Name: Tel's Tales
Age: 5yrs
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Tel's Passing Notes: An homage to the hilarity that is Pass Notes.
Name: Tel's Tales
Age: 5yrs

Has he just started school?

No, that is how long Tel's Tales weekly column has been appearing in the Chronicle. He actually has a modicum of maturity, although at times this is not immediately obvious.

Appearance: Grey hair and glasses, he hopes to create an impression of latent intelligence. Prefers family to describe him as "ruggedly cute". Short in stature but long on scarfs. Often feels upstaged by his own footwear when greeted with the words "nice shoes" because of the very pointed vintage shoes he wears.


What does Tel actually do?: His real name is Terry Sarten and he describes himself as a columnist, musician, social worker and satirista.

The ancient Greeks had a thing for columns, didn't they?: Being a columnist does not mean an obsession with architectural features that hold up buildings. It is the assembling of sentences into a small tower of 600 words for the Saturday edition of the newspaper. Sometimes Tel's column is very serious about life's big important issues such as family violence, child advocacy and the world of politics. Sometimes the columns are deliberately daft.

Like this one? Ha - you noticed. Occasionally he uses satire to make a point while making readers laugh, although at times this has created confusing areas of doubt and uncertainty.

Tel is clearly a Douglas Adams fan and likes wordplay and making puns? Tel cannot resist the opportunity to make a pun. He tried to give them up for lent once but only lasted a few days. His family are used to the sudden appearance of a bad pun and groan in unison whereas the wider public tend to duck and run at the sound of a pun. Please do not encourage him. He's also a musician/ singer/songwriter.

Is he famous?: Has he written anything I could sing in the shower? Not famous as such. He has performed in New Zealand, Sydney and Germany to considerable audience approval. He plays eclectic guitar.

That was a pun, wasn't it?:

Possibly - although his spelling is sometimes a bit errand. You might know the chorus to a couple of his songs - The Man in the Moon, Don't Surrender or Angel. They are good songs for singing in the shower. Apparently that is how he learns new lyrics. He sticks the sheet on the shower door and sings with gusto until he remembers the whole song, the paper becomes damp and illegible or the water goes cold: whichever happens first.

What else does he do for a living?: He has other work but cannot say what he does. He has always been able to write a regular column as long as he never mentions what he actually does.


Why - is he a spy?: Does he work for one of those government secret services? Is that what satirista means?

The satirista is a secret society that Tel invented by combining the word satirist with barista. (Coffee is a very important part of his life.) Currently he is the only member but anyone can join provided they can cite the difference between sarcasm and wit. He is a social worker by profession and has worked in the health sector for many years, most recently in Sydney, but he never mentions exactly what he does in his column because that would not be appropriate. If you google his real name you will find all sorts of things and if you look up Tel you will find his music website.

* Terry Sarten is a great fan of the Guardian's Pass Notes that deflates the pompous and pretentious with a series of questions and answers - feedback: or