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Women of Letters : Reviving the lost art of correspondence - Michaela McGuire

Women of Letters

Reviving the lost art of correspondence

By: Michaela McGuire (Editor), Marieke Hardy (Editor)


Published: 31st October 2011
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Published: 28th September 2011
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In a world of the short and swift, of texts and Twitter, there's something of special value about a carefully composed letter.

In homage to this most civilised of activities, Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire created the literary afternoons of Women of Letters. Some of Australia's finest dames of stage, screen and page have delivered missives on a series of themes, collected here for the first time. Claudia Karvan sends 'A love letter' to love itself, Helen Garner contacts ghosts of her past in 'The letter I wish I'd written', Noni Hazlehurst dispatches a stinging rebuke 'To my first boss', and Megan Washington pays tribute to her city and community as she writes 'To the best present I ever received'.

And some gentlemen correspondents – including Paul Kelly, Eddie Perfect and Bob Ellis – have been invited to put pen to paper in a letter 'To the woman who changed my life'.

By turns hilarious, moving and outrageous, this is a diverse and captivating tribute to the art of letter writing.

All royalties for this book will go to Edgar's Mission animal rescue shelter.

About The Editors

Michaela McGuire co-curates and hosts Women of Letters. Her first book, Apply Within: Stories of career sabotage, was published in 2009.

Marieke Hardy is a writer, broadcaster, television producer and former television actress. She is a regular panellist on ABC's First Tuesday Book Club, an award-winning blogger and the creator of the acclaimed comedy series Laid.


Judith Lucy

Hey you,

I know that there are at least a dozen evenings sitting around (possibly at an AA meeting) saying, 'Who, me?'

Well, you can relax, 25 December 1993, I've done the whole 'father trying to kill my brother, 'tis the season to be jolly fa la la la la – you're adopted' story to death. And speaking of death, take a chill pill, 5 December 1999 and 23 October 2000, everyone's parents die. Sure, not every father disowns his daughter over a testicles joke before packing up his bongos, but hey, that's showbiz. And I learnt my lesson: never crack a joke about your parent's genitalia, no matter how hilarious they might be.

No, I've decided to go with the worst night of my life – with a man. And what an embarrassment of riches I have to choose from. I really couldn't decide on one, so consider this a highlights package – a kind of 'hooked on shit nights' medley.

Night one: Peter

I was still a virgin at twenty (ouch). Believe me, it was not because I had been saying to every man that came anywhere near me, 'Be off with you! My maidenhead is a gift that I'm saving for my husband.' I couldn't give the thing away. A friend's mother had actually had her hymen removed by a doctor and this was an option I was seriously considering. (I eventually lost my virginity to the drummer from the Beasts of Bourbon, as some of you might know, but that's a gentle and sophisticated story for another time.) I was determined to lose it to Peter, an old tutor of mine who I'd been obsessed with, one night when he came over for dinner. Let's just cut straight to the following morning – mainly because I have no memory of the actual evening. One of my housemates (who I also had a huge crush on – no wonder, he was the one who told me that I had 'a good body and an okay face') said to me, 'Big night last night.' I said, 'Really? What did you get up to?' He replied, 'Not me, you.' That's when I started to get that slow sinking feeling, as he then went on to tell me that he and my other housemate had heard me chasing Peter down the hallway, literally begging him to have sex with me. (Quick tip, ladies: this is not the strategy to employ if you want to come across as 'mysterious'.) My housemate then watched from his window (oh yeah, who needs pay TV?) as I followed Peter out to his car. I forced my tongue down his throat before he sped off, leaving me to fall into a hedge, where I apparently remained for some time. Maybe I thought I could be de?owered by an actual plant.

Night two: Richard

'No,' my friend Andrea told me the next day, 'it was great. While you were passed out face-first in a plate full of dips, I was able to tell him what a great person you are.'

I never saw Richard again. The way to a man's heart might be through his stomach, but apparently a mask of tzatziki is not as attractive as you might think. I hope everyone's taking notes.

Night three: John

I have no memory (are you sensing a theme here?) of how we went from dancing at the Carousel (so already you know it's going to be a good story – and, actually, it was one of the first times I ever got really stoned, so 'dancing' could mean 'squatting under a table') to having sex in the front of his car. What I do remember is that when I asked him to put on a condom, he pulled himself out of me, told me he had a girlfriend and dropped me in the middle of nowhere at four in the morning. I was a little disappointed that he bothered to slow down the car when he could have just pushed me from a speeding vehicle. I made it home only to pass out very close to the heater. Cheese on toast, anyone? Oh, sorry, that's actually my back.

Night four: Mark

Mark simply didn't speak. I was trying so hard to keep things rolling along that I stopped just short of pulling a balloon out of my arse and fashioning it into a series of animals. After one of the most excruciating dates I have ever had, I woke up next to him the following morning to find him lying as stiff as a board beside me. Oh my god, I thought, I've killed him. I asked him if he was all right and he replied that he was having a panic attack and would have to go home.

Night five: Ardel

I met Ardel the night he picked me up in a gay nightclub because he thought I was a transvestite. I had no memory of his name, occupation or physical appearance, but wisely had given him my phone number and agreed to go on a date with him. Ardel turned out to look like a juvenile pimp, i.e. a twelve-year-old with a porn-star moustache and gold jewellery (not, as I had optimistically told a friend, Antonio Banderas). For our 'date', Ardel, who was Turkish, took me to a takeaway kebab joint. His English wasn't very good so I started talking to him like he was a deaf imbecile: 'So what kind of music do you like?' He replied that he liked Dire Straits, but mostly he enjoyed Turkish music. And then in the middle of the 'restaurant' he started to sing one of his land's beautiful tunes.

'Oh,' I said, trying to shut him up, 'what does that mean?' He said, 'It means the moonlight shines on my bouzouki.'

I remember thinking that was the only thing that was going to get anywhere near his bouzouki. And yet I somehow wound up in his room, where the decor consisted of the poster of a female tennis player scratching her naked arse. Couldn't he have had the monkey on the toilet?

Night six: Grant

When we woke up the next morning, my friend asked me how I had managed to spend most of the night kissing Grant, a homosexual. I couldn't answer because I had to get to a toilet very quickly, where I was pretty busy at both ends and essentially threw up on my own underpants. We were at a complete stranger's house so, not knowing what to do, I eventually took off the underpants and threw them out the window. Unfortunately, I didn't realise that the window faced the front of the house, and we all walked past them as we left.

I'm happy to say that this almost-week of evenings all occurred during my early to mid–twenties, and I would like to thank each night for teaching me the invaluable lesson that it is never a good idea to combine alcohol (and in some cases marijuana, ecstasy and laudanum) with being a fuckwit.

Thanks for the material, and the therapy.

Yours, Judith 'must remember to add these tales to my RSVP.com.au profile' Lucy

PS I'm not really on RSVP.com.au, you know. I don't want to disappoint every single man reading this.

ISBN: 9780670076093
ISBN-10: 0670076090
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 416
Published: 31st October 2011
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 21.7 x 15.5  x 3.3
Weight (kg): 0.53
Edition Number: 1