You get what you pay for in perfumes at Chemist Warehouse.

This week I bought a bottle of Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew Eau de Parfum in David Jones. I sprayed it on and smiled. This perfume was exactly as I remembered Youth Dew to be.

Quite a different result from the one a fortnight earlier when I bought a bottle of Youth Dew in Chemist Warehouse, a discount pharmacy with many stores. They are especially noted for selling perfumes at incredibly discounted prices of up to 85% off big brand fragrances.

The perfume I bought from them had little fragrance and was nothing like the Youth Dew that I had always loved.

This was not the first time that I had been disappointed with a perfume from Chemist Warehouse and thought it was about time that I questioned the quality of their product. So I decided to return the perfume to the Chemist Warehouse store which had sold it to me.

Little did I expect to have so much trouble returning a product! The salesgirl told me she had no authority to refund my money and so the manager was called. He assured me that the perfume was genuine; that his company was the biggest perfume retailer in Australia and that it sources its supplies directly from Estee Lauder.

I asked him if it could be old stock etc. and he said “definitely not” and that he would phone Estee Lauder directly for some confirmation if I was prepared to wait.

I told him to go ahead.

He returned after a while and repeated the mantra. By now, I remained unconvinced and so he finally agreed that he would refund the money.

It was quite an uncomfortable experience which left a bad taste in my mouth and a niggling suspicion.

Following my subsequent purchase of Youth Dew from David Jones my suspicions became stronger.

My next step was to phone the Head Office of Estee Lauder in Sydney and ask them if they supplied Chemist Warehouse.

Unsurprisingly, they said “No” and that Chemist Warehouses’ suppliers are resellers of recycled stock or remainder. This means that the stock could be old or fake, or, if you are very lucky, still good.

But according to Estee Lauder, Chemist Warehouse are not an authorised retailer for them and therefore the perfumes sold there cannot be guaranteed to be genuine.

In my opinion, it is not only the customer who may become a victim of such unethical practice but Estee Lauder and other reputable perfume manufacturers who would be unfairly blamed for producing inferior products.

So if you shop at Chemist Warehouse for your perfumes it’s a lottery. You may get a bargain or you may get a dud. Good luck but caveat emptor!


Phillip Hughes: What happened?

Tina Turner sang “We don’t need another hero” but events this past fortnight tell us she was wrong.

Society needs heroes, real or imaginary because we need someone to look up to, to venerate, to worship. It’s what makes our lives have some meaning.

And we will latch onto any event or any person who can provide us with an idol. If that idol meets with an untimely death then we will feel a common grief and the entire tragedy becomes some kind of cathartic expression.

We witnessed this kind of behaviour when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident. There was an outbreak of mass hysteria which even the Queen could not understand. Hence her initial lack of response.

It appears to me that the accidental death of cricketer Phillip Hughes and the reaction of the public are evidence that we enjoy a good cry. It brings us together and we feel better for it.

There is no question that Phillip was a popular and talented cricketer who died far too soon.

But the reaction of the public which was fuelled by the media was way over the top. It is frightening to think how we can all be manipulated by constant images of grown men crying. This was the media milking the accident for all it was worth and I felt uncomfortable with it.

I feel particularly sad for the bowler whose bouncing delivery caused the accident. How can he possibly cope with this outpouring of grief? How can he live a normal life after this event? Won’t he be tormented by guilt for the rest of his life?

We should get some perspective on the subject, but that is impossible when we are at the mercy of a rapacious sensation-seeking media.

We should offer our condolences to Phillip Hughes’ family and hope that he can rest in peace.

Why the Australian nanny state is a waste of resources

Australia is under the misapprehension that it can protect and care for its citizens even if these citizens don’t appreciate the effort. In fact, they bite the hand that feeds them. Well-meaning and politically correct Aussies are deluded when they believe that they can do some good for their “fellow man”.

It is true that the less fortunate require assistance but that assistance has to be welcomed and treated seriously.

Let’s face it, very few people appreciate a hand-out and this was exactly the case today when we went to a shopping centre.

A man sat down beside us. He had obviously not been shopping, nor was he eating lunch. Instead, he sidled up close to us, showed us a food voucher for Woolworths and told us that it was worth $25 but that he would sell it to us for $20.

The voucher was one that is handed out by charities and the government to ensure that the dole is not wasted on gambling, drugs and alcohol. This man was keen to swap food for whatever he wanted instead.

Is this a good method of teaching the needy to shop responsibly? Or does this make a mockery of the system? After all, you can’t force people to act responsibly if they are determined to abuse the nanny state.

