26 OCTOBER 2012


News Flash: Macquarie Dictionary’s Big Secret

Nancy’s Picks-of-the-Week: The Age Bags Tony Abbott Yet Again – this time on Craig Thomson and the Gender Wars

The Thought of Mark Latham (contd); The AFR’s One-Topic-Only Columnist

Can You Bear It?  Mark Riley, Bob Ellis & Greg O’Mahoney

● Fran (I’m-an-Activist) Kelly’s Convenient U-Turn

● Five Paws Award:  Tom Switzer Remembers the Skanky-Ho Moment

● Nancy Talks to Inky About A New Media Career & Billy Bragg’s Bad Teeth

● Correspondence: With a Little Help from Sue Butler on Misogyny and Dan Nolan on Sandals




MWD Issue 159 covered the Macquarie Dictionary’s re-definition of “Misogyny”  – following Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s attempted outing of Opposition leader Tony Abbott as both a sexist and a misogynist.  Today’s Correspondence Section includes emails between Gerard Henderson and Macquarie Dictionary editor Sue Butler.  According to Sue Butler, the co-authors of the Macquarie Dictionary, who made a decision on misogyny, request – and receive – anonymity.  This means that Sue Butler presides over one of the few secrets of contemporary Australia.  Fascinating.





● On Craig Thomson And All That – by Michelle Grattan

Craig Thomson, the former Labor MP and now Independent MP, has a brand new lawyer.  Step forward Chris McArdle, who is a well-known Sydney based labour lawyer who knows how to work the media.  As the Daily Telegraph reports today, McArdle is a former Australian Workers Union (AWU) official who was appointed by Labor as a commissioner of the Industrial Commission of NSW. He went into legal practice in 1988.

MWD much admired Mr McArdle’s media performance on Sky News Agenda program on Wednesday – when the passive-aggressive Sydney lawyer managed to lean into the camera.   It produced the necessary Wow factor. Wow.

On Wednesday, acting on behalf of Victoria Police, NSW Police raided Mr Thomson’s house and office on the NSW Central Coast.  Currently Victoria Police is investigating whether Craig Thomson committed a criminal offence when national secretary of the Health Services Union. Already Fair Work Australia has made findings against Thomson and he currently faces civil charges.  It remains to be determined whether or not Thomson will also face criminal charges.

On Thursday, believe it or not, The Age gave Craig Thomson’s lawyer Chris McArdle the Page One lead with a heading titled: “Thomson lawyer slams Abbott ‘innuendo’”. There was a large photo of Mr Thomson along with a photo of Mr McArdle. McArdle was quoted – in large type – as declaring:

We will not tolerate our client being condemned by innuendo or ageing student politicians mouthing off…Our client is an innocent man.

How about that? The Age apparently believes that it is Page One NEWS when a lawyer says that his client is innocent. [Gosh. Are they really this naive at The-Guardian-on-the-Yarra? – Ed].  Moreover The Age believes that it is appropriate to run McArdle’s abuse of Abbott – by depicting him as an ageing student politician – on its front page. Mr Abbott is not a student – and he is not ageing.  Moreover, the allegations against Thomson are not mere innuendo.

Michelle Grattan’s Page One report commenced as follows:

Craig Thomson”s lawyer, Chris McArdle, has lashed out at Tony Abbott, challenging him to produce evidence if he is making allegations of criminal wrongdoing by the MP or “”shut his mouth””.

Here’s a (real) flash. Chris McArdle, Craig Thomson’s lawyer, is not the story.  He’s a hired advocate who is paid to spin for his client, that’s all.  And Tony Abbott is no more an ageing student politician than Julia Gillard, Anthony Albanese and the like.  It’s just that The Age – in its rush to condemn Abbott whatever he does – chooses not to understand this.  The real story is Craig Thomson and his role as a cross-bench parliamentarian who supports the Gillard Government.

