Men of Letters

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about privacy and the fine lines that criss-cross over the whole idea. Recapping Women of Letters events has become somewhat of a habit, and there was totally that one time that Marieke Hardy read my recap and thanked me for it which made my life. But I read this article this morning and have had second thoughts. What goes down at these events is public in the sense that several hundred people attend and listen to the letters. But it is also intrinsically private. Some letters tell stories of unimaginable grief, some of childhood secrets, some detail personal relationships. All of them are touching and many of them are funny, even amongst sadness. But it’s made me think twice about some of the detail I put into my recaps. Although the letters are often reproduced in anthologies or online, it is always with the writer’s permission. Their stories are not mine to retell, however summarised they might be. So I’ll keep going to these events, and I’ll keep laughing and crying and appreciating, but I don’t think I’ll keep recapping.

I will say this: yesterday I went to my first ever Men of Letters event, and it was fabulous. 11 men – Casey Bennetto, Glenn Robbins, Gideon Haigh, Peter Russell-Clarke, Tony Wheeler, Richard Flanagan, Brian Mannix, Sam Cooney, Frankie J Holden, Bert Labonte and Derryn Hinch – were writing to ‘The Woman Who Changed My Life’. Some wrote to wives, daughters, mothers, friends, some to women who were no longer with us, some who were sitting in the Regal Ballroom listening. One letter was written to the ocean, one to Marieke Hardy herself, and one to Brittanica – definitely three of the most enthralling letters I have ever heard.

I’ve already bought my ticket to next month’s event, and I’m so excited to hear that this show is going even more global than before (Britain and Ireland yeow!). Also, the third anthology is being launched next month! Hopefully, there’ll be plenty more to come.

Advertisements

Women of Letters recap

The sun was absolutely blazing when we walked down High St Northcote, and we had to wait for our eyes to adjust when we entered the cool, dim Regal Ballroom. This afternoon both Michaela McGuire and Marieke Hardy were present, along with a line-up of wonderful women who were writing to the theme ‘a letter to the thing I lost’.

First up was singer-songwriter Rebecca Barnard, who wrote to her car, lost deep in the labyrinthine bowels of the Crown Casino carpark. She described perfectly the creeping, irrational anxiety we have all felt when losing our bearings in a sea of parking spaces, complete with thinking up various rapist deterrents, which in Rebecca’s case included shooting them in the face with breast milk. She told us of her utter and desperate relief upon finding the parking attendant, and apologising to him for ‘having no spatial awareness because I’m so hormonal at the moment’. A side-splitting letter to start off a potentially devastating topic.
Next up was the simply glorious slam poet Maxine Beneba Clarke. She performed her letter in a glorious mix of spoken word and song, and wrote to her fears, specifically to her fears for her children. Her voice sent shivers through me, and the ballroom was completely speechless as we listened. She spoke of the most terrible things she could imagine happening to them, and when juxtaposed with lines like ‘the truth is we walked death row before we learned to crawl’ and ‘these fears will drift like powdered charcoal on the wind’, it made for an almost surreal experience. The applause was long and loud.
Culinary queen Stephanie Alexander was next. She wrote to a beloved letter from her ‘guru’, the food writer Elizabeth David, who she tragically never met properly in the flesh. Stephanie is a Francophile who was heavily influenced by Elizabeth David’s writings, but it was Stephanie’s prose that had the audience completely and utterly drawn in. Her letter was articulate, masterful and clear, and there was an audible groan when she revealed at the end that she had lost the treasured letter from her hero!

Randa Abdel-Fattah, author and academic, wrote one of the most intense letters I have heard. She wrote to her composure, and put us in vivid context – travelling with her elderly father and her young daughter, trying to get through the checkpoints to the Palestinian West Bank to see her father’s birthplace and her grandfather’s grave. As Randa marvelled at the patience of the Palestinians she shared the bus with, knowing it was a normal, everyday experience that they had to deal with, she was infuriated by the treatment dealt to them. ‘Those who are denied their human rights do not have the luxury of despair’. Thankfully, Randa and her father managed to obtain a 7-day pass, which was better than nothing. You could have heard a pin drop in the ballroom as she read.

Finally, Gorgi Coghlan brought the entire place to tears with her letter to the deceased child of a close friend. The bereavement was fresh, but Gorgi wrote with warmth and heart in the face of what was obviously the rawest of experiences. She acknowledged that while there was nothing good that could ever possibly come from such a tragedy, such things can help us remember to find the good in our own lives we’re lucky enough to still have. Keeping a clean house pales in comparison with keeping a happy family. Stories and laughter and songs are more important than timetables and groceries. And on that note, the reading was finished, and we had a break to buy more drinks, write our own letters, and listen to a very entertaining Q & A!

