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“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turn’d /

Nor hell a fury like a woman scorn’d.” - William Congreve

That hot sticky December morning, Medea swept down Melbourne’s grungy Gertrude Street brandishing the newspaper. She could think of a lot of things she’d like to do to that journalist. Wrap him up and throw him on a bonfire for starters.There’s me, expecting a bit of coverage from friendly Roving Reporter. But no, they send in their wannabe, Head Honcho. He’s right into it, stirring up sensation, getting himself in the spotlight. Well, not this time, mate.

When Medea arrived at The Hair Lair, it was abuzz with chatter.

‘Are you OK, dear?’ her hairdresser said.

‘Not really. Have you seen this photo?’ She threw down the newspaper with her sweaty hands.

‘Uh, yes…‘

‘How does it look?’


‘Yes, truthfully.’

‘Weeeell, not good. We were all a bit shocked. Come, sit down and relax.'

Once settled in the chair, Medea took in the reflection in the mirror. A gorgon in a black cape looked back at her -- bloodshot eyes popping and hair flying.

'Oh my god,' she burst into tears, grasping the proffered cup of strong tea.

What am I going to do? She picked up her phone and called her trusted friend Dina, who arrived half an hour later from her shop, Potions with a Purpose, which nestled in the bohemia of Brunswick Street.

‘What’s up, love?’ Dina’s brow creased.

‘Here! Look at this.’ Anti-Coal Lobby Loses its Cool, headlined a half-page photograph of Medea, looking like a madwoman poised to assail the man.

‘Well, well. Tell me about it.’

‘As you all know, I’m the convenor of the group…’

‘Go on,’ urged her friend.

‘We set up a meeting with the French ambassador. He made us wait at least twenty minutes… arrived dishevelled. Then, the little jerk starts jumping around making an awful din.’

‘So what did you do?’

‘It was all so quick. The photo-op we arranged was lost in the fracas. At one point I leaned in to calm him down and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the photographer leaping about. We handed Frenchy the petition and I tried to shake his hand -- That was it. Until this morning. Hubby spilt his cup of tea when he saw the paper.’

‘Come come now, Medea. Didn’t Margaret Atwood say, ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down’? Attack is the best form of defence. Your journo did the wrong thing.’

‘Oh, he’ll be very very sorry. Why the hell would he do such a thing? And so publicly. You knew he works with my hubby?’

‘Well then,’ Dina said, ‘We have to teach this joker a lesson. Never let a man accuse a woman of being mad, especially if he’s the one driving her mad.’

That afternoon the storm clouds had vanished and the two friends sat in the shade in Medea’s rambling Northcote garden. Fortified by a few glasses of wine, Medea was contemplating her chickens pecking under the walnut tree, when she was struck by an idea.

‘See those chickens? We can stir something up with their help!’ Medea giggled.

‘Nooooo! I love those chickens! How could you? Next it’ll be snakes and frogs,’ said Dina.

‘Oh, we’re not going to use the actual chickens, my dear.’

“Bubble, bubble toil and trouble,” the two friends sang, as they mixed up the chicken manure

and jammed it securely into a plastic bag. They then poked a few air holes in the plastic – to allow the hot, steamy summer air to permeate. Wrapped in a red and white tea towel, decorated with red and gold ribbon and fake holly, the pudding looked enticing. A bright red card with hand-written gold lettering heralded the greeting, ‘In the spirit of the occasion!’

The next day, the security officer, whom Medea knew, waved her into the building. In the newsroom, the personnel slumped in their desks as she strode towards Head Honcho’s desk, dropped the Christmas offering into his deepest middle drawer, and strolled out crooning under her breath…‘on the twelfth day of Christmas, my nemesis brought to me...’

That was the last she thought about the matter. Until one day early in January.

‘What the HELL do you think you’re playing at?’ Head Honcho roared into the phone.

‘Have you lost your mind, woman?’ Laughter echoed in the background. Next, she heard him say, in muffled tones, ‘Shut up, will you? Go to the devil, the lot of you!’ Then his voice came back, ‘Expect me to lay charges.’

A little later, her hands still shaking, Medea took a call from her ally, Roving Reporter.

‘Didn’t you know the management turns off the air-conditioning over the Christmas break? It’s well over 30 degrees in the building during the day. Your Christmas pudding exploded, oozing through the drawers and leaking onto the carpet. Oh my god, the stench…’ he stifled a laugh.

‘He…he threatened legal action.’

‘Oh, I don’t think so. He’s just back from fighting a defamation case. The paper lost in a big way. He’ll be licking his wounds for quite some time. Your steamy pudding certainly hit the mark!’



This is story is based on real events. All names, places and the actual event have been renamed.

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