapers, then in the evenings it's TV, and radio (ABC 612AM) spasmodically while driving through the day."

His wife, meanwhile, will thumb through a Country Style, checks in with her favourite blogs most nights and will read The Sunday Mail each week. "As far as news goes, in the evening I watch the Channel Nine news, I enjoy snippets on blogs and what I catch on the radio. I do like 4BC," she says.

It has been a long time since newsprint had a monopoly on delivering the news of the day, but with the imminent and significant demise of two Fairfax printing presses making headlines this week, never has it been so clear that one type of media cannot cater to all people at all times. The diversification of channels and proliferation of portable technologies means the media companies must adapt or be damned. It is too late for some.

While many will prefer the feel of a newspaper under their fingers, of an impressive broadsheet spread before them on a table, others, like Gary and Debbie, will happily adapt to the changing times. But their children may very well never have the opportunity to do a delivery run for the local newsagent, let alone buy a newspaper themselves. 

As the Gen-Y comedian Josh Thomas put it to Good Weekend after cancelling his newspaper subscription back in 2010: "I thought I should read The Age and be engaged with the world. But they come every single day. Every single day! I hadn't realised what a commitment it was!"

But perhaps it was most telling to see James Manning, editor of the industry journal Mediaweek, all but give up on newsprint in a March 2011 newsletter:  

"Even though it’s our job [and one we love, on most days!] to read newspapers, Mediaweek is getting close to cancelling print subscriptions. But not because there is a better digital alternative – there’s not, except at The Age. We are growing weary of the papers arriving after we go to work, of climbing around the front of our property in the dark looking for them, of having to unroll acres of plastic and we are tired of not being able to read inserted glossy magazines without having them curl up into a little tube every time we let go of them."

Newspapers require commitment from everyone: from the consumer who physically goes into a newsagent or supermarket to buy the paper with spare change, to the newsagent who organises deliveries for local subscribers and more to offload at the corner store, to the sub-editing teams who take sloppy copy and fit it perfectly into column inches, to the journalists who chase leads and put their careers on the line each week, to the printers who take all the sheets off the presses each night and bundle them into trucks for delivery nationwide (did we mention the delivery truck guys, too?). 

And now newspaper publishers are signalling that they're almost ready to call it a day. One thought that comes to mind: what will become of this newspaper making, selling, buying and reading community?

Short & Sweet - week beginning June 25

Short & Sweet - week beginning June 25, 2012
Good times in the world of The Satchel; the wonderful Sophie and Brooke.
As a Christian it was somewhat disheartening to pick up the papers before church on Sunday and find that the number of young Australians aged 15 to 34 who identify with a religion dropping off the spectrum, such as it is with the latest statistics coming out of the Bureau and highlighted in the press, and also to hear that church attendance is on the wane.

Those declaring that they have ‘no religion’ has risen from 18.7 per cent to 22.3 per cent of Australians. As one friend put it, 'At least people are being honest' – they are much more comfortable with saying, 'About religion, I will not go on the record'.

It's no big secret that Australia is becoming an increasingly secular society, and, as noted by John Dixon of the Centre for Public Christianity in his superb and enlightening interview with the lovely Jane Hutcheon on ABC's One Plus One last night, it's partly – if not wholly – the fault of the church.

That said, there are several other factors at play, including a popular atheism, a school system less open to religious teaching and the media, or sections of it, which may not tell the other story: that the number of Catholics has grown by 300,000 between 2006 and 2011 and the 'other Christians' group showed a 1.1 per cent increase.

As noted by Margaret Simons in The Monthly last year, in the introduction her piece titled 'Crises of Faith: The future of Fairfax': It was Jay Rosen, the New York University academic and new media pioneer, who declared some years ago that journalism was a kind of religion, and the average newsroom a nest of believers. 'There is a religion of the press. There is also a priesthood. And there can be a crisis of faith,' he said.

Essay: To Cambodia with delicacy (how to make a small difference)

Essay: To Cambodia with delicacy
In the shade: film crew Annika and Trevor Salisbury
By Erica Bartle
I am not committed to Cambodia – have no clue as to what to expect. I am acutely aware that I will be here for two weeks, ten days in fact, and that any imprint I make, or thoughts and experiences I take away, will be but a footprint in the sand washed away with the tide, a fleeting experience to be filed away into the book of my personal history. But soon enough there is a connection

The purpose of my visit? I am here to support my husband in his work endeavours – he is behind a grassroots sewing project; an accidental micro-financier who had the idea, after a chance (or divinely orchestrated, as you might see it) meeting with a group already doing good work here, that clothing manufacturing might be a way to help, in some small way, create a sustainable living for the young women in their care.

It sounds like a lofty exercise, a little surreal as we leave within a moment's notice, but I am here, accompanying him on his third trip. Just weeks before I have watched on Australian Story the tale of Scott Neeson, the former president of 20th Century Fox International who left his seemingly wonderful but superficial life in Hollywood behind after taking a call from an actress who complained about her plane food, which was the nail in the coffin of that career.

He now spends his days rescuing kids from the dumps in the capital, Phnom Penh, and runs the Cambodian Children's Fund. He looks exhausted.

