The Diary: F-bomb sparks a letter to top school parents

Denise L'Estrange-Corbet, with daughter Pebbles Hooper. Photo / Greg Bowker
Denise L'Estrange-Corbet, with daughter Pebbles Hooper. Photo / Greg Bowker

In a talk to an exclusive private school assembly on Wednesday on the issue of mental health, fashion designer and Auckland personality Denise L'Estrange-Corbet dropped the F-bomb and prompted a letter to parents from the principal in a quick mea culpa.

Diocesan School in Epsom said it was merely front-footing any perceived concern about profanity. But the designer is unrepentant and says swearing is the least of students' problems these days.

Is this political correctness gone too far?

L'Estrange-Corbet was contacted some months ago by a student at the school suffering from depression and invited to make a speech to the assembly of 13 to 18-year-old girls.

"She wrote me the most touching email," L'Estrange-Corbet told The Diary. "She wanted to highlight that depression is a very real thing and needed to be talked about."

The designer, who suffers from depression herself, works with the Mental Health Foundation, and has appeared in their "Like Minds, Like Mine" promotion.

L'Estrange-Corbet points out 1 in 4 will suffer from depression in their lives. "Out of the 1900 girls I spoke to, that's nearly 500 girls that were sitting in the hall on Wednesday morning, so it is very real."

But she admits, in an effort to emphasise a point she did swear.

"I did drop the F-bomb, and the reason I did was that it was used in a sentence, and it needed to be used to get the veracity of what I was feeling at the time."

Dio swiftly sent a missive to parents.

"The email was merely as a way to explain," deputy principal Margaret van Meeuwen told The Diary.

"We felt we needed to put it in context. We don't use profanity in school assemblies, but this was in the context of a speech that was well-received by the students."

Asked if there had been any complaints by parents or pupils, van Meeuwen said: "None whatsoever."

She was disappointed that a parent at the school had informed The Diary of the email.

"It wouldn't be the first time the girls have heard the word," she said.

L'Estrange-Corbet is unashamed.

"It is on TV all the time, and I do not offer any apologies.

"That is what I felt, and that is how I conveyed it. It is a shame that a parent chose one word out of the 15-minute talk, which just shows how very hard it is to get the message about depression across - f***ing hard!" Point made.

Faecal face at Fashion Week

The Fashion Week rumour mill was rife with gossip about lap-band surgery in Thailand and civil union catwalk copycats, but the rag show itself was decidedly more downcast and low-key this year. TV3's sanguine attempt to describe it as "stronger than ever" (perhaps they're still sporting their optimistic recessionary glasses) only added to the hype and hoopla. But the A-list designers and celebrities largely skipped it, like David Shearer with the advancing three-ring circus.

However, one international star will, er, make his mark on our fashion throng on Sunday. American stunt performer and self proclaimed "professional shitter", Dave England from Jackass, will hit the runway in Huffer's public show.

"He's going around town telling people he's an international model," Huffer owner Steve Dunstan chortled. "Dave will be integrated into the show. It may not be too traditional, though."

England, whose claim to fame is defecating on television, is the face of Huffer's new Spring/Summer campaign, shot in Tokyo last month.

Dunstan told The Diary the pair have been friends for 20 years and share a love of snowboarding and irreverent humour. "Huffer is a lifestyle brand and we take a relaxed, slightly comedic approach. We're not high-end fashion and we don't take ourselves too seriously."

Sex, lies and videotape

While the political grapevine is awash this week with salacious gossip on a Mr Ordinary MP's philandering, another MP went public with his love life. Shane Jones turned 54 this week and celebrated with a triumphant appearance on TV3's 3rd Degree revealing more about his new partner, former beauty queen Dorothy Pumipi, and their affair on the 2011 campaign trail.

Pity fellow red runners David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson didn't follow suit. They're reticent to reveal their other halves. We know this because the TV cameras exposed their caginess.

Cunliffe, who's married to lawyer Karen Price, phoned Jones strongly suggesting they stay schtum and not involve their families on camera.

"Too late," said Jones, as the cameras rolled and caught the conversation.

Robertson, who says his homosexuality is a non-issue, made his sexual persuasion an issue this week when he was busted in an interview with TV One's Seven Sharp fibbing about the whereabouts of his partner Alf Kaiwai. "He's not here tonight," Robertson said. But Alf was there. Viewers took to Twitter to wonder if he could tell a porky like that, what else could he mislead on.

Labour's Got Talent is heating up and all three contestants are using the platform to showcase their policies and peacock personalities.

Fish bowl homecoming

He always looked like a fish out of water on Seven Sharp, now Greg Boyed (left) is boomeranging back to the Tonight desk. It's the fish bowl he's most comfortable with, and who can blame him.

Well-informed sources say he was pressured into the role by former news boss Ross Dagan who knew the show needed senior journalistic credibility and clout on the presenting panel. They say a clause in his contract meant he could opt out.

It was no secret Boyed was miserable, and his recent hospitalisation from the show's set meant the network had to play it cautiously.

Insiders say a stress-related incident would be a suitable bargaining tool.

As to who will replace him, take your pick. Tim Wilson has always made his ambitions plain. And Jack Tame would be a sure bet. But following the good feedback the show's received when radio DJ Stacey Morrison has filled in, maybe TVNZ will turn to non-traditional outposts. Is a journalist required on a show that delves into stories at puddle depth?

- NZ Herald

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