It feels like a funeral. It feels like I should be donning sackcloth and dragging myself through the streets ringing a bell and wailing "It is over!" It feels like the day I found out Santa Claus didn’t exist and that my mother and father and wife and children had been lying to me all this time.
Two and a half years ago, an online publication gave an opportunity to an unknown young writer with no qualifications, no credentials, and nothing to recommend him but a short attention span and a talent for identifying which woodland animal each member of cabinet most resembled. They took a punt. And now, two and a half years later, that online publication is closing. So maybe it wasn’t such a great idea.
But still I am grateful. Where would I be without newmatilda.com? Unknown, unloved, sadly beavering away writing jokes on my blog for the entertainment of my sisters and Viagra spammers, wasting my brilliant insights about Belinda Neal’s fight club and Brendan Nelson’s hair on the vast emptiness of the internet, my only public recognition the sympathetic back-pats at stand-up open mic nights.
But thanks to newmatilda.com, that’s not my fate. Thanks to newmatilda.com, people know who I am. A few people. Unless it’s one person with multiple usernames. But I think there are a few. Thanks to newmatilda.com, people say things to me, nice things, like "I love your work"; "you’re so funny"; "stop tweeting about Masterchef you knob". They warm my heart. All of you — the lovers, the haters, the I-laughed-so-harders and the you-racist-misogynist-unfunny-piggers — are my brothers and sisters, and I love you all.
I might note that my first newmatilda.com article appeared on the 8th November 2007. Sixteen days later Kevin Rudd won the federal election. This article is appearing the day after Kevin Rudd was ousted as prime minister. Thus, my newmatilda.com career has almost perfectly coincided with the Rudd prime ministership — and there are numerous parallels between myself and the man who I will always remember, no matter what anyone else says about him, as one of our most recent prime ministers.
Like Rudd, I have never been aligned with any faction. As he rejected Labor Unity and the NSW Right, I have rejected throwing my lot in with satirical cabals like Working Dog or The Chaser or John Clarke’s Brotherhood of Blood. I am a lone wolf, just like Kevin. Like Kevin, I have always taken pride in my wide vocabulary and ability to render myself utterly incomprehensible to the common man. Like Kevin Rudd, I have been abused by Andrew Bolt. Like Kevin Rudd, I have a smoking hot wife, and so forth. I am, in fact, the Kevin Rudd of the Australian comedy/media landscape, and if you’d care to refer to me this way from now on, I’d be quite grateful.
And of course, like Kevin Rudd, I am immensely proud of all I have achieved here, and like Kevin Rudd, I’m sorry I ever got involved with Julia Gillard.
But then there are always regrets. I regret, for example, that having drawn derogatory public references from Bolt, Devine, Henderson and Blair, I failed to catch Piers Akerman’s eye, which would have given me the full set. I regret not making more jokes about Mia Freedman. I regret still not having met Sarah Hanson-Young and declaring my true feelings.
But none of this regret compares to the regret I feel at the thought that next week I shall not be filing a piece to the newmatilda.com office, the finest, loveliest, most attractive office there is. And if ever there was a time for using cheap jokes to mask one’s deep, tearful feelings, this is it, because I love those guys at newmatilda.com so much, and I feel so privileged to have worked with them, for one week, let alone two and a half years. And I feel so sad to stop.
And yet, hope springs eternal. Perhaps there may yet be more to the newmatilda.com story. I certainly hope so, for numerous reasons: a) the loss of newmatilda.com is a loss for independent, free-thinking media in this country; b) it means even fewer outlets for up-and-coming writers to show their wares to the public; and c) I was planning to buy an iPhone.
So I haven’t given up hope. Maybe if there is a groundswell big enough, maybe if the Great Australian Public is devoted enough to the newmatilda.com dream, maybe if there are enough people who love newmatilda.com as I do, who want it to live again as much as I do, maybe if there are enough people who are desperate even to continue reading, or alternatively graciously overlook, my own work … perhaps. I hope so. It would be such a shame to lose Kevin and newmatilda.com in the same week. It would be such a shame for us all to fall victim to the Julia Gillard of mass media mediocrity. It would be such a shame if I couldn’t keep annoying you.
But no matter what happens, I want to say here and now how proud I am to be a newmatilda.com writer. How proud I am that this corner of cyberspace was where my silly gags found a home. How proud I am that wherever I go and whatever I do, I can say I started here.
And how proud I am to say, now and forever, in mind and heart, I am really and truly New Matilda For Life.
Bye for now.
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