On arrival in Cambodia, we meet a mighty woman bursting with personality who has herself created a project to help the underprivileged and disadvantaged in this corner of the world. She is wary of journalists. She tells us stories, not to be disclosed except in close quarters, of the way her life has been turned on its head and the victories accomplished in the face of defeat, and I feel immensely privileged. I get the sense that here I must tread very delicately.

There are forces greater than well-meaning Westerners at play.

The Occasional Shopper: Magical manifestations

The Occasional Shopper: Magical manifestations

The stores have filled their racks with trench coats and gorgeous heeled suede boots, and if that weren't exciting enough, it's perfectly acceptable for you to look layered up and a couple inches thicker than you are, because everyone else does too! 

I love the styles and colors of this season. It's all browns, burgundys, dark greens and navy, with the essence of the 40s and 50s evident in the cuts and collars.

Just as the autumn chill was starting to set in, and I was on the hunt for jackets and things that would keep me warm, I came across a pair of shoes that would be the perfect complement to my imagined wintry wardrobe down the aisles of Target. Though, after a beloved Target dress had fallen apart on me, I made an oath never to return, a friend prompted me to reenter the forbidden shop floor. And so it was that I promptly found myself in front of a shoe rack.

There sat the aforementioned shoes, with a crossed off price tag hanging from the leathery heel. I cannot remember how much I spent on them, only that I fell in love with them immediately. They have served me well so far, shielding my poor feet from icy winds and muddy puddles.

Arts, Culture & Entertainment - June 20

Colin Firth alongside Nicole Kidman,
who plays Firth's wife in the film.
Colin Firth has admitted that the beauty of Queensland did not make the process of getting into character for his latest film, The Railway Man, any easier for him. "It's a little hard to get yourself in the mindset of a tortured person when you are surrounded by paradise... it's just been bliss," Firth said of the Surfers Paradise Glitter Strip. Some welcome praise for the nightlife capital after what seems like years of only bad reputation building. 

The Railway Man began shooting in southeast Queensland earlier this month after initial filming took place in Scotland and Thailand. British producer and co-screenwriter of the film Andy Paterson said southeast Queensland was used in the film for its visual similarities to Singapore, while Ipswich in particular was selected for the North Ipswich rail yards, and the POW camp scenes will be filmed in the Gold Coast Hinterlands (the home of the Satchel).

Though Firth light-heartedly spoke of his acting distractions, he is completely aware of the seriousness of his role. The film tells the true story of Eric Lomax (played by Firth), a British prisoner of war who was forced to work on the Thai/Burma railway during WWII, who returns to the Bridge over the River Kwai to confront his Japanese tormentor, Nagase (played by Hiroyuki Sanada).

"It's very much incumbent on you to be as honest and truthful as you can, because you are dealing with someone's story in your hands," Firth said. "It took many decades for [Lomax] to be able to tell his story - it cost him a great deal to do it." Firth has now finished filming his scenes in Australia, but filming will continue in Queensland for the next three weeks.

Artworks by Kamisaka Sekka
Some of Japan's most fragile and historically important art arrived in Sydney last week, ready for the Art Gallery of New South Wales' opening of Kamisaka Sekka: Dawn of Modern Japanese Design, an exhibition tracing the history of the enduring Rinpa school of Japanese art. More than 100 works – some more than 400 years old – were lent by Kyoto's Hosomi Museum and shipped in a climate-controlled environment to the AGNSW.

The exhibition will focus on Kamisaka Sekka, a 19th-century artist who is widely acknowledged for saving the Rinpa tradition from obscurity, with the highlight of the show being two fragile ink and silver paintings from the early 17th century, by Rinpa founders painter Tawaraya Sotatsu and calligrapher Hon'ami Koetsu. 

"They are very, very rare and must be handled with extreme care," says curator Khanh Trinh. "They are very, very sensitive to light. They need to be kept in a very stable climate, at a temperature between 20°C and 25°C, with an optimal humidity of 55 to 60."

These two pieces are so rare that the Japanese Ministry of Education and Culture dictates that they can only be viewed for two months every year, and only four weeks consecutively. In keeping with this, the paintings will be displayed in rotation, with the exhibition being halted for two days in the middle of its run so that the works can be changed over.

The exhibition opens tomorrow (June 22) and also features Rinpa-inspired dresses by Kyoto-born Australian designer Akira Isogawa, as well as hanging scrolls, folding screens, paintings on fans and ceramics.
A section of London's 1948 Olympic Poster
The National Sports Museum in Melbourne has commenced its exclusive exhibition of Olympic posters titled A Call to the Games: Olympic Posters until September 16. One-hundred posters, from London's Victoria and Albert Museum, offer a fascinating political record of our world, four-yearly snapshots from across more than a century of Olympic Games, through which we can explore the links between sports, art, politics, place, commerce and culture. 

From 1851, before the modern Olympic Games were founded, through to campaign posters for London's Olympic bid, the posters provide insights into the ways that different nations and cities have chosen to represent themselves to the world. The posters illustrate many themes across time: Olympic ideals, politics, war and peace, and diverse schools of art and design.

Germany's 1936 poster for the Winter Games, for example, depicts a red and black male figure who appears to be giving the Nazi Salute, with the Olympic rings across his chest. The Games were awarded to Berlin before Hitler came to power, and by the time they came around, the Nazis were in control and the Olympics had become a propaganda tool.

