Being a Pink Floyd fan doesn’t mean you have to take the world seriously. Andy McDonald certainly doesn’t think so. We will let Andy tell you his story in his own words. Everything you read and see on this page is true………honest :~}
What do you do when you have an over-active sense of humour, a sarcastic streak a mile wide and a slightly abstract view of the world? Become a Pink Floyd fan? Well…yes, more than likely. But aside from that let me just warn you not to do what I did.
Hi. my name is Andy McDonald, from Victoria, Australia. A few years back I found what I thought would be the perfect outlet for my humour. I sent a comment to the Herald Sun letters page, which has a column for short letters called “50/50”. My comment was to do with the 2000 Australian Football League Grand Final. That year the Bombers were the best team by miles, and although the Grand Final combatants hadn’t been decided yet it was obvious no-one would beat them. A topic of discussion in the media at the time was whether to award runner-up medallions to the losing team’s players, which had never been done before in AFL. I came up with this gag:
“Apparently the majority of footy fans would like the losing AFL Grand Final team to receive runner-up medallions on match day. They could be presented before play starts – to not interfere with the Bombers’ victory celebrations later.”
It was quite a buzz seeing the comment in print, especially knowing that this newspaper has over a million readers. After a while I sent in a couple more comments, but back then it certainly wasn’t the regular hobby that it was to become.
That was until the 2002 soccer World Cup. I sent in another comment, and for whatever reason it was like I’d flicked a switch, and suddenly decided to write to the paper regularly. The comment was again to do with Aussie Rules football, at a time when many star players were out of action through injury. It said:
“To get injured AFL stars back on the field, all we need to do is get hold of the medical staff from soccer’s World Cup. Those guys can get near-fatally wounded players back into action in no time at all. It’s miraculous!”
I put my own name to this comment, but having decided to make a regular thing of this I thought I’d better come up with some pseudonyms. I assumed that if the letters editors saw the same person writing repeatedly they’d knock a lot of it back, in order to let other writers have a go. I have since learnt how wrong that idea was, but thanks to Colin Turner and “A Fleeting Glimpse” I can at least tell my sorry tale.
I started thinking about pseudonyms, and decided to have a theme which would tie the different names together. Pink Floyd stood out as the obvious source, as it was probably the subject I knew most about. I knew all the songs, album titles, band members and lyrics, and as I looked into the possible names provided by the band, either hidden or obvious, I soon realised there’d be no shortage of material.
The Floyd names also added a bit of extra interest because a number of my friends were into Floyd, and I thought it’d be fun seeing which of them picked up on the names when my comments appeared in print.
And as I thought along this line I saw how it would also apply to any other Pink Floyd nuts out there who read the paper. Let’s face it, we rarely get to see anything in the papers relating to Floyd, and this was the case even when they were at the height of their popularity. I know how excited I get any time I see anything at all to do with them. I can spot the words Pink Floyd, or the name Gilmour in a newspaper from 20 paces! Just as I can hear a Pink Floyd song on someone’s radio no matter what other sounds are drowning it out.
This gave me great motivation. Picturing Pink Floyd fans spotting comments in the newspaper signed with plays on song titles, band members’ names or song lyrics, sitting there scratching their heads and wondering where the heck these comments were coming from. Yes, this would be …. well, I’ll use Col Turner’s own description “a HOOT”.
So I began to keep a closer eye on news and current affairs in order to have fresh, topical material to write in about.
The first comment with a Floyd pseudonym related to the autobiographies which had been released by a couple of famous Australians, in which they basically whinged and blamed others for everything that had gone wrong in their lives.
July 6, 2002:
“I’m a big sook with a chip on my shoulder. Who do I contact about writing my memoirs?”
The Wimbledon final in 2002 was interrupted by a streaker, at a time when a hot topic in Australia was public liability isurance.
“If the streaker at Wimbledon was to injure himself jumping the net, would an insurance company cover him?
This was accompanied by a cartoon, drawn purely as a result of my stupid comment.
Lleyton Hewitt had won the Wimbledon title and appeared on the Herald Sun’s front page with a cigar in his mouth. This caused some controversy among the anti-smoking lobby, but I had a different reason for commenting:
“I saw Lleyton Hewitt on the front page with a cigar in his gob. Oh, if only it had been a sock.”
The AFL Tribunal had been handing down some very puzzling and inconsistent penalties.
“Considering the decisions the AFL Tribunal is handing out, the AFL must stand for “Absolutely Flamin’ Ludicrous”. It should suspend itself for perverting the course of justice.”
I was on a roll, with letters getting published in quick succession. The next related to the TV show “Big Brother”, which had been a huge hit but was now struggling for ideas. They’d started doing celebrity versions and were looking for interesting housemates. Meanwhile several women in Australian politics were creating havoc.
