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Canberra Today 15°/20° | Friday, February 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Dear Hugh, are you having a lend of me or what?

Editors hard at work at the state-of-the-art CityNews editorial department in Mitchell.*

HUGH SELBY has the editor twitching with this whimsical column of letters not to the editor… 

Dear Editor,

The start to 2024 is the ideal time to clean up the landscape, get rid of the old, and plant new life that will bloom during the year. I do not mean your excellent gardening columnist with whose sage, weekly advice I am able to manage my small garden. Nor the youngster who tells me what to binge watch on the streaming services. I am referring, diplomatically, to your antediluvian writers, some of whom show signs in their expression and reasoning of being closely aligned to fossilised wood.

Dear Editor,

AD has a point: it is time to cull, but please be judicious. That wine writer, like the best of his raw material, gets better with age. The good doctor who writes of kindness reminds me of nicer times. And how could you ever say “your time has come” to the man (or his Budget co-writer) who gave us the wonderful arboretum and metal sheep in Garema? I think of Jon, the good shepherd, whenever I walk past them to my latest gamble with gastronomic delights, acting on your food reviewer’s comments. Her commentary palate is just fine: clear taste expression with subtly flavoured garnish. 

Dear Editor,

Typical, not a word about the labours, year after year of the critics who cover music, dance, art and sculpture, photography, local writers and more. One of them – no young un but clearly able to spot rising talent – has near 600 posts. But that’s a drop in the ocean compared to the Muse’s more than 7000. I wonder how she makes the time. There are some others, too – with great insights – who drop in and out, all of them giving us the good news that this place is no cultural wasteland. 

Dear Editor,

How come there’s hardly a word printed in your little weekly, or online for that matter, about our past, present and rising sporting stars? Sport is colourful. It is movement. It is excitement. It is therapy. Is it too lowbrow for the likes of you and your geriatric team? I don’t mind if you put your foot into the water with a piece about aqua aerobics; however, I’d be a lot happier if you put the word out that you are looking for this young generation’s replacements for Roy and HG to comment generally, and a true wordsmith to write about the greatest game of all. Oldies need to be reminded of stunning performances as they rise unsteadily from a chair. Kids need to be kept enthused. Those big lights over Manuka are there for a purpose so come on, come on! 

Dear Editor,

Ah the folly of youth. Let me be positive. The size of your weekly magazine is ideal for our guests. It can be put on the communal table, or on the wheeled trolley above the bed for those with mobility limitations. The articles are not too long and the photos and illustrations delight not just our guests but the visitors who will sit and read aloud. The authors’ gullied faces and pursed lips remind our guests that life’s journey is a rich, but shared experience for us all. 

Dear Editor,

In reply to “‘matron”: she may have overlooked not just the cartoons which bring a happy smile, but also the picture stories drawn and voice blocked by someone wholly fed up, but retaining a wit that goes for, and reaches, the jugular. Can’t say I blame the creator. This year we are required, no opting out, to vote at our local election. The choice is like being at a restaurant that has two menu items only: leftovers with garnishes of inane hope, or leftovers with past times memories. Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli has some wonderful footage of trams passing through wide expanses of misty, watery nothingness in Spirited Away. Alas, the lessons from his animations were, are, missed by those dedicated to a “cross generation” debt burden upon us and our children. All aboard the insolvency red trams!

[name and address supplied]

Dear Editor,

Please, please put a stop to this. Someone will pick on the horoscope writer soon. There’s only three or four of us oldies unaccounted for. You’re on the cusp, but not yet. One colleague can still give us political balance. His is the otherwise unheard voice of the silent – whether that be a majority or not we won’t know until they count the votes. Another entertains with whimsy from near and far: he is our most peripatetic contributor. The third – your first correspondent could never have had him in mind for the boot because he writes far too well – could grace any club, any bar, or any shearing shed in the country. Which leaves me, at just over 100 pieces. If we are to apply the last on, first off rule then my fate is sealed. But let’s carry on for a while, just to see who behaves so badly in our legal system that a comment is required. 

This topic of correspondence is now closed – Ed

*Not really, the photo’s of the newsroom at the Seattle Daily Times in 1900.


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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Hugh Selby

Hugh Selby

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