As one of MWD’s Melbourne-based readers has pointed out: “This story fits a pattern of The Age’s role reversal.  The Gillard Government stuffs up in some way. The Opposition naturally points this out. But The Age, instead of concentrating on the stuff up – which is the real story – focuses on a critique of Tony Abbott’s position.”

Quite so.

On Asylum Seekers, The Gender Wars And All That – By Michelle Grattan


On Wednesday, The Age even managed to run two anti-Abbott pieces on Page One.  Quite an achievement, when you think about it.  Especially since Mr Abbott is the Leader of the Opposition and the next election is due around August 2013.

Daniel Flinton had an article titled “Coalition boat plan attacked” which criticised Abbott in the first paragraph.  And Michelle Grattan had an article titled “Abbott gives birth to another faux pas” which also criticised Abbott in the first paragraph.  Get the picture?  This time Grattan ran the line that Abbott “has taken another knock in the gender war” by making an insensitive comment about families which was said to have offended the Prime Minister.

Believe it or not [I believe it – Ed], Ms Grattan was even quoted in The Guardian in London condemning Abbott.  Fancy that.  Grattan referred to an article on The Guardian website which commented that Abbott had “plunged himself into a new row about his attitude to women”.  Ms Grattan seems oblivious that an attack on Abbott in The Guardian should be about as newsy as an attack on Satan in the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano.  Also she failed to point out that the Guardian article was in fact written by Sydney-based Alison Rourke.

Ms Rourke told Guardian readers that: “In 2007 conservative senator, Bill Heffernan, accused the prime minister, then in opposition, of being unfit for leadership because she was deliberately barren”.  But Rourke failed to tell her readers that former Labor leader Mark Latham had accused Ms Gillard of being deliberately childless in early 2012.  How convenient.


Now here’s the BIG MEDIA QUESTION OF OUR TIME. Namely, does fortnightly Australian Financial Review columnist and former Labor leader Mark Latham have more than one topic?  You be the judge.

27 September 2012. Mark Latham’s AFR’s column is headed “Abbott an easy target”. ML reveals the shocking, truly shocking, “fact” that in 1978 Tony Abbott bent a “street sign” early one morning.   ML acknowledged that the incident had first been revealed by Michael Duffy in his 2004 book titled Latham and Abbott. Go on.


ML maintained that Tony Abbott’s tired and emotional behaviour as a 20 year old, over three decades ago, is “important to Australian politics”. Really.  Latham continued:

The next step for the anti-Abbott forces will be to investigate other aspects of his colourful past, such as the hooliganism outlined in Duffy’s book. A series of questions remain unanswered.

Were there other acts of vandalism that night?  Did Abbott initially resist arrest?  Did he pay to repair the damaged public property?  Will the arresting officers come forward to give a full account of what they saw from the man now running to be Australia’s next prime minister?

How about that?  Mark Latham, the Lair of Liverpool and breaker of a taxi-driver’s arm, is calling on NSW Police to “come forward” in 2012 and give a “full account” of something which may – or may not – have happened 34 years ago. [Why does the AFR run such sludge? – Ed].

5 October 2012. Mark Latham writes an unscheduled column for the AFR headed “It’s scarcely edge of the seat stuff”. ML focused on refuting the likes of Janet Albrechtsen and Greg Hunt – who had claimed that the insults directed at Julia Gillard are less substantial than those aimed at John Howard when he was prime minister.  ML referred to his erstwhile dinner party mate Janet Albrechtsen (see MWD Issue 156) as “a Spartan warrior for the neo-conservative moment” and claimed she is “besotted” by Howard.  Apparently ML forgot that Albrechtsen called for Howard to resign as prime minister in the lead-up to the 2007 election.   ML labelled Hunt “a weak turd”. And ML referred to Tony Abbott as “Howard’s political love-child”. [It may be that Latham is obsessed with human waste.  As I recall he once wrote a book on “The Turd Way”. – Ed].

