Nicole Johnston

Confessions of a travel slut

One of the best books I’ve ever read is William Sutcliffe’s Are you experienced?, a devastating send–up on the culture of middle–class kids on their obligatory gap year, backpacking around on a “third world poverty adventure holiday.” Read it — I guarantee you’ll laugh like a drain. Perhaps the reason I enjoyed that novel so…

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A taste of Borneo

It’s my fourth day in Borneo and I’ve eaten such an odd assortment of things in such a weird range of flavours that my taste buds are thoroughly bewildered. A couple of days in the jungle regions near Sandakan have exposed them to tastes such as bitter gourd, pineapple-and-chilli salad, sago in coconut milk and…

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Low-level discourse

For just about all of my life — from about the age of three — I have had to deal on a daily basis with personal comments aimed at something I have no control over. I am tall (six foot two, to be precise) and for some reason a certain kind of person feels the…

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Oprah’s school in Aaafricah

There’s a strange phenomenon that occurs when a writer whom you’ve admired turns his or her pen to a place or people that you know well. If he or she get it wrong — buying into baseless myths, making ignorant assumptions or shallow analyses — you suddenly find yourself looking back at the rest of…

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Bread and circuses

Lo, Sunday morning dawned and strangely enough the world was unchanged! The fact that some beefy boys with cauliflower ears and bloodied eyes had spent 80 minutes throwing themselves on top of each other and shoving their heads up each other’s bums to win a shiny beaker the previous evening seems — oddly enough —…

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Are privacy and dignity only for the powerful?

I am incandescent with rage this Monday morning! (Now, my colleagues may claim this is not an unusual occurrence, but my theory is that if you’re not outraged, then you’re probably not paying attention!) The source of my ire is the front page of this morning’s Daily Sun. I’ve never really considered it a proper…

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