Penny Flanagan

Freelance writer


Penny Flanagan

Freelance writer: opinion, humour, news and social commentary. As seen in: The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Choice Magazine,,, and


Dear cafes, you can do better

Like most cafe-going folk, I am a creature of habit. I tend to frequent the same three on an endless loop. Recently, in the interests of breaking out of my cafe rut, I decided to expand my horizons. I wandered the high street of my suburb looking for a new haunt. There followed a veritable Goldilocks journey of disappointment ... in lieu of one that was "just right" I was bounced from one unsatisfying cafe to the next.

Do we expect too much from modern life?

After two days of driving around in a hot-wind machine on wheels, I declared to anyone who would listen that my car was now completely useless. I may as well abandon it by the side of the road, I shouted, waving my arms around like George Costanza. After two days of driving around in a hot-wind machine on wheels, I declared to anyone who would listen that my car was now completely useless.Credit:Shutterstock.

Penny Flanagan's twist on the Marie Kondo method

I recently did an audit of throw cushions and scented candles and the resulting data revealed an unhealthy obsession with both. The candle thing was particularly odd, given we are deep into the age of electricity. The Western world's obsession with stuff has been highlighted recently by the global popularity of Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

These types of people need to stop killing conversation

We are all proficient at tapping out witty texts and emails or engaging with each other on social media – where the algorithm leads us by the nose with prompts like "write a comment" or "what’s on your mind?" – but face-to-face engagement is going same way as the ability to read maps; it’s in danger of extinction.

If shops want us to buy things, could they please fix the change rooms?

Whenever I see news articles about perverts putting hidden cameras in women’s change rooms, all I can think is: Dear God in heaven, why?! Not because I’m appalled by the perverts, but because I have never in my life seen anything good in a women’s change-room mirror. When I step into a change-room cubicle, every element within conspires to make me feel unattractive and tense.

Penny Flanagan warns about 'The System'

Are there four more reviled words than these in motor registry offices, government departments, airport check-in desks and any other place where you're condemned to being the end user? What these four words basically herald is that the person behind the counter isn't able to use their logic and common sense to help you, lest they incur the wrath of The System.

Parents who brag about ATARs are the enemy of the state education system

It’s that time of year again when everyone starts talking about ATARs. But parents, we need to stop talking about ATARs. ATARs, Australian Tertiary Admissions Rankings, should be like babies who sleep through the night (if you’ve got one, no one wants to know about it) and fight club. You don’t talk about ATARs.

I traded a Spotify subscription for 24/7 access to my teens' location

My 15 year old son has gone into the city to play pool. I’m trying to read in bed, but I can’t relax until he’s home safe. If I sound neurotic to you, it’s probably because you don’t have a teenager. I have three teenage sons: Eldest (19), Twin One (15) and Twin Two (15). If this were the author's son, and it was after dark, she would be onto his whereabouts.

Penny Flanagan swears off customer loyalty programs

Every time I try to buy something, the salesperson puts up a virtual road block. It's the ultimate consumer buzz-kill because there's no way to make this question go away quickly. If you answer 'no' it gives them an immediate opening to bore your pants off with all the reasons you should be a member.

Dear Uber driver, please don't rate me down for not feeling chatty

I reckon I’m a model Uber rider. I’ve never vomited in an Uber, I don’t stink up the car with food, I say "please" and "thank you" and I’m always ready to go when they arrive. Sometimes I even stand outside my house and wave them in like an air traffic controller because I know the location pin on the app can be a bit screwy.

The dinner party is no longer serving its purpose

We’re all busy, so, when we want to get together, a dinner party seems the best way to kill multiple birds with one stone. But recently it has come to my attention that the dinner party as we currently know it is no longer serving its purpose. The last dinner party I attended, the hostess ended up barricading herself in the kitchen when the slow-cooked Greek lamb went awry due to a faulty oven thermometer.

Facing the divorced parent's elephant in the room

There’s an empty room down the hall. It’s got all his things in it: guitars, more pairs of Nike shoes than one boy needs, a corkboard full of photos and a well-thumbed copy of his favourite Australian novel. But he’s not there. He’s chosen, by default, to live at his dad’s house. Although, neither of us is prepared to admit that yet.


Penny Flanagan

Penny Flanagan is a Sydney-based writer. She is the author of three novels, 'Changing The Sky' (Hodder Headline, 1993) 'Sing To Me' (Penguin Books, 1998) 'Surviving Hal' (Puncher & Wattmann, 2019) and has had various short stories published in Meanjin, Imago and Picador New Writing anthologies. She is a prolific contributor to many high profile digital platforms such as - The Sydney Morning Herald,,, and Her specialty is humour and opinion but her skill is versatility: she can write in any style on any topic.



  • writing
  • editing
  • copy proofing
  • social media strategy
  • digital strategy
  • video content
  • video editing