The only gay home in the Aussie villageIT HAS been three years in the planning but Australia's first retirement home for gays and lesbians in Ballan is finally ready to roll. Developer Peter Dickson (pictured) has a new planning permit after redesigning the building to better accommodate the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (GLBTIQ) residents. Construction will begin next year but Dickson said there were still sceptics. "There are people believing this won't happen," he said. "You will see this built." There are 120 units and 220 expressions of interest, from as far as Turkey, but the crunch will come when it's time to lay down a deposit. The units will be built in five stages and named after Dickson's mother, Joan, and her sisters Sylvia, Lorraine, Dorothy and Val. Dickson is setting up an office in Collins Street and will hold an information night later in the year for those wanting to buy off the plan. The community centre was revamped to include unisex toilets and change rooms with cubicles to give people privacy. Dickson said his development was about inclusion, so heterosexuals could buy a unit or dine at the restaurant and cafe. Even buy a ticket to a show at the outdoor theatre.Elect to be democratic in AugustTHOSE big-brother billboards in the inner-city from the "Australian Interior Authority" referring to ID cards and curfews can now be explained as a campaign to promote Canberra's Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. What? You didn't make the connection? You didn't know the museum of social and political history existed? It's part of Julia Gillard's Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio and part of Simon Crean's ministry. The billboards, referring to the Stronger Australia Act, were a "Loss of freedom" advertising campaign to promote democracy. Donkey voters and informal voters will attest there is apathy about democracy, so the museum is holding "Have Your Say Day" on August 10 to engage the apathetic. The message being Australia is a bonzer country because we don't have ID cards or curfews. We live in a democracy. We can erect obscure billboards.Going Gaga over ChanelLADY Gaga is partial to a meat costume, cigarette glasses or Chanel bag. During her expedition to Sydney, the search was on to locate a vintage Chanel make-up case and her people called the Madam Virtue boutique, in Crossley Street, Melbourne. The owners, JC Lloyd-Southwell d'Anvers and Dean Hewitt, stock an assortment of treasures and voila! One 1980s caviar leather make-up case coming right up. The $2800 case was dispatched to Sydney and when Her Gaga-ness (pictured) went to New York, she was her understated self while parading in a black lace leotard, lace mask, her body wrapped in plastic, and holding the case. It's anyone's guess if she stores her eyeshadow and lipstick in the case or steak and lamb chops. Questions can be asked, especially by customs officers, when the performer tours down under with her costume collection next year. Ladies, if you want to impress the mothers at school pick-up, whisper this: "Chanel make-up cases and backpacks are the new gospel."Jeweller's pearls of wisdomJEWELLER Susan Pender has supplied Toorak's finest society cheekbones with pearl bracelets, earrings and necklaces for 40 years and is now based in Kingscliff, New South Wales, where she specialises in designs featuring animals and wildlife. Then there's her whimsical creations a flying pig lapel pin and horse's head brooch (ideal for a Godfather theme night). But there is one pest that doesn't sparkle in Pender's eyes. Her hobby is culling cane toads, catching them in her backyard and putting them in the freezer. Definitely not for cryonics and there's no chance she confuses the frozen toads with the frozen peas. Come garbage-collection day, the toads are turfed, freeing space in the freezer for the next batch. Pender is one of the most gentle cane-toad killers.