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Yours Truly : Cathartic Confessions, Passionate Declarations, and Vivid Recollections from Women of Letters - Michaela McGuire

Yours Truly

Cathartic Confessions, Passionate Declarations, and Vivid Recollections from Women of Letters

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Published: 20th November 2013
Format: ePUB

What dark gastronomic slip does Annabel Crabb have to confess to an unsuspecting guest?

How did Mary Anderson change the life of Frank Woodley – despite the fact the two of them have never met?

How did a plate of steak teach Missy Higgins a firm lesson about not being too hard on herself?

The act of letter writing allows us to slow down and truly connect, with a person, a subject, an idea. At their hugely popular Women of Letters events, Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire encourage and allow our best and brightest to lay bare their sins and secrets, loves and loathings, memories and plans. Collected here for the first time, these dispatches from Australia's favourite people are warm, wonderful and astoundingly honest.

Read Caroline Baum's Review

Women of Letters events have refocused the spotlight on the art of letter writing, reminding us how much more powerful than an email the real thing can be, especially when cleverly commissioned to themes like 'to the person who told me the truth' and 'to my unfinished business'.

Stand-outs including a hilarious double act from Zoe Foster and Hamish Blake, a surprising piece by George Megalogenis to his publisher and Ailsa Piper to the girl still walking in Yamaji country.

About the Author

Michaela McGuire's first book, Apply Within: Stories of Career Sabotage, was published in 2009. She writes a weekly blog for The Monthly called Twirling Towards Freedom, and her Penguin Special A Story of Grief was published in 2013. Marieke Hardy is a writer, broadcaster, columnist and television producer. 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. Her first collection of essays, You'll Be Sorry When I'm Dead, was published in 2011.

To a Secret

by Annabel Crabb

My dear Marieke,

Thank you for your email of 4 January, in which you invited me to compose this letter, which is to consist – all being well, and assum­ing the spoken-word rate standard to a fluent English speaker of no more than moderate blood alcohol level and negligible recent narcotic consumption – of up to 1500 words, concerning a secret of my choice.

I begin by thanking you for the email, Marieke, but you cannot know the guilt and inadequacy that it roused in me the second I browsed its contents.

Let's deal with the inadequacy first.

For pity's sake, Marieke, I have just read your own memoir. Certain passages – the generous elaboration on your feelings for Bob Ellis, the mental image of your dog wiping its arse on the Ellis lawn and the unbridled lechery of the romantic object's own written response – are now indelibly and horribly embedded in my brain, as impossible to remove as crude oil from a Gulf of Mexico cormorant.

Secrets? Having just recovered from your own electrifying recollections of summoning a prostitute with your own boyfriend, and cowering in your wardrobe upon her subsequent arrival, what on Earth could I competitively dredge from my own not-especially-interesting amorous history?

Even upon that well-trammelled field, the ill-advised juvenile crush, I am hopelessly outclassed by you. Sure, I had a private youthful certainty that I would marry Kenneth Williams, the super-camp one from the Carry On movies. I maintained this conviction for several years, during which time history records that Williams remained celibate, though not so much because he was waiting for me to attain the menarche as because he was waiting for Joe Orton to become available.

But you, Marieke: You had a crush on Young Talent Time's Joey Dee, and you stalked him to his house!

You understand my position. I feel like I've been asked to play air guitar for Bruce Springsteen.

Desperately, I have combed through my own stock of grubby moments.

What about the time I stole money? My friend Wendy and I were working as waitresses at a hotel in Adelaide's north. The dining room offered a buffet all-you-can-eat dinner and live entertainment from an elderly vaudeville star called Phyl Skinner. Phyl's show-stopping joke was delivered at the front of the stage in her spangled leotard and tights. (She was pushing seventy, Phyl, but she still had spectacular pins.) 'Ladieeeeezzzzz and gennlemun! My right leg is insured for fifty thousand dollars!' she'd holler, and kick the leg high into the air, to a cymbally punctuation from her band (which always, inexplicably, featured a one-legged guitarist wearing an Elvis outfit).

'My left leg . . . is insured for one hundred thousand dollars!' Boom-tish. High kick.

'And between them, I have an uninsured liability!'

It was excellent. On the night that I remember, Wendy and I were roving drinks waiters for what seemed like hundreds of boneheads who were celebrating the end of their amateur footy season. Phyl hadn't even come on stage yet and already Wendy had had her arse grabbed (Wendy's a bit of all right) and I'd had a schooner of beer thrown at me, the owner of the beer's fond intention being to see if my shirt would go see-through when wet.

