Penelope Grundle is a life coach, New York Times best-selling author and twice-Editor of Australian Vogue. She is also NUPSA’s resident advice columnist, in accordance with the terms of her Community Service Order (Crimes [Sentencing Procedure] Act 1999).


Hello again, my little sages-in-training! What Herculean labours have you undertaken this month, what tasks and travails? I’m told this time of year is particularly taxing for postgraduate students; if so, it’s more important than ever that you take the time to indulge your senses, and nourish your mind and body. It is at these moments precisely, when we tell ourselves we have no time for pleasure, that we are most sorely in need of it.

This is one of the core philosophies – critical self-love – that underpins my coaching and self-help books, and I practice it often. Just last week, in fact, I found myself somewhat depleted after a series of motivational talks to staff at Google; everyone was seated in bean bags around a swimming pool of M&Ms, and I myself was required to deliver the talk in a polar bear onesie whilst balanced atop a segway, so the whole thing was rather more taxing than I’d hoped.

I knew I had a chapter to finish and several appointments the next morning to prepare for, and it was tempting to simply dive headlong into an all-night orgy of productivity (the dullest kind of orgy), but I said to myself, “Penny, no! Your soul and flesh are weary – they cry out for release. This is not the time to draw water from an empty well, but to reach out and replenish it through joy and connection.”

So I called my dear friend Judi (who’d just returned from the Amazon) and asked if she was in the mood for a little ‘urban mischief’. She was, of course. She may be a British national treasure, but she’s an absolute fiend after a bottle of Krug.

We rode through the greater part of Mountain View – at first on segways (until Judi lost her balance) and then on horseback (which she stole from mounted police) – from one Family Planning clinic to the next, pelting evening protesters with pamphlets on male sterilisation. One protester attempted to drag Judi from her horse, but realised his error when she leapt upon him like a pro wrestler, piledriving him into the pavement with her legendary upper-body strength. Then she turned on the crowd, assailing them with a withering flurry of insults in perfect Thespian tone. (For the sake of decorum, I shan’t repeat them here.)

The LEOs soon came out to play, but by that time we had ducked down a darkened alley and into the night. Oh, what a rush it was, my darlings! Like a syringe of adrenaline, straight to the heart. And by the time Judi made her goodbyes and departed with a pair of escorts we’d encountered in the underground, I was feeling thoroughly rejuvenated. My cup did runneth over.

I do hope you’re all having adventures ‘on the regular’ as well, my children. And if life’s challenges are standing in your way, let us address them here, and sweep them aside.


Dear Penny,

It’s almost Christmas! Oh please, Penny, won’t you tell us a Christmas story?


J & M Banks


Oh, very well then, my darlings. You shall have a story.



‘Twas the night before Christmas, and there by the tree,
Dear Penny reclined with a glass of Chablis.
Her hair was immaculate, caftan divine,
But still she sat moodily, sipping her wine.

“Good grief,” she exclaimed, “I can scarcely believe
That I’ve nowhere to be on this cold Christmas Eve!
All the parties are cancelled, Donatella’s unwell,
And Gaga’s in chain-mail, in clogs, or in Hell!”

“But still,” she continued, “one cannot despair
When Hollywood cries out for formal affair.
If Lindsay’s in rehab and Lagerfeld’s dead,
Well, I’ll just have to throw my own party instead!”

She brought up her contact list, carefully went through it –
(Well, not quite; she had one of her menials do it.)
And once they had finished, she leapt to her feet,
And frantically texted the social elite.

“Come Scarlett! Come Ryan! Come Tobey! Come Nicki!
Now Charlotte, now Benedict, Julianne, Mickey!
Wake up, Winona! Get over here, Cher!
And even Madonna, since Sting wants her there.”

“Come Denzel! Come Menzel! Come Leo! Come Kate!
Now, Angelina! There’s no time to wait!
Slap on a dress, Meryl! Come, Posh and Becks!
Come for the Moët and stay for the sex!”

Her friends were delighted, their spirits revived,
And soon, in their stretch limousines they arrived.
Every A-lister made it, not one of them passed,
(Well, except for Demi, who was still an outcast.)

She broke out the bourbon, the wine, the champagne,
She broke out the toys and the Chamber of Pain.
She opened the ballroom and swept the salon,
Then welcomed them all to her humble maison.

They danced and they drank and they partied til dawn,
They howled at the moon and got drunk on the lawn,
And though it was summer, with no chance of snow,
Every nostril and lip was white-sprinkled with blow.

They set up the stage; even B played a set!
And Adele gave a show they would not soon forget.
Ariana was goofy and Miley was wild,
While Biebs got rejected and sobbed like a child.

Chris challenged Liam, comparing their fame;
Matt Damon repeatedly said his own name.
Brad took to greenhouse, intense and alone,
While Maggie and Judi did shots of Patrón.

And then it was over! The cold light of day
shone down on immortals in deep disarray.
They stumbled from sofas, got up from the floor,
and, laughing and crying, fell out the front door.

Dear Penny, their hostess, just smiled and waved.
Her labours were done: Christmas Eve had been saved!
“My darlings!” she cried. “My dear children of light!
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!”



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