Toilet paper limits, empty shelves are back as COVID-19 surges in US

NEW YORK: Looking for toilet paper? Good luck.

A surge of new COVID-19 cases in the US is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases.

Walmart said Tuesday (Nov 17) it’s having trouble keeping up with demand for cleaning supplies in some stores. Supermarket chains Kroger and Publix are limiting how much toilet paper and paper towels shoppers can buy after demand spiked recently. And Amazon is sold out of most disinfectant wipes and paper towels.

A similar scene played out back in March, when the pandemic first hit and people hunkered down in their homes.

READ: Pfizer ends COVID-19 trial with 95% success rate, paving way for a shot this year

A woman buys toilet paper at a market in Mount Lebanon in Pennsylvania on Nov 17, 2020. (Photo: AP/Gene J Puskar)

But Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, formerly the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said he doesn’t expect things to be as bad this go-around since lockdowns are being handled on a regional basis and everyone is better prepared.

“A more informed consumer combined with a more informed manufacturer and a more informed retailer should provide all of us with a greater sense of ease and ensure we can meet this growing demand,” Freeman said.

The biggest supply issue seems to be paper products: 21 per cent of shelves that stock paper towels and toilet paper are empty, the highest level in at least a month, according to market research company IRI.

READ: Lockdown 2.0: Food companies overhauled production to put more toilet paper, pasta sauce in stores

Virus-Outbreak Retail Shortages

Paper products are in short supply on the shelves of a Pittsburgh market on Nov 17, 2020. (Photo: AP/Gene J Puskar)

Cleaning supplies have remained level at 16 per cent. Before the pandemic, 5 per cent to 7 per cent of consumer goods were typically out of stock, IRI said.

Contributing to the problem is the fact that roughly 10 per cent of the workforce at manufacturing plants where the products are made are calling out sick, mainly because they’ve been in contact with others who were tested positive to COVID-19, Freeman said.

Kelly Anderson of Colorado Springs, Colorado, said she needs more supplies now that in-person school in her area was canceled earlier this month and her two children are at home more. She’s noticed others are stocking up, too: Safeway and Walmart were nearly wiped out of bottled water and disinfectant wipes during a recent visit, both of which had been easy to find since the summer.

READ: Germans start ‘hamstering’ toilet paper again as COVID-19 cases surge

Virus-Outbreak Retail Shortages

A notice is seen on a supermarket shelf in the United States. (Photo: AP)

It’s also been harder to find a time slot to get her groceries delivered. Anderson says she’s had to wait as many as two days instead of same-day delivery. But that’s still not as bad as earlier this year

“March seems like a million years ago, but I do remember freaking out,” she said. “I couldn’t get groceries delivered for a week.”

Walmart said while supplies are stressed in some areas, it thinks it will be able to handle any stockpiling now than earlier this year. Amazon said its working with manufacturers to get items such as disinfecting wipes, paper towels and hand sanitizer in stock.

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Drakes owner urges calm on toilet paper panic

A South Australian supermarket chain has called for calm as mass panic buying, caused by a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, surges across the state.

In a cheeky video posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Drakes Supermarkets Director John-Paul Drake said people needed to “calm the farm” amid the sudden increase in bulk toilet paper purchases.

Coles has already imposed a two-packet limit for shoppers in a bid to ensure the items remain available to other shoppers.

In his address to “the state of Radelaide”, Mr Drake said there was no need to panic buy as they had enough toilet paper to go from “here, end on end, to (the) SpaceX rocket that got launched the other day”.

“There is so much toilet paper – you don’t need to be buying this in bulk,” Mr Drake said.

Adamant to prove stocks would not be running low, Woolworths store granted NCA NewsWire access to its South Australian distribution centre, revealing thousands of rolls ready to go.

A Woolworths spokesman said the company was sending triple the volume of toilet paper to stores as it did last Tuesday to ensure toilet paper is available for our customers.

“We experienced higher than usual demand for toilet paper across our South Australian stores yesterday,” they said.

“Customers are encouraged to buy only what they need, as we’ll continue to receive extra orders of stock in our stores regularly.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and reassess product limits if needed.”

Mr Drake urged shoppers to be kind to team members who were working to keep shelves stocked.

“Our team learned some lessons from the first wave (of coronavirus), so we’ve ensured that our Distribution Centre in Edinburgh North is appropriately stocked,” he said.

“Some shelves may be a bit low for now, but we can assure you that more stock is on its way.