We met by the bain-marie and agreed on a plan. For the rest of the night, we waited politely on tables and ferried jug after jug to the frothing blokes. The thirstiest tables were a forest of groping hands and proffered twenties, and in the confusion it was easy to charge for three Scotch and Cokes instead of two. Or give change from a twenty for two jugs, instead of one. By the end of the night, Wendy and I were drenched, weary and heavily pawed, but we had one hundred and sixty dollars, which we spent the following day on a spectacular lunch at Jolley's Boathouse, on the banks of the Torrens.

Oh dear, Marieke. It's not working. No matter how I tizz up my secrets with tales of Phyl Skinner's legs or her guitarist's lack of them, I can't disguise my unease.

The truth is I do carry a secret, and it's about you. When I read your email, I felt a deep, visceral lurch of guilt. I did something terrible to you once, and I feel very badly about it.

So I'm just going to come right out and confess.

Do you remember the night you came to my house for dinner? It was the night of the shit ARIAS, in 2010, the one on the steps of the Sydney Opera House when all you saw were close shots of slack-jawed nobodies necking flutes of champagne, or prolonged studies of the feather in Angus Stone's hair.

I remembered that you are a vegan. Not hard, I thought. After all, I myself don't eat meat. Some sort of eggplant couscous-y thing is what I decided to cook, preceded by a bowl of clear tomato broth, a recipe adapted from one I have by Gordon Ramsay. This broth is exactly right, I thought happily as I pottered about preparing it in the late afternoon. Vitamise fresh tomatoes. Fry them for a bit with shallots, then add water and some sundried tomatoes and basil, simmer for a while, then cool. Whizz the lot with an egg white then bring back to the boil. Strain it twice through muslin, and you're left with the most aromatic, tomatoey deliciousness imaginable. And it's as clear as the Mediterranean.

Fuck. Fuckity fuckity fuck. Egg white.

Oh, Marieke. What can I say in my defence? That all the eggy stuff was strained out, and thus I didn't really, properly offend your dietary requirements? That I only used the white, and that I sent the yolk away to live on a nice farm? (I am partial to that decep­tion, myself. We once had a sheep dog that was intolerably vicious and used to bite us on the walk home from the school bus. One day when we came home, the dog was gone. 'Ginger's gone to live on a nice farm,' my dad said. It wasn't 'til about seven years later that the penny dropped. We lived on a farm.)

Nothing can be said in my defence, especially given what hap­pened next. I fretted to Jeremy. Fuck! Egg white! He looked at me with the practised ennui of a person who lives with an idiot. 'Throw it out then. There's plenty of food.'

But I, in my foolish pride (it really is a very, very good soup), persisted. It's not like there's any egg actually in it, I reasoned. And she'll never know.

Can you imagine my horror when you looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Dare I ask how you got the soup so clear?' And can you imagine my self-loathing when I discovered – within seconds – that I am not only the sort of person who would crack an egg into a vegan's food, but also the sort of person who will then lie about it?

'Oh,' I gabbled, 'you know – run it through some muslin hun­dreds of times, simple really . . . Criminy! Is that a piece of spinach in Jessica Mauboy's teeth?'

'Well,' said Jeremy, after you'd left, having charmed the whole household, especially my transfixed four-year-old daughter who now wants to be you. 'Not much doubt about that. She was totally on to you.'

Please do not think, Marieke, that I have not punished myself in the months since. When my friend Amy became a vegan, I made her a peach and ginger cobbler using rice milk and Nuttelex, a substance so vile that the only way I can possibly extract pleasure from it is to imagine Kyle Sandilands forced to live eternally in Hell, eating nothing else.

I confessed everything to Amy, hoping perhaps for proxy absolution from a fellow yolk-dodger. Her eyes widened, then narrowed in a way that didn't look good. 'Wow,' she said. 'That's truly appalling.'

Now I, personally, think that her disapproval lost a little of its punch about thirty seconds later when she loaded up a cracker with Stilton and scoffed it. ('I'm really struggling with cheese,' she confessed, indistinctly.) But I certainly wouldn't allow one vegan's fecklessness to derogate from the perfectly righteous outrage of another.

So there it is, Ms Hardy. Having typed these words and reviewed them, I feel – not more at home with the fact of my own monstrosity, exactly, but at least a little better about having told you.

I hope, in time, you might come for dinner again. And I will serve you naturally fallen fruits and berries, encased tenderly in a Nuttelex-shortened pastry and warmed gently by the radiant heat of my own shame.

With love and apologies,


ISBN: 9780670077298
ISBN-10: 0670077291
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 464
Published: 20th November 2013
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 15.4  x 3.4
Weight (kg): 0.52
Edition Number: 3