Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 14/02/97

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Speech! Speech!

Myth and legend suggest that most Australians are embarrassed at the prospect of making a speech. Why this should be so when they're not embarrassed by enjoying cricket, watching A Current Affair or voting for Pauline Hanson is an interesting question, but one we shall leave for another time. Fortunately, we are able to inform the speech-impaired that help is at hand with this handy volume entitled Speeches And Toasts For All Occasions, which we picked up at Dymocks the other day for the bargain price of $9.95.

Don't be put off by the hideous green cover design, the absence of an author attribution or the fact that there's a chapter on loyal and patriotic toasts. The book is dated 1979, and published by those otherwise anonymous publishers, W. Fulsham & Company, so we'd trust it, right? Especially since it provides not just hints on speechmaking, but numerous model speeches and 'amusing' quotes from which the perfect speech can be constructed.

Actually, it's these model speeches that are the cause for concern. They're a bit, well, non-Australian, frankly. Consider the model speech suggested for the end of a buck's night (or "stag night" as the book would have it):

Gentlemen -, before we break up this delightful gathering, you will, I am sure, want me to express your gratitude to those who have made this evening such a great success. I do not need to comment on the entertainment, because you have already shown your appreciation with noisy enthusiasm, I only want to ask you to be noisy once more in honour of all the entertainers.

Problems with this model speech include the presence of words with more than two syllables, the notion that gentlemen are present, and the assumption that the entertainers haven't already nicked out the back with the prospective groom for a quickie. We would propose the following alternative as more suitable and typical:

Didja see the jugs on that one? She was fuckin' stacked!! Yeah, mate, I'd give her one -- with your dick. Ah, goorn, Shelley'll never know . . .

There's no matching speech offfered for the closing of a hen's night. In fact, the working assumption of Speeches And Toasts For All Occasions appears to be that chicks hardly ever give speeches at 'occasions'. For instance, while an extensive reply to a coming of age speech for young men is included, women in the same situation are fobbed off with the following handy hint:

No formal speech is required or even desireable. All that the lady is expected to do is to get up and voice her thanks in her own words.


Ladies and Gentlemen -. Please don't ask me for a speech. You have made me all bubbling over inside, and I don't know how to say all I think. Just one thing I can say, and mean it with all my heart: thank you, thank you -- thank you!

Heaven help the articulate chick. Should you ever meet anyone to whom such a speech seems apposite, we advise the use of the all-purpose formula "Get fucked the lot of yous".

Even this, though, isn't the dumbest speech in the book. It's a tightly-contested field, especially if you find yourself speaking to vicars a lot, but we ultimately want to heap the most scorn on the response to the toast to the Women's Services, another neatly encapsulated shit-heap of sexism, simpering and stupidity:

Ladies and gentlemen-. Thank you for the kind way in which you have received this toast. I would almost suspect you of flattery -- and being a woman, I should not seriously object to that -- were it not for the fact that in my Service life I have had so many proofs of the goodwill of the men's Service. It is true, I agree, that we had to demand to be allowed to share in the defence of our country, but I do not think that the early objections were based entirely on the grounds that have been suggested. Rather, it was man's natural instinct of chivalry that wanted to spare us from possible hardship and danger.

It is not surprising that we get on so well with the men's services. As you know, there's something about a soldier; all the nice girls love a sailor; while those RAF types are simply irresistible! Co-operation with the men's Services has often been so close that it has ended at the altar. Did I say ended? That was the last thing I meant . . .

We shan't go on. Actually, on second thoughts, maybe we'd all be better off giving up speechmaking altogether while this book's around.

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