Canberra Confidential: Speechley cut short

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ANOTHER senior manager at the highly anticipated Centenary of Canberra has followed the late-June departure of Centenary director Sarah Hitchcock.

Jane Speechley
Jane Speechley, senior public relations manager for the yet-to-start Centenary celebration, quietly slipped away in recent days to form her own business. Hitchcock resigned for what she told “CC” at the time, was a “personal decision”.

Suddenly, David Polglase finds himself in as PR flak, but not for long we hear. Polglase is better known as Centenary contractor The Content Group’s communications manager. The program for next year is daunting enough, even to CC, so imagine what it must be like for those working there.

New world menace

BOTTLE tops are the latest global security threat, but not chicken salads. Well, that’s how it seemed to “CC” shuffling through the intrusive security shakedown to get into the Elton John concert at Canberra Stadium the other night.

Highly trained, grown men were trawling through patrons’ bags in a singular search for the emerging menace of bottle tops and drink-can ring-pull tops. One patron, heart in mouth, had to wait for supervisory clearance on the lid of his chicken salad, held above the crowd for approval, before being granted entrance. Others sallied forth to their seats minus the screw tops on their bottled water. Why? Who knows. Worse still, who knows why we put up with it.

Socks trump Kevin

FORMER Foreign Minister Alexander Downer launched our prickly “Gadfly” columnist Robert Macklin’s new book “One False Move”, praising its “beautiful writing” and “engrossing read”. Unsurprisingly, he was less kind about Macklin’s earlier work, “Kevin Rudd: The Biography”. They were never the best of friends, in Parliament or as young Foreign Affairs’ officers. “I didn’t read it,” he said. “I was rearranging my sock drawer that day.”
Macklin has also launched an e-book collection of his “Gadfly” column.

“Since Canberra is Australia’s best-kept secret, I decided to collect the best of them in e-book form to give the rest of the country the chance to share in our conversation, especially at Christmas time,” he opined.

Buy it at for $6.99.

Con between the covers

GREEK community identity Con Tsoulias had one of his school teachers travel from the south coast to attend the launch of a book that recognises the contribution to the Queanbeyan and Canberra community by Con and his family.

Con Tsoulias, left, and John Efkarpidis at the book launch.
Former Chief Minister, Kate Carnell, launched the book, “Celebrating a Sound Contribution of a Pioneer Family of Canberra”, the first of “A Trilogy of Greek Voices in Australia” by Prof Anastasios Tamis, of Notre Dame University, and acknowledged the contribution made by Con and his father, Nick, spanning many years.

Con spoke with emotion as he reflected on his early years as a young Greek immigrant growing up in Queanbeyan. He thanked each of the 150 people at the launch for their impact on his life (with special attention to his former teacher) and they, in turn, coughed up a tidy $25,000 for the Newborn Intensive Care Foundation.

Cedric amid the tall poppies

“CityNews” gardening guru Cedric Bryant was bemused to find himself ushered to the front of the tall poppies in the VIP section at the recent Remembrance Day ceremony at the War Memorial. Ever modest, the blushing Bryant asked, why the courtesy? Turns out it was to thank him for providing emergency cuttings of the memorial’s “Gallipoli Rose” after Yarralumla Nursery exhausted its stocks of this nostalgic plant and, unthinkably, couldn’t propagate any more.

“They knew that I had advanced plants in our garden and asked if I would provide cutting material. Naturally, I readily agreed,” our hero says.
The plant was noted in the landing at Gallipoli and so cherished by Australian troops that they brought seeds home and scattered them around fields and gardens as a symbol of peace.

Remember whatshisname?

EVER found yourself being introduced to someone and instantly forgetting their name? Well, you’re not alone – there’s a new workshop designed for the forgetful on November 29, run by so-called “Australian Memory Record Holder” Chris Lyons, who promises to teach “the secrets to remembering people’s names, how to deliver presentations completely from memory and how to tackle information overload using speed reading techniques.”

More info at Just don’t ask us who sent out the press release – we’ve already forgotten.

A different plane

JOURNALIST Nicholas Crisp took the Canberra Times’ recent redundancy purse and moved from wordsmith to furniture artisan, making his debut at the recent Orana Steiner School’s Spring Fair Gallery. The former sub-editor specialises in decorative inlaid patterns, and was flogging off a variety of small side tables, bookmarks, small boxes and business card holders.

Give the kids a break

“CC’s” heart sunk at the gleeful press release announcing that Latham Primary School has most gloriously won the ACT section of the tacky Muffin Break Great Bake Sale Facebook Fundraising Competition. The school won a nauseating 1000 low-fat muffins, valued at almost $4000, that it then had to onsell to turn into money. And what did Muffin Break get out of the participation of our primary schoolchildren and their parents? Lots and lots of “Likes” on the baker’s Facebook page during the five-week voting period. Dear Minister Burch…

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