I bet someone will buy the food voucher from him and how ironic is that?

As they say, no good deed goes unpunished

A Fond Farewell to Costco in Melbourne, Australia

It is with much regret that we have decided to stop shopping at Costco.

You see, the products currently sold at Costco in Melbourne, Australia, have gone downmarket and no longer tempt us to buy them.

I am not questioning Costco’s marketing ability. They cater to the demographic which will buy their products. Consequently, there are many huge bags of rice, lots of sweets and potato chips, cans of spaghetti and baked beans, alcohol, and foods with an Asian appeal such as frozen wontons etc.

Gone are the American imports which attracted us and the Continental delicacies which we enjoyed buying.

The change in products has been a gradual one. The original Caesar dressing disappeared, dill pickles were hard to find and even a well-known American jar of mixed bean salad is now unavailable.

Apparently, these kind of foods were not attracting enough buyers and so they were replaced with very mundane products that were obviously better sellers.

I was a fan of Kirkland’s own brand of products but they seem to have been replaced as well. This is unfortunate because many of the Costco offerings can now be purchased in our local Australian supermarkets.

I find that Aldi sells quite a few of the continental products that were originally in Costco when it first opened.

Such is the way of the world. My husband enjoyed the arancini he used to buy at Costco but they also went missing the last two times we trekked to the city to buy them.

What a pity this has happened! It was great while it lasted and we used to look forward to our regular visits there. But the selection no longer attracts us and we hope that another supermarket chain will provide the tasty titbits that we can no longer find at Costco.

Give me a Thomas Kinkade home.

They mock him and call his paintings “kitsch” but I would love to live in one of Thomas Kinkade’s art works.

I first came across his work when we visited the U.S and I became enchanted with his paintings of ideal cottages and gardens.

They are welcoming and safe and to me they represent what a home should be, a sanctuary from a hostile and miserable world.

The arty farty world hates him because he is unrealistic. He is popular with the masses and that must be bad, surely. After all, what do they know? They only know what they like, don’t they?

Perhaps it would be more acceptable were he to paint monstrous images of decapitated bodies, but if I want to see that I only have to switch on the TV News and be confronted by piles of corpses and children holding up severed heads in the manner of Jihadists.

Not surprisingly, I have had it with the real world and would much rather inhabit the world of Kinkade with its optimistic glow.

You can have your Goyas and your tortured souls. Your religious triptychs which depict sinners going to Hell are apparently not kitsch, even though they were the fashion of the day when the Church aimed to terrify the population with its threat of purgatory. These paintings were weapons wielded by the Church and I would not want any of them in my charming little abode

I remember when I studied Victorian literature at a post-graduate level, I was informed that Charles Dickens was not to be taken seriously because he was too popular. He was kitsch according to some of the snobbish professors at the University.

There obviously is an elitist element in all this kitsch business. If you manage to entertain the man in the street with your writing or your painting then there must be something wrong with your work, according to the experts.

How pretentious is that!

So give me a break from all this elitism. I want art that brings a smile to my face.

I prefer beautiful paintings, like those of the Pre-Raphaelites. And so this is where I will include the heart-warming works of Thomas Kinkade as well.

Pity that he has passed away in very sad circumstances, but nevertheless he has left us a beautiful fantasy world which I would gladly love to inhabit.

Rose-coloured glasses? Most definitely, but reality is less appealing, nowadays.

My Installation Art. Should I increase my insurance policy?

Each year when we have to renew our insurance policy we discuss the value of our possessions. It’s an important discussion, after all, and one which should be taken very seriously.

Our home is replete with installation art. There is our unmade bed, which changes shape every morning . It’s so much more interesting than Tracey’s work of art from 1998 which has recently sold for over 4 million dollars. I kid you not. $4 million!

We also have our sink with unwashed dishes and a laundry with unwashed clothes in it. Think of the wealth which our modest residence contains!

On TV this morning there was a fascinating item about a heavy boulder which was being moved very carefully from one spot to another in California. This was another example of that valuable addition to the art world of INSTALLATION ART.

According to the “artist” who had the bright idea of transporting a rock for over a hundred miles and sticking it in some place for the whole world to enjoy, this artistic enterprise could be compared with the Great Pyramids of Egypt which have lasted around 5000 years. This installation will definitely last as long as the pyramids, he assures us. And it only cost $10 million to transport it!

Well, California is certainly a very safe place to deposit a rocky masterpiece such as this one.

Back to our insurance policy, however. I do have a couple of pictures on my walls. Nothing of value really, just paintings that I like. I wonder if they could be considered as works of art since the artist appears to have used brushes and paint on a canvas. A very outdated concept!

