red cross ball 2008

May 2008 saw yet another succcessful Red Cross Gala Ball in full swing. This year’s theme was A Night of Latin Rhythm. How could we resist?

In true girly style I spent more time getting ready for the ball – hair, manicure, massage, etc. – than we spent at the ball. But isn’t that half the fun, especially on a cold and wet winter’s day?

We enjoyed the energetic movements of the capoeira dancers, the explosive Brazilian rhythms, percussion and  voice of Tumbarumba, the fabulous floorshow of Katumba Latin Dance Group and the vibrant and energetic performance  of Vatos Locos.


More than $100,000 was raised thanks to the generosity of guests, who bid ferociously on a great range of silent and live auction items. Orlando threw his hat into the ring for some beautiful jewellery for me, but sadly was pipped to the post. Damn!

The ball was masterminded by my pal Peter Moran, The Man With The Longest Job Title In The World: his full title is:  Senior Manager Marketing, Communication, Fundraising, International Humanitarian Law, and Trauma Teddies (I may be joking about the last bit – or maybe not).

peter moran

He looked dashing, colonial, and only slightly like The Colonel or The Man From Del Monte in his cream suit and fablous gerbera. Actually we all know that the real work was done by Tam and Zan, our Fundraising Officers Extraordinaire who jointly pulled off the Best Dressed Lady Award even though they had about seven minutes to get ready, and walked around with clipboards all night. They are legends.


A fabulous night was had by all and we shall certainly be on the invite list again next year.

mairead orlando red cross ball 2008

40 amazing things

My sister Annette wrote on her birthday card to me that I should do forty amazing things this year. 

I have taken her advice, and this year, before I turn 41, I plan to fulfill that dream.

I have gotten off to a great start too. In the three weeks since my birthday I have managed to experience four amazing things, so I am well on the way to success. These pages will chronicle my adventures.

bollywood movie stars party

It was the party of the year (well, in my diary it was the only party in the year). A Bollywood Movie Stars bash to celebrate my 40th birthday: it doesn’t get any better than this.

Twenty or so of my family and closest friends gathered on 4th November dressed in what can only be described as Bollywood-tastic outfits to dance the night away.

Eileen and Kelvin won the Most Fabulous Outfits award with their stunning outfits from Little India in Dandenong.

My family made a great effort too: Lee looked sophisticated and graceful in a black and silver sari, and Mena had more Bollywood Bling than the rest of us put together.

Orlando looked rugged and handsome in his all-black kurta pajama, and has made such a fuss of me throughout all my birthday celebrations. He is a superstar.

Photo Gallery

Other highlights of the evening included:

Paul Curran as a Bollywood Bad Guy, complete with maximum eyeliner, dark glasses and shark’s tooth medallion

Damien’s Derby Day extreme facial sunburn including a rather fetching white band where his sunglasses had been (it turns out some people thought he’d made himself up to look like that)

The Irish contingent doing the entire (it seemed) Riverdance, then Mena and Mairead’s solo reel, finished by Mena, Mairead, Eileen and Carmel in full Indian regalia doing a full set of the Walls of Limerick

Mena leading the soca dancing into the wee hours (“Follow me – I’m the leader of the parade!”) (“This is the music of my soul!”)

Sam’s amazing bum-wiggling dance which reduced all women present to tears

Sam and Paul’s talented dance interpretation of the song “A-E-I-O-U” by Freeez: popular consensus is that Paul’s “E” was particularly impressive and rendered all audience members helpless with laughter

The main conversation in the back yard about which song you want played as the last song at your funeral (and if you didn’t make a choice it was going to be November Rain by Guns N Roses)

Kelvin dancing, full stop

Kelvin almost being tempted to sip some rum instead of red wine

Mena at 5am having a smoke: “I am the oldest one here, the birds are singing and I am the last one partying”

Mena about the Irish dancing – “You are all doing it wrong, here let me show you”

Eileen about the Irish dancing – “You are all doing it wrong, here let me show you”

Lee talking to Orlando – “Now let me guess which food you put out: the cake and the popcorn”

Lee – “The thing I like about this sari is that I can breathe out and it hides my belly”

Carmel – “The thing I like about this sari is that I can breathe out and it hides my belly”

Orlando – “I am going over there to act as a buffer between Sam and the TV”

Paul’s AEIOU – ” I am not happy with my ‘E’ I have to rethink this”

Sam about raising children “I have a secret weapon, it is called music”

Mairead talking about cooking for the party – “…So I said to myself, I will show him, I will make the Tandoori chicken red…”

Paul takes off his sunglasses “I thought it was a bit dark in here, and I could not work it out…”

Sam dancing with Carmel – “Grab me from behind”

Paul talks to Orlando about dancing with Sam’s wife -“I don’t think it is your hands that he is worried about”

Orlando teaching Sam and Amanda soca – “Get in closer, don’t be shy, you are married”

Mena (a number of times in the evening) – “I’m back!!!”