“Big Brother should invite Natasha Stott Despoja, Meg Lees, Cheryl Kernot, Bronwyn Bishop and Carmen Lawrence into the house for a stint. They might not have huge ratings, but imagine the rantings and ravings.”
TV coverage of AFL matches was being destroyed by too many ad breaks.
“I really enjoyed watching the ads on Channel 10 on Saturday, but it was a pity they kept being interrupted by annoying passages of AFL football.”
A TV ad from the Traffic Accident Commission highlighted the damage that going an extra 5kmh can cause, as two “identical” cars crashed into a truck, one at 60kmh, the other 65kmh.
“I know it’s a serious TAC ad demonstrating the value of driving 5kmh slower, but I have to chuckle at what are described as “two identical cars”. It’s impossible to tell them apart, but for the fact that one is silver and the other is black.”
A drunken teenager was thrown out of a pub, then tried to return by climbing through an upstairs window. Upstairs was the residence of the hotel licensee, who belted his intruder over the head. The unrepentant punk then sued for his injuries and was awarded $49,000 !
It got worse when his mother sued “for her suffering at seeing his injuries” and got $18,000.
In an unrelated letter, a guy called Nemo wrote in:
“Years ago the police fixed youth gangs. Four or five police in a car and if they saw a gang they got out and gave them a foot up the backside and told them to get home. It worked!”
In light of the drunken teenager’s payout I replied.
“Nemo (Sept 5) suggested police could break up gangs in the old-fashioned way; a kick in the backside and send them home. Alas, today gangs would sue for bruised bottoms, and mums would sue for the trauma of having junior sent home in disgrace.”
“Regarding that lout with the big payout for breaking into a pub, the hardest thing to take is that he so smugly absolved himself of any blame. If I could afford to, I’d give him a clip across the ear myself.”
A letter I’d written to a football column, which I’d signed was printed, but the “B” was left out, rendering the name meaningless. One consolation was the letter won two Medallion Club tickets to an AFL match at Telstra Dome.
A second letter I’d written to the football column that day was also printed, and in the letter I used the line “it all makes perfect sense.” it was signed
Here’s some more examples of items Andy has had published.
“I wish there was a rule that forced players from the premiership-winning team to pass a breath test before being allowed to speak into any microphone. This would spare the public a great deal of embarrassment.”
“In keeping with the performances served up during the pre-match entertainment at this year’s AFL Grand Final, the headline act for 2003 will be Marcel Marceau.”
No comments here but can you work this one out?
“Next time there’s an S11 demonstration, instead of using batons, police should confront protesters with something they’re not used to; soap and a hairbrush.”
A cricket-related gag which I won’t explain was the next published.
I wrote about Sir Paul McCartney. He attracted a lot of criticism for cancelling a Melbourne concert, claiming the cancellation was “out of respect for the victims of the Bali bombing”.
“Having seen promotional tour photos of Sir Paul McCartney wearing a red skivvy and a goggle-eyed expression, I worked out the real reason for his Melbourne concert cancellation- he’s doing a gig with the Wiggles that night.”
“Mulga Bill suggests the Federation Arch as a fish refuge at the bottom of Port Phillip Bay. The only fish that wouldn’t be insulted by that idea would be sole, because sole has no eyes.”
It still cracks me up thinking about this one. Who’d have ever thought you could find a use for the line “sole has no eyes”? Unfortunately the pedantic editor altered the wording to “because they have no eyes”, but no Roger Waters fan who saw it could possibly have missed the connection.
“There have been two McCartneys in the news because of the Bali bombing. One became a hero because of his selfless actions. Sadly, the exact opposite can be said of the other.”
“Paul McCartney couldn’t sell out two Melbourne concerts because lightweight songs shouldn’t command heavyweight ticket prices, no matter who you are. Roger Waters (ex Pink Floyd) is one example of a better artist, with better songs, playing for much less.”
Next was another cricket gag. Australia was playing England, and Matthew Hayden had just been dismissed for 197 after also making a huge score in the previous Test.
“Matthew Hayden’s place in the Test side must surely be in doubt after once again failing to make a double century in his first innings.”
Another Paul McCartney dig followed. I know I should get off the guy’s back, but I couldn’t resist responding to an idiotic comment from a McCartney fan. I’ll spare everyone what was said.
“At the next gathering of Victorian Labor ministers I hope they play the National Anthem. At least then they get to stand for something.”
“I used to think, don’t speed and you won’t get booked. But after getting a ticket for momentarily drifting a hair’s breadth over the limit in my old Kombi van, I believe it is almost impossible not to fall victim to this revenue-raising monster.”
