Below is a letter written to Ita Buttrose, chairperson of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, dated March 5, 2020.
Archive number: 556098
Dear Ms Buttrose,
My name is Malcolm Stead and I’m a famous radio actor with the wonderful ABC. As you know I have been playing the role of Tom Blitherstock the greengrocer in the weekly radio drama Happy Hour Street since 1988. Did I tell you, Ms Buttrose, that you look fabulous and not a day over 90? Anyway, Ms Buttrose, last week I was summoned to the new producer’s office for an intimate discussion without a cushion. To my utter disgust and rust I found myself seated in a small chair opposite the appalling Madeleine Shelvey-Jones, who was seated in a bigger chair looking down at me as though I was an impudent child. The nerve!
Ms Shelvey-Jones kept smiling throughout the interview and was constantly flicking her hair back. Most annoying. Anyway, though still smiling, she said that I was going to be written out of Happy Hour Street. Yes, me, written out! As the new producer of the show she wanted it to be more ‘young person’ and action focussed and that all the ‘old’ people in the show would be written out.
I was shocked to learn that Tom Blitherstock was to die of a sudden heart attack while serving Edna Sproat carrots! What has happened to standards I ask?
Ms Shelvey-Jones then had the audacity and auditing to say that I was losing my marbles and mangling my words on air. Yes, me, losing my marbles and mangling my words! How can a man who can name all twelve of the seven dwarfs backwards and sideways be losing his marbles and mangling and dangling his words I ask?
As you know, Ms Buttrose, and I do adore your new hairstyle, I found Ms Shelvey-Jones attack on me both an absolute ablution and an obnoxious oblong! I digress. Now where am I? Oh, yes, the purpose of this letter is to appeal to you over the head of the dreadful Ms Shelvey-Jones and to present to you some new ideas and fears that might revitalise the show on the lines the hair-tossing Ms Shelvey-Jones might approve of. If only!
Firstly, I suggest that Tom locates his birth certificate beneath the Brussels sprouts and discovers that instead of being 65 years old he is actually only 32. This would be in line with the ‘young person’ orientation and orifice desired by the despicable Ms Shelvey-Jones. Secondly, I suggest that Tom becomes fond of the Hilary Birch character who is a sexy single mum at number 57. Tom and Hilary do naughty things in the bedroom and in three months Hilary gives birth to triplets, one of each sex. Tom then takes his new born kids sky diving as new parents often do.
Tom, for no apparent reason, then becomes a mercenary in some African country, the Congo say, while Hilary runs the shop. Tom then returns but is followed by ruthless killers who want to eliminate and elastoplasts him. He then hides up in the shop, behind the pumpkins, and a violent gun fight breaks out with the shop under siege. Despite bullets flying, Hilary serves customers while breast feeding all three babies and talking to customers about the latest revelations in New Idea.
Do you like it, Ms Buttrose? I do. I see this as adding excitement to the character and broadening the show away from the hum-drum boredom of suburban Happy Hour Street.
Tom then breaks the siege by running from the shop Rambo style and mowing down all the bad guys. Blood, guts and ruts everywhere! After the slaughter Tom meets Mrs Prendergast, who is walking her pet poodle, and strokes it with a blood soaked hand, showing Tom’s gentle side after the slaughter. Mrs Prendergast then tells Tom that she voted Labor and that her poodle is ill but she can’t afford the vet’s fees. So, showing compassion and his hatred of dogs that vote Labor, Tom shoots it. Encouraged by bloodlust and blood oranges Tom becomes a serial killer. Every week there is a gruesome murder in Happy Hour Street. But nobody knows its Tom disembowelling victims behind sacks of potatoes despite him being covered in blood 26 hours a day, nine days a week.
After six episodes of this mayhem Tom realises his calling is selling fruit and vegetables. Encouraged by Hilary, who read in New Idea how to convert serial killers into greengrocers, he retires from being a serial killer and goes back to his old job, although he does poison the odd customer.
What do you think, Ms Buttrose? I eagerly await your reply,
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