real life

Annabel Crabb to Leigh Sales: "I’m not sure we can still be friends."

Annabel Crabb read this letter to Leigh Sales as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. You can read Leigh Sales’ letter to Annabel here.

Dear Salesy,

We’ve had a good run, old bean. We’ve had a nice time, we’ve eaten some quality cake, and we have proved that there is a moderate listening audience for two forty-something women who squeeze themselves into an ABC utilities cupboard, piss themselves laughing for thirty-five minutes, including several actual snorts, and record it on their iPhone. If nothing else, we have established a new floor for media content and that’s … well. It’s an achievement of sorts.

But – and this is going to be a hard letter to write – I’m not sure we can still be friends.

Read more: A love letter: “The ABC has chaperoned me through most of my life.”

In explaining why, I’m going to start with the hardest reason. It’s the hardest one because I’m absolutely certain that you are sweetly unaware of the extent to which I really am not that into show tunes.

You see, when I told you I liked show tunes, I meant I liked show tunes in an ironic way. I meant that I liked Cabaret, and some of the catchier numbers in A Chorus Line. When you said you liked show tunes, how was I to know that what YOU meant was “I am the actual reincarnation of Ethel Merman. I not only know every show tune ever written, but I can accompany myself on the piano and – given any excuse – I will? I can relate any contemporary event, breaking news story, emotional conundrum, or indeed menial household task back to some piece of musical theatre, and if you turn your back for a second, I’ll have shimmied into a pair of legwarmers faster than you can say “Sunday In The Park With George”?

Sales, how could I possibly have foreseen your vast and unquenchable need for performance opportunities? I’m haggardly familiar with the signs now. You’ll remind me that it’s the fiftieth anniversary of The Sound Of Music, or someone’s written a new biography of Liza Minnelli, or did I know Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was first performed in Budapest on this exact date thirty years ago. You’ll casually mention that the only free room you could find at the ABC to record our podcast was the Eugene Goossens Hall, and when I get there, you’re already seated at the grand piano, your eyes shining. You’re like one of those dogs who’s always got the leash in its mouth, pleading for walkies. For God’s sake, your three year-old son can sing “All That Jazz”, including twinkle fingers.

Read more: Julie Andrews admits she hated a Sound Of Music song.

But I can’t go on playing Rex Harrison to your Audrey Hepburn. I adore you, but I sense that at any given time, you are a heartbeat away from suggesting that we co-write a high-kicking political musical, and I just can’t live with that kind of fear. If we stay friends, I know with deadly certainty that upon retirement I will be required to join the Glebe Community Players with you and be involved in their production of Oh What A Lovely War. I can’t do it, love. I’m out.

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Annabel Crabb using cutting sarcasm to break up with Leigh. Image: Youtube.

While we’re having this tough conversation, I might as well say that another reason we’re going to have to stop being friends is your relentless political bias. I mean, you’re always nice enough to me, but something happens to you when you sit in that 7.30 chair. You get all, I don’t know… Womany. Kind of shrieky and interrupty and shrill and mean. And the worst thing is, you’re not even consistent. I’ve seen you be mean to everyone from Tony Abbott to that dear bespectacled Victorian chap who is now the leader of the Greens. That’s quite a typical female trait, you know. Indecisiveness. You wouldn’t have ever got that with Kerry. I’m just saying this stuff because I’m being honest. Okay? We could keep being friends if you were just a little more… you know. Forensic.

Ever wonder how Annabel Crabb manages to be…Annabel Crabb? She has told Mamamia all about it. (Post continues after podcast.)

Read more: “Being a hater might help you win at politics, but you’ll lose at life.”

Why else do we need to stop being friends? Well, for another thing, I don’t think I can put up with your personal organizational skills any more. Week after week, you email me at podcast time with a crisp list of all the fascinating, erudite things you’ve read this week, while I vaguely cast about for something I’ve perused that isn’t a LEGO instruction book. I know for a fact that you wrote your letter for this thing a full month ago, while I am hurriedly writing it now because the event is this afternoon and I was going to devote more time to it and make it funnier but now it’s the last minute and so it’ll just have to do because I am VERY TIRED. I cannot be around your supercompetence any more.

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How to break up with your best friend, love Crabb. Image: Youtube.

The last reason is pretty straightforward. You have a family of fairy wrens living out the back of your place. I’ve been them a bunch of times, flipping about, pertly gesticulating with their little tails.

And you DON’T CARE.

“Fairy wrens? Oh yeah – right,” you mutter, when I – heart swelling, face a tear-streaked mask of treacly joy – exclaim over them. Seriously. What kind of psychopath is unmoved by fairy wrens? They are the most adorable bird on the planet. So yeah: It’s over, lady.

It’s going to be okay, Leigh. Image: Instagram.

As a final gesture, I enclose your birthday present. Your birthday was weeks ago. I did get the present on time, and I was going to give it to you at the Budget, but then I couldn’t find any wrapping paper and – oh, you know. Here it is. Thanks for all the memories.

Regretfully yours,


What’s the most ridiculous reason you have for needing to break up with a friend?

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