Age readers the world over will be alarmed to hear that one of the possible candidates for a Fairfax redundancy is Pamela Bone, the people’s voice. Fear not! Should Pamela leave Spencer Street our handy DIY Bone op-ed-o-matic will help you to generate sanctimonious homiletics to your heart’s content. In ten easy steps.
1. Start with the voice of the average reader: “Yesterday I received a letter from a slurry farmer in Wooropna/this evening an email came through from a goat-herder in Tikrit/at a head-wetting a friend tells me about…” These letters or emails can come from anywhere, and it doesn’t really matter if anyone believes they’re real or not. The important thing to establish is that you’re not offering your own opinion, you’re channelling the voice of the bewildered, decent common folk.
2. Move to the topic without worrying too much about the transition: “Yesterday I received a letter from a slurry farmer in Wooropna which says ‘dear Pamela the government has reduced goat bounties again and I don’t know how I’ll keep the kids in rusks plus I think the hajib cannot be interpreted any other way than as the enslavement of women even if they want to wear it what do you reckon? Yrs Trev.'”
3. Begin what Neil Strauss would call the YO ladder (“why oh why oh why oh…”) – a series of escalating rhetorical questions with the emotional pitch of a Rod McKuen poem: “I find myself agreeing with Trev. Why is it so hard to find prosperity for all in a world of unprecedented wealth? Why oh why does violence still exist when we have all seen the photo of the one planet we live on? Why oh why…”
4. Having established that you’re channelling earthy wisdom, move yourself front and centre: “Why oh why am I continually attacked by the left because I’m old-fashioned enough to want the third world to enjoy a lifestyle identical to ours – easily achievable given we still have whole hangars full of Daisycutters…”
5. Hedge with brackets. “…full of Daisycutters (which we hope will never need to be used)…”
6. While never losing your new found hawk credentials “…full of Daisycutters (which we hope will never need to be used, especially on Iran in January 2007).”
7. Mention Malawi. “When I knelt in the dust of Malawi, with little Mboko…” Every article must mention Malawi at least once, even if it is about parking restrictions in the city of Darebin. And you’re away –
8. “…little Mboko and I pondered once again the double-standards of our hypocritical latte set who seem unwilling to challenge the rule of any anti-US regime and squeamish about the positive changes that could be made by a brief rain of hi-tech electric death upon a whole population prompting a basic destruction of civil order lasting years and resulting in tens upon tens of thousands of killings with no end in sight and a wholesale looting by American corporations and the cementing of Sharia law into the constitution from which it will be irremovable thus converting one of the few secular Arab countries into an Islamic state. Why oh why, Mboko, is it so hard to get people to understand that the best way to help third world women is to create a military quagmire in which Saudi Arabia has to be shored up at any cost and…”
9. Continue in this mode for a few hundred words and then tie the loose ends together. “…make them eat depleted uranium. And as the sun settled over the red dust I think it was Mboko who croaked out the answer that Trev the slurry farmer was looking for: ‘Ms Bone’ Mboko said ‘please vote for Ariel Sharon'”
10. Repeat as necessary, although once will probably suffice.