Anna Funder, winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award c/o Shearer's Bookshop
Coincidentally, a fictional account of the lives of anti-Hitler activists in pre-war Berlin and London by Anna Funder has won the Miles Franklin Award, announced at the State Library in Brisbane last night. Funder's debut novel, All That I Am, which follows on from her award-winning work of non-fiction, Stasiland: Stories from behind the Berlin wall, Funder took the opportunity to lambast Queensland's new premier, Campbell Newman, for axing the state's Premier's Literary Award. 

"I don't really think they are the Premier's to scrap. It's the people's money and the people want to have this recognition of the writers who reflect their world back to them," she told the ABC from the UK where she is currently on tour. "I have spent my professional life studying totalitarian regimes and the brave people who speak out against them. And the first thing that someone with dictatorial inclinations does is to silence the writers and the journalists. I don't think Campbell Newman is doing that, I think he's dog-whistling to people who want to see so-called left-wingers silenced or something. But I don't think writing is particularly political in a left wing or a right wing way, and I think it's a shame for Queensland and a shame for Australia."

With Julian Assange seeking refuge this week in a foreign embassy, and journalism itself in a state of flux, the silencing of some voices (whether irritating or important; left or right of wing) and the dog-whistling of others is an interesting contemplation in an Australia that prides itself on democracy. 

Justine Clarke, be still our hearts, has announced a Pop Up Book Tour. The popular pre-schooler's entertainer of I Like To Sing and Play School fame is touring the country with a pre-Christmas stage-show treat to delight tiny tots nation-wide. The show will feature a pop-up book theme, all Clarke's hits and a musical reading of her first book, The Gobbledygook is Eating a Book, which will be published by Penguin in October, all in a 55-minute showcase. Tickets for shows in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne will go on sale at 9am on Monday June 25th. It's enough to make you go poppo. 

Sophie & Erica

Bulletin Board - Samantha Vitiello - Blankets for the Homeless

Bulletin Board: Blankets for the homeless

Samantha Vitiello is seeking blanket donations
A single moment is all it takes. For 23-year-old Gold Coast nurse Samantha Vitiello, this moment came on a rainy winter's night several years ago. She had just finished hosting a barbecue for the homeless in Ipswich when a young homeless couple – not much older than herself at the time – asked her for a lift home, to which she kindly obliged. 

They directed her to the back of the local supermarket where there stood an upturned water tank. This was their home, nothing more, and they had only the clothes on their back. This moment became the catalyst for Samantha to begin conducting what she calls "blanket runs", and she needs your help.

Samantha began conducting blanket runs in the Ipswich & Brisbane region with the help of a friend not long after this heartbreaking encounter, handing out blankets to the homeless wherever they could find them. Now, having moved to the Gold Coast, Samantha is looking to start conducting blanket runs in her new local community with the help of a man named Chris who used to sleep on the streets.

In the following video interview, Samantha tells us about her passion for seeing the homeless stay safe and warm, the journey that led to the blanket runs and her coming to faith in God, and several stories of her encounters with homeless people and what they've taught her. What she has to share is poignant and inspiring, and her heart and love for the homeless is infectious. I hope that you will take the time to listen to Samantha's stories and, if you can, donate some old blankets to a good cause.

If you are able to donate blankets, or other items such as socks or toiletries you can post them to: 

Samantha Vitiello
Lifehouse Christian Church
PO Box 227
Biggera Waters, QLD, 4216 

Or you can drop them off at Lifehouse Christian Church, 44 Brisbane Road, Labrador.

Alternatively, you can contact Samantha at with any enquiries, encouragement or to say "Hey, I want to come and hand out blankets with you!". 

Sophie @ Girl With a Satchel.

Book Shelf: Kath's Miracle by Kathleen Evans & Sarah Minns

Raised in a devout Catholic family, Kathleen Evans was taught the power of prayer from a young age, although her relationship with the Catholic Church has been rather tumultuous. Having divorced at the age of thirty-three, and struggling with being a single mum of four, the lack of support from her beloved parish and priest was a bitter pill to swallow. These trials are only part of the whirlwind that was to come for this inspirational Australian.

Diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 1993, Kath faced the grim reality that treatment would not be a viable option for her. As her health began to improve, stunned doctors could find no explanation for the development, as she was given only a few weeks left to live- but this is only part of her astonishing story, as she reveals in her book Kath’s Miracle co-written with Sarah Minns (Penguin; $29.95).

After her diagnosis, Evans and her family sought solace in prayer, and after a dear friend offered a relic of well known Mary MacKillop's, her prayer life turned around. Slowly noticing a change in her health, nothing short of a miracle occurred when a final scan revealed the cancer was gone, only showing scars where the tumours had been. The result of such miraculous healing hence made Evans an integral part of the canonizing of Australia’s first saint, Saint Mary MacKillop, in 2010.