11 October 2012. Mark Latham’s AFR column is headed “A walking contradiction”.  It was devoted, once again, to Tony Abbott and focused on David Marr’s Quarterly Essay titled Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott. ML once again referred to Abbott’s (alleged) habit of “vandalising public property in the name of conservatism” and opined that “under his [Abbott’s] leadership we are witnessing the moral decline of Australian conservatism”.

[Fancy that. Now the AFR pays Latham to lecture about the decline of moral standards. – Ed]

25 October 2012. Mark Latham’s AFR column is headed “Abbott’s tow-back a sham”. ML repeats his familiar description of Abbott as  “a [sic] habitual exaggerator, an attention-seeker who will say or do anything to inflate the perceived sins of his opponents”. ML concluded his weekly column as follows:

This is the break in the weather Labor strategists have been waiting for. Gillard has not been a successful prime minister in terms of public policy. But she is a much better person than Abbott. No matter the battlefield, Labor cannot lose in the character wars. [Can this be the same Latham who confronted the Prime Minister in the 2010 campaign and has criticised her for not having children? – Ed].

Mark Latham is next scheduled to write for the AFR on 8 November 2012.  If precedent is any guide, he will write (yet) again about Tony Abbott.  [Can’t Michael Stutchbury find another topic for his prized fortnightly columnist?  What about: “A Mark Latham Exclusive: How I struggle to live on my taxpayer funded pension of a mere $78,000 a year (fully indexed)? – Ed].



● Mark Riley’s Fact-Free Inventions


Channel 7’s Mark Riley these days presents himself as an expert. On almost everything. During his weekly slot on Mornings with Linda Mottram on ABC Radio 702 last Tuesday, Mark Riley :

▪ declared that the baby bonus “is not the way to help” young families “really”.  According to Riley, the baby bonus “helps the sellers of plasma TVs”. That’s all, folks.

▪ claimed that there was a poll that said about 50 per cent of people believed that Tony tended towards,  you know, some sexist language” and added “I think that has gone up to about 95 per cent”.

The fact is that Mark Riley does not know that the baby bonus “only helps the sellers of plasma TVs”. He just made this up. And Mark Riley does not know that 95 per cent of Australians believe that Abbott engages in sexist language.  He also made this up.  Can you bear it?

False Prophet Ellis Blames The End Of the World On Sheilas


The current issue of Honi Soit (17 October 2012) contains a profile of Bob Ellis – the False Prophet of Palm Beach – by Michael Koziol.

First up, Ellis declared that “wowser feminism has firstly destroyed the world”.  His evidence?  Well, had it not been for the disapproval of Bill Clinton’s assignation with a certain Monica Lewinsky, Clinton would have been asked in 2000 to campaign in Arkansas and Al Gore would have won the state and the presidency in the 2000 US presidential election.

Then Ellis claimed that “wowser feminism” had destroyed the “world economy”. How come?  Well, had it not been for Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s assignation with a hotel maid in New York, he would not have been held in jail and would have had time to focus on “sorting [sic] the world economy”.

So there you have it.  Ms Lewinsky is ultimately responsible for George W. Bush coming to office in January 2001.  And the New York maid is ultimately responsible for Strauss-Kahn’s inability to resolve the economic crisis in Western Europe. Can you bear it?

Greg O’Mahoney Joins The Fact-Free Assertion Club


Greg O’Mahoney appears regularly on Peter  Van Onselen’s The Contrarians program on Sky News.  Last Friday, Dr O’Mahoney (for a doctor he is) confidently declared that “there are five members of the Coalition front bench….who for the last two years have spoken many, many times about the fact that Gillard doesn’t have a child – referred to her as childless, barren”.

Just which Coalition frontbenchers have said this over the past two years? There was no agreement on the program.  And Dr O’Mahoney has declined to enter into correspondence on this issue. Can you bear it?


“What I am really is an activist”.