I think my favourite thing about Women of Letters is that it exposes you to a range of people and experiences you would not otherwise have come across, all linked by a common thread. It really drives home the similarities we share, whatever someone’s circumstances, and the understanding that transcends differences and binds us together.

Women of Letters recap

Okay, so I lied in my last recap when I said it would probably be my last recap for a while. As soon as I found out the lineup for this event, I jumped online to find it had already sold out, and my couple of days of hesitation had cost me a ticket to the lineup I was perhaps looking forward to more than any other WoL event I had attended, ever. So, I moped for a month, then in the days leading up to the event I stalked the Facebook and Twitter pages obsessively hoping someone would have a spare ticket to unexpectedly get rid of. Thanks to Elyse, best person in the world, she found some this morning and promptly snapped me one up. So I headed to the Regal Ballroom, in my new and improved traffic-free route (ie. NOT Punt Road) and met up with Elyse and co!

Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire were at Splendour in the Grass (half their luck!) and our wonderful host today was musician and actress (and WoL alumni), Clare Bowditch. The host plays such an important part in these salons, and she did not disappoint, introducing each guest and giving us some kind of insightful comment that tied back to the letters that had been read. And she looked beautiful, as usual. The theme today? A letter to my temptation.

First up was Estelle Tang, writer, bibliotherapist (ahem, awesome!) and personal hero of mine. Estelle wrote to Gwyneth Paltrow, and the weekly newsletter sent out by Paltrow’s company- Goop. This was a cheeky letter, relishing in the more outlandish statements made by Paltrow – including the phrase ‘I would rather die than let my kids eat Cup-A-Soup’ – and poking fun at the ludicrously expensive items on the weekly newsletter available for purchase. Estelle has subscribed to Goop, and continues to read the newsletter every week, and I must confess, I am quite curious myself. Estelle’s timing and delivery was flawless, and it was an riotously good letter to kick of the salon with.

Next up was musician Joanna Nilson. She listed a number of temptations throughout her letter, trying to decide what was her biggest one. Her letter was 8 parts hilarious, 2 parts utterly devastating, and included musings on smoking (“a more thrillingly dangerous version of chewing my nails”), booze, marijuana and other, harder drugs (though her paragraph on heroin and its utter shitness was sobering after all the laughing we’d been doing), food (chocolate, cheese…basically everything I enjoy as well) and a glowing reference to the town she was from as “a herpes sore on the twat of the nation”. Eventually she mentioned her final temptation – bad men – and listed a Greatest Hits of her “man-baby boyfriends” which, again, had us in stitches. Her accurate and painful description of the depression she experienced after a particular break-up really hit home, and it was this which made her decide she needed to avoid terrible boys above all else.

Judith Lucy, comedian and author, began her letter with the sentence “Annoyingly, I don’t have many temptations left”. She then went on to wax lyrical about her oldest and dearest temptation – television. Her letter was, predictably, gut-bustingly hilarious and included phrases such as “Mum would have to physically lock me out of the house so I could get some sunshine”. Her reading included singing, and a demonstration of how she used to watch a wall-mounted, fridge-sized television (hint: it involved lying flat across the WoL table with her legs crooked as though she were “watching Gilligan’s Island with [her] genitals”. Impressions of Days of Our Lives (her favourite soap) and the mention of something called ‘Dr Feather Weather’s Wonderful Workshop’ rounded out one of the funniest letters I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing.

An audible ripple ran through the ballroom as Kat Stewart took the mic. Was it because her character on Offspring is making crazy storyline waves in the show, or was it just because she’s amazing? It didn’t matter. Kat’s letter was an ode to motherhood, and trying to achieve a work/life balance. It was honest, and it was touching. Her love for her son cannot be contained in words, but she did her darndest to communicate it, with phrases like “his laugh makes me euphoric”. She spoke about the longing she felt for another baby, a sibling for her son who she adores unconditionally, and the simultaneous longing to continue working, and creating and being artistic, and having a life that was hers, and not held in place by a baby. She mentioned a book, The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood, which sounds amazing (and includes a contribution from Clare Bowditch) that elaborates on the topic. I don’t think she knew which longing (temptation) would win out, but it was obvious that this is a subject close to many women’s hearts.

