TOPICS: Tinsel and tears 

 SPROUTED: An island of cheer in the Hunter.
SPROUTED: An island of cheer in the Hunter.
 WRAP: Annika Stafa, 2, is no longer sweet on the jolly old guy in red.

WRAP: Annika Stafa, 2, is no longer sweet on the jolly old guy in red.

  STRAY observations about Christmas and the Hunter.

● Annika Stafa, picture  who’s nearly two, hasn’t got off on the right foot with Santa. Her little brother Elliot, seven months, is more of a fan. ‘‘Elliot couldn’t see what his sister was fussing about – Santa looks like a nice guy to me,’’ says grandmother Denise Bell, from Aberdeen. The siblings live in Muswellbrook.

● Merewether children’s author Rob Towner has one of the most popular books on Mr Towner writes short stories on request, and has written and illustrated Romy’s Garden Adventures: Christmas City. It’s a ‘‘warm, adorable and slightly odd tale about the importance of sharing time with friends and family during the holiday season’’. Click to see the book here

● There’s a Christmas tree on this traffic island at Wickham (pictured above). Someone went to the effort to install it. We approve.

● You still have shopping to do, don’t you? Nice one. Yeah, us too. To help with that, Charlestown Square has employed a team of elves. Except you’re not allowed to say ‘‘elves’’ in these politically correct days – they’re called ‘‘helpers’’. The ‘‘helpers’’, says the centre, will ‘‘help you find your way to your dedicated store, carry your bags for you and within 10 minutes you are heading out of the car park’’. Look out for them if you shop there today. They’re in green. 

● On Saturday night the Sydney Opera House hosted Morrissey,  former The Smiths frontman and general pop icon. In the lulls between songs, fans yelled out ‘‘Manchester!’’ (which is where Morrissey hails from). A reader who was at the concert tells us this continued for a while, ‘‘before one bloke called out with some pride: Newcastle!’’

Merry Christmas to that guy, and to you, dear reader.

Alien reaction to out-of-Our-Town ad campaign

WE’D heard there was a Newcastle Permanent ad in the 1980s that had a spaceship and didn’t go down too well, but that was all we knew.

Until now. Helen Duncan’s company Helen Duncan Productions was the casting agent for the ad, as it had been for the highly successful ‘‘Our Town’’ one.

Advertising creative Garry Sleeman had captivated Newcastle viewers with ‘‘Our Town’’. His 1984 sequel,  known as ‘‘The Aliens’’, was a rare miss. 

‘‘Yes, it was a disaster,’’ says Helen. 

‘‘The premise was that foreign [alien] companies were taking over the local market [Newcastle Permanent] and older people didn’t know what was happening.’’

It was a pretty big production that featured several professional actors,  including local thespian Rod Ansell. The ad went to air on a Sunday night.

‘‘By the next few days the Newcastle Perm had been inundated by older people ‘wishing to withdraw their funds, cancel their accounts, etc’. They felt that the ad put down their ability to make their own decisions, and their intelligence,’’ says Helen.

The ad had been pulled by the following weekend, never to be seen again.

No thanks, guys

YOU know what reader Y MacDonald, from Toronto, hates? 

Here, we’ll let her tell you.

‘‘You know what I hate the most is being called a ‘guy’,’’ she writes.

‘‘My husband and I go places – ‘hello guys, thank-you guys’.’’

Y MacDonald’s other pet hate is a matter of pronunciation.

‘‘The other hate is us females being called ‘a’ instead of ‘her’, as in, ‘are you going to see a?’.’’

Being an ’im rather than an ‘a’, the Topics writer had not noticed this. But now that Y MacDonald has pointed it out, we’re hearing it everywhere. ‘‘Did you tell a?’’ ‘‘Do you know a?’’ ‘‘I like a, that Lisa Wilkinson.’’

While we’re on the subject of pet hates, what’s yours? We’ll happily spread the word. Consider it a public service, guys.