– Fran Kelly as quoted by Tim Elliott, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 March 2012.

“Once you become a journalist you can’t be an activist; you can’t join protest movements”.

– Fran Kelly as quoted by Matthew Knott, The Power Index, 18 October 2012.

Needless to say, Ms Kelly, “I’m not an activist” position followed criticism by Nancy’s co-owner of her earlier “I’m an activist” declaration.  Needless to say, Nancy is locked into the original, unedited declaration. Stay tuned.




Misogyny was the topic of the day on Jonathan Green’s Sunday Extra program on Radio National on 14 October 2012.

It was one of those occasions where everyone (almost) agreed with everyone else.  Presenter Jonathan Green essentially agreed with panellist Anne Summers who essentially agreed with panellist Richard Dennis who essentially agreed with all of the above about misogyny, Tony Abbot and all that.  Moreover, Jane Caro was the bespoke tweeter and she agreed with all of the above.

But, wait, there was one dissenter.  Tom Switzer thought that misogyny was not all that new in Australian politics and drew attention to Mark Latham calling  Janet Albrechtsen a “skanky ho” in the not-so-distant past.  Spoke Mr Switzer:

Tom Switzer : I think you’d have to have very short memories to think this is a novel thing….Paul Keating and John Howard time and again were demonised and attacked. This is hardly new. But again it’s the hypocrisy. Where was Julia Gillard and Tanya Plibersek and Nicola Roxon and Penny Wong and Jenny Macklin – where were they when their own colleague and future leader, Mark Latham, went out his way to go into the Parliament House, our most sacred institution, it wasn’t a private conversation, and called a female columnist with whom he disagreed a “skanky-ho”, which for those who don’t know means a “dirty whore”. There was no outrage. The left, the sisterhood did not bat an eyelid.

Anne Summers: Not true.

Tom Switzer: And I thought that was appalling.

Anne Summers: Not true.

Tom Switzer: Well, with very few exceptions.

Anne Summers: Not true.

Tom Switzer: Where was Julia Gillard? Did she come out and attack it?

Tom Switzer’s comment was true.  Latham did call Albrechtsen a skanky-ho in November 2002. And there was virtually no objection from feminists.  In December 2003 Latham was elected Labor leader – with the support of virtually all members of the Caucus sisterhood.

Tom Switzer – Five Paws.



● In which Nancy is Advised to Consider a New (Media) Career: As The-Brothel-Inspector



Nancy Asks: I’m worried about the future – moving forward.  I’m not so worried about the past – moving backwards.  You see, I’m becoming increasingly famous – albeit from a very low base.  I’ve been mentioned by Barrie Cassidy on Insiders and by Jonathan Green on News Breakfast.  Moreover, The Thought of Nancy has been cited in the famous/infamous “Cut & Paste” section of The Australian.  Here’s my dilemma.  Should I use my higher profile to move into another area of the media?  If so, do you have anything in mind?

Inky Responds: Interesting thought.  In my view, new emerging talent in the media should try Pay TV.  I note that your other (i.e. female) co-owner is addicted to what is termed “property porn”.  She can’t stop watching such programs as Location, Location, Selling Houses Australia, The Hotel Inspector with the gorgeous Alex Polizzi. That sort of thing.

As far as I can see, there is a gap in the market.  You, as an increasingly high-profile sheila, should think about a program on Sky News or Fox News or whatever.  Perhaps “The Brothel Inspector” might be a good idea.  You could spend your days – or nights – visiting knock-shops, checking out the facilities and psycho-analysing the proprietors. To demonstrate how business could be improved, you could re-vamp a couple of rooms.  New colouring on the walls, re-sprung mattresses plus improved reception television screens with endless repeats of the Chaser “Boys” (average age 371/2) with their latest comedy offerings.   That kind of excitement.  Then, when the renovations are completed, you could invite the neighbours and likely customers around to test the product – so to speak – with room inspections, a few drinks and a speech by a nervous manager.  The format works with The Hotel Inspector.