Finally, we had Libbi Gorr, broadcaster and author. Libbi wrote to Kate Middleton. More specifically, she wrote to the temptation she continually gives into – wishing she was Kate Middleton. In fact, one of the only times she didn’t want to be Kate Middleton, was when she wanted to be her sister, Pippa, instead. And one of the strongest reasons for wanting to be Kate Middleton, is because her mother is Carole Middleton. The tongue-in-cheekness of this letter was countered by the rather sweet and poignant realisation, that she didn’t really want to be Kate Middleton, because wishing to be Kate Middleton means wishing away her own life, and all the richness of it. (Also it would mean wishing away her other temptation of wanting to be Jane Kennedy). She finished by acknowledging how difficult it would be to be Kate Middleton, and how Kate Middleton probably wishes at times that she could be Libbi Gorr – being allowed to tell people to ‘fuck off’ for example. She listed some affirmations for Kate which we had to repeat back to her, and took her seat amidst of shower of laughter and applause.

In the break I wrote a question for the panel (as we are invited to) without really expecting it to be read. But it was read! Yay! But it wasn’t answered, because my question was “Will Billie die on Offspring?” and that would violate the terms of Clare Bowditch and Kat Stewart’s contracts to tell us. Boo. It’s probably for the best. Because if the answer was “yes”, I’d be inconsolable and avoid the show, but if the answer was “no”, I’d work myself into a knot of anxiety wondering if it will be Jimmy or Patrick instead, and I really don’t want any of them to go. Sigh.

Women of Letters recap

I tried to treasure this experience more than usual today because I am entering a stage of the year where I may not be able to keep Sundays free anymore. Missing Women of Letters is not fun, but I’m sure I have other anthologies to look forward to, and perhaps more writers will post their letters a few weeks or months down the track on their personal websites (like Bindi Cole and Jess McGuire etc). Anyway, it was just Sean and I today, and we found a far more efficient route to the Regal Ballroom than up Punt Road, so hopefully will use that again! Marieke Hardy looked like Arwen, and Michaela McGuire was MCing once more. Our theme today: a letter to someone I once made cry.

First up was comedian Hannah Gadsby. She wrote to her mother about the two occasions she can recall making her cry, pointing out that her mother too, had made Hannah herself cry more than once. Her letter was hilarious – dry and witty, including an imitation of her mother’s voice and discussion of being high on furniture polish. Despite being “sensitive to sound, and hungry” as she was reading her letter, she still managed to finish it on-the-fly, having run out of time to complete the letter before the start of the salon today. Her letter was funny, yes, but also incredibly touching, and a lovely portrait of her relationship with her mum.

Next was writer Josephine Rowe. The lyrical nature of her prose shone through beautifully, writing to a traveling friend (as in, a friend she once went traveling with) who she has lost contact with. Her letter navigated the muddy waters of relationships, things that can go misunderstood and unsaid, and detailed the confusion people can feel with someone even when they feel closer than ever. Very poignant and all read out with a very sore throat, so we were very lucky she was able to attend at all!

Senator Christine Milne was next, writing to the students she taught at Devonport High School during the late 70’s and early 80’s before embarking on a political career. She made them (and herself) cry, by playing them the LP of “The Snow Goose: A Story of Dunkirk” with music by Ed Welch and the voice of Spike Milligan. Her passion for this story was evident and she expressed her interest to know how the students would react to it today when they listened to it as adults. I’ve never read/listened to this before, so I’ll have to add it to my list…

Musician Grace Knight’s letter had the entire room in tears. She wrote to a childhood friend of hers, upon whom she had unloaded terrible secrets. For many years this friend was the only person who knew of the dreadful abuse Grace had suffered, and Grace’s letter explored her fear of telling people about it and the effects on her later life, when she punished herself relentlessly for something that wasn’t her fault. Then she spoke about forgiveness, and the completely unexpected healing that it brought. This part was the most tender and the most affecting, though her entire letter was beautiful and brave. I think out of all the WoL events I have attended, Grace’s letter has elicited the strongest emotional response in me yet. Michaela McGuire thanked her for her bravery also, which made us all cry some more.

Finally (and with a perfect letter to finish on), it was journalist Ramona Koval, writing to her mum. Her letter was funny and sweet and touching, but had the undercurrent of seriousness that tends to pervade letters at these salons. Her mother had spoken to Ramona about having to hide that she was Jewish, in order to keep safe during the Second World War. Baby Ramona than assumed she would need to do the same thing, and subsequently spent several months doing Christian Religious Education at school while her Jewish classmates went off to be taught by a rabbi elsewhere. Ramona gave some gorgeous anecdotes about how she liked the Bible stories and was chosen to be Mary in the nativity play, all before she was found out, but (and maybe it was just because I was still emotionally broken from Grace  Knight’s letter), I felt quite sad during the whole letter, thinking of the fears of children during the Holocaust continuing through the generations.

