What if…or if only…

Dear Potahter,

‘Counterfactual thinking’ is the human tendency to ponder what if… or if only…

For example, someone might think to herself ‘If only I’d made a speech at my sister’s 21st, she would know exactly how awesome I think she is.’

Or, ‘What if I’d had the foresight to go to Toastmasters every week for a year leading up to Potahter’s 21st birthday and I suddenly loved the spotlight so much that I not only did a speech, but also an interpretative dance to demonstrate how much fun we’ve had together over the years?’

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If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it

The letter request:

I have been working as an artist for 18 years (theatre, writing, movement, performance, even (short) film) and yet, why do I feel like I am going nowhere? Or in fact, needing to go somewhere? Where is the place I am going? Does it exist? How can I make a living as an artist? I often feel lost.


The letter:

Dear Amaara,

Everyone has a story. In fact, everyone has multiple stories. Some stories play out in the real world and some play out in our minds. I don’t mean that as in, ‘In my mind, the universal acclaim of my art affords me a lifestyle where the word Centrelink has no meaning to me whatsoever, and I can travel the world and never have to worry about how I’m going to pay next month’s rent and, oh yeah, I’m married to Michael Fassbender and our sex life is OUT OF THIS WORLD and on top of that he totally loves making me tacos and doing the dishes and ironing my expensive frocks and, guess what, he knows all the right settings on the iron so the fabric never ever burns.’

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Willy Wonka was an arsehole

The letter request:

I like my chocolate and I like having a chocolatier in my hood. Despite it’s awfully hip vibe, I’ve enjoyed meeting friends there for treats. I’ve enjoyed my interactions with the perky staff, love looking through the little window at chocolate preparations. But then one busy Saturday, as I was paying for my bill something very disturbing happened. A woman, clearly new to the job, offered to split my bill. When she enquired as to the process for doing this she was admonished in a humiliating, over-the top-way. I was humiliated, for the Monsieur, and in pain for the cashier. I understand stress, I understand frustration with people not doing what you expect, but if the incident made me too sick to return with my custom, how must she have felt? And now I’m sad for everyone. Her, him and my chocolate-deprived self.


The letter:

Dear Monsieur Chocolat,

Willy Wonka was an arsehole. A creative genius, yes, but an arsehole nonetheless. He took a group of kids on a tour of his chocolate factory and then treated them as collateral damage when they fell into vats or exploded.

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A spit and polish

The letter request:

The head of the school – a professor, they tell us – is an utter buffoon. Every now and then he sends out a group email to congratulate someone who has decided to jump ship. This is a reasonable thing to do. However, what drives me nuts, and also makes me feel sorry for him in a you-have-toilet-paper-poking-out-of-your-pants kind of way, is his tendency to use question marks at the end of rhetorical questions that pertain to his capacity to do something. Can you help me encourage him to consider the danger his question marks are putting him in?


The letter:

Dear Professor,

Do you know what an eroteme is? You probably do, being a professor and all. I have to admit that, until I looked it up just now, I did not. I don’t mind telling you that. The best way to improve oneself is to allow that we all have surfaces that could do with a spit and polish. Nobody’s perfect, right? We all have room to grow.

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Climb on board my narrowboat

The letter request:

Please could you pen a moderately flirtatious email to the head of Amazon.com? I run a small independent bookshop in England on a converted narrowboat called The Book Barge. Amazon.com is putting me out of business. I would like you to suggest we recreate the plot of ‘You’ve Got Mail’, but without my shop having to close. I don’t mind having to kiss him at the end, but I’d like some sort of watertight guarantee that he is going to pump lots of money my way so I can continue selling books. Possibly he could also buy me a yacht so I can transfer from the UK canals to the Med.


The letter:

Dear Jeff Bezos, founder, president and CEO of Amazon.com,

Are you a fan of Meg Ryan? It’s okay if you’re not. She sells a certain type of cute that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. What about romantic comedies in general? I’m not talking Aniston or Heigl, god help us all, I’m talking the classics, like The Shop Around The Corner. It’s a 1940s film that sees two warring shop assistants ‘unexpectedly’ fall in love with each other as anonymous pen pals. Whacky, huh? Your local video shop will probably have it.

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You HAD a bird called Drazic

The letter request:

I recently house sat for a friend and of course my cat came to stay too. The only problem is that my friend who I was house sitting for had a bird, and one day when I left the birds cage open my cat somehow managed to catch the bird whilst I was out of the room. My friend is going to be distraught when she finds out, and I thought it would ease the blow if I could give her an apology letter from my cat upon her return. Can you help me out?


The letter:

Dear Allee,

Let’s talk about what a great friend Sophie is to you. As her cat, I know I’m biased but all the same she IS pretty ace. Remember how you guys used to love watching Puberty Blues? Or how you went to Turkey together? Or what about the time you both stalked that boy? CLASSIC! So many happy memories of that ilk. SO MANY.

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Unreconstructed 70s male

The letter request:

Dave is an English dude who has lived in Portugal for six years, he’s divorced and is now around 50yrs old. He’s kinda stayed sexist in that old fashioned, women-belong-in-the-kitchen, hasn’t-realised-he’s-old-yet-and-still-perves-on-young-girls kinda way and I think he needs a kick in the arse to wake up and realise that the world is more progressive than the time warp he seems to be stuck in.


The letter:

Dear Dave,

Elvis is dead. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it’s better you hear it from me than some complete stranger. Also, John Lennon is dead too. Double whammy. Take a moment to regroup, I can wait.

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Crack whore Stacey

The letter request:

Could you write a letter that, in the nicest way possible, will convince my partner to ship our little family back to Melbourne or at least somewhere with trees… 


The letter:

Dear Stevie,

I have a lot of time for Carole King. And ‘Where You Lead’ would have to be my absolute favourite of her songs. I tell you love, when she sings, I would go to the ends of the earth cause, darling, to me that’s you’re worth I get all jittery because that is exactly how I feel about you. I would go anywhere for you.

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I’d be played by Rachel Bilson

The letter request:

Ok – truth be told, he is pretty much everything I’d ever want in a bloke and I relish every second we’re together! The problem? He hasn’t got a clue. He loves spending time with me, no doubt, but the thought of ‘him and me’ is well beyond his thinking, I’m sure. I’m the mate he trust and talks to about the other women in his life; not the other way around. The letter I want to write isn’t exactly a head-over-feet love confession, but certainly a message that any girl would be so so blessed to have him.


The letter:

Dear Charlie,

As the female in this friendship I have three primary obligations. One, to introduce you to my hot girlfriends. Two, to tease you when the women in your life suddenly realise you are the love of their life and fall at your feet. And three, to warn you when your life is dangerously close to becoming a romantic comedy.

Consider yourself warned.

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All salt and no pepper

The letter request:

Late last year my husband and I went on an overseas holiday, we spent all year saving and had a great time. On the way back, however, we were not seated together on the plane. The lady who checked us in at Hamburg mentioned this in passing, but then told us to speak to someone in Dubai about getting our seats changed. In Dubai we spoke to at least five people but… nothing.


The letter:

Dear Emirates,

I’m hungry. Hear me out. I’m hungry because today I went to my favourite dumplings restaurant for lunch and they gave me a single chopstick to eat with. What what? Crazy, I know. I couldn’t eat a thing. Everyone knows that chopsticks come in pairs and that a lone chopstick is as useless as an umbrella in a hurricane.

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