Occupation: Jo Hayes, 96.5FM Family Radio news announcer

Occupation: Jo Hayes, 96.5FM news announcer
Family girl: Jo Hayes, in the orange dress, with her mother and sisters.
Given Jo Hayes, 26, was brought up in a family with six children, where one might imagine being heard across the dinner table is a challenge of auditory and performance skill, it's fitting that she might find herself in a prospering radio career with stop-offs at Speech Pathology and Youth Mission Teams along the way.

After a year working as a speech pathologist in far-north Queensland, Jo came to the realisation that what she had signed up to wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Instead of struggling on, she opted to take a year of "prayer, reflection and discernment", and voluntary work with Youth Mission Teams, to help her decide on her life's direction.  

"It was a really humbling experience to leave my 'career' as a speech pathologist and step out into the unknown of mission work and then go back to uni to do another degree," says Jo. "Many people warned me against it, but my 'important' people did support and encourage me. It was a real time of pressing ahead with what I felt the Lord wanted me to do, and I think my current job and career are the fruits of that 'testing time'."

Short & Sweet - week beginning June 18

As the Prime Minister Julia Gillard fronts the G20 summit in Mexico and makes her case (medium-term fiscal discipline, decisive new measures and realistic strategies) off the back of a credible economic report card, The Australian continues its probing coverage of the Australian education system, one of Gillard's key prime ministerial calling cards.

"Suspending students from school for bad behaviour is counterproductive, with students who have been suspended twice as likely to be excluded again in the next 12 months," reads the introductory paragraph to Justine Ferrari's front-page story, 'Suspend judgment: keep kids at school'.

Researcher Professor Sheryl Hemphill tells the paper, "Kids who are suspended just keep getting suspended. It doesn't stop the behaviour that resulted in the suspension, it almost sets them on a pathway more likely to lead to suspension. The risk for students who are having trouble maintaining engagement and staying at school is that suspension starts to help them move out of school."

Based on a study by The Australian that shows suspended students are 50 per cent more likely to engage in antiscocial behaviour, and 70 per cent more likely to commit a violent act in the next 12 months, Hemphill points out the contradiction in the message sent to recalcitrant children: "suspension is potentially a way of cutting off students."

Peter Chalkley, head of a school program that deals with suspended and expelled students, and believes in "a redemptive element, offering young people a way forward, would get on well with the gents from the Old Boys Gospel Band, who fronted up at my church over the weekend and frequent goals in order to share their own message of hope and creating a new life through classics by the Doobie Brothers and Rick Price.

They reminded us that in Queensland two-thirds of male prisoners and half of female prisoners are repeat offenders, making a sound economic and social argument for better rehabilitation programs, as well as early intervention, particularly with kids who suffer abuse and neglect in the home (and many are homeless to start with). Of note: most women released from prison have just a garbage bag and nowhere to go.

The majority of Australian prisoners come from the most disadvantaged sections of the community (the Indigenous, underprivileged, those suffering mental illness). Shaking off stigma, getting a second chance, finding some new clothes... there's lots of work to do. And we can help by supporting the people who are in there doing it, including prison chaplains and post-release support programs, and the teachers and families who help keep kids on the right track, and give them chances when they stray.

The Word for the Week: "But before the time of faith came, the Law kept us all locked up as prisoners until this coming faith should be revealed. And so the Law was in charge of us until Christ came, in order that we might then be put right with God through faith. Now that the time for faith is here, the Law is no longer in charge of us." (Galatians 4: 23-24
Quote for the Week: "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." ― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom word of the week: ec·u·men·i·cal \ ek-yoo-men-i-kuhl \ adjective
1. general; universal.
2. pertaining to the whole Christian church.
3. promoting or fostering Christian unity throughout the world.
4. of or pertaining to a movement (ecumenical movement), especially among Protestant groups since the 1800s, aimed at achieving universal Christian unity and church union through international interdenominational organizations that cooperate on matters of mutual concern.
5. interreligious or interdenominational: an ecumenical marriage.
"In his essay, Restorative Justice: Working toward healing, peace and forgiveness, for the ecumenical journal Justice Reflections, Rod Carter contends that, 'a correctional system driven only by statistics and research eventually fails because it ends in polarization and academic debates, which in themselves are forms of violence and exclusion of the offender, victim and community." 

Girl With a Satchel

The Satchel Review - Saturday 16 June, 2012

Dinner table discourse took on a sombre tone this week, at least in Brisbane homes, with police arresting Gerard Baden-Clay on charges of his wife Allison's murder. 

The case has piqued particular interest because of the status of the family involved: she, the mother-of-three with the impressive CV (quiet, caring, accomplished ballerina, national HR manager) who went missing, allegedly after a late-night walk, and he the real estate agent and great-grandson of Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement.

Thoughts were spared for the three little girls left in the wake who must now contend with the idea that their family, and the two most important people in their lives, has been torn apart by a series of events too awful for young minds to consider. Their mother is gone, their father, innocent until proven guilty, has been taken away and their grandparents, Geoff and Priscilla Dickie, are left to pick up the pieces. They need our prayers.

The Middle Brow: Free to air Australian television? Disappointing.

The Middle Brow: Free to air Australian television
By Ed Holburn (aka Gentleman with a Bag)

Division 4's Terence Donovan and Gerard Kennedy c/o Classic Australian TV
I am feeling down, depressed, disillusioned and frustrated by the lack of entertainment on our 'free to air' networks. And I am alone judging by the ratings 7, 9 and 10 get. Is it just that there is nothing else to view?