We had to leave early today for other commitments, so we didn’t stay for questions, but if this does turn out to be my last Women of Letters event for a while, I feel pretty lucky that it was this one.

Women of Letters recap

More Women of Letters goodness from the Regal Ballroom in Northcote! It’s a quicker post than usual, but that has more to do with the limited time I have to write this post, rather than a reflection on the quality of the event. It was, as always, simply wonderful. (And FOOD! They’ve introduced a veggie menu and I had the pizza and it was bangin’.)

The theme today was ‘A Letter to the Person Who Told Me What I Needed To Know’, and Michaela McGuire was back as MC! First up was actor Saskia Post, writing to her stepmother. In beautiful, lyrical prose she spoke about the life lessons she’d learned and it painted a realistic and touching portrait of the relationship between the two of them.

Up next was comedian Kate McCartney, and her letter was addressed to Twitter, or the Twitterverse in general. This was one of the funniest letters I can remember ever hearing, but it also came directly from the heart, as Kate recounted how the connections that she made on Twitter have changed her life and have also done a lot for her sense of self-worth.

Next was singer Kate Cebrano, who couldn’t be there in the flesh, but sent in a video of her reading her letter to the band that gave her a job singing for them at the age of sixteen. She’s had a successful career spanning a couple of decades, so it was lovely to hear about where it had all started.

Then there was actor and Playschool sweetheart Justine Clarke and her letter was brilliant – I think it was the highlight of the day for me. She wrote to her partner, and thanked him for teaching her that romance did not necessarily mean life playing out like an MGM movie musical. The Regal Ballroom exploded with laughter when she told us about their days of early courtship. She was on a road trip with him, wondering, hoping if it would be the day they finally said ‘I love you’. Her heart leapt with joy as he turned to her, somewhat hungover and exhausted, and told her quite sincerely, ‘I love utes’. It only took her a second or so to realise she hadn’t quite heard what she’d hoped.

Lucky last was poet Telia Nevile, and she was writing to John Hughes – more specifically, to his catalogue of films. Amazingly, music from the soundtracks played as she spoke, and those swelling anthems sounded completely badass. Despite her experience of high school not quite measuring up to the representation of high school presented in the films, the films have an irreplaceable hold on her heart.

This was all followed, as usual, by a break and a Q and A with the speakers, and then, THEN, they told us it was Marieke Hardy’s birthday and we all sung along, to her extreme mortification. But I hugged her as I was leaving and Sean got her to sign his mother’s book, so it was a winning day all round 😀

