A few years back we met Derek Philpot, who had a hobby of writing to pop stars. When they started writing back to him, he decided to make a book of replies.
Since then he's collected so many responses he's made a bigger, better book - available on Amazon (it's a perfect stocking-filler for the music/comedy fan in your life).
So as it's the holiday season, he's kindly let us share one of our favourite responses for a Christmas classic (and let's face it, the best damn Christmas song there is), Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses.
It's a work of dark comedy fiction (at least, we hope it's fiction?)
If you can't remember the song, have a listen here to remind yourself (it's worth it for that incredible bassline alone).
Now, over to Derek:
Dear The Waitresses,
I sincerely hope that you will accept this 'tip', my pop restaurant staff friends, as one has considerable misgivings pertaining to that guy you've been chasing all year, and fear that this tale may not have a very happy ending.
Your first, ski shop, encounter was, I must concur, most interesting in that most Alpine resorts are, if you will pardon the oxymoron, a hotbed of isolation, and the ideal lure for foul play.
From your second liaison, whereupon scheduling conflicts arose preventing you both from going for lunch, it could be regrettably deduced that your enigmatic potential paramour engineered said rendezvous hindrance, perhaps repelled by the prospect of dining in a non-sequestered built-up dining environment non-conducive to nefarious activity.
That the third coupling, that of excursioning to a desolate shoreline to the arguably sinister young man's sea vessel, was curtailed by your neglection of tanning oil administration could be construed as a lucky escape.
One is then unnerved by the increasingly shady fellow's 'no show' at a Halloween party - once again a backdrop of hubbub - citing a vehicular breakdown as an excuse for non-attendance. One finds it difficult to fathom how a person whose finances can stretch to a luxurious beach boat (see above - if indeed the craft is not merely a non-existent decoy to tempt a vulnerable innocent to an abandoned coastline) does not have access to a back-up transport or sufficient funds for a cab fare.
Your home state of Ohio is sadly notorious for charismatic loners preying on menial workers, The Waitresses, and I must beseech you not to under any circumstances leave the all-night grocery with this potential maniac.
I know what girls want, and it is most certainly not attention of this nature which may well result in your being bundled up too tight.
Ohio State Reformatory
100 Reformatory Rd
Mansfield, OH 44905
Re: Inmate # 873367-9 Mail
[CENSORSHIP STATUS: Passed, with changes as NOTED]
Dear Mr Philpott,
My name is XXX XXXXXXX. Mr Butler forwarded your letter to me, since what you have written directly concerns me, and my current situation. My apologies for the slow response, but all outgoing mail from here needs to clear a staff review. I hope it has reached you in time for your deadline.
Typing is difficult, since my hands are shaking at the moment, so excuse any typos. Your letter reads like a carbon copy of the case which was brought against me by the State of Ohio in 1986, and the subsequent, maliciously unfair indictment that put me in prison, and has kept me here for decades.
I first met Mr. Butler in the early summer of 1981, at a restaurant in Kent, OH, called Jerry's Diner. His band had just played a triumphant homecoming show at a local club, and Jerry's was the only place open in town after the bars closed. Although a 'rock star', he was quite approachable, and we discussed many subjects over many cups of coffee. As men often do, we compared notes about the status of our romantic relationships, and it was here, with this topic of conversation, that all my troubles began. I told him I was currently unattached, but not for lack of trying, and that there had been one very attractive woman in particular I had tried to connect with over the past year or so, but to no avail. It was a story of missed connections, ironic misunderstandings, and just plain bad luck. Quite humorous, actually, and it seemed to make an impression on him, as he took a few notes on a paper napkin. We parted as friends, it had been an entertaining late-night exchange, and I assumed I would never see him again.
So imagine my surprise when, in late autumn, I heard a new Christmas song on the radio that pretty much recounted the very story I had related to him, with a few additions and twists that could be attributed to his taking artistic license with the narrative. I very much enjoyed the song - I am no writer or musician, but I can appreciate a well-crafted piece of work. And I was flattered that my little tale of unrequited love had inspired Mr Butler to create what has become a seasonal standard.