Not a single installation or transportation as far as I can assess. Perhaps I should throw them into my laundry basket and hang the whole damn thing from the rafters. Sounds promising to me as a likely candidate for the Turner Prize. Of course I would have to sell this masterpiece because the insurance premiums would be prohibitive.

Never mind, there’s always Ebay, isn’t there?

Medication mistakes by nurses cost lives

“Here you are, Mrs Gans. Time for your Maxolon tablet.”

“That can’t be right,” I replied. “I’m allergic to Maxolon and it’s on my list of medications that I’m allergic to.”

“Well. It’s on your chart, so you have to take it,” the nurse at the rehab hospital insisted.

I asked her again to read the list that she had been given of medications that are dangerous for me.

She was adamant that she was correct and that I was wrong.

Finally, after a few gruelling minutes, she said “Oops, I’m sorry. I was reading the chart of the man in the room next door to you.”

When I told the visiting doctor about this incident she was as shocked as I was. What if it had been penicillin which produced anaphylaxis and killed me? The effects of Maxolon on my system are terrible enough and last for many months.

What if a patient had been sleepy and just accepted the medication without questioning what it was?

I’m on the ball and defended myself but it could have been very serious.

I’m in this rehab establishment following a knee replacement. The main purpose for my stay is do to physiotherapy and regain strength in the operated knee.

One has to wonder how many mistakes are made by nurses who don’t read the allergy warnings or who think that they never make mistakes.

Unfortunately, we are human beings whose lives are placed in their care.

Simply not good enough!

The Right to Defend Yourself

It would be perfect if nobody had weapons. It would be perfect if nobody attacked anybody else. It would be perfect if peace reigned forever and ever and we all stood around expressing our love for one another. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?

We would even sing songs about it all. Hey hang on a minute! Didn’t someone imagine such a world and didn’t we all sing along with him?

Ironically, poor John Lennon was shot to death and we all grieved for him. His song fell on deaf ears,

Some of us believed that it was the fault of the gun in the murderer’s hands. If we could only take away all the guns then we would all be safe.

Wishful thinking and deluded, in my opinion.

Alas, when I look around at the world I seriously doubt that this is ever going to happen. Yes, it’s possible to take away the guns from the moral people, but the evil ones, the crazy ones, the determined ones will always find a way to find weapons and threaten those of us who mean no harm.

It’s the way of the world and always will be, I’m afraid.

Even if we all sincerely promised to disarm and signed agreements in the U.N (lol) with one another could we in all honesty trust those who want to destroy our way of life? Could we believe them when they claim to have disarmed?

Are we really that naive?

The new Emporium Food Court in Melbourne

We finally decided to have a look at the new Emporium Shopping Centre in Melbourne. It’s very smart and will be better when it’s fully let. A work in progress and a pleasant place to visit.

But not if you are hungry and would like a snack and a cup of coffee in the food court. I could only find one place that served coffee and there was bad service. No trays and you had to help yourself if you ordered two coffees and a muffin there.

As for the other eateries you could be forgiven for thinking that you were somewhere in Asia instead of Australia. One place after the other was Asian, either, sushi, or Thai or Vietnamese rolls. For a person who is allergic to Monosodium Glutamate there is no chance of suitable food.

What happened to a bit of Western food? Some fish, perhaps, or a foccacia? How about a burger?

I was informed that there would be other eateries opening in the future, so here’s hoping there will be some choice. After all, that’s what food courts are all about, aren’t they?

Anyhow, we ended up next door in Melbourne Central and had a filo pastry with spinach. Yum.

How journalist Sarah Ferguson easily keeps up with Jones

I have just watched Lateline on the ABC during which Tony Jones was his tediously repetitive self and I couldn’t help but compare him with his wife, Sarah Ferguson.

Sarah has taken over from Leigh Sales on the 7.30 Report on the ABC and since then she has shown herself to be astute, determined but always courteous. Her diction and presentation are faultless and she is well-informed on the topic of her interview

Compare this with the rudeness and lack of panache of Tony Jones. He is like a broken record, going on and on and not giving the person he interviews much time to respond. It is no wonder that Clive Palmer told him to shut up the other night.

How sad it is that an interviewer is so enamoured of the sound of his own voice that he drones on for ever.

In my opinion, a successful interviewer is one who treats the interviewee as a welcome guest rather than as an interruption to his own monologue.

The audience wants to hear what the guest has to say. So bringing out the salient points of a discussion are the primary duties of the interviewer.

In this respect, Sarah Ferguson outdoes her husband by a mile.