Women of Letters recap

Today was special because it was the first Women of Letters event that Sean came to. And he loved it. And he drove. Which makes him special. But yes. We were back at the Regal Ballroom in Northcote and Elyse and her mate Chelsea joined us, and we were up in a cosy corner of the room with drinks and vegetarian pastries, sitting back waiting to be assaulted with feels. And by Jove, we were.
The radiant Emilie Zoey Baker was MC-ing today because Michaela McGuire is still overseas, but Marieke Hardy was taking tickets at the door and I tried not to look like a complete loser and trip over my own feet or stop breathing or something when I saw her, but SUCCESS. I behaved, more or less, like a functioning adult. The theme today was ‘A letter to the missing puzzle piece’. I freaking love these themes. 
First up, was the hilarious Jane Kennedy, who shared a couple of letters written by her twelve-year-old self and her twelve-year-old bestie, back when they were – you guessed it – twelve. We laughed heartily at the mentions of familiar but nostalgic television shows and footy gossip, but the best part was when Jane then read a letter from her twelve-year-old self if she had been twelve in 2013. The text-speak littered through the letter was apt, but the best part was when she compared the dinner Mum was making that night – slow-cooked Moroccan lamb with quinoa and kale, as opposed to the corned beef in the original letter. 
Singer Jess Cornelius was next, writing to her sister, who was ‘missing’ from her adolescent memories. This was a far more sombre letter – you could hear a pin drop while Jess was recounting the troubles with her mother and her sickness, but it was laced with the sort of tender humour that makes these letters and these speakers so damned relatable and moving. I found Jess’s letter really interesting – living in separate countries has not damaged their sisterly relationship, but it painted a less idyllic picture of the relationship between sisters which I have never been privy to. In my experience with friends who have sisters, I have seen a wide range of ‘closeness’, and Jess spoke about this with a refreshing frankness.
Rose Chong, costume-woman-extraordinaire was next, and in her softly-spoken British accent, she wrote to her father, who had disapproved of her coupling up with a Chinese man, but who had gradually come to accept and respect her partner. The focus of Rose’s story was her court case, after she had accidentally illegally acquired 25 kangaroo skins for costuming needs. However, the court charged her with possession of kangaroos, not just their skins, and she was therefore let off with a light slap on the wrist and the promise not to kill anything for the next six months, which she managed just fine. 
Bindi Cole, an artist with a life full of extreme experiences, wrote to her future child. She told us of the pain that her and her husband had endured with years of trying for a baby, and the devastation of their miscarriage. She also spoke of her faith in God, and how this was helping her through it, and the comfort of prayer. Those of you who know me personally will know how much this resonated with me (the faith part, not the trying to get pregnant part). She wrote with beautiful optimism to this baby, explaining about how she couldn’t wait to meet it. Everyone was feeling a bit teary and wobbly once she finished her letter, and then she revealed that she had started the letter on Monday, finished it on Wednesday and on Thursday had found out she was pregnant. The Regal Ballroom exploded in cheers.
Finally, there was Kerry Greenwood, author of many, many books including the Phryne Fisher series. She lives with a real-life wizard, which is pretty freaking amazing, but she wrote to her missing ability with numbers. For an accomplished woman who has done a whole heap of amazing things in her life, the one element that brings her to her knees is numbers, and she recounted with great wit and sass everything she had trouble with (measurements, cooking etc) and how she got around it. She was a delight to listen to – particularly descriptive and humorous, perhaps because of her knack for writing novels? Anyway, she was a perfect way to finish the line-up. 
During the break, Marieke Hardy came to our table to offer us stamps for the letters we were writing and I extremely red-facedly asked her to sign my notebook, and she did so, incredibly obligingly. Sean and I somehow ended up having a detailed discussion with her about crying during the letters and how make-up tends to run. Marieke was worried one of her false eyelashes would slide down onto her top lip like a particularly dashing moustache. I sort of laughed and stared at her, trying to come to terms with the fact I was having a conversation with her. Sean made up for my complete inadequacy with his easy chatter. Yep. It was sort of the best day ever.
Emilie Zoey Baker finished up with the questions for the guests and they were wonderful and funny and insightful and perfect. I left feeling more inspired than ever. The next Women of Letters cannot come quickly enough. 

Women of Letters recap

Ah, another weekend, another glorious Women of Letters event. I tell you, I could get used to this. And I’ll be mighty ticked off if the next one sells out before I can get tickets. Today I nearly wet myself with excitement because Miriam Margolyes was going to be reading and she makes me crazy. But Michaela McGuire and Marieke Hardy are in NEW YORK at the moment, bringing Women of Letters to the US, so sadly they wouldn’t be there to stalk.

Instead we had the hilarious Jane Clifton, who was a wonderful host in Michaela’s absence, and made the audience roar with laughter nearly as much as the readers did. We made our way to the Regal Ballroom in Northcote and ordered drinks and squeezed into a table and chatted and then- DISASTER. Miriam had unfortunately been caught up in something and was unable to attend 😦 But being amazing, she had recorded her letter and they were able to source a player and a massive screen so she could share it with us. I love you, technology. A beautiful moment when the classic and timeless art of letter-writing meshes with a 21st century USB stick and creates something completely badass. So with the promise of digital!Miriam to look forward to, we settled back to bath in the lyrical prose of some amazing women, all writing ‘A Letter To Something I Was Happy To Lose’.

First up was Jenny Niven, associate director of one of my fave places in Melbourne – the Wheeler Centre. Before she even got into her letter, I was hooked. She has the sexiest, most beautiful Scottish accent. It was like listening to music. She regaled us with tales of growing up in a small town in Scotland, and her subsequent travels around the world. Her descriptions of Beijing did more for me than any travel book I have read and it is now added to my bucket list. It wasn’t just world-discovery, but self-discovery she was describing, and it was wonderful to hear how her mind had been moulded by her experiences. It seemed, that what she was happy to lose was the naivete that came from growing up in her quiet town. Not that she resented it, not in the slightest. But she seemed so passionate and grateful for the way her horizons and her world view had widened, the way her travels had exposed her to a beautiful, tangled mess of humanity spread across the globe. Such inspiring stuff.

