19.5 C
Byron Shire
April 18, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Still Almost Famous

Latest News

Head-on crash car traveling in wrong direction

Police say that two men are in hospital after an accident on the M1 overnight, when emergency services responded to reports of a crash involving two cars near Clothiers Creek

Other News

HuskeeSwap launches in Lennox

An exciting initiative to keep coffee cups out of landfill launched in Lennox Head yesterday. Ballina Shire Council is backing the HuskeeSwap program with free coffees at different cafes in Lennox this week, for coffeeholics keen to try a new solution to a growing problem.

Beach Hotel gets a $6m makeover

Owners of the Beach Hotel, Moelis, say they undertook extensive repairs and updates to the tune of around $6m after COVID-19 forced closure and limited trading last year.

Inspector condemns prisoner health services

In the forward to the Inspector of Custodial Services Report published last month, Fiona Rafter Inspector of Custodial Services says that the provision of health services to inmates in New South Wales custodial facilities is a complex and challenging responsibility.

Electricity ‘fun facts’

Anonymous, Ballina I’m surprised that a part of David Lowe’s online article of March 15 slipped under the fact-check radar (‘Tamara Smith...

Midwife quits

Deb Walsh, Fernleigh It’s become untenable for me to continue working in hospitals. I have quit. I will be deregistered soon...

SCU celebrates alumni achievements with awards

A group of Southern Cross University graduates who have made extraordinary global achievements in research, community building, healthcare and environmental issues have been acknowledged with the 2020 Alumni Impact Awards.

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Still Almost Famous

What does it mean to be famous? The dictionary defines it as being known by many people. I am ‘famous’ here. It basically means when I go to Woolies I hear people whisper, ‘that’s Mandy Nolan’. It’s funny because it’s just Woolies and I go there every day. (Just to be recognised.) 

When people I don’t know get a bit drunk they hug me, or get a selfie, or sometimes they decide to write abusive remarks on toilet walls. At first I was hurt, but I have come to find this endearing in a very parochial way. I mean someone went to the toilet with a pencil and thought of me. That’s kind of beautiful – if you don’t read what they wrote.  

I used to be famous only in Byron Bay, but now I’ve pushed into postcodes as far south as Bellingen and as far north as the Gold Coast. It’s a bloody long run up to world domination I can tell you. Clearly I’m not properly famous. No-one knows me in Brisbane. If people know you in Brisbane, you’ve made it because that place is so ‘off the pulse’ it’s almost flatline. 

I think my level of attention isn’t really the right use of the word famous. I’m notorious? Sounds like I wear feathers and dance in a seedy nightclub and am the Big Boss of some sort of middle-aged mafia. I wish I were. Relentless? Perhaps. I am sure there are many who could do without opening the paper or their social media and getting Mandy-ed. 

Sometimes people say I’m ‘iconic’, which makes me sound like the Big Prawn. I kind of like that, in a kitch tyre swan painted white or letterbox on a stiff chain in your front yard kind of way. One day when I’m dead I’d like to think the community would raise money for a giant Mandy to put outside Bunnings. Perhaps where the hideous sculpture is now. A giant inappropriate undie-flashing old woman who was ‘almost’ famous, but sadly never made it in Brisbane. 

While we’re on this, in case of my sudden death let me put this on the record, that I would like to be posed sitting up in my coffin with one leg coming out and one arm in the air kind of punching out in defiance. Of what I’m not sure, possibly everything. (And I need to be wearing something really short so I can show my legs because everyone wants to see a dead lady’s legs at a funeral.) 

I’ve met lots of famous people. It’s always a bit weird because you don’t know what to say. There’s this instant power differential because even if you’re not a fan it’s almost impossible to meet a famous person and have a ‘normal’ conversation. Mainly because when you meet them you say sucky things because they don’t have the privilege or interest in knowing anything about you, because you’re not famous. 

I remember meeting Bono years ago after a concert. He’d given us tickets because he’d been a close friend of my partner’s brother (Michael Hutchence) who had died only a few months before. He wanted to meet us backstage after the Sydney U2 concert. So security found us, and then led us to the private party. I was swept past Keanu Reaves and Laurence Fishburne, out for filming Matrix; clearly they weren’t famous enough to go back to see Bono. I flipped Keanu the bird. We were led to a second holding pen – a famous-person checkpoint where the security got clearance that we could go back to the third level. 

We were then taken to the third level. Just a few uber-cool-looking peeps smashing tequila. No Bono here. It was like Spinal Tap. So much security! At last we made the final level. It felt like a video game. I thought this would be where the ‘real’ party was. But it was just the Edge on the phone and Bono sitting on his own. Wow, being that famous looked really boring. The medium-famous people were going off in level-one Famous. I should tell Bono. He looked like a tiny monk. And I have to say Bono was gorgeous and generous-natured; he hugged us and we sat down. I wasn’t sure what to say… ‘nice hoodie’ seemed like the obvious ice breaker. ‘I never really liked your music but you’re lovely and it’s nice to meet you’ just seemed ungracious and frankly plain rude. So I ran with the hoodie line. It worked. 

A few weekends ago I met Liam Hemsworth. It’s not that weird because Hemsworths are everywhere now. (Except Woolies – that’s mine.) I’d seen Liam’s film with my 10-year-old daughter a few weeks before so I said, ‘You were great in that film with Rebel Wilson. Hot and creepy.’ It was an opener so he could say, ‘Just like you’. But he didn’t. He just laughed weirdly and then went back to talking to Glenn Robbins. (Because famous people find it easier to talk to other famous people.) Damn! I blew it. I should have said ‘nice hoodie’. Worked with Bono.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Fame is unfortunate for some. A funny word
    too. It helps or causes us to lose friends ‘cos
    they think fame outranks them when really
    it’s just the luck of the draw. Being famous is
    not worth the effort unless there’s a craving
    for it. I mean – who in their right/left mind
    wants to be noticed all the time? Woolies is
    okay because there is a need to be there.
    Nah. It’s what we are that counts; forget
    the bull. Stay sane. I vote for a ‘Mandy
    outside Bunnings’. It’s got priceless
    written all over it.

  2. Just a cracker of an illustration. Had us both in stitches…and we’d contribute to that one going in on the Bayshore roundabout…….

  3. Mandy is a true Byron Bay legend …we from 1986 originals are near extinct …Mandy the Dinosaur of lexicon/ vocabulary Echo . We Dinosaurs want a huge Sculpture of Mandy on the drive in movie of Gates to The Cars that Ate Byron !


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Housing crisis and Council

Avital Sheffer, Mullumbimby Population growth in this Shire is inevitable like it or not. Those who are being pushed out by the unfolding housing tragedy are...

Flawed plan

Kai Beijerbacht, Mullumbimby For those of you who haven’t been living under a rock, I’m sure you are aware of the ever-increasing housing shortage crisis in...

Affordable myth

Patricia Warren, Brunswick Heads There is a ‘myth of affordable housing’ in Byron Shire. Well may councillors lament the lack of ‘affordable housing’ in Byron Shire but...

Midwife quits

Deb Walsh, Fernleigh It’s become untenable for me to continue working in hospitals. I have quit. I will be deregistered soon by my own choice. Working with...