Quite frankly, I am all 'cooked out', 'danced out', 'built out', 'sung out', 'travelled out', 'bad child-ed out' and 'security-ed out'. If this is reality, I am bored. I want out. Perhaps I should leave my couch, put my coat on, venture out.

But, I ask you, how many ways can you serve a prawn; how many dance steps and tight-fitting costumes are there; how many internal brick walls need need demolishing; how many undiscovered large people can sing; how many countries can I make an idiot of myself in; how many children can I produce who can't say "please"?

Creativity: Living with heart by Beci Culley

"It was one of those days where the sound of rain was tucking me back into bed. I felt like I had a lot to do but rather then getting it all done it was time to put my feet up and have a relaxing day with a hot cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit to recharge.

During this day of bliss I was watching the
Ellen show where she was in the middle of giving a car to a young couple living in struggle street. The young newly weds were living with their parents, had a child under one and another one was on the way. When Ellen had heard their story, and saw that they were doing it tough, she took it upon herself to help them out.

The moments where people are helping others in need without any expectations of a return favor is like a feeling of a blanket being wrapped around your heart. There is a warmth about it that not only helps the person in need but it evokes a wave of love and generosity that other people who are watching on, clasp hold of then release to others.

The expression of “Living With Heart” is what I have used in my little sketch to describe this act of kindness. Living with heart is to care, to love and to wrap a blanket around someones heart to show them that there is hope in this world." - Beci Culley

Beci Culley, "creating life through art",

Arts, Culture & Entertainment News - June 14

Essential GWAS iViewing is the ABC documentary Utopia Girls: How Women Won the Vote, the story of how Australian women were the first in history to achieve equal rights. "What was it about Australia that meant it would lead the global push to end this sexual inequality?" asks narrator historian, author and La Trobe University research fellow Dr Clare Wright. It went to air to mark the 110th anniversary of the Franchise Act, which granted all adult Australians the right to vote.

Utopia Girls introduces us to the many women – Caroline Dexter, Henrietta Dugdail, Louisa Lawson, Mary Lee and Vida Goldstein – who took it upon themselves to stand for women's rights, using everything from fashion (women, too, could wear pants!) to politics to get their message across. "To be young, poor and a woman in the late 19th century was a recipe for suffering," says Wright. "Without the vote, women had no say in the laws that affected their daily lives."

From London to the far-away British colonial outpost, ideas spread about women's independence and self-determination by the suffragettes, through means including journals, newspaper letters and lectures, which provided a voice for colonial women, and more progressive men with influence who believed in their cause. Replete with reenacted speeches by the key figures, the documentary provides for an interesting insight into the passage of equal rights for Australian women.

Speaking of rights, in honour of the nine-year tenure of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Cinema for Peace Foundation has honoured his "contribution to a new era in international justice and accountability" with a film screening highlighting his work, together with a short film created by Syrian filmmakers, in The Hague, Berlin. The outgoing Prosecutor together with the Federal Minister of Justice introduced the Cinema for Peace Award for Justice – an award honouring filmmakers who raise awareness in the fight against injustice and cruelty – in 2008. Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Jaka Bizilj (pictured with Moreno-Ocampo, centre, and his successor Fatou Bensouda) launched the Cinema for Peace initiative with the annual gala as a platform for communicating humanitarian, political and social issues through the medium of film.

Screen Australia's What 2 Watch? Audience motivation in a multi-screen world report has found that 8.5 million Australians aged over 14 watched films, documentaries and television drama online in the past year, while a third do so on a regular basis. As the print publishing business in Australia implodes, it may just be that the "idiot box" will be replaced increasingly by the personal screen. 

While online opens up the world of film production to anyone with a camera and an editing suite, quality, long-form films, series and documentaries will certainly have their place. "It is encouraging to learn that long-form narrative is not a lost art in the online space and that online viewing is not limited to the world's funniest bloopers," said Screen Australia chief executive Ruth Harley in a press release

The report found that we are getting very choosey about what we will view online, with searches for specific titles rather than casual browsing of unlimited content, hence recommendations and quality are of the utmost importance in cutting through via social media.

“Often a viewer’s first consideration is not the content. It might be socialising at the cinema or unwinding in front of the television after putting the kids to bed. These schedule-based platforms provide highly targeted and curated programming to an audience largely ‘leaning back’. But when it comes to on-demand viewing, which is a ‘lean in’ medium, it is a far more active choice,” Dr Harley said.

The report found a link between screen culture and screen media – these people are known as "connectors" and are generally affluent, modern, young and watch all kinds of content across all kinds of platforms. “These people are perfect targets to reach and ultimately drive awareness for local screen stories," says Dr Harley. "They make, not wait, for recommendations."

What does the PC screening mean for household and family engagement with entertainment, we wonder? Kids who shut themselves in their rooms to watch their favourite TV shows, and more happy Vegemites who don't have to contend with those who talk over their favourite shows, perhaps.

With yet another report showing online engagement is linked to depressive behaviours, with higher rates of video watching, gaming and chatting correlated with blue moods, we have to learn to view the good with the bad... and orchestrate creatively social ways to engage with online content that is not behind the screen.

