White Angel

Sunday Life: July 2016

Well, we are halfway through 2016, and almost halfway through winter, if we can call it that.

We had a touch of ‘severe weather’ with that East Coast Low kicking off the season, and we had a refreshing cold-snap these last couple of weeks, but otherwise we have been gifted with one of Sydney’s trademark sunny winters so far, with the brilliantly bright Vivid festival also lighting up Sydney’s night sky for a few weeks.

As for this month’s cocktail, I must confess my choice is heavily influenced by the Shakespearian tragicomedy of BREXIT, and the marathon Federal election campaign we just endured, which drove me to have a few more drinks than usual. That wasn’t just the longest, but also the most boring and uninspiring, election campaign I have ever seen in my life …

If the election campaign didn’t do it for you, perhaps the threat of the impending odious homophobia-fest of the marriage equality plebiscite or the upcoming tax season will, so here is something strong that suits both the winter weather and the times we live in. While it is a chilled drink, it is guaranteed to warm you up, and relax you.

White Angel

45ml vodka*
45ml gin**

Method: pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice, stir, or shake depending on your preference, and pour into a chilled martini glass.

* For my vodka I still prefer Absolut.
** When it comes to my gin, I am a Tanqueray man.

While you are enjoying your White Angel, here are a few of my favourite tunes I am currently listening to, and something I will be watching …

‘What’s It Gonna Be?’ by Shura

Shura, is Aleksandra Lilah Yakunina-Denton, a fabulous English singer, songwriter and producer, from Manchester.

‘What’s It Gonna Be?’ is a toe-tapping, poptastic 80s flashback with the cutest of music videos to accompany it.

‘What’s It Gonna Be?’ is about having a massive crush on someone, so it made sense to go back where to school, where it all began. But it was important for us to explore those archetypal characters – The Jock, The Nerd, The Dork, The Popular Kid – and then flip expectations. ‘What’s It Gonna Be?’ is based on my personal experience as a kid; thinking you’re in love but then realising that’s maybe just because you feel you should be (and ending up with someone totally unexpected).

‘Kill Em With Kindness’ by Selena Gomez

In light of everything that has been going on in the world lately, the lyrics of this song spoke to me …

The world can be a nasty place
You know it, I know it, yeah
We don’t have to fall from grace
Put down the weapons you fight with

And kill ’em with kindness
Kill ’em with kindness
Kill ’em, kill ’em, kill ’em with kindness
Kill ’em with kindness
Kill ’em with kindness
Go ahead, go ahead, go ahead now

We’re running out of time
Chasing the lies
Every day a small piece of you dies
Always somebody
You’re willing to fight, to be right

Your lies are bullets
Your mouth’s a gun
And no war in anger
Was ever won
Put out the fire before igniting
Next time you’re fighting


This month I’m making an exception, and replacing one of my usual music videos of the month with the trailer for HBO’s upcoming ‘Looking‘ movie, which will wrap up the cancelled series.

‘Looking’ was a groundbreaking television series, which chronicled the lives of a group of gay men living in San Francisco. The show had fast became one of my favourite TV shows of all time, for its ultra-realistic portrayal of the lives of urban gay men today. Sadly it only survived for two seasons.

Thankfully HBO didn’t leave us completely hanging, and ordered a one-off movie-length special to offer closure to the fans. The final will go to air in the US on 23 July. In Australia, Foxtel’s Showcase channel will air the movie on Thursday, 28 July at 8.30pm.

Thankfully you will have a White Angel in hand for the emotional roller-coaster ride the finale of ‘Looking’ is likely to be …

‘Upington’ by Andrea Durbach

UpingtonIf you prefer a literary journey with your White Angel, this month my choice is ‘Upington‘, by the incredible Andrea Durbach.

You will need a strong drink with this book, so the White Angel will come handy again.

Upington is a harrowing tale of racism, injustice, human rights, and social justice colliding in apartheid-era South Africa.

Andrea Durbach was born in 1957 in Cape Town, into a family that opposed the ideology of apartheid and its inherent injustices. She studied law and graduated from the University of Cape Town.

Following her graduation she worked at a local law firm where most of her work involved representing anti-apartheid activists, and trade unions. In 1985 she took on the defence of 26 black people accused of the murder of Lucas Sethwala, a black police officer, who was beaten to death and set alight during riots in Upington.

In one of the largest, and most controversial, trials in South Africa’s history, twenty-five of the accused were convicted of murder under the ‘common purpose’ doctrine. Fourteen of Ms Durbach clients were subsequently sentenced to death by hanging.

The lead barrister on the case Anton Lubowski, the outspoken Namibian human rights advocate, was brutally assassinated by operatives of South Africa’s Civil Cooperation Bureau.

Subsequently, Ms Durbach exiled herself to Sydney, Australia, where she continued to work on the successful appeal against the death sentences. The case of the ‘Upington 26’ later came before the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and those still serving prison terms were considered political prisoners, and released.

Upington autographed
My treasured autographed copy
The book is an account of the incredibly moving and powerful story of the crime, the trial, and the consequences for all involved, set against the backdrop of a South Africa gripped by civil unrest, and the horrific violence of apartheid, where Nelson Mandela has been in prison for over two decades.

In 1991 Ms Durbach took a job at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Sydney, and was appointed its Director in 1997. In 2004 she was offered an opportunity to teach law and run the Australian Human Rights Centre at the University of New South Wales, where she continues to make a significant contribution to public life, human rights, and social justice.

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