The open-house night would be entirely gratis.  If numbers are short, you could always fill places by inviting a few blokes around from the Health Services Union.  This way, trade union bosses could have fun without any drain on members’ funds.  Nancy as The Brothel Inspector could be a TV hit and your career would take on a new momentum.

In which Inky Reflects on Billy Bragg and Bad British Teeth


Nancy Asks: I’m a real fan of the socialist millionaire British rock star Billy Bragg who has been Down Under as a guest of the taxpayer subsidised Melbourne Festival.  You know, Mr Bragg may live in a swanky house and all that.  But at least he thinks working class – and of us mere mortals.  And he sings about us plebs as well and about revolution.  Just like Julia Baird, I was absolutely transfixed when Billy Bragg sang Ideology at the end of Q&A last Monday. [Is this the same song which is referred to as “Idealogy” in the official ABC transcript? – Ed].  Brilliant stuff.  To me, the occasion was a great leap (moving) forward. It’s just that your man Bragg’s teeth are as bad as mine. How can this be so? Can’t the Brits afford fluoride in their water?  And is there no cosmetic dentistry in the Old Dart?

Inky Responds: Billy Bragg is a socialist.  Yes. So much so, that he believes in both the National Health Service and the inherent right of all Brits to have bad looking teeth.  Really poor clappers. From each according to his abilities – to each according to his cavities. It’s a form of egalitarianism.

Like Dr Julia Baird (for a doctor she is), I adored Mr Bragg’s rendition of Ideology on Q&A last Monday. Particularly the second verse about politicians which, in so far as I can remember – choked with emotion as I was – went something like this:

Outside the patient millions

Who put them into power

Expect a little more back from their taxes

Than bad dentures and the promise

Of no toothache in our time

All they get is old men grinding teeth

Who’ve built their private fortunes

On things they can rely

The club, the secret handshake

The church and the Old Fool Tie

For God and Queen and Country

All things they justify

Above the sound of working-class dentures clashing

Above the sound of working-class dentures clashing.

As I said – just loved it.  However I was disappointed when the ABC TV cameras revealed the Bragg ivories close-up.  Your man Bragg has made an absolute fortune singing about the poor and the oppressed British working class. So much so that he could afford as much bridgework as is contained in the crossing at Tower Bridge – if this was considered necessary.  Perhaps Mr Bragg could get a booking with a good private sector Aussie dentist next time he is here on a taxpayer funded trip to bang on about leftist causes and sell lotsa DVDs. [Is Dr Baird a doctor of dentistry?  If so, she might be up for it. – Ed].



Nancy’s co-owner is always oh-so-grateful for correspondents who correspond.  Otherwise there would be no Correspondence Section.

This week’s inbox contains material on the meaning of misogyny and the wearing of sandals.




Gerard Henderson to Sue Butler – 23 October 2012



Great publicity for the Macquarie Dictionary last week.

I know you are busy. However, it would be appreciated if you could provide two (brief) answers to two (short) questions.  Here they are:

1.    Can you advise the names of
the Macquarie Dictionary’s core authors who made the decision to extend the meaning of “misogyny”?

2.    Do you and the authors intend to extend the meaning of “misandry” any time soon?

Over to you.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson

Sue Butler to Gerard Henderson – 24 October 2012

Dear Gerard,

1. You have me as The Editor of the dictionary to front up to the media.

2. I have had time to look at misandry but not to arrive at a final entry.  The word has much less frequency than misogyny but there is evidence of use in the sense of “prejudice against men” (in a way that is complementary to the extended meaning of misogyny) in the communications of men”s groups – men”s health websites, discussions of prejudice against men, etc.