Erica @ Girl With a Satchel

Perspective: The road to redemption (via Cambodia)

Perspective: The road to redemption
By Erica Bartle
Photography: Annika Salisbury
I am extremely self-conscious. I am not a missionary, nor an NGO worker nor a tourist – what am I? Why am I here? I am a journalist-come-blogger – though into titles we read too much or too little – and I am on a bike in Kampong Cham, Cambodia, en route from a girls' school with a filmmaker friend who wants to take my picture.

I feel like a bit of a twit, because being seen here is not my intention; I want to fade into oblivion and let the journey, the work, the country, the people be legitimate in their own right. The cliche churns over in my head: this is not my Elizabeth Gilbertian escape. Her work was of its time and importance and place – a searching for self beyond divorce and a world that demanded too much and disappointed too often and failed to dig deep enough to quench the thirst.

I am content with my lot. Relishing the nothingness of being anything apart from who I am when in the company of God and those who matter most, though I think of you, reader, also as I go. But I am more keenly aware, now more than ever, that to live a life of faith and to see that faith fail to transpire in any tangible way would be a terrible waste.

"It's action stations!", as one dear friend says. But I am finding my place, tentatively. I believe that in order to do good work we must first have a grasp of goodness itself.

Action without first introspection, contemplation, and an illuminated sense that one is on the right path – guided, as is my case, by the very word of God – will surely go awry. If nothing else, Cambodia has shown me how one man's aspirations can go terribly wrong and that still – still! – there are people in the world who wish to assert themselves over the other and steal and thieve and take away life itself. Devastation.

This is what can happen when the human soul is led astray; when it seeks to satisfy its own wants, needs and desires over another. I shiver on the Killing Fields as I take in the vision of the tree where children – children! – were picked up by their legs and smashed to death. Coloured bracelets have been placed there by kindly people who aren't afraid to feel.

To breathe life and not death onto the world is what I want. Jesus himself did not come to judge but to save the world from its self-inflicted condemnation and futile departure from the will of God. Pick up your cross and follow me, he says. And, of course, we must do so joyfully, willingly, diligently. For forgiveness, grace, comfort and knowledge gifted unto us should be returned in kind, should it not?

Because to feel that love – His love? It is sublime.

Jesus said that if we had faith small as a mustard seed we could move mountains. There is a collective awakening happening right across the earth, the sense of a greater purpose; a grand narrative in which good versus evil is not just the stuff of fairy tales, the fluff of picture books, and in which some will succumb to the darkness, but where the war might be won. Though there are hints that rapid-fire social justice campaigns and uprisings are the order of the day, one by one we are given the chance of new life, of seeing the world in a different way, of seeking a better path.

It is the dawn of a new day. Do you see it that way?

Satchelism: A gradual awakening (Part 1)

Satchelism: A gradual awakening (Part 1)
Picture: Marian Heath Greeting Cards
"Sometimes the best way to figure out who you are is to get to that place where you don't have to be anything else." - anonymous

I sat near a girl and her mum in the coffee shop recently. She would have been 10, 12 at most. She had on wedge shoes, tight leggings, a handbag, and flicked her long, blonde hair around like a cast member from Gossip Girl. I was so sad. Where are her running shoes? Why does she care about her hair? Why does she need a handbag? To stash her lipgloss? Where is she learning to dress and behave like this?

The endorsement of profligate spending habits, the lavishing of attention on the self, the preoccupation with other peoples’ lives, the obsession with celebrity, success, money and beauty above all else. Where did these ideas come from? From whence did they germinate and propagate throughout the world in turn telling us, ‘This is the way to look, to act, to be!’?

One might suggest that these are notions as old as Adam. That humankind has always looked to the “other” (beings, things, icons) for validation, security, community and guidance. That stories need to be told to connect us and that the pursuit of upward mobility is a natural state of being. And that the advertising, media and entertainment industries cannily cottoned on because commerce is king.

But never in history has the “image”, of self and of others, been so intensely present, forcing us to compare, assess and validate ourselves by these externalities seen on the screen and in print. In turn, the selves projected out into the world are edited, controlled and Photoshopped, and one’s internal politics are governed increasingly by a conscience distorted.

Short & Sweet - week beginning June 11 (happy returns)

This year's Order of Australia accolades went to 'Those who serve without a crowd', according to The Australian's front page, with honours going to the more cerebral, creative and caring, as apposed to those whose achievements take place on the sporting field, all very timely given the fracas swimming around two young sporting champs of the pool together with the social media's love of a self-promotional update.

The essence is that these are times for toning down, working hard and keeping your nose clean. Business leader Tony Shepherd, president of the Business Council of Australia, who graced The Australian for his Queen's birthday honors list inclusion, disclosed his love of sport, particularly cricket and football, as well as reading, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and his grandchildren, painting a picture of a man of many interests.

"Life is very busy, but fulfilling," he said. His mentor, Italian construction patriarch Franco Belgiorno-Nettis taught him that, "you need to build your relationship on a personal basis first". Meanwhile, last week at a conference held by Christian business industry group CMA titled 'Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times', micro-finance pioneer and Order of Australia recipient David Bassau told the audience how "the small things were the training ground for the bigger things".