“We’re already in talks with our supplier partners to ensure we can access more if required.”

In response to the panic buying, Coles has implemented a two packet limit on buying toilet paper.

A Coles spokesman said the purchase limits in SA were to ensure more customers had access to staple items.

“Effective from today, the limits apply at all Coles supermarkets and Coles Express stores in SA, as well as Coles Online orders for customers in SA,” they said.

“The limits do not currently apply to any other states or products, however we will continue to monitor stock levels and ask that customers purchase only what they need.”

Many people took to social media to show toilet paper, bread and gym equipment had flown off shelves at a number of supermarkets.

The retail workers union Secretary Josh Peak said it was caused by people being concerned of a shortage and the stress the pandemic has put on locals.

“The community is anxious and stressed out and unfortunately their lashing out at retail workers who are not only getting the panic buying but are also seeing an increase in customer abuse again,” he said on ABC Radio.

“We just need to remain claim. SA will get through this but we don’t need to put our retail workers through this additional stress for no reason.

“Our supply chain is very well stocked. We do not need to have rush on products. The only thing that causes a shortage is the rush itself so it’s really important that South Australians remain calm, do their usual shopping and make sure we have plenty on the shelves for all of us to share.”

The empty shelves come as SA’s Parafield cluster, which was announced on Sunday, grows to 23 known and suspected linked cases.

It was the first recorded community transmission since April.

The state now has a number of tougher restrictions put in place as a result, which came into effect as of midnight on Monday.

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Candice Warner, Sonny Bill Williams, toilet tryst, sex, interrogation

Candice Warner was once again made to re-live an ugly episode from her past, opening up about her encounter with Sonny Bill Williams on Monday night’s episode of SAS Australia.

As part of a trust exercise on the Channel 7 reality show, the celebrity contestants were asked to share with the group something they regret and are ashamed about.

Not for the first time this series, Warner opened up about her night with Williams at Sydney’s Clovelly Hotel in 2007, when the pair were photographed by a member of the public in the bathroom together.

The former Ironwoman, now married to Australian cricket star David Warner, told her fellow contestants: “A long time ago, when I was young, I got myself in a compromising position, which I regret. It had a huge impact on my family. Huge.”

Asked what the “situation” was, Warner refrained from referencing the incident with the then-Canterbury Bulldogs player directly, but spoke about the impact her drunken mistake from 13 years ago continues to have on her life.

“So … it was just a personal situation. Too many drinks,” she said.

“Living with that and having to explain to my kids in the future is going to be very difficult. Especially when you’ve got three girls.

“I remember sitting on the side of the street and not being able to take it anymore. And just thinking, ‘If this is what life’s about then I can’t take it anymore’.”

Speaking to camera, Warner added: “Yes, I’d made a mistake. But is that really worth, every single day, the media trying to drag me down? I don’t think so.”

RELATED: Candice spills on David’s cheating scandal

Warner had previously spoken on SAS Australia about her tryst with Williams, who was celebrating a win with his Bulldogs teammates when the pair hooked up.

Earlier in the series she revealed she was still haunted by her liaison with the famous football star.

“It is something I am not proud of but something I can never take back,” Warner said.

“I put myself in a situation where I shouldn’t have and because of that I brought embarrassment (and) shame to my family.”

The incident has continued to follow Warner in her life. During the Australian cricket team’s ill-fated tour of South Africa in 2018, when the ball tampering scandal occurred, Candice was mocked by fans wearing Williams face masks at the second Test in Port Elizabeth.

“There were incidents in South Africa where people were trying to make fun of me, mock me. Belittle me in front of my family,” Warner previously told SAS.

“Because of an incident that happened in the past. And they think it’s funny.”

During that same tour, David revealed why he had to be physically restrained by teammates when confronting South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock in a Durban stairwell mid-match after hearing a “vile” comment the player allegedly made about his wife.

“I cop it left, right and centre, especially off the field from spectators and I’m used to that and it doesn’t bother me,” Warner said at the time.

“But in a proximity of my personal space and from behind me, a comment that was vile and disgusting about my wife, and in general about a lady, was quite poor, I felt.

“My emotional response was just something that I don’t believe should have been said and I’ll always stick up for my family and in that case my teammates as well.”

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Australians shopping from bed, the toilet and the pub

The research found 54 per cent of people were shopping from bed during the pandemic. Meanwhile, 33 per cent were going to shopping centres, only slightly more than the 28 per cent who reported shopping from the toilet. One in four were shopping from the pub and one in five from the gym.