Next up was Jess Ribeiro, a singer-songwriter who I have sadly never seen perform. But if her speaking voice is anything to go by, I know I would love her stuff. She had this cheeky, warm, smooth tone to her voice and she was adorably nervous. She wrote about losing her status as the eldest sibling – after fantasising for years about what it would be like to have an older brother, she discovered in her early 20’s, that she had one. 11 years older than her, to be exact. Her letter was laced with humour, particularly as she described the anxiety she felt regarding her new brother meeting his extended birth family – basically she was afraid that they would come across as a bit rough and tumble. Using the word ‘shitbox’, when she thought her new brother might use the word ‘lavatory’, for example. Her delight at the connections forged with her new brother and his adoptive family was evident. She had a bit of a teary describing the ways that their new, melded family have changed, and it made my heart ache. I will definitely be buying her music.

Then…MIRIAM!! After a false start with the video, it played perfectly. The only qualm I had was that, being pre-recorded, Miriam couldn’t pause for laughter, and while the audience were wheezing at her jokes, and tiny beginnings of sentences were missed. She informed us that she was going to write to her youth, but then realised that would be a lie – she wasn’t glad to lose her youth. She valued things youth gave her, like functioning knees. (Oh, Miriam. I can relate). Instead, she wrote to her womb, after losing it in 1974, aged 33, to a hysterectomy. Being Miriam Margolyes, her letter was chock-full of the most delightful and vivid impressions of people. Everyone from her uber-awkward Games Mistress at high school, to the West Indian nurse who told her to be quiet and stop disrupting patients while she was in recovery was trotted out using her impeccable talent for voices. UGH, words can’t describe how much I love listening to her speaking voice. Her diction and tone are perfection.

Then it was time for Women of Letters veteran and writer/broadcaster Jess McGuire. I’ve read quite a bit of Jess McGuire’s writing, but have never actually listened to her speak (the radio in my car has been broken since forever, so I only ever listen to my iPod). I tell you, I was spoiled with the speaking voices of all the women today, and let’s just say that Jess McGuire was no exception. I can see why she is such a beloved radio personality. She wrote, rather interestingly, to the year 2012. A year she said made her ‘an expert on loss’. Of the many losses she experienced, she wasn’t glad about any of them (though she had a damn good stab at finding the silver linings), so she was writing to the entire year of loss, 2012. She was glad to be losing that year. To summarise, her house was robbed, her car was totaled, her close friend died of cancer and she was let go from her dream job. Not an easy year by any stretch of the imagination. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house by the end of her letter, but, like the skilled writer she is, she married terrific (at times, very dark) humour with the kind of pathos that makes you want to carve out your heart. Perfection.

Last but not least was Adrienne Truscott, an American choreographer and performer who I had never heard of, but who I was thoroughly in love with by the end of her letter. She wrote to a waitressing job she lost around the time Linda McCartney died. She can date it, because Linda McCartney’s death was the catalyst for her losing her job. One morning when she arrived at work, after reading the biography of a suffragete who I WISH I could remember the name of, she watched as a customer picked up the paper with the headline of McCartney’s death, and promptly announced Linda McCartney to be so ugly, that he was surprised cancer didn’t take one look at her and run away. At that moment, something inside Adrienne twigged, and she sat down and wrote this customer a scathing and clever and condemnatory letter. The letter called him out on his disgusting comment, and also assured him that if physical aesthetics determined if cancer was attracted to someone or not, he could rest assured that his own physique ensured him a cancer-free life. She then gave him the note as he left with a sweet smile and the request that he read it when he had some time. No doubt assuming it was a come-on, he left, with a patronising smile. Adrienne then called her manager and informed him that he would need to fire her by the end of the day, got herself some lunch, and waited. About an hour later, the phone rang. Adrienne’s voice barely suppressed her glee as she recounted the fun she had with that customer on the phone. Apoplectic with rage, he assured her that he would have her fired, that she was in trouble yada yada yada. Her response was a much more articulate form of ‘NYAH NYAH YOU CAN’T GET ME’. Applause shook the Regal Ballroom. What a wonderful high to finish the show with.

After a break where we were encouraged to write our letters, there was a quick Q&A session with the readers, using questions from the audience. By the time it finally finished up, I was emotionally exhausted in that satisfying way that makes you want to lie down in the grass and stare at clouds. Sadly, I had to get home quickly. But it was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

And now I really need to wrap up this blog because I need sleep. Peace out.