No one really wants to be invited on a date by a bloke that’s murdered an unknown quantity of people. I mean, I’ve been out with some arguably unsavoury characters in the past but a killer? Not to my knowledge.
So when a reasonably creepy voice ends up on your voicemail saying, “Yeah Amber it’s Chopper, I’m coming to town and I want to see you”, it’s quite frankly, not in the ideal category.
This was about four years ago now whilst I was still working on radio at SAFM. It’s safe to say that I didn’t trip over myself to call him back and I hoped like hell he wouldn’t either.
Unfortunately, he caught me off guard again one day as I picked up the phone and heard his distinctive, not so dulcet tones lurking down the phone, “Amber, it’s Chopper, you didn’t call me back darling. You’re a naughty girl!”
Why did I suddenly feel nude and tampered with by a dirty old man?
Not having a clue where on earth this had all come from considering I’d never met the man, I forced out a nervous laugh and stuttered something like “Oh Chopper, I’m sorry, I’ve been busy…um, so you’re coming to town?”
I ducked and weaved like a pro in response to locking something down with Uncle Chop Chop as I bumbled on about having lots on and not a diary in sight.
I should have known however that my bugger of a co-host had put up Heath Franklin, the Chopper impersonator onto the crank call gig and I’d been fairly done. Although as far as I was concerned, a lot less done than had it been the man himself.
The next day on air I’m recounting how I felt thinking I’ve got Australia’s least eligible man hassling me for a date, when suddenly the studio door slowly opens, not that I’d noticed through my mid sentence rattle, and as I see something moving out of the corner of my eye, I hear this voice, that voice whisper “Whaddya mean you didn’t want to go on a date Amber?”
And there he was. The real Chopper Reid. And all I could see was this scarred section of his face where once upon a time there used to be an ear and it was coming for me. As I now wonder was the same instinct some of Chopper’s real victims may have had, I leapt through the air, bending myself like Beckham and hit my body and face, where my ear still exists, right against the studio wall. And then I scrunched myself into the fetal position, hoping he’d go away.
After watching Chopper’s final interview on Sixty Minutes last Sunday, seeing him still occasionally trying to throw in a gag here and there, but finally showing us publicly the sort of heartless man he truly was, I felt grubby. I felt a bit weak to think along with so many others in Australia we allowed this guy to make a name for himself outside the prison walls, and even helped to promote him financially.
We’ve got such a habit of doing this sort of thing in Australia, celebrating and promoting a legendary status to so many killers that don’t deserve our time of day. What’s in our psyche that we can so easily be lead into the realms of there’s something cool about guys that choose to play god?
Is it our convict heritage that makes us kind of immune to a life spent with zero self analysis and no regard for human life?
It really shouldn’t have come as any shock, although maybe it did, that Chopper admitted he still ‘didn’t care’ about the one or all people he chose to brutally stamp out. Anyone that really has regret for something as horrific as even one of the things Chopper did, would never want to show their face publicly again. Let alone milk it for all it was worth.
Now he’s gone, I think the R.I.P is probably ours to embrace.