February. Date unknown:
“Greens senator Bob Brown has sneered at John Howard’s circular on terrorism, saying “Fear is a powerful political tool”. Profound words from a man whose policies are so idiotic he should be branded a political tool.”
“Re the $33 million payout to Chris Cuffe: Commonwealth Bank CEO David Murray said the bank had been ”well provisioned to provide for it”. That is, by slugging the RSL, bowling clubs and other community clubs with fees and by squeezing more out of that inexhaustible source of revenue, the customer.”
“The South African cricket team dedicated their World Cup campaign to Hansie Cronje. No wonder they’ve lost two games out of three.”
“I can’t believe who passes for a playboy these days. Calling the Al-Qaida henchman Khalid Sheik Mohammed “the playboy terrorist” must have given hope to fat, hairy slobs everywhere.”
“I must admit to feeling some sympathy for poor Chris Cuffe. He says he’s been “crucified” over his $32.75 million payout. That really is a tad harsh. Cutting off one hand would have been sufficient.”
“On behalf of my wife I would like to thank the return of Wayne Carey and the success of Collingwood for killing off the last vestige of interest I had in AFL football.”
The next comment provided my greatest letters page achievement. It featured a line from a song, the title of that song, and was illustrated with a cartoon.
“The simple art of shaving has become so hi-tech that they’re advertising a turbo razor. Nice, but I think I’ll wait for the F50 with quadruple lubricated blades, electric mirrors, dual airbags and a sunroof.”
“The Labor Party is considering replacing Simon Crean with Kim Beazley. If that fails maybe they could give Gough Whitlam another go.”
“Iraq’s Misinformation Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, tried to surrender to US troops but was turned down. The problem was, he told them ‘I am the Iraqi Information Minister, and I wish to surrender.’ What he should have said is ‘I am NOT the Iraqi Information Minister, and I do NOT wish to surrender.’ ”
They say talking to yourself is the first sign of madness. My next letter was a reply to my own comment!
“To Gracie Diamond (April 30): Why would Labor replace Simon Crean with Gough Whitlam? Gough wants to be president, not prime minister.”
May. Date unknown:
“IT seems the cricket umpires in the Caribbean have introduced a new LBW rule. ‘If it hits you on the pads, you’re out’.”
May. Date unknown:
“How will getting umpires to wear coloured gear make any difference to the incidence of umpy bumping? Surely the only real answer is to keep the teams off the playing surface.”
May 28: “Nicole Kidman has effectively demonstrated how beauty, elegance and grace can disappear in a puff of smoke.”
“Paris and Moscow are bidding for the 2012 Olympics. They should try for the 2004 games. It’s highly unlikely Athens will be ready in time.”
June. Date unknown:
“Considering the choice of pollies waiting in the wings, here’s hoping John Howard will stay in the top job beyond his 84th birthday.”
“A 12-year-old girl spends 11 hours a day in Internet chat rooms. Her diligent dad “cuts it back” to five hours, but doesn’t monitor who she chats to and she runs off with a US soldier. Well done, dad.”
“Australia has claimed another sporting heroine, ex-Russian diver Irina Lashko. I’m sure she’ll be doing plenty of interviews once she learns to speak English.”
“This passage comes from the Bible, so I’m sure it won’t concern the so-called Uniting Church, but Jesus said: ‘If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.’ ”
“Scott A. Basket (July 19) will find that ex-Russian diver Irina Lashko speaks far better English than many sports commentators.”
“I am a person with a grating voice and an obnoxious personality, currently renovating a most uninteresting home and backyard. I have impractical ideas and am very good at crying out “Oh, my God”. Mr. Packer, when do I get my own show?”
“Sir Paul McCartney is complaining that KFC is cruelly treating their chooks. It must be forcing them to listen to his music.”
August. Date unknown:
“Is there any chance that we can have a TV ad featuring a married couple in which the husband isn’t depicted as a blithering idiot?”
August. Date unknown:
“During the third quarter of the delayed telecast of Friday night’s Magpies-Bombers blockbuster I received a call from Queensland telling me the Pies had won. Bravo, Channel 9, bravo!”
Well I hope you enjoyed that! I’ve tried to give Floyd fans something to look out for. I’ve tried to provide some kind of pulse, some little “blip” on the Pink Floyd heart-rate monitor. And at the same time I’ve tried to inject a bit of life into newspaper letters pages. Sadly, frustratingly, many of my attempts have been blocked by boring, humourless, immovable and touchy editors. I suppose you could say my efforts have been “Obscured By Clowns”.
My thanks go to Colin Turner for producing this web page.
And my heartfelt apologies to anyone who’s read it.