Filmmaker Annika Salisbury with a young companion in Cambodia. Annika and her dad Trevor accompanied us on the whirlwind trip.
Let's catch up: The entanglement of emotions and information and experience procured on my trip to Cambodia, via Thailand, is stuffed in my satchel awaiting gentle extrapolation given the sensitivities around the reason why I was there and the nature of the work of NGOs in culturally sensitive situations; this has been an education in itself.

On arrival on Australian shores – at which point of time I was to attend a funeral under the burden of a thankfully brief bout of flu – I was relieved but longing to be back in Cambodia all at once; we do make life so confusing in the West, do we not?

And yet I tentatively relish the opportunity to get stuck back into the progression of life on the home front; we can't very well put off the bills and decisions for all time while wandering about in far off places now, can we? That is, unless we felt absolutely called to do so. I don't think I am at this point in time. So back to the grind...

This week's agenda: Untangling the journal entries and photos and thoughts to produce something comprehensible for you to read! It was a relief to be without social media responsibilities (thank you, Sophie and Brooke!) and yet I felt a longing to write, write, write as I was seeing, doing and being... this was a learning experience, too: should one stem the flow of creativity when the spirit takes us by surprise and opens up our eyes? I think perhaps not. A thought for further thinking...
The Word for the Week: 'You may brag about yourself, but the only approval that counts is the Lord's approval.' (2 Corinthians 10:18)
Quote for the Week: "There was no stress involved because I wasn't singing my own songs...You have to be as sustainable as you can – in everything." Neil Young, The Australian word of the week: divulse \dahy-VUHLS\, verb: To tear away or apart.
"To divulse oneself from everyday cares and responsibilities in the quest for worthier pursuits in far-off places is a romantic notion but may in some ways be denying the necessity of finding contentment with self in any circumstance or situation, but on the other hand forces us to do exactly that."

A big thank you to Sophie, Brooke and Liz for taking care of things around here in my leave of absence... It was a trip in itself to be looking at GWAS from a reader perspective. Feedback welcome.

Girl With a Satchel

The Satchel Review - Saturday 9 June, 2012

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan was in a state of utter jubilee this week as he brandished an impressive report card in front of the Opposition showing that Australia's economy is the best(est) of them all. 

Stopping short of telling the media and business doomsayers and naysayers, "You can suck it", in the manner of Tina Fey, Swan was as graciously gloating as he could be under the jovial circumstances, telling us he was "somewhat surprised" to find the nation's GDP grew 1.3 per cent in the March quarter (4.3 per cent annually), putting it ahead of all other developed nations in the OECD.

"We have seven eurozone economies in recession, as well as in the UK, and many more developed economies which are crippled by unemployment," Swan said. "This result says something very special about Australia, and it says something very special about our people, about our resilience, about our hard work, and about our ability to face up to the worst that the world can throw at us."

Aw, we are chuffed!

And though our rocky shores are accosted by those seeking asylum from far-off nations via closer nations where passports are sometimes discarded, the other contentious issue of the week as brought to light by Sarah Ferguson for the ABC's Four Corners in a program titled 'Smugglers' Paradise', we are the "island of growth in the middle of global uncertainty". We are prosperity as far as the eye can see... at least, where the sun sets in the West.

Unfortunately for Swan, who has a special place in his heart for mining magnates (the 0.01 per cent) as disclosed in earlier this year in The Monthly, much of the growth is attributable to the western states, which may soon be home to 1,700 foreign workers if Gina Rinehart gets her way (her sway at Fairfax's boardroom table can apparently not be won with a $250 million stake).

Western Australia's economy grew 7.8 per cent in the first three months of the year, leaving the other states in its wake. Engineering and construction – most of it in the boom-boom mining business – accounted for 19.7 per cent growth over the March quarter and 53 per cent over the year.

This irksome reality, which the Labor government must contend with as it bites the hand that feeds, was buffeted by consumer spending. Household spending contributed 0.9 percentage points to growth, driven by spending on food, transport, recreation and financial services.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey took the good news in his stride, stopping short of conceding defeat and congratulating the government on its fiscal performance while reminding us that the Big Bears (China, America, Europe) are groaning, as Swan told us we should have a bounce in our step.

Prince Philip lost his Tigger bounce this week and wound up in hospital amidst the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations. As Elton John sang, "I'm Still Standing", the 91-year-old was taken to hospital to receive treatment for a bladder infection. At the same time, Britain was farewelling Bee Gee Robin Gibb at a funeral in his home town Thame in Oxfordshire.

The Australian Wheat Board was again making headlines as a report went to air on the ABC's 7:30 disclosing that the federal police officer in charge of investigating claims that the AWB paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq blew the whistle on the mishandling and premature closure of the case.

As Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi accepted foreign minister Bob Carr's invitation to visit Australia she issued a warning that her country's good behaviour should be approached with a degree of scepticism, advising that the suspension, not removal, of sanctions would best benefit the delicate political situation.

"This is a wisdom that we will apply to our dealings with this country," Senator Carr said. Suu Kyi amused by telling us she was "brought up on songs like 'Kookaburra Sat in the Old Gum Tree'."