One suggestion made in the debate was that both entries need a usage note if just to comment on their separate histories and pairing – misogyny entered the English language as a gloss of a Greek word in the 1600s whereas misandry was a latecomer in the 1890s, coined to create a pair with misogyny. This is probably a good idea. There was a sense in which some people felt that it was only fair that misandry should also be extended, but of course that is not how the dictionary works. But we looked for evidence of its use in this way and found some.

There is a process for writing and reviewing the new words and definitions for this year to go into the annual update online at the beginning of next year. That process involves a number of proof cycles and will not be complete until late December. No entry at the moment could be said to be set in concrete.

The dictionary was brought into this media storm by the phone call from the journalist from the Financial Review who asked about our treatment of the word in the dictionary, a request to which I responded. It was later assumed by some people that I had deliberately entered the discussion and somehow contrived a rewrite of the dictionary entry to fit the politics of the moment. This was not the case.

You may find this response on our website helpful.


Gerard Henderson to Sue Butler – 24 October 2012

Dear Sue
Thanks for your note.  Most helpful. In response, I make the following comments:

1.    I do not understand your first point.  I appreciate that you are the Editor of the Macquarie Dictionary and, as such, front up to the media.  However, your reluctance to reveal the names of the Macquarie Dictionary’s five “core authors” – to whom you referred to in Gemma Daley’s report in the Australian Financial Review on 17 October 2012 – is surprising.

All Australians can find out the membership of, say, the Gillard Government’s National Security Council. But, apparently, the names of the Macquarie Dictionary’s co-authors, in addition to you, are secret.  Totally secret – as if they were covered by an old-fashioned “D Notice”. Why?

2.    I will watch any developments in the definition of “misandry” with interest.  I note that, due to the proof cycle process for new words and revisions, no entry for “misandry” at the moment is set in concrete.  By the way, precisely when was the extended definition of misogyny set in concrete?    This seemed to emerge some way though what you term the new words/revisions cycle.

3.     I note that it was the AFR that brought the Macquarie Dictionary into the media storm over misogyny.  And there I was thinking that it might have all been a Macquarie Dictionary publicity stunt.  Shame on me.

I accept that you did not deliberately enter the discussion and contrive a rewrite of the Dictionary to fit the politics of the moment.  That’s why it would be informative to all interested parties if you chose to reveal the names of those who made the decision with respect to “misogyny” and the precise date on which the decision was set in concrete.

Best wishes


Sue Butler to Gerard Henderson – 25 October 2012

Dear Gerard

As Editor of the dictionary I am ultimately responsible so you need to deal with me.

Not everyone enjoys media storms and there is no reason why the editorial team here should be dragged into this debate.

I don”t think this is surprising.  The CEO of the bank tends to speak for the bank – and not list all the finance officers who are involved in decision-making.

I don”t see that the editorial team of a publishing company is at all comparable to the members of the National Security Council who are all answerable to the government and ultimately to the people. I think that comparison is very far-fetched.

When I said that entries and definitions were not set in concrete yet, I am sure that I mentioned that we were involved in proofing cycles that will take us to the end of the year. The end result is the upload of new words and definitions to the dictionary online at the beginning of next year. You can check at that point what the final version of the entries for misogyny and misandry are.  I also said in the first conversation that I had with the Fin Review that the Gillard speech had brought this word to our attention, that looking at the evidence we considered that it need a second definition, and that  this was something we would be considering for the next edition of the dictionary.  You will find all this in the original Fin Review article. What happened in various news reports after that was not in my control.

I am pleased that you accept that I entered this debate innocently and was not manipulative (though not too pleased that you did originally consider this to be so).


Gerard Henderson to Sue Butler – 25 October 2012


Dear Sue

Thanks for your response.  I do not intend to continue the discussion. However, I make a few clarifying points.