Busy families with children at home and people under the age of 45 were the most likely to say convenience and enjoyable new brands would keep them shopping online in the future. Women aged 65 and over were the most likely to have increased online shopping during the pandemic but this was driven more by concerns about the virus than enthusiasm about the e-commerce experience.

Many of the changes look set to stay; 50 per cent said they would not return to their old habits when a vaccine is available, while 28 per cent said they did not expect to ever go back.

Joanna Mendelssohn, a retired academic from Dulwich Hill, said her shopping habits had changed for good.

She previously bought whisky from a shop in Double Bay and cosmetics from David Jones in the city and was buying both online now. She also recently bought a washing machine online but she tended to go online with a mission to buy something specific rather than to browse.

Ms Mendelssohn has also ditched her regular trip to Broadway Shopping Centre in Glebe, which has Coles, Aldi, Harris Farm, Kmart and specialty retailers. Instead she is doing a lot more shopping at the Dulwich Hill shops.

“I just walk up the hill and there’s a lovely IGA, there’s a fantastic butcher, lots of cafes, where you can sit down and have an outdoor coffee, and a friendly branch of Gleebooks,” she said.

“I have a dog and I live in an apartment so I have to go out every day. I can’t see myself ever going back to the city except to go to the art gallery.”

GraysOnline chief executive Chris Corbin said there was an initial spike in online shopping in April-May but the trend had persisted. The online retailer’s web traffic was still double what it was at the same time last year.

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Candice Warner, Sonny Bill Williams, toilet tryst, photos, video, David Warner, IPL, cricket, NRL news

Candice Warner has been forced to address her regrettable night with Sonny Bill Williams at the Clovelly Hotel on SAS Australia.

In a harrowing interrogation scene on the Channel 7 program that will be aired this series, the Daily Mail reports Candice, 35, confesses: “In my early 20s I made a very big mistake.”

Now married to cricket star David Warner and a mother of three daughters, Candice continues to be haunted by a drunken moment that happened 13 years ago.

“It is something I am not proud of but something I can never take back,” she says.

“I put myself in a situation where I shouldn’t have and because of that I brought embarrassment (and) shame to my family.”

A member of the public used a mobile phone to capture the hook-up between Candice and Williams at the Clovelly Hotel in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on a Saturday night in April, 2007.

At the time Candice, 22, was an iron woman and Williams, 21, was playing for the Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL. Bulldogs players were celebrating their win over the South Sydney Rabbitohs the night before.

The pair met at the establishment where they started dancing and kissing.

A friend of Candice’s, Llara Rope, told the ABC the pair were “drunk” and “messy”.

Williams’ manager at the time Gavin Orr said his client was extremely drunk that night.

“He had been there since 2pm and I know he was really blind,’’ Orr said. “I don’t know anything about Candice Falzon — all I was told was that Sonny Bill was taken home in a taxi by (teammate) Willie Mason’s girlfriend just before midnight.’’

According to reports, Williams — who had a girlfriend at the time — allegedly went so far as to buy as many newspapers as he could in his local area so his partner wouldn’t find out about his public displays with another woman. He said he was so drunk he couldn’t remember the encounter.

“I know it sounds so stupid saying I can’t remember,” Williams said. “But I can honestly say I don’t remember anything.”

Shortly after the incident was made public Falzon said: “Nothing happened — it was blown out of proportion.” Her then-manager Max Markson said she was “terribly embarrassed” and she later revealed her regret about what transpired.

“I’ve made a mistake and I’m very, very sorry about it,” Falzon said. “I’m conscious of my image as a sportswoman and I’ve got a responsibility to young people. Young girls look up to me.”

Speaking to ABC program Australian Story in 2008, Candice said she wasn’t thinking about what impact her actions would later have.

“I wasn’t in a state where I didn’t know what happened, but you don’t think of how your actions, when you’re drunk, can have an affect on your life,” she said.

“You really don’t. You are in your own little zone. Although you are conscious of what you’re doing, you’re not really.”

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph in 2012, she revealed how the constant scrutiny and public pressure drove her to thinking about taking her own life.

“I did get a lot of media attention at a young age and I hadn’t had a lot of results,” she said. “I think people felt like I didn’t deserve the attention. I can understand that — all my intentions ever were to try to promote the sport and try to get ironwoman racing in everyone’s mind.