PNG writer and political activist Martyn Namorong, who publishes a blog about the issues afflicting his country, spoke to ABC radio this week about mining, the possibility of a "Melanesian Spring" and PNG-Australian relations.

"Australia is in many ways the beneficiary the proceeds of corruption in Papua New Guinea; many of the elite buy real estate here [Australia] and their financial assets are down here in Australia, so some of us see that – because of the elite's exposure to Australia – that Australia perhaps has a greater role in holding those people accountable by, for example, threatening sanctions on the elite if they do not make decisions consistent with democracy."

Social media sanctions have been placed on Australian Olympic swimmers Kenrick Monk and Nick D'Arcy, who published a photo of themselves posing with guns on Facebook. The duo will abstain from engaging in online chit-chat until after the London Olympics.

"I think at this stage it will just serve as a distraction and I think it's really important in these last seven weeks to focus on your swimming," said D'Arcy after meeting with Swimming Australia.

"I'll be coming up against some of the greatest swimmers in the world (in the 200m butterfly), especially Michael Phelps, and if you're not on your game you don't stand a chance against those guys."

As a school in my local community deals with the disruptive repercussions of social media used the wrong way, perhaps there is merit in making an example of the pool's elite?

Girl With a Satchel

Book Shelf - The People Smuggler by Robin De Crespigny

Ali Al Jenabi’s life is anything but a walk in the park. From his upbringing in Iraq under the rule of Saddam Hussein, to his four-year stint in Indonesia, and, finally, his extradition to Australia in 2003, this tower-of-strength’s story is enough to reduce anyone to tears. Written in the form of a novel by Sydney based filmmaker Robin De Crespigny, The People Smuggler is an in-depth account of the life of an honourable and steadfast man who faces countless adversities one after the other and still maintains his moral ground.

A prisoner in one of Hussein’s notorious torture institutions Abu Ghraib at the youthful age of twenty, Jenabi’s experience of life had far surpassed many even at the age of ten. His father, whilst not engaged in any political movement, was still a man of many opinions, especially when it came to the controversial ruler Saddam Hussein; these ideas became increasingly dangerous to the family. 

Arts, Culture & Entertainment - 7th May 2012

Cirque Du Soleil are currently touring Australia with their show Ovo. Described as "an immersion into the teeming and energetic world of insects" the show creates a colourful ecosystem where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a "non-stop riot of energy and movement." You can go here to buy tickets for your nearest city and see a little preview video of the show.

Artist and filmmaker Lynette Wallworth's latest film about climate change and coral reefs Coral: Rekindling Venus premiered on Tuesday night to coincide with World Environment Day, and the transit of Venus across our sun. Not just another enviro-aware doco, Coral: Rekindling Venus is designed for screening on the dome-shaped ceilings of planetariums, and that's exactly where you'll be able to go and see it. Of the film, Wallworth says "My intent is to leave the audience with a sense of wonder for the complexity of the coral community and a deep-felt longing to see it survive." In what is still a relatively unexplored arena for filmmakers, screenings of Coral: Rekindling Venus are sure to leaving you feeling rather out-of-this-world. For more information and to find screenings near you, visit

Anthony Warlow
Australia's biggest musical theatre star, Anthony Warlow, is leaving the Australian tour of Annie to make his debut in the New York Broadway version as Daddy Warbucks. The new production of Annie is opening at the Palace Theatre on Broadway on October 3rd, with his final Australian performance set for August 5th at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne. Warlow said he'd been asked many times to perform in the US but the timing had never been right. This role will make him the first Australian stage star to be cast directly into a Broadway production without a stint on the West End or in Canada first, the exception being Hugh Jackman who opened The Boy from Oz and had the movie star advantage, as Warlow points out in an interview with The Australian. "I'll still have to earn my stripes there because my audience in Australia know me," Warlow says of his prospects on Broadway. "But at the core is the basic script I've been working with for 20 years." We wish him well!

Hogan's Heroes' star and host of the US game show Family Feud, Richard Dawson, has sadly passed away at the age of 79. Dawson was best known for his role as the Cockney POW Corporal Peter Newkirk in the 1960s sitcom Hogan's Heroes.

Aussie actor and Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth has popped the question to his girlfriend of three years, 19 year old American singer and actor Miley Cyrus. Hemsworth, 22, proposed on May 31st with a 3.5 carat, cushion-cut diamond set in an "Art Noveau-inspired" gold band from jeweller Neil Lane (wow!), reports WHO.

Director of the Batman trilogy, Christopher Nolan, has said his final instalment (The Dark Knight Rises) is "the biggest (film) anyone's done since the silent era." A huge claim, and with Nolan being a notably humble character, such a claim is bound to prick one's ears. Nolan told the UK's Empire magazine "I think this is the biggest one I've done. The biggest one anyone's done since the silent era, in technical terms. Shooting on IMAX, you want to justify that we've put our resources more into what we were shooting on the day than computer graphics. It's not what you're used to seeing. I don't know when someone last did a film with 11,000 extras in a real environment. It is an escalation. You want things to be justifiably bigger and more extreme than what you've done in the last film. As long as the story supports that." The Dark Knight Rises is set to be released on July 20th.

Sophie @ Girl With a Satchel.