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


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.

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.

It is possible to rebuild a smashed friendship, I know because I did

Three years ago I stood outside her house looking in. The front door was open, it was a warm Sunday afternoon in spring. Her front garden smelled sweetly of jasmine. I was carrying my guitar, the way I had all those years ago as a teenager. I hesitated, not knowing if it was okay to just barge on in.

Confessions of an e-commerce addict

And somehow Google, browser cookies and my Facebook data have created the perfect storm for cheap clothing sites from China to exploit my weakness. They know exactly what I want before I even want it. When an ad for a floaty “cotton blend” top appeared on my Facebook feed I couldn’t look away. And to seal the deal, it was endorsed by one of my most stylish Facebook “friends.”.

11 things 20-somethings shouldn’t wear

THERE are a lot of articles going around with this title: “## things 40 something women should never wear.”. And 20 per cent of those articles are all right-on, “Hey ladies, don’t wear the weight of other people’s expectations,” while the other 80 per cent are actually a list of things we over-40s shouldn’t be wearing.

Read The Room NSW Police: Here's The Ditty You Should Have Posted On Facebook

First thing’s first. I’m not a cop hater. I think cops are tops. It’s a difficult job and someone’s gotta do it. The boys in blue, the thin blue line and all that. I’m into it. But lately the NSW Police seem to have missed the memo on the whole #MeToo thing. They often post pithy, funny things on Facebook to remind us all to stay safe, and that’s great.

OPINION: Our "freerange" childhoods have left us terrified

There is a lot of talk about the way our generation is parenting our children. Too involved, too overbearing and too overprotective. But have you ever considered that there may be a reason we are so afraid for our children? When I was a kid the big white house on the corner was notorious. There was a pool in the courtyard and you could see it through the small circular openings in the wall.

Mums, the 'other woman' is not always your enemy

No matter what you think of her, there is one special reason the other women should never be your enemy. When my son turned 18, he requested an all-in dinner for his birthday. ‘All-in’ meaning: me, his brothers, his father and his stepmother. We have been divorced for seven years now and while the initial shock of how quickly men move on was stupefying, I have since realised how lucky my kids are to have another good woman in their lives.

11 ways to be socially awkward

THERE are many ways to be socially awkward. I know this, because I am an expert. Throughout my life I have uncovered myriad ways to create a portable miasma of vague discomfort. If you are a novice and you would like to learn how to do it, you’ve come to the right place. I have tried and tested all of these methods and I can guarantee that these moments will not only be awkward at the time, but they will revisit you throughout your life to remind you what an enormously awkward goober you really are.

11 things that haven't changed for women since 1912

Prison terms, hunger strikes, force-feeding, police beatings and loss of access to children. This is what the foot soldiers of feminism endured to achieve equal rights for British women in the early 20th century. Was it worth it? Has anything really changed? Warning: radical feminist content. I consider myself a pretty fair-minded sort of gender equality believer.


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.



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