Mena (a number of times in the evening) – “Why is it that every time I go to the toilet, all I can hear is people calling ‘Where’s Mena?'”

The delicious food that everybody brought

Mairead and Eileen trying to do their much-awaited Party Piece, drunk, unprepared, and with at least one Achilles tendon injury; but their smiles never faltered: divas to the last

Paul and Carmel vainly trying to teach Sam and Amanda to twirl properly like Irish dancers

Thanks to all my friends for making such a huge effort on the night. Nobody knew more than one or two other people but you’d never have known it – the noise of the conversation was deafening and the dancing spirited to say the least. Thanks for all my beautiful cards and gifts too – it was the most special birthday for me and I am delighted you could share it!

top ten dance tunes

Once we got the Desert Island Discs out of the way, Bernard at work came up with another question: What are the tunes that will make you jump up onto the dance floor no matter what?

Twenty-one people responded, male and female, gay and straight. And the winner was:

Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive (with three votes)

Go figure.


Runners up with two votes each were:

B52s – Love Shack
Dee-Lite – Groove is in the Heart
Lou Bega – Mambo No5
New Order – Blue Monday

and finally… Cheb Khaled – Aisha (but this was voted by a husband and wife because it is their song!).

The rest of the list is pretty broad but would make a good CD one day.
Abba – Dancing Queen
B52s – Rock Lobster
Baby D – Let Me Be Your Fantasy
Bronski Beat – Hit That Perfect Beat
Cameo – Single Life
Chemical Brothers – Under the Influence
Cher – Believe
Chic – Le Freak
Dead or Alive – You Spin me Round
Diana Ross – Chain Reaction
Disco Nights – GQ
Don Blackman – Holding you, Loving you
ELO – Mr Blue Sky
Entouch – Scratch my Back
Fatback Band – I Found Loving
George Clinton & Parliament (later Funkadelic) – Flashlight
Grease Megamix
House of Pain –  Jump Around
Indigo Girls – Galileo
Is this the future – Fatback band
Jacksons – Heartbreak hotel
James Brown – Get up
Kathrina & the Waves (yes I know they’re a eurovision band) – Walking on Sunshine
Kenny Loggins – Footloose
Loose Endz – Gonna Make you Mine
Madness – One Step Beyond
Madonna – Into the Groove
Newcleus – Wikki Wikki Song
OMD – Enola Gay
Pet Shop Boys – Always on my Mind
Plump DJs – Donna Kebab
Positive Force – We’ve Got The Funk
Real2Real – I Like to Move It
Rick James – Ghetto Life
Rocky Horror Soundtrack – The Time Warp
Rose Royce – Carwash
Roy Ayers – Running Away
S Club Seven – Reach for the Stars
Sash – Encore Une Fois
Simple Minds – Sanctify Yourself
Slave featuring Steve Arrington – Stone Jam
Snap – Rhythm is a Dancer
Soft Cell – Tainted Love
Stone – Time
The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
The Cure – The Love Cats
The Jackson 5 – I Want You Back
The Proclaimers – Five Hundred Miles
The Romantics – What I Like About You
The Stone Roses – She Bangs The Drums
Tina Turner – Simply the Best
Tom Browne – Funking for Jamaica
Tom Browne – Thighs High (Grips your hips and movie)
Touch & Go – I’ve Noticed You Around
Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men
Weddings Parties Anything – Industrial Town
Wham – Wake me up Before You Go-Go (the ultimate summer party song!)
Who Da Funk – Shiny Disco Balls
Whodini – Magic’s W
William Orbit – Barber’s Adaggio for Strings
Young and Company -I Like What You’re Doing To Me
Zapp & Roger Troutman – Dance Floor

hours of fun

The internet can be the portal to lots of things apart from cheap flights, free email and news sites. Here are some of my favourite ways to while away half an hour.
Wikipedia is a multilingual Web-based free-content encyclopedia. It is written collaboratively by volunteers, allowing most articles to be changed by anyone with access to a web browser and an Internet connection. The project began on January 15, 2001,. Wikipedia has more than 3,700,000 articles in many languages, including more than 1,000,000 in the English-language version. Editors are required to uphold a policy of “neutral point of view” under which notable perspectives are summarized without an attempt to determine an objective truth.
Wander aimlessly through this virtual art gallery like you would a real one, or search for titles or artists.
Longplayer is a 1,000 year long piece of music which started to play on the 1st January 2000 and will continue to play, without repetition, until the 31st December 2999, when it will come back to the point at which it began – and begin again. In its present and original incarnation, as a computer program, it’s been playing since it began in the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf, London E14.