A nice life anecdote, and I thought no more about it until five years later when the song was targeted by Tipper Gore and her Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). As you may recall, the PMRC was started to control references to sex, violence, and drug/alcohol abuse in popular music, and 'Christmas Wrapping' became part of this witch hunt, since the lyric could be interpreted as a stalker's year-long pursuit of an unsuspecting victim. Local authorities over-reacted to this, and when Mr. Butler - in a published interview - recounted our having met, and how I had given him the idea for the song's plot, I found myself (falsely) charged with harassment, tried and (falsely) convicted, and sentenced to a long prison term.
Let me categorically state now, and as I have maintained all along, that I am entirely innocent of this allegation, and that my conviction and subsequent incarceration was, and is, a gross miscarriage of justice. Even the woman in question, one Ms XXXX XXX, testified in my defense that at no time did she feel threatened or in danger. However, it was the tenor of the times that the courts were overly sensitive to charges of this nature, so I was made an example of, and I soon found myself behind bars.
At this point, I could shorten this letter by simply referring you to the court records of my trial, but under Ohio law, these records are sealed in cases of this nature in order to protect the supposed victims. Therefore, please allow me to respond to each point in your letter, quoting from my defense:
In regards to the ski shop incident:
Skiing in Ohio has always been a bit of a challenge since, basically, the state is flat. We do have a few resort areas that try very hard to offer a true Alpine experience, but a 10-second run is hardly a thrill. I was employed as a ski instructor at one of these molehills, and it was there that I met Ms XXXX XXX when she signed up for lessons. Frankly, she was a no-hoper, but had a certain panache that was attractive to me. This was the era of female empowerment, and so I was pleasantly surprised when, after a few après ski glasses of glögg, she asked me for my phone number. The Court was made aware that it was she who had made the first advance, and expressed a desire to meet again.
In regards to my attempts to book a lunch date:
It is entirely plausible that two busy people, juggling all the commitments and demands of modern life, would find it difficult to find a time when both would be free to enjoy a light meal. It is also plausible that scheduling something like this requires persistence for exactly the same reasons, and although this may look like an unhealthy obsession, it is merely what is necessary to pursue a budding romance in the reality that was the late 20th Century. We were both interested in seeing each other again, but life intruded time and time again. The Prosecutor twisted this into a criminal act on my part, which it most definitely was not.
In regards to my offering Ms XXXX XXX a summertime beach and boat get-away:
Yes, at the time, I did own a 27-foot Gleason Marine Dragon 650. Although Lake Erie is hardly the French Riviera, summers in Ohio can be glorious, and if one does not mind a little slime on the skin or the occasional dead body, the water and beaches of Lake Erie can be an excellent relaxation destination. It was my tradition to have friends onboard for a July 4th weekend party, and I did invite Ms XXXX XXX. In the song, Mr Butler followed my story to the letter - it was she, on account of a dermatological issue, who declined my invitation. The Prosecutor, having nothing else to argue, painted the party as an orgy, and claimed 'tanning oil' was a euphemism for some sort of sexual lubricant.
In regards to a Christmas Eve shopping excursion:
Mr Butler came forward and testified under oath that the 'meeting of the two people in a 24-hour convenience store' as told in the song's final verse was a total creative fiction. Furthermore, in what should have been irrefutable proof of my innocence, a member of my defense team, one Dr Jarvey Modesto, a forensic doctor and expert medical witness, presented to the court concrete evidence regarding my acute allergic reaction to any member of the Vaccinium macrocarpon family, commonly called 'cranberry' in North America. And finally, both Ms XXXX XXX and myself are British by birth, and there is no tradition in the UK of eating roasted turkey accompanied by a cranberry-based condiment. We would have been under no culinary pressure to abandon our warm homes, and venture out in search of this totally unnecessary foodstuff. December in Ohio is bitterly cold, and the only reason to leave home is if one is out of kitty litter, cigarettes, feminine hygiene products and/or toilet paper.
But alas, the jury was not swayed, and I was found guilty. Thankfully, Mr Butler has been a staunch supporter of mine through all my many legal appeals to overturn my conviction. He has also agreed to testify on my behalf at my parole hearing, which is scheduled for early 2019. Perhaps all this is because he feels a sense of guilt over the nice little pile he has made using my story, but I have been grateful for his advocacy. I understand that Mr Butler has written many more songs over the decades, none of which has captured the public's fancy as has 'Christmas Wrapping'. How ironic then, that the one he 'stole' from me ended with him being enriched, and me serving time.
Mr Philpott, thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight.