Liz Smith: Helen Mirren Stands Up for Women in the World

The inimitable Dame Helen Mirren

And more from our Liz: The brand-new Bridge of Sighs … the Britons invade Paris … the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge tour Tuvalu … Catherine Crier’s new book

“Almost all of us celebrate festivals at this time of year. Doing so, we are reminded how good a whole year could be – if only we were wiser,” writes former Governor Mario Matthew Cuomo.

He’s right, as usual. Too bad he never ran for president of the United States.

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A YEAR’s end brava for the great Dame Helen Mirren. Did women of the world realize she stood up for them at this year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies in Oslo?

Helen hailed the fact that the Prize this year went to three women. But added that it was “slightly shameful statistically” that, while the event marked an extraordinary moment in the history, only 12 women have won it since it was created in 1901.

Otherwise, Helen, who swept the 2006 awards ceremonies for playing both Queen Elizabeth I and II, struck another blow for women months ago. That was when she appeared, looking quite ravishing and sexy, in a bikini someplace in Italy. Helen is age 66.

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If you plan to visit Venice in the near future, be reassured. The Bridge of Sighs has been unveiled after a three-year, $24 million restoration project.

Italians were busy putting unsightly looking advertising all over the bridge while the work took place, and this horrified the purists. But now the ads are gone, as well as the ugly black crust that had developed. Parts of this Bridge, which connected the old prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace, had fallen into the canal below.

Lord Byron named the Bridge way back, saying it was the last thing prisoners being led across the Bridge would ever see. It is expected 12 million visitors will see the Bridge of Sighs as it should be this very year.

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A burglar’s list was found on the streets of Oldham in Greater Manchester after it was dropped by a criminal who listed how easy it is to steal. Leading the list was the fact that people don’t lock their doors and windows — so the burglar, walking along, just keeps trying doorknobs until one opens.

Also, thieves do really well during the Christmas holidays. Homes are filled with expensive gifts. People have alarms but don’t put them on. Car keys are left in cars or by front and back doors. People also load their fireplace mantels with keys and valuable objects. Keys are under mats, near or by the door, easy to find.

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Coca-Cola has a new foothold (drink-hold?) in the Middle East. They bought half of Saudi Arabia’s leading drinks company, paying $980 million for a stake in Aujan Industries. This is an area where Pepsico always had a bigger share, historically … In other business news, if you go to Paris now, prepare to become just a little bit British. Marks & Spencer has opened a new outlet 150 yards up the Champs-Elysees toward the Arc de Triomphe after a ten-year absence. When doors opened recently, there was a stampede to buy scotch eggs, rich tea biscuits, pork pies, etc. No matter how mad the French are at Britons over the euro situation, they love Marks & Spencer.

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DID IT ever occur to you to visit Tuvalu? This is one of the tiniest nations on earth, situated in a remote island cluster of the South Pacific with only 10,000 population.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be paddled ashore in multi-colored canoes and carried through the streets by islanders in traditional dress. And that happens next year for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Coconut fibre is a big fashion statement on Tuvalu.

I can just imagine what the newlywed Royals said when told where they were going, “Can’t we just go to Paris to open up the new Marks & Spencer?”

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I want to recommend a book by a fellow Texan, one Catherine Crier. Formerly of the TV cadre, she is now writing political history in a world gone mad with ideological intransigence. The beautiful blonde, who lives in Bedford, New York, has put out “Patriot Acts: What Americans Must Do to Save the Republic.” None other than Ted Turner has praised Ms. Crier’s wisdom. (As you probably know, she is former judge and Emmy-winning journalist).

I saw Catherine recently at‘s Christmas party. She is as vivacious and charming as ever. What I remember best about her isn’t her wisdom, however; it’s her personal choice of being escorted down the aisle, when she got married, by her favorite dog.

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Better Watch Out, Better Not Cry! Division. There has been a bumper crop of mistletoe this year with more berries than ever. For the Romans, mistletoe represented peace, love and understanding. This was also a fertility symbol.

Kissing is inevitable – and very nice!

One Response so far.

  1. avatar Wiley Canuck says:

    This is an aside Liz but I can’t get over how suddenly Sara Palin has dropped from the headlines. It makes me think how we are so controlled by the media. On another topic, I enjoy your column and want to wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year – and more columns to come!!