It’s also playing in the planetarium at the Bibliotheca Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt, the Powerhouse, Brisbane, Australia and in Rufford Park, near Nottingham, England. Plans are in an advanced stage for other listening posts around the world.
Google’s language tools is a great slow-afternoon-at-work site, where you can have hours of fun translating complex phrases or sentences from English to German, then to French and back to English again to see exactly how much can be lost in translation. Hilarious. For those wishing to improve your language skills, you can use Google in your mother tongue. Choose Lithuanian, Yiddish, Esperanto, Klingon or Elmer Fudd (my personal favourite).
Read previously unpublished poems, short stories and even novels, and rate the writers’ work. Literary fiction, scifi, spirituality, humour and even westerns are included in the genres up for grabs.
Get into the podcast age and surf what’s available to download and listen to later on your MP3 player. If you want to start with something familiar, try the national radio station podcast sites such as for Late Night Live or for The Archers or I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue!

Mairead’s Christmas Survival Tips

  • Stuck for a present for the man/woman who has everything?
  • Cookery Crisis?
  • Worried how to get through a crucial Christmas visit without offending anyone?

Find all your answers here! This year I am sharing all my Christmas secrets with you, to make sure we all have comfort AND joy!

Christmas Cards
A good way to give to charity easily is to buy charity Christmas cards and gifts. Buy online at:

Cancer Research UK
St. Luke’s Hospital, Dublin

If you are truly stuck and can’t think of anything to get the sister/partner/mate who has everything, try some of these life-saving websites: – CDs, DVDs etc. at rock-bottom prices – TV, hifi, computers and gadgets – make gifts out of digital photos – designer fashion, grooming and more – when you REALLY need inspiration! – beautiful undies – weekends away, flights, interesting “red letter” days

Deck The Halls
These great websites will find you the perfect table settings, Christmas decorations and everything else you need for the best Christmas parties ever: – table settings for special occasions – the best trees delivered to your door – gifts and ideas – any culinary crisis fixed! – the best kitchenware website in the world – order a fresh turkey online – specialist cheeses for home or gifts – good deals on bulk-buying of wine
Borough Market – London’s larder – the very best of British fresh food
NHS Direct – for when it all goes wrong!!!!

Another great number to keep by the phone is the Turkey Hotline – they will help you with all your turkey-roasting problems, right up until 5pm on Christmas Eve. What a great service!!! Call 0800 783 9994.

How come, even when we have all these satellite channels, there is never anything on TV except Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or Die Hard 45? Here are some tricks to keep you entertained without leaving the house: – all your TV listings in the one place – sign up for their free trial and get your DVDs by post!

Good Manners
There is no excuse for good manners, and Christmas is a great time to dust off your old-fashioned gentility. Why not actually write thank-you notes this Christmas for all your lovely pressies? And don’t forget that Christmas is only one of the feasts of the holiday season – some of your friends will be celebrating Hannukah or Kwanzaa.

Learn how to act appropriately at your office Christmas party, or how to be the perfect houseguest.

Check out – it will teach you all this and more!

Slip Slop Slurp

So, you are in Melbourne and it is a hot summer’s day. Us poor northern hemisphere types need somewhere to cool off… perhaps a place where good ice cream is not far away, or where there is a pool of water to dip your hot toes. Here are some of the best spots!

The Half Moon Fish & Chippery
Half Moon Bay

Middle Brighton Baths
251 The Esplanade

Fairfield Boathouse
Fairfield Park Drive

The Pavilion
Alexandra Avenue
South Yarra

Portabella Café Bar
129a Beaconsfield Parade
Albert Park

Henderson House Cafe
45 Moreland Street

The Pool Café
Aquatic Centre
Essex Street

Parkdale Beach Café and Kiosk
Beach Road

Gilligans Fish & Chips
100 Western beach

Pier Café
6 Pier Street
Port Arlington