Party truths

Blockbuster author Jilly Cooper, 81, has shared advice over the years about hosting the perfect Christmas ... "a television in every room, so that everybody can escape all the enforced togetherness now and then and watch what they want," she says. "And do avoid inviting a lonely stranger home - it might sound terribly charitable in theory, but the truth is, they will moon about the house spoiling everyone's fun, and you will overcompensate by buying them too many gifts while your other half secretly resents them." And as hostess there is a downside: "You never really get to enjoy yourself because you are essentially an unpaid waitress ... It's awfully difficult to get rid of drunk party guests at the end of the night. I tend to ask my PA to go around telling everyone that "Jilly's tired" and it's time to go home now. It's worth hiring a PA for the night just for that part," she says.

Beer handy tool

"I have discovered the most interesting and accurate guide to the cost of living in different countries," writes Rex Mincher. "I call it the Corona Currency Indicator ... What makes the Corona cost so accurate is that to my knowledge it is the only mainstream international beer solely brewed in its country of origin. Unlike Heineken that is brewed around the world, which means the Heineken's local sale price must reflect the cost of living associated in that country. In round numbers, the price of a bottle of Corona in a normal NZ hotel lobby bar or cafe is about $10. In Qatar it is a crazy $25, Romania $5 and the Ukraine $1. In all these examples, the Corona is imported which means production costs are equal and only the sales margin and cost of distribution is added. The price is therefore set at a level that the population of that country can afford. Interestingly, the price reflects all other aspects of their economies from taxi fares to the price of food and even the washing machine. In short, NZ is a rich country, the Ukraine very poor and Qatar wealthy beyond our imagination."

Heart-stopping house prices

Rip off NZ

Rod recently bought a Braun 6000 electric toothbrush from the UK. "The total cost including freight was a tad under $110 at today's rate of exchange. The lowest price I can find in New Zealand is $342.29, nor including freight. Who in their right mind would buy it in New Zealand at more than three times the price?"

Quick links

1. Young woman transforms herself into a genius before your very eyes.

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2. The Top 10 Podcasts of 2018 according to Time magazine, for you holiday listening pleasure.

Video pick

Best news bloopers from November...


Got a Sideswipe? Send your pictures, links and anecdotes to Ana at ana.samways@nzherald.co.nz