  1. It is true that the CEO of a bank tends to talk for the bank.  But all the executives of a bank are listed on the organisation’s website.  It’s much the same with newspapers – the editor-in-chief is in charge but editors, associate editors and specialist editors are all known.
  2. So I am surprised that the co-authors of the Macquarie Dictionary request – and receive – anonymity.  This must be one of the few extant secrets. Seldom before has such secrecy prevailed.  Perhaps not since the D Day invasion.
  3. Your point re the proofing cycles is taken.  It’s just that I still do not understand why the procedure was interrupted to extend the meaning of just one word (“misogyny”) – and why this foreshadowed in, of all places, the Australian Financial Review.
  4. My point about a publicity stunt was a (presumably) failed attempt at irony. In fact, I was channelling what Jonathan Green had said on the ABC1 News Breakfast program last Thursday.  It seemed, at the time, like a fun suggestion.

Best wishes

Best wishes



Dan Nolan to Gerard Henderson – 21 October 2012


Hi Gerard,

Firstly, I must state I am a fantastic fan of Nancy. How she manages to take the news of the day and tear it to shreds like a bush rat is incredible. Her incredible talents, one apparently being the memory of a pachyderm (hopefully not a murderous leftist pachyderm like the ones currently inhabiting taronga) never ceases to amaze. I am writing this missive over one niggling question, one hanging chad I have with your directives, if you will. This issue is on the matter of footwear.

In terms of sandals, Gerard, I can”t agree with you more. I was given a pair of blue suede sandals (Elvis be damned) when I was a young lad of no more than 10 and I proceeded to destroy them in the way that only a young boy can. I wore them climbing, to sporting events, to cub scout meetings and whilst bushwalking and performing all manner of tasks that modern sandalistas wouldn”t be seen dead performing if they didn”t involve Jonathan Green, a wireless and a guarantee the fact-checker was out on smoko. That said, are you against all forms of fancy-free footwear? I beseech you, Gerard, for all of your ire towards the sandal, you must support this most blue-collar form of footwear. There is nary a day in the humid Sydney summers where I do not slip my callused feet into a pair of Haviana”s finest and make the short but nonetheless enjoyable trip down to Coogee beach to enjoy a convivial dip. However this is not the extent to which this prince of footwear is involved in my life. I will on many occasions use this noble covering of Shanks” pony on trips into the CBD and even to the occasional business meeting if I feel it warrants it.

I wish to know Gerard, do you support the humble Australian thong? That meeting of rubber and rubber that cossets the feet of so many of the proud citizens of this sunburned country. A form of footwear that wouldn”t be seen dead entering Ultimo”s postcode yet a form of footwear true Australians relish wearing each and every opportunity they can. I see the thong as the antithesis of the sandalistas, their feet ensconced in vegan, fair-trade pleather glued together by Surry Hills socialites. A form of footwear so plain that even Scott Burchill scowls when confronted by them. I maintain the thong is the footwear of the true Australian. I hope, dear Gerard, you see them in the same light.

Yours Faithfully,

Dan Nolan

Gerard Henderson to Dan Nolan – 25 October 2012


What a truly touching note and it was nice to hear from you again. I did not realise that Nancy’s vast array of fans included a thonged MWD reader who swims at Coogee Beach.  Also, until I read your missive, I had never thought of the thong as a “most blue-collar form of footwear”.  Previously, I had never linked thonged feet with collars.  But, then, I don’t swim at Coogee. So what would I know?

In response to your most thoughtful note, I make a few comments:

  1. I doubt that you are old enough to have worn out a pair of blue suede sandals.  When I last checked, you were aged 141/2.
  2. I doubt that you are old enough to have callused feet.  See 1 above.
  3. I am interested in your comment that you would not be seen dead entering Ultimo’s postcode. For my part, I am not seen alive in Ultimo – since I am apparently “persona-non-grata” at the ABC these days. Otherwise known as Sandalista Central.
  4. As far as I am aware, Dr Scott Burchill does not wear thongs to the tip.  This explains why they are not visible when Dr Burchill (for a doctor he is) appears on the ABC1 News Breakfast program.

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson


Until next time.