Serge’s Column

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Happy summer!

As I write this column, we are a few days away from the State Election. I have done all I can for the Palais to become an election issue but as the result is still unclear, I am going to write a different column this month.

I’m going to talk about Christmas and recommend a few books as presents… books that mean something to me. And there are a lot of books that have come out lately that do!

Let’s start with Ian Molly Meldrum’s biography, The Never, Um, Ever Ending Story, co-written by my very good friend Jeff Jenkins, the most patient journalist in the world. I go a long way with Molly, back to 1985. His wonderful PA Lynne Randell became one of my best friends and I miss her every day.

I am mentioned on page 241 about a night out in Bangkok with Molly when we were both covering Michael Jackson. I am glad that the book does not describe the whole night out… maybe in my book one day LOL! Molly is a wonderful and loyal friend, and I would do anything for him. He even got me arrested in Paris! His book is a great light read of one of the most interesting lives in show business. The perfect book sitting on a beach over summer…

In a similar genre is Michael Browning’s Dog Eat Dog. I met Michael when he managed Noiseworks and I worked with them. Michael discovered AC/DC and worked with many great acts in the world. Having bought his book, I found out that his first business venture was an illegal club in a penthouse opposite St Kilda Beach in the 70s – a club that was eventually closed by the St Kilda Council. Michael’s book is full of great behind the scenes anecdotes and worth reading.

Andrew Rule’s book Kerry Stokes, The Boy from Nowhere is a fascinating read about a fascinating man. I had the extreme privilege to spend some very intimate time with Kerry as his third wife, actor Peta Toppano, was and still is a very dear friend. Our friendship began after I interviewed and photographed her for French magazines as the mini-series “Return to Eden” was huge in France for some strange reason. I spent a week with Kerry and Peta at their house (and boat) in Perth and it was just “out of this world” to be part of Kerry’s world for a few days.

I loved all his art, at home and at his office, I have never seen so much art in one place. And Kerry’s taste is impeccable. Peta wanted me to have a photo session with her husband – Kerry hates having his photo taken – and I took some great shots at his office playing with a model of a Caterpillar excavator (Kerry has got the Cat licence for Australia and beyond. It was a moment I will never forget. And he loved the photos! Andrew Rule had access to Kerry and his book is well researched and extremely interesting.

Lastly, Dig In. I met Brent Owen just after he won MasterChef. I liked him straight away and we have become close in a short period of time. He accepted with great pleasure to be part of my day as “guest” principal at the St Kilda Park Primary School and gave a great lesson on how to make French crepes. Sorry again to the kids who missed out on his lesson, a few parents rang me to complain. Next year if you want me back!

When Brent came to SKPPS, he was putting the final touches to his cookbook Dig In. The book is out now and looks beautiful, full of recipes that even I could follow – no, not all Frenchmen are good cooks!! – Brent’s book is a beautiful gift.

2014 was a very interesting year for me and I hope that the people feel I made a difference. Being Councillor and Deputy Mayor is not an easy job, but it is only with the help of many in the community that I can do it. To all the people who have helped me, advised me and kept me or tried to keep me on a straight line – you know who you all are – THANK YOU. I could not have done what I have done without you; I am looking forward to your help in 2015.

I cannot finish without mentioning the most amazing moment of the year when one of the most beautiful kids I have ever met asked me to become his godfather. I met Ben at the skate park when it opened and he always came running to say hello when he saw me. I never thought that the skate park would bring such kind of joy. I have already seen some changes in you, Benny and good on you for driving a fundraiser at your school for the little boy Yahya. Good luck Yahya, for your operation and my hat off to you, Fatima, for bringing him here.

Joyeux Noel et bonne année à tous!*

Cr Serge Thomann


*Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all

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