“At a young age, I had this profile and I think people forgot how young I was and they felt they could say whatever they wanted.”

Candice had to deal with “repulsive” slurs made by people passing her in the street in her own country, which “really cut” her.

But years after the encounter with Williams, she was able to put the storm behind her.

“I have come out the other end. It’s not part of my thinking. It’s something that happened, that got really out of control in the media,” she said in 2012.

“I have come out of it a different and a better person.”

That hasn’t stopped others bringing it up.

Candice and David Warner were the subject of ugly taunts during the Australian cricket team’s Test tour of South Africa in 2018.

During the first Test, Warner confronted South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock in a stairwell in Durban after he allegedly made a comment about Candice.

Both players were charged with breaching the code of conduct.

The taunts continued during the second Test in Port Elizabeth when some spectators wore masks of Williams to the ground.

Warner opened up about why he had to be physically retrained by teammates after hearing the “vile” comment de Kock made about his wife.

“I cop it left, right and centre, especially off the field from spectators and I’m used to that and it doesn’t bother me,” Warner said.

“But in a proximity of my personal space and from behind me, a comment that was vile and disgusting about my wife, and in general about a lady, was quite poor, I felt.

“My emotional response was just something that I don’t believe should have been said and I’ll always stick up for my family and in that case my teammates as well.”

SAS Australia sees Aussie celebrities take on a series of physical and psychological tests from the real special forces selection process.

An elite team of ex-Special Forces soldiers is subjecting them to extreme physical endurance, sleep deprivation, interrogation and psychological testing, pushing the stars beyond their limits every step of the way.

Unfortunately for Candice that has meant dredging up the past, even after she attempted to put the matter to bed for good after the South Africa tour.

“I finally received a weak apology from Cricket South Africa (for the fan taunts). I realised they’re the ones to feel ashamed, not me,” she said after returning home.

“I’d like to extend that apology to Sonny Bill. He’s a husband and father, so imagine how his wife would feel and his kids.

“It’s time to put it to rest and get on with things that matter.”

If only.

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Germans start ‘hamstering’ toilet paper again as COVID-19 cases surge

October 22, 2020

BERLIN (Reuters) – Sales of toilet paper and disinfectants are on the rise again in Germany, the country’s statistics office said on Thursday, as Europe’s largest economy struggles with a second coronavirus wave.

“Hamster purchases are starting again,” the office said on Twitter, using a German phrase for panic-buying or hoarding.

Sales of toilet paper surged by 89.9% last week when compared to pre-crisis levels, while disinfectants (up 72.5%) and soap (up 62.3%) were also in high demand, it said in a separate statement.

Germany has had more success in containing the pandemic than other large European countries such as Britain and France, but case numbers have increased steadily over the past weeks.

On Thursday Germany for the first time reported more than 10,000 new daily COVID-19 infections.

Data released in April showed that stocking up on daily essentials ahead of anticipated lockdown and quarantine measures caused German retail sales to surge far beyond expectations in February.

(Reporting by Thomas Seythal)

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Private White House briefings led investors to short market and stock up on toilet paper, report says

Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters after a TV interview outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, DC on October 9, 2020.

mandel ngan/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Private briefings from two senior White House aides to a conservative institution at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak led investors to short the stock market and even load up on toilet paper, according to a published report.

According to the New York Times

That led William Callanan, a Hoover board member, to write a memo to David Tepper, the founder of hedge fund Appaloosa Management, and a Tepper aide, the report said. Callanan allegedly wrote that he found it striking that they both mentioned their concerns, unprovoked. The email was then circulated to other Appaloosa employees, who discussed the memo with other investors. The report said the memo helped convince investors to short the stock market.

Philipson, publicly, told a business conference the White House was taking a “wait-and-see” approach on the economic impact, which he limited to the fallout on the U.S. from Chinese lockdowns. Philipson also pointed out the deaths from flu each year don’t make a material impact on the economy.

“We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s] airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight,” Kudlow said on CNBC.

Callanan told the New York Times the confidential memo the newspaper received was different from what he sent to Tepper, though he didn’t say in what way, and that it was based on extensive research and publicly available information. The report said Callanan also briefed another well-known investor. Callanan, now a consultant, previously had stints at Soros Fund Management, Duquesne Capital and Fortress Investment Group.

Tepper, also the owner of the Carolina Panthers NFL team, initially denied receiving the memo before later telling the New York Times that Appaloosa already had placed its bet on the market to fall before receiving it.

Tepper did raise concerns publicly about coronavirus at the beginning of February.

Philipson said he doesn’t remember the specifics of his talk to Hoover, though he acknowledged making comments to that effect. Kudlow said he didn’t think his comments to Hoover were any different than he had made on CNBC, and pointed out the case tally at the time was less than 20.

The New York Times report didn’t identify who stocked up on toilet paper.

The S&P 500

topped out on Feb. 19, and had only fallen 1.5% by the time the Hoover briefings began. The S&P 500 was down by 13% from its peak by the end of the week.

The benchmark index is up 8% this year.

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Indian Woman Tortured in ‘Toilet Jail’ for Over a Year by Husband


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Sputnik International

The northern state of Haryana is among the worst three in India when it comes to crimes against women, per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. The state’s crime rate against women was 108.5 (per 100,000 people) in 2019. Assam and Rajasthan are also on the list.

In a harrowing example of brutality against women, a 35-year-old Indian housewife was locked inside a toilet for more than a year and a half before she was rescued by Haryana police on Wednesday. While the woman’s husband claimed that she was “mentally unstable”, her rescuers denied the charge. 

Naresh, the woman’s husband, alleged that his wife showed no improvement despite several visits to the doctor, which prompted him to take the extreme measure. He claimed that the woman wouldn’t listen to his instructions.

Surender Dahiya, head of the Sanoli police station, said a case has been registered against the accused under Sections 498A (domestic violence) and 342 of the Indian Penal Code. The couple has been married for the last 17 years and shares three children.

“We found her locked inside the toilet. During the investigation, it was found that she had been forced to live in inhuman conditions for the past one and a half years. She was not even provided proper food and drinking water”, Women Protection and Child Marriage Prohibition Officer Rajni Gupta, who led the rescue effort in the village of Rishipur, informed the media.

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Sonny Bill Williams reinvented himself after Candice Falzon toilet tryst

The world remembers Sonny Bill Williams was “ashamed and embarrassed” as his own chief executive declared his career was hanging by a thread following his infamous toilet cubicle tryst with Candice Warner.

The world also remembers the way Williams returned to the NRL a changed man when he first signed with the Roosters in 2013.

His story is often told as a wild superstar given too much too soon before hitting rock bottom and returning as a conquering hero.

That story forgets the entire first act of the saga.

The truth of the 35-year-old’s resurrection ahead of his second comeback to the NRL with the Roosters against the Raiders in Canberra on Saturday night after six years away is that the Bulldogs were both the source of and solution to his early-career crisis.

Williams has spoken countless times about his corruption at the hands of Canterbury’s work-hard, play-hard culture.

When he left the Bulldogs in the greatest walk-out scandal the game has ever known to jump ship to French Rugby despite having more than four years left on a $2 million contract he was not the same person that arrived at the club as a 16-year-old from New Zealand.

“When I was a youngster, I fell off. I never touched alcohol until I made first grade,’’ he said in 2013.

“Growing up I was really dedicated to my craft and just wanted to be best I could be.

“I lost my way for a couple of years there but I’m proud to say I’m proud of the man I see in the mirror.’’

Williams won a premiership with the Bulldogs in his first season playing in the NRL at the age of 18, slotting into one of the best teams the NRL has ever seen.

An impressionable teenager Williams was seduced almost immediately.

In 2005 he was fined $10,000 for the Bulldogs when he pleaded guilty to drink driving while on his P-Plate.

His license was suspended for five months.

In 2007 he was fined by police for urinating in public and then hit rock bottom when news of his drunken toilet cubicle tryst with former ironwoman star Candice Falzon inside a Kings Cross nightclub made headlines around the world.

Williams was in a long-term relationship with ex-girlfriend Genna Shaw at the time — leading Williams to give an emotional front page confession that he was “ashamed and embarrassed” by the scandal.

It was the scandal that planted the seeds for Williams’ transformation into the textbook role model the world knows him as today.

In that same year he gave up alcohol for six months — his first of many booze bans until his eventual decision to give up the drink entirely after converting to his Muslim faith.

The scandal also planted the seeds for his infamous walk out on the Bulldogs 12 months later.

Williams was forced by the club to admit he had a drinking problem — something he says he never had — after a third alcohol-related incident left his career at a crossroads, according to former Bulldogs boss Malcolm Noad.

“It has also been pointed out to Sonny that should there be any further incidents he’s in danger of cutting short a very promising career,” Noad said at the time.

Williams’ response showed even then his career at the club was on borrowed time.

“I got hung out to dry,” Williams said of the club’s reported decision to make him announce that he would seek help.

“The CEO says stand here and say that,” Williams said. “It’s like you’ve been naughty and that’s just the fastest way to make it right. I was very pissed off that I had to say I had a drinking problem because the only problem I had was being naive.”

As reported this week by The Daily Telegraph’sJamie Pandaram, Williams’ desertion was a twisted, complex dispute — but ultimately could have been solved if the Bulldogs had agreed to pay the $90,000 interest owing on Williams’ Caringbah home.

The Bulldogs held tight on the contract in place and Williams boarded a flight to France.

It was revealed at the time Anthony Mundine and agent Khoder Nasser were behind Williams’ defection after Williams also abandoned his former management.

It was claimed at the time the pair brainwashed Williams.

What they actually did was mould him into the player that will walk out onto GIO Stadium on Saturday night as one of the most admired and respected athletes in the country.

Shortly after linking with Nasser in 2008, Williams converted to Islam.

With a clean slate in French Rugby, Williams talked the talk and walked the walk, abstaining from alcohol on the spot — something he has never wavered from 11-years later.

“The first thing I cut down was no drinking, then from no drinking you cut down being out late, you’re up early in the morning,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2011.

“You get those looks from the boys like, ‘What are you doing?’

“I’ve had obviously the drink-driving, the thing with Candice [Warner] in the toilet, getting caught pissing in the alleyway, but those things have made me who I am today, I wouldn’t change that,” Williams says.

“If I hadn’t done those mistakes I probably wouldn’t have stopped drinking. It’s difficult because you’ve had it, you’ve experienced those highs and having a laugh, that’s why you miss it. But it’s not difficult aside from that, I know I’m better off without it. I don’t make stupid mistakes, my body feels better without it.

“If I hadn’t made those mistakes because I was blind … for me it’s like a 360. I never used to drink until I was 18, until I played first grade for Canterbury.”

This was the man that was so revered in his first return to the Roosters that the entire team went on a booze ban during the 2013 season as they went on to win the NRL premiership.

In 2014 his resurrection was completed by the whirlwind romance and marriage to Alana Raffie in a secret ceremony after just a six-month courtship.

The couple have since welcomed four children — daughter Iman, 5, daughter, Aisha, 4, son Zaid, 2, and seven-month-old son Essa.

The beautiful family would never have grown so perfectly without those mistakes that turned Williams’ life around.

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The hidden toilet humour in a Titian masterpiece

Smack dab in the centre of his canvas, Titian has carefully, if curiously, positioned a caper flower, whose ivory petals and radiant bristle of exploding stamens are rendered with meticulous botanical detail. Follow the trajectory of the caper’s strangely overextended pistil and it catches in its stigma’s crosshairs the floating crotch of Bacchus, who, blasted from his seat, is frozen forever in mid-air, in what is surely among the most ungainly poses in all of art history.

A mischievous levitation

That the Latin name for the caper flower, Capparis spinosa, is related to the Italian word capriolare (meaning ‘to jump in the air’), is a droll enough visual/verbal play to suggest that Titian is intentionally teasing us with the placement of the prickly perennial plant directly under the bouncing Bacchus. But it is the plant’s medicinal use, since antiquity, as a natural carminative (or remedy for excessive flatulence) that reveals the artist is truly letting rip with some mischievous fun. In the context of Titian’s carefully deployed caper, Bacchus’s explosive propulsion from his seat appears more wittily, if crudely, choreographed by Titian, who demystifies the lovestruck levitation by providing us with a more down-to-earth explanation for the cheeky lift-off. In Titian’s retelling of Ovid’s myth, Bacchus has been hoisted by his own pungent petard, as Shakespeare, who likewise loved toilet humour, might have said.

Famously fond of flatulence himself, Shakespeare couldn’t resist squeezing potty puns into his plays. Hanging in the air behind the phrase ‘thereby hangs a tail’, from Othello, for example, is the lingering whiff of broken wind. Rather than crude blemishes that besmirch his plays’ achievement, however, such coarse scents attest to Shakespeare’s full range of observation, his depth of sensitivity to every clench and contour of being here. They show that, in capturing all of life, Shakespeare holds nothing back (or in) and that his works embrace all of human experience – the serious and the silly, the melodious and discordant, the fragrant and the foul.

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